The term, “toku” or “kudoku” in Japanese is derived from the Sanskrit word punya and is often translated as “merit.” It is a concept found across the whole Buddhist spectrum that is believed to contribute to a person’s growth towards spiritual awakening. It is generally explained as accruing from good acts that contribute to the enhancement of one another and the world. In the same way that our positive efforts contribute in some way to making our physical world a better place, it is believed that our good acts can contribute to enhancing a realm of buddhas.
In the first merit transfer service of the year, prayers are extended in remembrance to those who came before us and in gratitude for the foundations they built on which we stand today. The year’s first homa held in the early hours of New Year’s Day makes way for us to each be inspired to act in ways that will bring joy to others. Our efforts to share with others the merit that we generate with positive actions begin in our everyday lives, starting with those immediately close to us.