I asked my Dharma teacher one day: “Master, do the Devas really answer our prayers whenever we asked them to fulfil it?” His answer was: ” First of all you must have attain enough merits in order for them to fulfil your wishes. Secondly, you must dedicate your daily Sutras(Chantings) to them” Since I seldom tried asking them to fulfil my wishes I tried it after listening to what my teacher had taught me. I often travel to Thailand to assist in the building of my teachers meditation centre in Thailand but when you travel often you also need funds to sustain the construction works there. Funds were getting low so I asked that there will be a kind supporter who will come to my aid. The following day a customer came and bought a Somdet Wat Rakang with certification by Arjarn Kla Katesurinchai. The money came in at the right time when funds were low, this help made it possible for the continuation of the meditation centre which required a new Sala(Prayer Hall),the initiation of a large Emerald Buddha and the downpayment for 20 new toilets.
So, how much merits is enough? Its actually very simple, if you have done your merits and did the dedication/transferring of merits to the Devas and your prayers are not still not fulfilled it means your merits are not enough. Merits are something that has to be accumulated over time, it does not matter how much you do but obviously the more the better. However some people think that by doing merits only once with a huge donation it is enough to compensate for the rest of the time that they did not do anything. This is in fact a wrong conception. Everyone knows the simile of ” What you reap is what you sow” and that a seed needs nutrients ,sunlight,water and care for it to develop but they do not apply the same ideology when it comes to making merits. If you don’t eat for 3 days and suddenly want to fill your stomach to the brim it may be fatal or extremely bad for your health. Consistency is better than sudden changes.
Merits is not just about donating money to charity or to a religious organization, doing dana, offering robes to monks who uphold their precepts diligently are one of the best ways to accumulate merits. Looking after aged parents and respecting them is the greatest merits anyone can do for themselves apart from contributing to religious activities. Treating people around you with respect and with good intentions are also considered merits. Looking after animals and respecting life and being compassionate are all examples of making merits for oneself.
There is however different quality in merits. Example if you do dana to monks who uphold there precepts well and when you take care of animals the quality of doing dana to monks is definitely higher. Monks who are well versed and uphold their precepts can spread the Dharma which in turn can encourage spiritual awareness of the being and therefore help make this world to be a more conducive environment to live in. The Dharma when understood is immensely beneficial and assures the fulfilment of life here on earth and thereafter.