I have meditated for years, and many meditations have ended with dedications. A dedication of merit sparks a gracious feeling within oneself, and I always found it to be a wonderful way to end a meditation—reflective, thankful, compassionate. I, however, had never questioned its purpose. Thursday’s class, however challenged my understanding of a dedication. Do dedications do anything?
After attending Buddhist club on Thursday, I caught myself reflecting upon our dedication and rereading Chapter 10 of Śāntideva’s The Bodhicaryāvatāra.; it is filled with what can appear to be nonsense —i.e., dedications lacking apparent purpose. For instance,
(35) May the ground in every place be smooth and level like the palm of a hand, free from grit and stones, and made of beryl.
How can one justify the importance of a dedication like this? Is it possible? My science-based mind makes me want to say no. I do not believe a dedication does anything directly. My psychological-based mind, however, is inclined to say that they can indirectly affect oneself. A dedication forces one’s perspective toward the other. As mentioned in class, I feel like a dedication works like a forced smile. It is capable of slowly transforming one’s perspective, and oddly enough, I feel like a lot of people are partaking in a common forced smile during these days.
As we focus our attention to loved ones, strangers, and people we pass in the grocery store, we are wishing them the best. In these times, our thoughts are extending outside of oneself, and I find the world to be filled with more selfless acts and thoughts than ever before.
A dedication, like a forced smile or a forced change, can transform one’s perspective and cultivate selflessness.