T 1670B Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra

Part 2: Dialogues

2.67. Merit and Demerit

The king asked Nāgasena again, “Does a person who performs good deeds obtain more merit, or does a person who performs evil deeds obtain more demerit?”

Nāgasena replied, “The person who does good deeds obtains more merit, and the person who does evil deeds obtains less demerit. Because when a person does evil, he repents it himself daily, therefore his offence diminishes daily. But when a person does good, he rejoices it day and night, so he obtains even more merit.”

Then Nāgasena said, “Formerly in the country where the Buddha was living, there was a man without hands and feet. He took some lotuses and offered them to the Buddha. The Buddha then told the monks thus, ‘This man without hands and feet will not fall into the hells, the animal kingdom, nor the kingdom of hungry ghosts in ninety-one kalpas. He will be born in heaven, then after his merit is exhausted in the heaven, he will be reborn as a human again,’ That is why I know that if people do little good deeds, they will obtain great merit, if they do evil, they will repent and their offence will diminish and be extinguished. Thus I know that when people do evil, their demerit is small.”

“Excellent, Nāgasena.”