Doctrines and rituals

Lay Buddhists can earn merit (Skt. punya) by offering charity, gifts, and good deeds in expectation of a better life in the future and in the hope of being granted rebirth in one of the favourable realms of existence. Over the course of time, especially in Mahayana Buddhism, the notion developed that religious merit was something that one could pass on. In China, where filial piety has high priority, it was quite common to transfer merit to deceased parents. Donating statues and copying Buddhist texts were considered particularly meritorious.