FOUR KINDS OF MERIT
There was a rich man who used to invite all the Brahmans of the neighborhood to his house, and, giving them rich gifts, offered great sacrifices to the gods.
But the Blessed One said: "If a man each month repeat a thousand sacrifices and give offerings without ceasing, he is not equal to him who but for one moment fixes his mind upon righteousness." The Buddha continued: "There are four kinds of offering: first, when the gifts are large and the merit small; secondly, when the gifts are small and the merit small; thirdly, when the gifts are small and the merit large; and fourthly, when the gifts are large and the merit is also large.
"The first is the case of the deluded man who takes away life for the purpose of sacrificing to the gods, accompanied by carousing and feasting. Here the gifts are great, but the merit is small indeed. Next, the gifts are small and the merit is also small, when from covetousness and an evil heart a man keeps to himself a part of that which he intends to offer.
"The merit is great, however, while the gift is small, when a man makes his offering from love and with a desire to grow in wisdom and in kindness. And lastly, the gift is large and the merit is large, when a wealthy man, in an unselfish spirit and with the wisdom of a Buddha, gives donations and founds institutions for the best of mankind to enlighten the minds of his fellow-men and to administer unto their needs."