What should we use our merits for, after cultivating them through Dharma practices? Should we use them to gain liberation from Samsara, or to pursuit worldly fortune? Dedication is the key, regardless which way you choose. All merits came from our good actions, hence we can use them to achieve our goals, either longevity or enlightenment, it all depends on how we dedicate them. It is extremely important to practice dedication, a powerful way to transform negative connections into positive, and turns obstacles into good conditions. Hence, we should develop a habit that properly dedicate our merits every day, so that they are deposited into a bank safely, make them grow until the day we attain enlightenment.
In the past, Bodhisattva Nagarjuna offered his head to a Satavahana Prince when he requested, by allowing the Prince to decapitate him with a grass. His fearless conduct in generosity is a demonstration of what is said in "Entering the Middle Way": "When Buddhists are practicing generosity, they gain more pleasant experience than that of Nirvana, let alone Bodhisattvas' blissful experience, when offering their lives and everything." When it is necessary, a real first ground or higher Bodhisattva will not be hesitate to offer anything including his head, not only that he would feel no pain, but he will also experience great bliss surpassing what we feel in first stage of deep meditation. Mahayana Bodhisattva Asanga also said: "If anyone wishes to decapitate me even if I'm innocent, I'm willing to take over all his sins and karmic fruits with compassion." Therefore, for those who consider themselves practitioners who attained realization of emptiness, they could use these Bodhisattva's stories for self-evaluating. Attainments of Dharma is a unity of compassion and wisdom, although the realization of emptiness is without any discriminating thoughts, but one's compassion will still occasionally radiates from his personality. If you find yourself incomparable with those past Bodhisattvas, then it's time to practice Dharma step by step, and stop taking your good dreams or certain wonderful practice experiences as signs of attainment. Let's follow teachings of the Buddhas, study under benevolent masters' guidance, and practice with diligent and valor, until the day we attain ultimate Buddhahood!