Question: Having contributed to a charity, a friend advised that I should make a personal wish before dedicating merits from the act to all beings. But I have also heard that dedication should be to all first. Which is more appropriate?
Answer: Actually, the dedication of merits to all is also the making of a ‘personal’ wish, or rather, the expression of an aspiration. It is however a noble and broad personal wish, which bears all beings’ welfare in mind, towards alleviation of their suffering, and for their progress to Buddhahood. (Technically, oneself is already one of ‘all beings’.) For any lesser personal wishes, they should come after. This is to cultivate equanimous generosity and compassion, and to overcome small-mindedness. (Paradoxically, this creates some more merits for further dedication!) Of course, any personal wishes should never go against the welfare of all beings.
Question: If I wish for a job, but since it would also mean someone else not getting the job, is this against the welfare of another?
Answer: Perhaps it would be better to contemplate this way… ‘In this job, may I do my best for the welfare of all beings, even for those who might need this job. May I do even better than them, so as to thoroughly deserve this job.’
Question: I see what you mean. However, is it not grey, whether a job works for or against the welfare of others?
Answer: The job should be a Right Livelihood, that does not involve harming or killing of sentient beings. Versus another person who might not have as altruistic an intention for a similar post that is of Right Livelihood, it is working with the intention to help all, be it directly or indirectly, that makes a difference.