Accumulating merit is not accumulating anything for our own ego trip, but from the point of view of relating with what is sacred. We are making a connection with the very idea of the teachings, or the dharma, and the existence of basic sanity. You do not hope to gain anything from your practice, and you are not particularly fearful of bad results.
Whatever happens, let it happen–you are not particularly looking for pleasure or pain. As the scriptures say: “If it is better for me to be dead, let me be dead; if it is better for me to be alive, let me be alive. If it is better for me to have pleasure, let me have pleasure. If it is better for me to have pain, let me have pain.” It is a very direct approach, like diving into an ice-cold swimming pool in the middle of winter. It is the idea of having a direct link with reality, very simply, without any scheming at all.
From “Transformation of Bad Circumstrances,” in Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness, page 89 and 92.