Sometimes I'd hear this at the Zen temple. What a great sales line!
Bodhidharma (http://www.usashaolintemple.org/chanbuddhism-history/) told the king, when asked if he gained merit from building temples, that he would gain no merit.
Buddha did care about one thing: to end suffering. I think that when we talk about "no gain" we are referring more to Bodhidharma's insistence that doing things for merit doesn't create merit. We aren't saying that there are no benefits for meditation, or even for following the precepts (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/pancasila.html).
Someone wrote that meditation softens one edges. We see this in studies that are being done at universities such as Stanford, where able meditators react far less to stimuli.
One could say that they want to respond to stimuli. Fully. I think there is a difference here between being fully in the moment, and being at the effect of the moment. We don't want to be a ping pong ball, thrown around from one paddle to another. The table experiences the same game, but from a somewhat different perspective.
If I bought my wife flowers so that she'd do something nice for me, I'd be engaging in prostitution. If I made art to make money, would I also be selling my soul to the devil?
Buddha saw meditation as an advanced practice that would come after the first four paramitas. (http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Six_paramitas). Wisdom would be the outcome from meditation after the first four were already accomplished.
Someone asked, “who sits?” I love that question. As long as it is I who sits, I'm going to continue to do a cost/benefit analysis.
We'll see what sitting brings in a couple of hours from now.