The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Four: The Way of Humanity


Yi Kongju said to the Founding Master, “The other day I gave my poor neighbor a small donation. Since then, he has not spared himself in doing our household chores. I have learned, in this manner, the lesson that we must make merit and, if we do so, we will receive in kind.” The Founding Master said, “You have understood the principle that, if you make merit, you will receive in kind. But have you also understood the principle that merit could, by a simple mistake, turn into a transgression?” Kongju replied, “How could merit turn into a transgression?” The Founding Master said, “It is not that the merit you have accumulated turns into a transgression; rather, the mind that has made merit could turn into a mind that commits transgression. Ordinary people, having provided a bit of benefit to others, cannot let go of that concept or sign; and, when the beneficiary does not acknowledge the benefit and shows ingratitude, then hateful and resentful feelings multiply many times over, extreme love arousing extreme hatred instead and a minor benefit making a great enemy. Thus there are many instances where, though one means to cultivate goodness, that goodness cannot be relide on and, though one attempts to make merit, one ends up producing transgressions. Therefore, Bodhidharma said, 'Acting in no-thought is virtue,’ and Laozi said, ‘Superior virtue has no sign of virtue.’ Thus, only when practitioners understand this principle and apply this mind, will merits become eternal merits, blessings eternal blessings, and virtues one with those of heaven and earth. You must, therefore, work even more steadfastly to make virtues without sign and merit without change.”