The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Five: Cause and Effect


Cho Chŏn’gwon asked the Founding Master, “Since during their many repeated lives the buddhas would have done nothing to cause themselves to receive lowly retributions, there should be no occasion for them to experience suffering in any of their numerous lifetimes. However, in the past the Buddha endured various hardships in his day, and you too, Great Master, after establishing this order, have not been spared the suffering due to government surveillance and troubles in dealing with the congregation. We do not understand the reason for this.” The Founding Master replied, “Although it has already been quite some time that I have labored so as not to commit any transgression knowingly, I think it may be because, while I was delivering many people throughout several lifetimes, I unknowingly repressed the perverted energy and evil energy of obstinate sentient beings.” He continued, “Even with a buddha’s ability, which effects compassionate deliverance with the right dharma, one cannot eliminate one's fixed karma; and no matter how insignificant a sentient being may be, one's merits may not be offset by one's transgressions. Buddhas and bodhisattvas of great ability can, indeed, condense into a single lifetime the retributions they were to receive over many lifetimes, but they can never eliminate them completely.”