The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Five: Cause and Effect


The Founding Master said, “There was once a Sŏn master who had many disciples and lay supporters, so that his life was quite comfortable. Even so, he planted several fruit trees and tended them himself, supporting one of his disciples separately with the profit he made from them. All his disciples asked him why, and the Sŏn master replied, ‘This fellow did not make any merit in his past life, nor is he likely to offer benefits to others in the present life. Supporting him with the grain and money that people donate to make merit would cause him to accumulate even more debts. What he would get is free support in this one lifetime, but when the time come for him to repay, he would have to go through much suffering as an ox or a horse over many lifetimes. Out of affection for a disciple, in this way, I support him separately in my leisure time so as to lessen his debt.” The Sŏn master’s handling of this matter is a great dharma instruction for those who live a communal life. You should not dismiss this anecdote lightly. If, with your spirit, body, or material goods, you devote yourself in equal measure for others’ sakes, then there would be no harm in accepting people’s offerings. However, if you take offerings from people while handling just your own affairs, then you are a person who is incurring great debts and must expect to go through much hard work over many lifetimes. Generally, however, those who care for other people do not like to receive others’ offerings, but those who are concerned only with their own affairs do like to receive others’ offerings. You must examine yourselves every day and every moment, and be ever cautious not to become a person who incurs great debts from the people.”