The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Five: Cause and Effect


While the Founding Master was residing in Yŏngsan, he went out to the vegetable gardens one day. Near the gardens was a manure pit filled with night soil that attracted swarms of maggots. Just then a rat came by, ate the maggots, and went away. The disciples who were cultivating the fields said, “That rat comes by often, eats them, and goes away.” The Founding Master said, “Right now the rat is eating these maggots to its heart’s content, but in a few days, the rat will end up being eaten by the maggots.” The disciples did not fully understand his meaning, and thought, ‘How could cause and effect over the three time periods work that fast?’ A few days later, finally that same rat fell into the manure pit and started to rot, and then the maggots were feeding on the rat. The Founding Master said, “You seemed to think it strange what I said the other day was strange, but I was merely describing the situation. At the time, the manure pit was filled with night soil, so the rat was running all around the top, feeding on the maggots. But once the vegetable fields were being cultivated, you would naturally be scooping up and using the night soil, the pit would become deeper, and the careless rat that kept coming around was bound to fall into the pit and die. I conjectured ahead of time that the rat then would inevitably become maggot food.” He continued and said, “The karmic consequences people have, whether transgressions or merits, also occur in accord with the nature of the situation. It is no different than with the rat: what is to be received in a future lifetime will be received in a future lifetime, and what is to be received in the present life will be received in the present life.”