The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Eight: Buddhahood


A man paid homage to the Founding Master and, while conversing with him on various subjects, said, “The narrow-gauge railway between Chŏnju and Iri was originally managed by the stock investments of wealthy people from various places in Chŏlla province, and these people can take the train any time they want without charge.” He seemed very envious, so the Founding Master said, “You truly are poor. You still don’t own even a single train of your own?” The man was surprised and said, “It takes an awful lot of money to own a train. How can a poor man like me own one?” The Founding Master said, “That is why I called you a poor man; and even if you owned a train, I would not call you a wealthy man because of it. Now, listen to how I manage my household affairs. It has already been quite a while since I acquired for myself not only that Chŏnju train but also all the trains in this country and this world. Didn’t you hear this news?” The man became even more puzzled and said, “What you say is an instruction far beyond me. In my ignorance, I can’t comprehend it.” The Founding Master said, “For a person to acquire his own train, he not only requires an enormous amount of capital but he also receives much hardship from having to manage all the responsibilities personally. However, my way of ownership is different: it requires neither an enormous amount of capital nor any direct responsibility for managing the entire operation. It merely requires that when I need to go anywhere, I pay the fare each time and use it at my convenience. Aren’t the salaries and expenses of all our workers cheap considering that they must run our trains without rest day or night, repair our tracks, and manage our operations? Moreover, the other day I visited Seoul and went up to Hanyang Park for a stroll, breathing in as much fresh air as I wanted and enjoying all the beauty of the park, but there was no law demanding that I leave and no one warning me not to come back again. It requires a substantial maintenance cost every year just to keep a small pavilion in a resort area, but wasn’t I able to use that beautiful park to my heart’s content as if it were my own? Generally, the real reason people in the world want to make something their own is for their own convenience. Since I used the train and the park exactly as I wished, what other kind of ownership could possibly be better? Therefore, I told you that all these things are mine; and not only that, but all the things in the world, and even the earth, rivers, and mountains that contain all these things, are mine. I use them as occasion demands, and as long as I use them properly, no one can prohibit it or stop me. How bountiful a livelihood is this! But ordinary people of this world, being such small vessels, only concentrate on owning whatever they can, so they are busy acquiring things that involve much work, anxiety, and heavy responsibility to no real purpose. This is truly because they have not yet discovered the plentiful household goods of their original home.”