Friday, September 22, 2006

What Is My Merit?

This exchange is probably the most famous in Zen lore. Bodhidharma met the emperor of the Liang Dynasty, a devout Buddhist renowned for his piety and charity, who was much given to endowing monasteries and orphanages. Wu said: "I have endowed temples and authorized ordinations--what is my merit?" Bodhidharma's answer was radical: "No merit at all." Wu had been doing good for the sake of accumulating merit. Bodhidharma cut through Wu's ideas about merit to the core of his teaching, that your practice isn't apart from you: when your mind is pure, you live in a pure universe; when you're caught up in ideas of gaining and losing, you live in a world of delusion. --Jisho Cary Warner, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. III, #3


Blogger Om-Dragon said...

I LOVE this post. Sadly, we all live in delusion. It's about doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing, even and foremost when the common path is headed in the opposite direction. Strength of soul and detachment to live in purity. Argh !

8:57 PM  

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