Q. What is the meaning of ‘When we are ignorant, there is sin, but there is no sin when we are enlightened’?

A. When we are ignorant, that is, when we cannot see things as they are, we are deluded by illusions. The Buddha said that sentient beings are drowning in the ocean of suffering because we mistake illusions for real things. For example, we are happy with the illusion of having what we don’t really have, feel unhappy, or frustrated with the illusion of losing what we don’t actually lose and become excited with the illusion of having achieved what we have not achieved.

Bodhidharma said that people, looking upon a stump of a tree as a ghost and seeing a rope as a snake in the dark, feel scared. In the same way, we feel guilty of the illusion of having committed what we have not committed. This is referred to as being deluded by illusions. So, ‘there is no sin when we are enlightened’ means that when we are enlightened, we come to realise that sin is also empty.

Student: “If sin is also empty, should I not mind committing a sin?”

Master: “When sin is empty, the purpose of committing a sin is empty as well.”

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

#zen #meditation #zenmeditation #enlightened #enlightenment #zenfools #photography

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