Q. Why should ignorance, a non-deliberate lack of knowledge or understanding, be regarded as a sin? If someone is unaware of the Buddha – such as many uneducated people living in remote parts of the world – then can we consider this as a sin?

A. Buddhism never says that ignorance is sin but says that it is the seed of wisdom because it can turn into wisdom through practice. According to Buddhism, there is neither sin nor any almighty being who punishes us for our sin. It says that sentient beings struggle to escape from the many kinds of imaginary ropes that they tied themselves with, one of which is a rope of sin.

To make matters worse, ignorant people worship and pray to the imaginary Buddha that doesn’t exist to free them from the ropes, which is rather to add another rope to existing ones. That is, the ignorant are haunted by the illusion of sin. This is why Bodhidharma said that there is sin when we are ignorant but that there is no sin when we can see things as they are. The purpose of Buddhism is to help people to escape from the ropes by realising that they are not real but just illusionary.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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