A monk asked Ch'an Master Chun-chi, "Who are the ones who do good?"

Chun-chi answered, "Those who wear shackles and chains."

The monk inquired again, "Who are the ones who do evil?"

Chun-chi replied, "Those who practice Ch'an and meditate."

The monk exclaimed, "I really have inferior roots! I cannot understand your point. Could you please explain it in simpler terms?"

Then Chun-chi said, "Those who are evil do not do good. Those who are good do not do evil." The monk was still confused.

After a while, Master Chun-chi asked him, "Do you understand now?"

The monk answered, "No."

Chun-chi commented, "Those who do evil have no good intentions. Those who do good have no evil intentions. We say good and evil are like floating clouds. There is neither arising nor destruction. "

Finally, the monk understood.


From the conventional point of view, it is true that good begets good and evil begets evil. But from the perspective of self-nature, there are no such terms as good and evil. If we do not think in terms of good and evil, then the true self-nature can be seen.

The Master was not mistaken when he said that those who do good are the ones who wear shackles and chains, whereas those who do evil are the ones who practice Ch'an and meditate. Those who do good cling on to merits, which are no different from shackles and chains. Although those who do evil may fall into the realm of suffering, their true nature will not be altered in any way.

Master Chun-chi does not want us to be confused by the terms of good and evil. We need to understand that good and evil are dharmas, but the Dharma, itself, is neither good nor evil.


(Source: Hsing Yun's Ch'an Talk, Book 1)