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Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Q: In Hinduism they often wonder about good karma and bad karma and merit. And when the Emperor asked Bodhidharma about the merit in making many temples, Bodhidharma said, "No merit." In what sense is there merit in reading or chanting the sutra?

R: To sit is to read the sutra. We understand in the opposite way. Let me explain this point. This is a very good question. In another school, for instance, they say, "You should read the scripture with your body. You should experience it." When they say this, it means that even if a person is going to be killed, the sword will be broken in two, piece by piece. If that kind of thing happens to him, it means he reads the scripture by his experience, with his body.

We also say you should read the scripture with your body, but what we mean by that is that not just this scripture only has eternal truth. Universal truth is truly with this scripture, with bodhisattvas, with various kinds of followers of Buddhism, and with rivers and mountains and everything. So to read this scripture with the body means to find the truth of it in everything, in everyday activity. There's a big difference. So the merit of reading this scripture is in finding the truth of it in our everyday activity. We read this scripture so that we can understand more perfectly and become familiar with the truth. This is our attitude toward scriptures.

This kind of statement is in this scripture. So we should observe everything as being the things described in this scripture. The emperor's building of temples is, of course, merit, not because he built temples, but because of his understanding of Buddhism and helping. That is merit. Real merit is not a matter of building temples or not building temples, or a matter of big and small. This is our understanding. 
 -------------------------------- Excerpt from Shunryu Suzuki lecture - 68-02-00-B as found on Edited by DC