Q155. Why did masters say, “Don’t try to do good things”?

A. When you have a stick, can you remove either end of it? Even if you cut off one end of it, there will still remain two ends even though the stick becomes a little shorter. No matter how many times you may cut off either end of it, you will still have both ends and find that the middle part becomes the end. The fact is that you can’t avoid having one end as long as you have the other end. This shows that there is no fixed end and that any part can be an end according to circumstances.

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When we have an intention to do something good, we can’t avoid having an idea of something bad because there can’t be a good thing without a bad thing. As long as we have an intention to do good things, we can’t avoid discriminating things. Discriminating things is against the purpose of Zen meditation.
So masters said “Don’t try to do good things” in order to advise their students not to have discriminating minds.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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