Q355. If everything is the true-self, even birds, are they nearer to enlightenment than humans because they kill only for food, not for pleasure?

A. In fact, whether we do good conduct or bad conduct is one thing and attaining enlightenment is another. You can make good karma by doing good conduct, but you can’t attain enlightenment by doing it. In other words, you might enjoy a temporarily better life as a result of good conduct, but you can’t get eternal happiness, or solve the matter of life and death.

According to the Sutras, one of Buddha’s students attained enlightenment although he had killed 99 people before becoming Buddha’s student.

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Doing good conduct, or making good karma, is compared to banking money little by little, and attaining enlightenment is likened to attaining eternal life and inexhaustible wealth. However how much money you may put aside in the bank, the money will run out some day. Above all, your wealth, no matter how great it is, becomes of no use to you once you pass away.

 

However, we become eternity itself by transcending life and death through enlightenment, which is called eternal life in Christianity. Christianity also says that we can’t enter heaven unless we believe in God, no matter how much good conduct we may do. ‘Believe in God’ here means to see God, which means to see everything as it is. This is to attain enlightenment in Buddhism.

 

Student: “Can I attain enlightenment by doing good things?”

Master: “No, not at all.”

Student: “Should I do bad things?”

Master: “Of course not.”

Student: “Then, what shall I do?”

Master: “Do nothing.”

Student: “How can we live without doing anything?”

Master: “Do good things, but don’t let even your right hand know what it does.”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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