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Zhiyi on Good & Evil

Zhiyi 智顗 (538-597) in his commentary on the Lotus Sūtra states the following:


  《妙法蓮華經玄義》卷5:「又凡夫心一念即具十界。悉有惡業性相。秖惡性相即善性相。由惡有善離惡無善。翻於諸惡即善資成。如竹中有火性。未即是火事。故有而不燒。遇緣事成即能燒物。惡即善性未即是事。遇緣成事即能翻惡。如竹有火。火出還燒竹。惡中有善。善成還破惡。故即惡性相是善性相也。凡夫一念。皆有十界識名色等。苦道性相。迷此苦道生死浩然。此是迷法身為苦道。不離苦道別有法身。如迷南為北無別南也。若悟生死即是法身。故云苦道性相即是法身性相也。」(CBETA, T33, no. 1716, p. 743, c25-p. 744, a3-7)


Furthermore, a single moment of thought in the mind of a common being possesses the ten realms. They completely possess the nature and characteristics of evil karma, yet the nature and characteristics of evil are the nature and characteristics of virtue. It is due to evil that there is virtue. Apart from evil there is no virtue. Turning over evils, there is virtue supporting them, like inside bamboo there being the nature of fire. It is not yet the object of fire, which is why it exists but does not burn. When meeting with conditions the phenomenon comes to exist, and then it can burn things. Evil as the nature of virtue is not yet an existent phenomenon. When it meets with conditions it become an existent phenomenon, and then there can be a turn to evil. It is like bamboo. Fire is emitted and returns, burning the bamboo. In evil there is virtue. When virtue comes to exist it returns, destroying the evil. This is why that which are the nature and characteristics of evil are the nature and characteristics of virtue. A single moment of thought of an ordinary being always possesses the consciousnesses, names and forms of the ten realms. The nature and characteristics of the path of suffering – they misunderstand this path of suffering, and saṃsāra remains expansive. This is misunderstanding the dharmakāya as the path of suffering. There is no separate dharmakāya apart from the path of suffering, like mistaking south as north, there is no separate south. If one realizes saṃsāra, then it is the dharmakāya. Thus it is said the nature and characteristics of the path of suffering are the nature and characteristics of the dharmakāya.