A Leper

Master Gyeongheo was dwelling at Cunggyesa temple, when a leper woman knocked at the door of his room.He noticed that she had wandered lacking in love. He allowed her to enter his room. Since then, he shared his mattress together with her for a week, until his disciple Mangong said, “I notice your Dharma is supreme, but we can’t endure it. Please have her get out of here.” Gyeongheo said, “You seem to have many boundaries catching you. Then I can’t help it.” So he had to tell her to leave.

How to live as a Sunim (Monk)


The Great Matter of Life and Death


1. It is no small thing for a person to become a Bhikku (Buddhist Monk) or Bhikkuni (Buddhist Nun). A person does not become a Sunim (Korean honorific for monk or nun) to eat and dress well. Rather, they want to be free from life and death by accomplishing Buddhahood.


2. To accomplish Buddhahood, one has to discover one’s own Mind, which is already within one’s own body.


3. To discover Mind, one should understand that one’s body is no more than a dead corpse and that this world is, for good or bad, nothing but a dream. One’s death is like popping out in the evening of the same day that you have popped in during the morning. After death, sometimes one may be born in one of the hells, sometimes in the realm of animals and sometimes in the realm of ghosts. Then one must endure incalculable pains and sufferings.


4. Since this is true, do not concern yourself with the worldly life. Just examine and carefully observe your mind at all times. What does this which is now seeing, hearing and thinking look like? Does this have any form or not? Is this big or small? Is this yellow or green? Is this bright or dark?


5. Examine and observe this matter carefully. Let your examination and observation become like a mouse-catching cat; or like an egg-laying hen; or like a desperately hungry, old, crafty mouse gnawing a hole in a rice bag. Let your examination and observation be focused at one point and do not forget it. Keep it before you by raising doubt and by questioning yourself. Do not let this doubt go away while you are doing chores or the like. Do not let your question (doubt) escape from you even while you are not doing anything special. By eagerly and sincerely practicing in this manner, finally, there will be the moment of awakening to your own Mind.


6. Study hard by raising your faith. Raising your faith is sincerely reexamining the matter just mentioned.


7. To be born a human being is most difficult. It is even more difficult to be born into favorable circumstances – harder still to become a Bhikku or Bhikkuni. It is the most difficult thing of all to find correct and righteous Dharma teaching. We should reflect on this matter deeply.


8. Shakyamuni Buddha once said, “One who is already a human being is like a speck of dirt clinging to a fingernail, while the one who has become an animal by losing his human form is as common as the dirt of the ground. If one loses the human form this time, then one will have to wait countless eons to recover it. When someone is in one of the many hells, he is unaware of it, as if playing games in a flower garden. Becoming a hungry ghost, asura, or animal, he acts like he is dwelling in his own home.


9. “However, if one is awakened and has accomplished Buddhahood, he does not have to live or die. That is, he does not have to endure any kind of suffering again.” These words should be carefully considered one by one.


10. Once, Zen Master Kwon, a Bhikkhu, began meditating from morning to night. As soon as the sun would set, he would beat his fists against the ground in frustration and cry out, “I have lost another day without realizing my Mind.” He continued this way every day until he was fully awakened. Since there are many who have exhibited the determination of Master Kwon, it is impossible for me here to cite everyone who has had the determination to meditate until enlightened.


11. None of them were worried about living or dying, nor about eating, dressing well, nor sleeping. In our study, we should practice the same way. Consider this carefully!


12. Once Zen Master Dong Sahn wrote: Do not seek noble titles nor wish to have possessions nor ask for prosperity. Wherever you happen to be, just live in accord with your karma here and now in this life. If your clothes wear out, patch them again and again. If there is no food, barely even search for it. When the warm energy under your chin grows cold, suddenly you become a corpse. What remains after death is only a hollow name. After all, how many days will this transient body live? Why work hard only to acquire useless things? That only makes your mind dark and causes you to forget your practice.


13. After awakening one’s own mind, one should always preserve its purity and tranquility. Cultivate this mind without allowing it to be tainted by worldly things. Then plenty of good things (that is, pleasure which comes from the Awakening) will happen. Faithfully, trust in this. When you have to die, there will be no more suffering or sickness. You can go freely to Nirvana or anywhere else you chose (i.e., you control your own life as a free person in the world).


14. Shakyamuni Buddha said, “If anyone — man or woman, old or young — has faith in these words and studies, each will, as a result, become a Buddha.” Why would Shakyamuni Buddha deceive us?


15. The Fifth Patriarch, Hung Jen Zen Master, said, “By examination and observation of mind, one will become enlightened naturally.” Then he further promised us that, “If you don’t have faith in what I say, in future lives you will be eaten by tigers over and over again. On the other hand, if I have deceived you, I will fall into the dungeon of hell with no exit.” Since the Patriarchs have said these words, should we not take them to heart?


16. If you take up this practice, do not agitate your mind; let it be like a mountain. Let your mind be like a clear and empty space and continue to reflect on enlightening Dharma like the moon reflects the sun. Whether others think that you are right or wrong is not your concern. Do not judge or criticize others. Just be at ease and go on mindlessly like a simpleton or a fool; or, be like one who is struck deaf and dumb. Spend your life as if you cannot hear a thing, or like an infant. Then, sooner or later, all the delusion will disappear.



17. If one wishes to accomplish Buddhahood, it is useless to attempt to understand and master worldly life. It would be like one trying to fix food out of dung, or like trying to cut jade out of mud. It is totally useless for the accomplishing of Buddhahood. There is no reason for occupying oneself with worldly affairs.


18. See your own death in the death of others. Do not put your trust in this body. Rather, remind yourself again and again to not miss a moment to awaken your own mind.


19. Ask yourself repeatedly, “What does this mind look like?” In your daily rounds, continue to ask yourself, “What does this mind look like?” Reflect upon this question so intensely that you are like a starving man thinking of nothing but good food. Do not lose hold of your questioning at any time.


20. Buddha has said, “Whatever has a form, that is, everything, is all delusory.” He also said, “Everything that the ordinary human being does is subject to life and death. There is only one way for us to be a true person and this is Realization of our own mind.”


21. It is said, “Do not drink liquor,” since it will intoxicate and make your mind dull. Also, “Do not speak lies,” since it will only accelerate delusive states of mind. Furthermore, “Do not steal,” since it only helps to make your mind jealous and full of desires. You should observe these and all the precepts. Breaking the precepts can be very harmful for your cultivation and for your life itself. You should not cling to or incline yourself towards breaking any of them.


22. Master Ox-herder, Mokguja (Chinul), once mentioned that, “Indulging in craving and desire for property are as vicious as poisonous snakes. Watch your body and mind carefully when such desires arise and then understand them as they are. Detach yourself from them as much as possible.”


23. These words are very important and they should be remembered. They will make your study more effective. Buddha said, “Becoming angry even once raises ten million vicious sins. A student must simply endure and tolerate the angry mind.” Many masters have also said that because of anger, one becomes a tiger, a bee, a snake, or some similar stinging or biting creature. From foolish-mindedness, one becomes either a bird or a butterfly. Depending upon his degree of low-mindedness, one becomes either an ant, mosquito or the like. From craving things, one becomes a hungry ghost. The type of desire or anger molds the nature of hell into which one will accordingly fall. Each and every state of mind determines the kind of creature one is to become.


24. However, if one’s mind is unattached, one becomes a Buddha. Even a “good” or positive state of mind is useless. Even though such a condition of mind can create a heavenly future life, it is still limited. As soon as one reaches heaven, he immediately begins descending to the hellish or animal realms in successive re-births. If no intention is held in the mind, then there is no place to be born again. One’s mind is so pure and unconfused, it cannot go to the dark places. This pure and quiescent mind is the way of Buddha.


25. If one questions with one-pointed concentration, then this mind naturally settles down and become tranquil. By this one automatically realizes one’s own mind as quiescent and tranquil. This is the same as becoming a Buddha.


26. This way is very direct and goes right to the point. It is the best way one can practice. Read and examine this talk from time to time and, on the right occasions, even tell other people. This is as good as reading eighty-four thousand volumes of scriptures. Studying in this manner, one will accomplish Buddhahood in this lifetime. Do not think this talk to be some contrived encouragement or expedient deception. Follow these words with your whole-hearted mind.


27. In the deep canyon where the clear stream is flowing continuously, all kinds of birds are singing everywhere. No one ever comes to visit this place. It is the so-called Sunim’s place (monastery), and is quiet and tranquil. Here is where I sit and contemplate and examine what this mind is. Now, if this mind is not what Buddha is, then what else is it?


28. You have just heard a very rare talk. You should continue to study this great matter enthusiastically. Do not hurry, otherwise you might become sick or get a terrible headache. Calm yourself, then ceaselessly meditate. Most of all, be careful not to force yourself. Rather, relax and let your right questioning be within!

Roaring of a Mud Cow

All who practice meditation should be careful to realize these things!
 
First, that impermanence occurs too fast and the matter of birth and death is most important. Thus, an ancient saying says: “although my life is preserved today, it is difficult to preserve tomorrow. So your mind should always should be concentrated and always awakened, without idleness.
 
Second, you must reduce defilements inwardly and cut off causes and conditions outwardly. If your mind rubs together with sense objects like fire sticks, bursting into flame, this might not only hinder your ability to break through your Hwadu (koan, great lump of doubt), but it will also add heavily to your karma. If you are able to get along without indulging in the sensory pleasures of life and have no interest in preserving your life, then the wisdom of mind becomes clear and bright. As a consequence, mind will accomplish everything. If you engage in good conduct, then you might be reborn in Heaven, engage in bad conduct then you’ll go to hell, atrocious behavior will lead to you becoming a tiger or wolf, possess a stupid mind and become an earthworm or an insect, have a light and busy mind and become a butterfly. Thus, an ancient master says, “one thought of wrong mind puts forth a hundred thousand forms.” If your mind becomes pure and tranquil, thoroughly empty, where can you find your birth and death, where can you find good and evil, and where can you find any keeping or violating of the precepts?
 
Only when you reach the origin, will you not follow any birth, any destruction, you won’t attain any Buddhahood, and won’t accomplish any patriarchal transmission. On a grand scale, it encloses incalculable universes, on a small scale it enters subtle dust, and it can be both Buddha and sentient beings. Moreover, it is not large or small, not angular or circular, not bright or dark. Thus, it does not exist because it is an enforced truth, but because it is a free and circular truth.
 
Those who practice this deep and delicate path always reflect mind deliberately, awakened, precisely and continuously, practicing with extremely sincerity, and then arriving at the condition in which mind is exhausted. Suddenly the road of mind comes to an end and they arrive at the basic ground of mind. Because the basic state of mind is originally satisfied and transparent, there is no lack and no surplus.
When these conditions manifest, thousands of suns and moons shine brightly. When the wind strikes the ear, the oceanic wind-bell strikes Mt. Sumeru of its own accord.
 
This reason is always nearby, so there is no need to know spontaneously. Those who seek the deep truth can attain the method for reflection, finding the mind’s exact shape. So don’t use mind indifferently! As Master Taego said: “Let the arrow fly, it penetrates the rock.” Master Cheongheo also said “As a mosquito penetrates the back of an iron ox, go desperately through the place where the beak cannot reach.” The hwadu practitioner should take these teaching as a guideline.
 
A Dharma master once said: “the single dharma to see the mind includes all behavior.” Nevertheless, you need only pay attention to cultivating the root and the body, don’t worry about the branches and leaves not growing thick. Make efforts only to see the real mind and to attain enlightenment. Don’t worry if there is no mysterious samadhi. People these days do not desperately study and practice the truth. I’m very sad because the mendicant hwadu practitioners don’t discover the truth of Buddhist teaching. They don’t have an eye of wisdom, but spend life uselessly, like a goat wandering drunk and lost at a fork in the road.
Master Dong-san said: “it is painful to lose a man’s body under a monk’s robe.” If one’s first step on a journey of a thousand miles is not right, it is useless to waste energy, so it does no benefit to go any further.
 
Thus Master Gyubong said: “Clearly cut off all doubt, awaken to the truth and practice!” Even were someone to build a humble grass house, this task could not be accomplished without without the effort of drawing guide lines and planing the wood; thus, how much more difficult is it to build a big temple of full enlightenment without following the truth? For fear of failure, even a small plan requires one to study in order to attain the truth. Those who can’t do as such must ask questions to good teachers and then seek out a master with clear vision, and then they will finally accomplish their task without fail.
It’s rare to find those who engage on the path without failing. It’s hard to find those who throw themselves into their study, who can see clearly.

Oh, how sad! Why don’t you search for the truth?

If people want to realize impermanence and attain enlightenment, why don’t they seek a bright master? How else can they ever attain the right way in the future?

Heavy Sacks – Gyeongheo

Gyeongheo Seong-U ( 1826 ~ 1912 )

Gyeongheo and Mangong, his disciple, were returning to their temple in the evening after getting some rice for their food. Especially that day, they got rice full of sack. Apart from their satisfaction, the sacks were heavy and it was still distant to their destination. Mangong felt tired and got pain on the shoulder, so it was very difficult to follow his master. Noticing this, Gyeongheo said, “I will use one method to get fast. Please see.” They were passing a certain village. Then, a beautiful young woman was coming from the opposit side of them with a water jar on the head. She was apparently a bride just over 20 years old. When Gyeongheo faced her, he held her both ears and kissed her lips. The woman screamed, dropped and broke the jar, and ran back into her house. A distubance arose. Villagers ran out of their houses with sticks or clubs and shouted, “Wicked monks, stop there.” The two monks began to run away. They ran so desperately that villagers couldn’t follow them to the last. After a while, when they took a rest, Gyeongheo said, “Was the sack heavy?” Mangong said, “Regardlessly, I don’t know how I could run so long way with it.” Gyeongheo said, “Don’t I have talent?” They laughed together looking at each other.

The Way to Investigate the Hwadu

One student once asked,
“You told us to investigate and doubt the hwadu, but how should we investigate it?”

 

Yongseong answered,
“A person suddenly lost a treasure he had carefully carried on his person and cherished for a long time. At first, he didn’t know he had lost his valuable thing, but one day he felt with his hands where he usually carried the treasure and noticed it missing. Thus, he wondered in suspicion and doubt where the treasure was. Your investigation into the hwadu should be like this.

 

Another person picked up a strange object from the ground near dawn, before sunlight had fully illuminated the world. Although he examined it closely, it was yet too dark to see clearly, so he was not sure what to make of it; stuck in a boundary between knowing and not knowing what it is, he is full of suspicion and doubt. The manner of one who investigates the hwadu is like this.

 

When you investigate the hwadu, it is sometimes like trying to force a donkey to drink, sometimes defilements arise like hot fire, sometimes the mind doesn’t move at all as if it were a solid block of ice, sometimes it goes as well as a sailing boat in a favorable wind. But, whether your studying goes well or not, do not bear thoughts of joy or dissappointment at it; you ought to think only of your hwadu.

 

Also, do not take up practice for the clear and calm that arises when you sit; nor should you take exercise, speech, movement, or being calm as your practice. Do not practice with your mind like the thin air, nor should you make your mind like a wall; for studying with these attitudes is a heretical path that lead to emptiness and ruin, and the people who study thusly are dead even though they still breathe.

 

Therefore instead focus your investigation and doubt on this one thing that you don’t fully understand. If you study hard with a consistently focused mind, the state of sight and hearing naturally become calm; forgetting both the thing and the self, the mountains, rivers, and the great earth dissappear, and the empty space melts down. When you reach this state, you will naturally destroy ignorance [chiltong, literally, pitch-black container].”

Another student asked Yongseong, “How can I get rid of the delusions that keep appearing to me?”

 

Yongseong answered,
“Whether delusions arise or not, leave them alone and do not try to get rid of them. Delusions have a tendency to arise all the more when you try to get rid of them. For example, when a cow tries to run away, if you draw the rein firmly toward you, the cow follows you by its own will. Like this, if you investigate the hwadu without being bothered whether a delusion arises or not, the delusion will disappear by itself.


Also, do not try to get rid of delusions using the hwadu; if delusions overcome you even though you focus only on the hwadu, immediately let go of the hwadu and relax your mind to its natural state. Then, if you resume the investigation, your mind will be new and clean.


When you investigate the hwadu, question it clearly with an always relaxed and comfortable mind and body. If you start on the hwadu in a hurry, because the mind that arises from bodily desire is shaken; you will feel pressure on your chest and have a headache, and bleed from your nose. These symptoms occur because your mind was too hurried.


On the other hand, if you are off your guard, you are likely to lose your hwadu. Neither should you investigate the hwadu too excessively and tensely, nor should you be too lax. If the strings of a lute are too loose, its sound is not right, and also it the strings of a lute are too tight, its sound is also not right; thus studying is the same way.


Figuratively speaking, it is as if when someone wanders into the deep mountains, when all of a sudden the mountain and river comes to an end. Facing this situation, if you set one foot forward with the strength to courageously sever your ties, you will be able to see a new world where the flowers are bright and the blossoms are emerald.


While all the other studies of the world are investigated with an analytical, categorizing mind that tries to know all things, this study consists of the questioning and investigation with a focused mind of this one thing that you do not know. If you try to approach this study with a categorizing and analyzing mind, you will be unable to know anything even after 10,000 years of questioning. When you investigate the hwadu, you should not seek fun in it, but rather keep an unceasing attitude, like a mosquito sitting on a cow made of iron. For if the mosquito breaks through the iron cow with life and limb in abandon, even its body will dive straight in.
Only investigate and doubt the hwadu with a focused mind, never bearing a mind of knowing or a mind of seeking. Like when the warm spring comes back, flowers bloom and leaves spread out, so when your study ripens you will naturally seek and know.”

 

From the Susimjeongno (The Right Path to Cultivating the Mind)

The Fundamental Mind of Supreme Enlightenment – Yongseong

Yongseong Jinjong ( 1864 ~ 1940 )

I shall analyze this in two explanations. First, the things we commonly comprehend as the biggest things around us are the sky, the earth, the sea, the air, and the like. But what we call “big” in Buddhism are not those things. When we refer to the “bigness” of the original and natural mind in Buddhism, it is not big in the sense that the sky, the earth, sea or air can be compared with it; in fact, is it so big that nothing can become a thing that can be contrasted with it. Enlightenment is not something that can be stated, like “I am enlightened” or “I am becoming enlightened.” Therefore, it is impossible to teach the fundamental mind of enlightenment with words or writings, or to show it with any concrete shape.
Even though the air is full of electric currents and the sea is full of salt, it’s impossible to listen to the electric current in the air with our ears, or see the salinity of the sea with our eyes. Likewise, though there is definitely an essential nature of Supreme Enlightenment (daegak), since it doesn’t have any specific name or form, you cannot see it with your eyes, hear it with your ears, or think about it with your mind.
Though it is said this essential nature of Supreme Enlightenment originally doesn’t exist because it has no name or form, it doesn’t mean that is really nonexistent. Because there’s nothing, neither is it mind, nor Buddha, Dharma, or Sangha, nor is it a ghost, nor is it any thing, nor the sky or the earth. At the same time it is both immensely big, immensely small, immensely empty, immensely spiritual, immensely firm and strong, but immensely soft at the same time, so it’s not analyzable through thinking.
Though this nature has no name or form, it links the past and the present, surrounds the universe, exists as a subject of the sky, the earth, and humans. As a king of all the laws, it is so big and broad that there’s nothing comparable; so lofty that there is no equal. Also, it has been even before the heaven and earth, so there is no beginning, and it will exist even after the end of days, so there is no ending. This big and round essential nature of enlightenment shows that heaven and earth and the self have the same root and the universe and the self are the same body.
This nature is equal in every body. Just because some are sages, it doesn’t mean they have more of this nature than ordinary men. Also, since there is no becoming, dying, any particular shape, or name for this nature, when it’s in the sky it becomes a part of the sky, in the earth it becomes a part of the earth, and in humans it becomes a part of humans. This is the fundamental mind of attaining divine enlightenment.
Second, attaining divine enlightenment for oneself, then guiding other people to the way of enlightenment, are not two things but one, so it is called the final enlightenment. Every person is pure and undefiled just where s/he is, and it shows that the enlightenment itself is always there, inside of them. Even though enlightenment always exists inside of them, if s/he doesn’t realize it, s/he is ordinary. Even though they realize it’s there, if they don’t strive, they also are ordinary. Why is that?
Even if something is gold, if it is not tempered several times, it cannot become pure gold. But after it becomes pure gold there is no change. Attaining the true mind through striving is like becoming pure gold. This is called actualizing enlightenment.
The original enlightenment (Buddhahood) and actualizing enlightenment ar

Must possess great piety and a dauntless determination to open door to Great Path


If you seek the Great Path, more than anything else, the most important thing is your spiritual attitude.

This Great Truth cannot be fathomed, is vast and boundless, and all varieties of debate on right and wrong and good and bad points, and all the little differences and sundry forms and colors (形形色色) have ended and are gone in the level of the Truth. So we can imagine how much unnecessary stress we put ourselves through in trying to grab onto and to intellectualize about such a level, where all things have been extinguished. It is as stressful as trying to grab onto thin air.


So what must we do in order to experience (證得) this Truth that is so difficult to understand? For one possessing great piety and a dauntless determination so strong its force could pierce the heavens, attaining such an experience is as easy as touching one’s nose while washing one’s face. But for one without piety and without the karmic ties to hear the true Dharma and meet a true master (正法正眼의 因緣), it is as difficult as picking a star from the sky.


Anyone who, with an enormous pious heart, learns and receives guidance from one who has attained an awakening first, and without looking back continues in just this way, will pass through the door of Truth without any real difficulties.


But if one loses oneself in wrong perspectives and views and – forgetting the traditional proverb that “no one becomes a military general on one’s own” – arrogantly tries to attain enlightenment without the help of anyone, even though this person devotes his entire life to his practice, and in no matter how many subsequent lives he tries to polish his character, such a person won’t progress at all.


Inasmuch as all language, discernment and discrimination have been extinguished in the level of this great Truth, we must at least pull ourselves out of such wrong views in order to head toward the Realm of Selflessness/Egolessness.


So then what must we do in order to enter the Realm of Selflessness of the Great Path?


Long ago, Great Master Bodhidharma crossed over into China from India and attempted to spread the teachings of Seon.  But there was no one who could understand his teachings and therefore he had no following. So Bodhidharma was left with no choice but to go and live in the Shaolin Cave, where he sat in meditation in complete silence while facing a wall for many years. Finally, after nine years, he met someone capable of receiving his teachings. This monk was none other than the Venerable Shingwang (神光, lit. “Mysterious Light”).


The story of the life of Venerable Shingwang goes like this: One day, Shingwang made the resolution to enter the Buddhist monkhood. He traveled far and wide in the great expanse of China in search of one who had awakened to the Truth of the Great Path, but he could find no one.


But then one day, he met a man, who told him to go see the great Bodhidharma:


“There is a Brahman who for nine years has sat facing a wall in meditation in Shaolin Cave. He seems like someone who knows the right path. Go there.”


So Shingwang went, but upon reaching Shaolin Cave, Bodhidharma did not turn around to greet him, even though he was aware that someone had come – he just continued sitting facing the wall.


After performing the ceremonial bows to Bodhidharma, Shingwang announced “I’ve come here so that I can know the great Truth of the Buddha.” But the Great Master Bodhidharma still would not turn around.


This was in the middle of a cold winter, where a snowstorm and stinging winds had blanketed the entire mountains and fields. In the middle of this stinging wintry cold steadfastly stood Shingwang, in front of Shaolin Cave with hands clasped. He stood there throughout the night, until the snow had reached his waist.


Think about how harshly cold it must feel for someone who’s steeped in snow, from the waist down. The average person, no matter how hard he tries to tough it out, would surely not last. But Shingwang ably conquered all such hardships through his piety, throwing all worries about his body out the window with the sincere single-minded thought that “I have to know the Truth of the Great Path.”


The Great Master Bodhidharma finally turned around after one night and one afternoon had passed, and saw that Shingwang was still standing there without having yielded an inch, hands clasped, with the snow up to his waist. Only then did Bodhidharma turn around to face Shingwang, and he asked “Why have you come?”


“I’ve come to know the Great Truth of the Buddha.”



“Only after one has diligently devoted oneself to this practice through limitless time, through infinite kalpas, ably performed activities that require great strength and courage, and weathered through unlimited suffering does one attain the Great Truth of the Buddha. So how does someone like you with no piety expect to attain such a thing?”


The message here is that an extraordinary degree of piety is needed to know the Great Truth of the Buddha; So much so that even as much devotion as standing hands clasped outside for one night and an afternoon, until the snow reaches one’s waist, doesn’t even come close to cutting it.


Upon hearing this, Shingwang took out the dagger he had been carrying attached to his side and cut off one of his arms and presented it to Bodhidharma. He expressed his desire to realize the Truth thus: “I seek the Great Dharma of the Buddha with a sincere mind, inasmuch as I am willing to sacrifice my body and life.”


As if finally acknowledging Shingwang’s piety, the Great Master Bodhidharma at this point said “If you have any doubts about anything, then ask.” At this, Shingwang said, “As my mind is always insecure, please help pacify my mind.”


An insecure mind is not something unique to Shingwang, but afflicts all sentient beings.


The Great Master Bodhidharma shot back:

“Then bring me this insecure mind.”


But Shingwang, after trying to find this insecure mind, realized it was nowhere to be found. So Shingwang said, “No matter how much I search for the insecure mind, there is no way to find it.”


The Great Master Bodhidharma then triumphantly uttered: “I have thus already pacified your mind.”


Upon hearing this, Shingwang’s ‘mind’s eye’ burst open.


After connecting with each other in this way, the Great Master Bodhidharma accepted Shingwang as his disciple, and said “I acknowledge that you now have the wisdom of the right Dharma,” and bestowed upon Shingwang the Dharma name of “Hye-ga.” 


As all of you know very well, it was this Venerable Hye-ga who went on to inherit the Bodhidharma’s teachings, thus receiving the “transmission of the lamp”  and becoming the 2nd patriarch of Ch’an in China. In this way, life is such that anyone can enter the door of the Great Path if you are able to throw away concerns about your body and life and seek the Truth with sincere single-mindedness.


The reason why we don’t awaken even after practicing meditation our whole lives is because of a fault that lies within us – we don’t seek the Truth with sincere single-mindedness. As a result, when we sit to meditate, we waste away all our time harping on our sad plight (?) and on delusions, and we end up using time frivolously.


If, with the resolve of “I will do whatever it takes to solve this problem in this lifetime,” one meditates on the hwadu  with sincere single-mindedness, even though time flows on, one will be unaware that it does; also no matter how noisily the person next to you chatters, you will not be able to hear it; and even though you sit in meditation, you even forget that you are sitting. The only thought on your mind is the hwadu.


If you’re able to continue this one thought, this single-mindedness on the hwadu, in much the same way water constantly flows in a river, then you’ll for certain help tens of thousands of people open their eyes to the Truth.


Thus in order to awaken to this Great Truth, you must first establish a resolute mind.


One must decisively cut off all of one’s myriad karmic ties and throw away trifle concerns about health and wealth, and pour all of one’s everyday thoughts for the rest of one’s life into only the hwadu.


If you constantly practice in this way, eventually, even when you try to think of something else you can’t, and even when you try to latch onto thoughts, you won’t be able to. Banish away all worldly thoughts and, in the same way one’s mind immediately focuses in on an area of the body that has been pinched by a needle, concentrate very hard on the hwadu. One will eventually become so deeply submerged in the hwadu that when others see you, they’ll think “That guy’s absurd,” or “That guy’s lost it.”


After many uninterrupted days, months, and years like this, when the time is karmically ripe, the hwadu will be toppled. That is, having let go of the myriad thoughts in one’s mind, one’s single-minded concentration on the hwadu becomes as continuous as the flow of river water; And when the time is karmically ripe, the very essence of the hwadu will reveal itself to the person.


Although the wintry winds of early and mid-winter sting the leather of our skin, once this season passes and the balmy winds make their way in, the winds of winter that were once so cold and harsh fade without a trace, and the comfortable warm breeze of spring gives life and nourishment to all things.


One’s hwadu practice, if forged ahead with a true heart, will progress in just this same manner as nature.


But because truth-seeking apprentice monks don’t seek with a true heart, with motivation welling up from one’s own heart, they don’t come close to reaching the state of single-mindedness, even after 10 or 30 years, and thus are not able to gain insight into their true nature. If the hwadu comes passionately from the heart, and one voraciously remains fixated on it, then without enduring any boredom and unaware of the passing of time, the three months of intensive retreat in meditation will fly by.


However, having trained and lived with many heads of meditation halls before, I have seen some go mad because they can’t stand the tediousness of the three months of retreat.


This isn’t the spiritual attitude of a true practitioner. Many people think all they have to do is simply sit and meditate on the hwadu – then why even bother? This is like aping meditation. With this kind of a starting spiritual attitude, even if you meditate till your hair grows gray, you will gain nothing. In the end, all you’ll have to your credit is charitable kindness (施恩), and all you’ll have on your deathbed is regret.


Therefore many of you monks out there must make the effort to reflect on your practicing attitude, asking yourselves “Am I living the life of one who has truly made the resolution to see my original nature?” – or living the life of one who lives day in and day out just using up valuable food. And then you must again, and again, firmly resolve to earnestly seek your original nature.


We did not turn our backs on worldly activities and come to the temple as beggarly monks for the sake of our parents, or for the sake of others; we came here for our own sakes.


We must absolutely let go of all our convoluted karmic ties and feuds. If you don’t think you can throw away these apparitions, there is no way you’ll be able to progress even one step in your practice.


If you make the resolution to gain insight into your true nature at whatever cost within this lifetime, you will one day inevitably become like a fool, since you have now given up living like a regular person.


When you become like a fool, with each step, each thought, the hwadu absorbs you. If the hwadu becomes the sole, central occupant of your mind, there is nothing that is hard. At this point, you don’t care whether or not the intensive retreat is over, nor take a special interest in daily mundane matters, and you forget all concerns over the physical body.


Only when you practice in this way for a long time will you be able to come near the door of the Great Path, and in the end, you will be able to fling the door of the Great Path wide open.


That is why you must clearly define your practicing attitude from the start. If you don’t, then whether you live the life of a monk for 10 years, or 30 years, or till your hair grows gray, you will still be stuck in the same spot.


It is the same for all of you laywomen and men. Just because you’ve been to this and that temple in every rural hinterland of the country doesn’t mean you will be blessed, nor does it mean you are practicing well.


With an absolutely unmoving mind that thinks “The only thing for me to do is find my mind’s shining light,” you must throw away all your pride, cut off all convoluted karmic ties, learn the correct way to seek the hwadu, and insistently and consistently deepen your practice in this way amidst your daily life.


But since all of you have families, and sons and daughters to take care of, and family matters to tend to, then amidst this secular lifestyle – since this is the only time you have – you must sincerely seek the hwadu without letting go of it once. If you practice in this way, all of the habit energies and weak points of your mind will eventually be erased.


“What is it that allows us to come and go and talk?” Because there is a true, faceless owner who controls this physical body of ours, we are able to carry out daily activities such as coming and going, speaking and answering someone, and are able to listen to this very Dharma Talk. Even as I write this, you are unable to make this teaching your own and understand. On the other hand, if the fact you don’t understand makes you truly feel indignant and realize how foolish living in this kind of ignorance is, and generates within you a sincere single-mindedness to understand, and you thus focus on the hwadu with a voracious doubt that carries enough force to pierce the five viscera and the six entrails, then even without you being aware of it, your practice will ripen. All worldly thoughts retreat and only the single thought of the hwadu will appear before you clearly.


Whether you come or go, prepare food, clean your house, work in the office, or sleep, if the single thought of the hwadu of “What is this?” appears before you clear and bright at all times and places, all the habit energies you have created over many past lives during many kalpas will all melt away.


Whoever reaches such a state of mind – whether they be monks, laywomen, or laymen – can awaken. In fact, even if you didn’t want to awaken, you would awaken.


The Buddha’s Dharma is not something that has been brought over from the moon world, or from the heavenly realms. Because at the core of each and every one of our hearts lies the same basic level of the mind, there is not even a hair-width difference between the minds of sentient beings and the minds of the innumerous Buddhas and Seon patriarchs. But because bewildered sentient beings have not realized their true nature and thus cannot make use of it, there is nothing in this world more irritating.


If we diligently stay with our practice and come to see the basic level of our mind, we will attain the same state of mind as the Buddha. If this happens, we will be able to zip through the koans that have been passed down to us, and which now amount to piles upon piles, by all of the Buddhas and past adepts (道人).


So when truth-seeking apprentice monks think they “know” and go to see masters to receive acknowledgment, the masters listen to their understanding of the kongan  and then test them. At this point, only one who has truly awakened is able to point to the east when asked which direction the east is, and point to the west when asked which direction the west is.


During the test, if one talks about the west when asked about the east, then this person has not yet entered the door of Truth. Because one whose eyes have not yet opened to the Truth are unable to differentiate between east, west, south and north, the questions and answers will not connect with one another, and the young monk, always confused, will answer absurdly.


Such an understanding by the apprentice monk is but a wrong understanding, and is not of any help along the Great Path. If one falls into this wrong view, not only do you waste away this lifetime, it will become harder and harder to break away from the yoke of wrong views, as they arise one after another.


Therefore the apprentice monk should always lean on the Master Teacher (善知識) who has awakened before him, cultivating one’s practice accordingly and continuously receiving guidance from the Master Teacher, and establish a right view and perspective. If the master is not a true master and has a wrong view, you must have the great gall to leave him right there and then. Only then will you develop a close karmic connection with the true Great Path. While you strive along the Great Path, I hope that you reflect from time to time on whether perhaps there is a weak spot in your practicing attitude, and voraciously seek the hwadu throughout the night.

Seon Master Jin-je

History of cultivation


Born Feb. 21, 1931
Completion of course at sutra school in department of Mahayana Doctrinal Studies at Haein Temple Given formal recognition by his teacher, the Venerable Seolseoku in 1952 ; Received the full set of Bhikkhu precepts by his preceptor, the Venerable Jau, in 1955 Received transmission in the formal Imje (Rinzai) lineage from his Dharma teacher, the Venerable Hyanggok, in 1967.
Established Haeunjeong Temple in 1971.
Served as president of Seonhakwon from 1991~1992 Head of Meditation Hall at Haeunjeong Temple and Geummo Seon Center and Donghwa Temple.


Valor and great piety a must to open door to great enlightenment


If you want to achieve a great enlightenment, more than anything else, the most important thing is your mind set.


This great truth cannot be fathomed, is vast and without boundaries, and all varieties of debate on right and wrong, good and bad points and all the sundry differences in life have ended and are gone in the level of the Truth. So we can imagine how much unnecessary stress we put ourselves through in trying to grab onto and to intellectualize about such a level, where all things have been extinguished. It is as stressful as trying to grab onto thin air.


So what must we do in order to experience this Truth that is so difficult to understand? One with great piety and the heart of a lion whose roar pierces even the heavens – for such a person, attaining such an experience is as easy as touching one’s nose while washing one’s face; But for one without piety and without the karmic affinity to hear the true Dharma and meet a true master, it is as difficult as picking a star from the sky.


Anyone who, with a great big pious heart, learns and receives guidance from one who has attained an awakening first, and without looking back continues in just this way, will come knocking at the door of Truth without any real difficulties.


But if one loses oneself in wrong perspectives and views and in self-grandiose fashion tries to attain enlightenment without the help of anyone, even though this person devotes his entire life to his practice, and no matter how many subsequent lives he tries to polish his character, such a person won’t progress at all.


Inasmuch as all language, discernment and discrimination have been extinguished at the level of this great Truth, we must at least pull ourselves out of such wrong views in order to head toward the realm of “No-self.”


So then what must we do in order to enter the great enlightened realm of “No-self”?


Long ago, Great Master Bodhidharma crossed over into China from India and attempted to spread the teachings of Dhyana or Seon (Zen). But there was no one who could understand his teachings and therefore he had no following. So Bodhidharma had no choice but to go and reside in the Shaolin cave, where he meditated in complete silence facing a wall for many years. Finally, after 9 years, he met someone capable of receiving his teachings. This monk was none other than the Venerable Shingwang (lit. “Bright mystery”).


The story of the life of Venerable Shingwang goes like this: One day, Shingwang had made the firm resolution to enter the monkhood. He traveled far and wide in the vast expanse that is China in search of one who had awakened to the Great Truth, but he could find no one.


But then one day, he met a man, who told him to go see the Great Bodhidharma:


“There is a Brahman who for 9 years has sat facing a wall in meditation in Shaolin Cave. He seems like someone who knows the right path. Go there.”


So Shingwang went, but upon reaching Shaolin Cave, Bodhidharma would not turn around to greet him, even though he was aware of Shingwang’s presence – he just continued sitting facing the wall. 


After performing the perfunctory bows to Bodhidharma, Shingwang announced, “I’ve come here so that I can know the Great Truth of the Buddha.” But the Great Master Bodhidharma still would not turn around.


This was in the middle of a cold winter, where a snowstorm and stinging winds had swept the entire mountains and fields. In the middle of this stinging wintry cold steadfastly stood Shingwang, in front of Shaolin Cave with hands clasped. He stood there throughout the night, until the snow had reached his waist.


Think about how cruelly cold it must become for someone when the snow reaches one’s waist: The average person, no matter how hard he tries to tough it out, would surely not last. But Shingwang aptly conquered all such hardships through his piety, throwing all worries about his body out the window with the sincere single-minded thought that “I have to know the Truth of the Great Path.”


The Great Master Bodhidharma finally turned around after one night and one afternoon had passed, and saw that Shingwang was still standing there without having yielded an inch, hands clasped, with the snow up to his waist. Only then did Bodhidharma turn around to face Shingwang, and asked

“Why have you come?”


“I’ve come to know the Great Truth of the Buddha.”

“Only after one has diligently devoted oneself to this practice through limitless time, amounting to enormous kalpas, aptly performed activities that are extremely difficult to perform, and weathered through unlimited suffering does one attain the Great Truth of the Buddha. So how does someone like you with no piety expect to attain such a thing?”


The message here is that an extraordinary degree of piety is needed to know the Great Truth of the Buddha; So much so that even as much devotion as standing hands clasped outside for one night and an afternoon, until the snow reaches one’s waist, doesn’t even come close to cutting it.


Upon hearing this, Shingwang took out the dagger he had been carrying attached to his rib area and cut off one of his arms and presented it to Bodhidharma. He expressed his desire to realize the Truth thus: “I seek the Great Dharma of the Buddha with a sincere mind, inasmuch as I am willing to sacrifice my body and life.”


As if finally acknowledging the level of Shingwang’s piety, the Great Master Bodhidharma at this point said “If you have any doubts about anything, then ask.” At this, Shingwang said, “As my mind is always insecure, please help pacify my mind.”


An insecure mind is not something unique to Shingwang, but afflicts all sentient beings.

The Great Master Bodhidharma shot back:

“Then bring me this insecure mind.”


But Shingwang, after trying to find this insecure mind, realized it was nowhere to be found. So Shingwang said, “No matter how much I search for the insecure mind, there is no way to find it.”


The Great Master Bodhidharma then admonished Shingwang with a booming voice: “I have thus already pacified your mind.”


Upon hearing this, Shingwang’s mind’s eye burst open.


After connecting with each other in this way, the Great Master Bodhidharma accepted Shingwang as his disciple, and said “I acknowledge that you now have the wisdom of the right Dharma,” and bestowed upon Shingwang the Dharma name of “Hye-ga (Ch. “Hui-k’o,” literally meaning “Approval of Wisdom”).”


As all of you know very well, it was this Venerable Hye-ga who went on to inherit the Bodhidharma’s teachings and become the 2nd patriarch of Ch’an in China. ?? In this way, the universal laws dictate that anyone can enter the door of the Great Path if you are able to throw away concerns about your body and life and seek the Truth with sincere single-mindedness.


The reason why we cannot awaken even after practicing meditation our whole lives is because of a fault that lies within us – we don’t seek the Truth with sincere single-mindedness. As a result, when we sit to meditate, we waste away all our time harping on our sad plight ??and delusions, and we end up spending our time in frivolity.


If with the resolve of “I will do whatever it takes to solve this problem in this lifetime,” one meditates on the hwadu  with sincere single-mindedness, even though time flows on, one will be unaware that it does; no matter how noisily the person next to you chatters, you will not be able to hear it; and even though you sit in meditation, you even forget that you are sitting. The only thought on your mind is the hwadu.


If you’re able to continue this one thought, this single-mindedness on the hwadu, in much the same way water constantly flows in a river, then it is certain that a thousand-, ten thousand-fold number of people will open their eyes to the Truth.


Thus in order to awaken to this Great Truth, you must first establish a resolute mind.


One must decisively cut off all of one’s myriad karmic affinities and throw away trifle concerns about health and wealth, and pour all of one’s everyday thoughts for the rest of one’s life into only the hwadu.


If you constantly practice in this way, eventually, even when you try to think of something else you can’t, and even when you try to latch onto thoughts, you won’t be able to. Banish away all worldly thoughts and, in the same way one’s mind immediately focuses in on an area of the body when one has been pinched by a needle, concentrate very hard on the hwadu. One will eventually become so deeply submerged in the hwadu that when others see you, they’ll think “That guy’s absurd,” or “That guy’s lost it.”


After many uninterrupted days, months, and years like this, when the time is karmically ripe, the hwadu will be toppled. That is, having let go of the myriad thoughts in one’s mind, one’s single-minded concentration on the hwadu becomes as continuous as the flow of river water; And when the time is karmically ripe, the essence of the hwadu will reveal itself to the person.??


Although the wintry winds of early and mid-winter sting the leather of our skin, once this season passes and the balmy winds make their way in, the winds of winter that were once so cold and harsh fade without a trace, and the comfortably warm breeze of spring gives life and nourishment to all things.


One’s hwadu practice, if forged ahead with a true heart, will progress in just this same manner as nature.


But because truth-seeking scholars don’t seek with a true heart, with motivation springing from one’s own heart, they don’t come close to reaching the state of single-mindedness, even after 10 or 30 years, and thus are not able to gain insight into their true nature. If the hwadu comes roaring out from the heart, and one voraciously remains fixated on it, then without enduring any boredom and unaware of the passing of time, the three months of intensive retreat in meditation will fly by.


However, having trained and lived with many heads of meditation halls before, I have seen some go mad because they can’t stand the tediousness of the three months of retreat.


This isn’t the mind set of a true practitioner. Many people think all they have to do is simply sit and meditate on the hwadu – then why even bother? This is like aping meditation. With this kind of a beginning mind set, even if you meditate till your hair grows gray, you will gain nothing. In the end, all you’ll have to your credit is doing a bunch of favors for others, ??and on your deathbed all you’ll have left is regret.


Therefore many of you monks out there must make the effort to reflect on your mind set, asking yourselves “Am I living the life of one who has truly made the resolution to see my original nature?” or living the life of one who lives day in and day out just taking up valuable food. And then you must again, and again, firmly resolve to earnestly seek your original nature.


We did not turn our backs on worldly activities and come to the temple as poor monks for the sake of our parents, our for the sake of others; we came here for our own sakes.


We must absolutely let go of all our convoluted karmic affinities and feuds. If you don’t think you can throw away these apparitions, there is no way you’ll be able to progress even one step in your practice.


If you make the resolution to gain insight into your true nature at all costs within this lifetime, you will one day inevitably become like a fool, since you have now given up living like a regular person.


When you become a fool, with each step, each thought, the hwadu absorbs you. If the hwadu becomes the sole, central occupant of your mind, there is nothing that is hard. At this point, you don’t care whether or not the intensive retreat is over, nor take a special interest in daily mundane matters, and you forget all concerns over the physical body.


Only when you practice in this way for a long time will you be able to come near the door of the Great Path, and in the end, you will be able to fling the door of the Great Path wide open.


That is why you must clearly define your mind set from the start. If you don’t, then whether you live the life of a monk for 10 years, or 30 years, or till your hair grows gray, you will still be stuck in the same spot.


It is the same for all of you laywomen and men. Just because you’ve been to this temple and that temple in every nook and cranny of the country doesn’t mean you will be blessed, nor does it mean you are practicing well.


You must throw away all proud displays of power with an absolutely unmoving mind that thinks “The only thing for me to do is find my mind’s bright light,” cut off all convoluted karmic affinities, learn the correct way to seek the hwadu, and insistently and consistently deepen your practice in this way amidst your daily life.


But since all of you have families, and sons and daughters to take care of, and family matters to tend to, then amidst this secular lifestyle – since this is the only time you have – you must sincerely seek the hwadu without letting go of it once. If you practice in this way, all of the habit energies and weak points of your mind will eventually be erased.


“What is it that allows us to come and go and talk?” Because there is a true, faceless owner who controls this physical body of ours, we are able to carry out daily activities such as coming and going, speaking and answering someone, and are able to listen to this very Dharma Talk. Even as I write this, you are unable to make this teaching your own and understand. On the other hand, if the fact you don’t understand makes you truly feel indignant and realize how foolish living in this kind of ignorance is, and generates within you a sincere single-mindedness to understand, and you thus focus on the hwadu with a voracious doubt that carries enough force to pierce the five viscera and the six entrails, then even without you being aware of it, your practice will ripen. All worldly thoughts retreat and only the single thought of the hwadu will appear before you clearly.


Whether you come or go, prepare food, clean your house, work in the office, or sleep, if the single thought of the hwadu of “What is this?” appears before you clear and bright at all times and places, all of the habit energies you have created over many past lives during many kalpas will all melt away.


Whoever reaches such a state of mind – whether it be monks, upasekas or laywomen, or upasikas or laymen – can awaken. In fact, even if you didn’t want to awaken, you would awaken.


The Buddha’s Dharma is not something that has been brought over from the moon world, or from the heavenly realms. Because within the core of each and every one of our hearts lies the same basic level of the mind, there is not even a hair-width difference between the minds of sentient beings and the minds of the innumerous Buddhas and Seon patriarchs. But because bewildered sentient beings have not realized their true nature and thus cannot make use of it, there is nothing in this world more irritating.


If we diligently stay with our practice and come to see the basic level of our mind, we will reach?? the same state of mind as the Buddha. If this happens, we will be able to zip through the koans that have been bestowed to us, and which now amount to piles upon piles, by all of the Buddhas and past adepts.


So when truth-seeking monks-in-training think they “know” and go to see masters to receive acknowledgment, the masters listen to their understanding of the koan and then test them. At this point, only one who has truly awakened is able to point to the east when asked which direction the east is, and point to the west when asked which direction the west is.


During the test, if one talks about the west when asked about the east, then this person has not yet entered the door of Truth. Because one whose eyes have not opened to the Truth are unable to differentiate between east, west, south and north, the questions and answers will not be in touch with one another, and the young monk, always confused, will answer absurdly.


Such an understanding by the apprentice monk is but a wrong understanding, and is not of any help along the Great Path. If one falls into this wrong view, not only do you waste away this lifetime, it will be hard to break away from the yoke of wrong views, each and every time they arise.??


Therefore the monk-in-training should always lean on the master who has awakened before him, cultivating one’s practice accordingly and continuously receiving guidance from the master, and establish a right view and perspective. If the master is not a true master and has a wrong view, you must have the enormous gall to leave him right there and then. Only then will you develop a close karmic affinity with the true Great Path. While you strive along the Great Path, I hope that you reflect from time to time on whether perhaps there is a weak spot in your frame of mind, and voraciously seek the hwadu throughout the night.

You must practice meditation without wishing for lucky chances

Practicing prayer in proper way is not easy. Some of practitioners who have been attending temple for many years practice prayers wishing for easy way out. That is not applicable in practicing prayers. Under the same sun, the shadow short or long reflects according to the appearances. The compassion of Buddha and Bodhisattvas respond to the hearts of the living beings, but often, living beings look for lucky chances.


Whenever you hear a rumor that certain god brings you luck, you rush over and pray. When you hear certain fortune-teller is good, you rush over for reading. Actually, any good fortune-teller can tell you only what you know. They have no way of knowing what ‘you’ don’t know. That has to be something that you know at least in your sub-consciousness. Other than that, they are guessing. Therefore you should not seek after vanity.

If you are Buddhist, you should come to your senses and follow Buddha’s teaching and practice at your strength. Wishing for lucky chances only defiles your mind and it will lead you to wrong way. You will be miles away from the path of the true teaching and your karmic obstacles will not be purified but become heavier.

Therefore, you must understand the meaning of ‘dependent-arising of the essence’, and practice meditation. Then, your karmic obstacles will clear and the fortunes will come your way naturally. The story of Master Muchak(820~900) and Munsu Bosal in China, illustrates good example of self reliant prayer and self reliant meditation.

Muchak senim, after he became a monk, practiced Munsu Bosal payer. In order to meet Bosal in person, he made full body bow from Hangju to Ohdae Mountain. When he arrived near Gumgang cave in Ohdae Mountain, he saw an old man riding an ox backwards. An old man asked him.

“Who are you? And why are you sitting in the middle of this mountain?”

“Well, I have come to meet Munsu Bosal.”

“Do you think you can meet Munsu Bosal?”

And at the end of conversation, he asked an odd question.

“Have you eaten?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Well, you have no clue.”

Then he went away on an ox. He thought the old man was not ordinary. So, he followed him after. Soon a fancy golden colored temple appeared.

“Gyunjae!” An old man called out for his assistant boy. The boy came out running and took the ox from the old man. Shortly after, he brought tea on teapot made of jewels. After drinking tea, Muchak felt so refreshed.

‘What a wonderful tea!’ he thought.
While he was fascinated by tea, the old man asked.

“Where have you come from?”

“I’ve come from the south.”

Old man asked him again holding up a teacup.

“Do they have such thing in the south too?”

“No, they don’t.”

“Then how do they drink tea?”

“This simple monk keeps the precept.”

“How many are the members?”

“There are sometimes 300 or 500.”

Muchak thought his questions were vain. Muchak asked,

“How do they preserve Buddhadharma here?”

“The saint and ordinary live together and so are dragon and snakes.”

“How many members live here?”

“Three three in front, and three three in the back.”

He could not understand the answer. He asked how many members live here but the old man only replied with strange answer. The sun went down and Muchank asked for night’s shelter.

“You cannot stay if you have delusion and attachment.”

Old man asked again. “Do you keep precepts?”

“Yes, I have been ever since I was a child.”

“Well, isn’t that an attachment? You cannot stay here overnight.”

He meant that one has to enter the state where there is no distinction of cultivation or keeping, but he pointed that Muchak was still in the state where he had to make an effort to keep. That’s why he called it delusion and attachment. Old man told assistant to show Muchak way out. On his way out he found out the name of the temple was ‘Banyasa’. Puzzled by old man’s answer he asked assistant the meaning of old man’s answer when he asked how many members live here.

“Boy, why did he say ‘three three in front and three three in the back’ when I asked how many members lived here?”

“Dear venerable!”

“Yes.”

“How many is this?”

Muchak did not understand at all. He had to ask him for teaching.

”Boy, please teach me.”

“A face without anger is a true offering and a soft word is mysterious incense.
True mind free of defilements is everlasting mind of Buddha.
Leave delusion and meditate diligently. For whom will you work all day?
If you know this peaceful message in the midst of busy day,
a lotus flower will blossom in boiling water.”

Soon as he heard the song, Muchak senim realized. But when he lifted his head he no longer found any temple. After he had returned from Ohdae Mountain, he practiced diligently until he found harmony between emptiness and phenomena and became enlightened. After that, he volunteered to cook for young practitioners to help them attain enlightenment.

One day, when he was making gruel in huge pot, he saw streams of light from the pot and Munsu Bosal appeared like lotus. It was the Munsu Bosal he’s been longing to meet in person. Others who also saw the scene, appraised in awe, but Muchak senim shouted and slapped the face of Munsu Bosal with gruel stirrer saying, “Munsu is my munsu and Muchak is my Muchak!”

Then from each bubble in the gruel turned into thousands of Munsu Bosal filling the entire room. Muchak senim continued to hit the bubbles with the stirrer. Munsu Bosal finally vanished saying, “I have been practicing for three kalpas and today I am returning with accusation. The bitterness of pumpkin is bitter to the roots and sweetness of melon is sweet to the stem.”

The master Muchak knew the principle of dependent-arising from the essence that none that arise with appearance is real therefore he beat off the appearance of Munsu Bosal by hitting it with gruel stirrer. When the practitioners acquire the principle of emptiness, his or her action leaves no artificiality thus unhindered in every ways.

The nature of land and mountains become one with the self and share the same essence that you are able to return to the very natural realm. When you enter this state, numerous worlds will reveal their true appearances.

Acquiring the emptiness within the True mind and becoming free having no hindrances, is the goal of all practice including prayer.
To a practitioner, it doesn’t matter whether Buddha is made of stone, metal or wood. Without wishing for chances by luck, if you practice sincerely with diligence, all karmic obstacles will distinguish and fortune will come its way.

If you rely on outside power rather than your self-reliant power, you may loose your self. Therefore, when you have attained certain state by outside power, you have to be very careful.

There is saying that, “The heaven look after those who help themselves.” Practitioners of prayer must rely on inner strength. Even if you rely on outside power, you must proceed by understanding the principle of dependent-arising of the essence.

This is the key to accomplishing your utmost aspiration, and the teaching, which will take you to liberation through practicing prayer. When you listen to Dharma talks, you must empty your thoughts.

“Do not rush nor be lazy. If you go one step at a time, you will see the sun rising.”

This song contains great teaching in life. Your rushing will not affect the rising of the sun. Nor will your laziness slow down the rising of the sun. The sun will rise at its right time. Therefore the song teaches neither to be anxious nor be lazy. This can also apply to when you are listening to Dharma talks.

Enlightenment is far from either being anxious or lazy. Then what is not? It is attainable by empty mind. When your mind is completely empty, the teaching can settle in. Try to pour clean water into contaminated water. It will clear some impurity but it still is contaminated. If you try to pour Dharma teachings into mind full of distracting thoughts, it cannot settle in. Therefore you must first calm distracting thoughts.

When you are listening to Dharma talks, you should also let go of judgments whether you agree with it or not. All opinions of it are nothing but segments of delusion. When you empty such distraction, the teaching of thirst quenching nectar can settle in your heart.

True Dharma talks cannot be transmitted by talking or listening. It can be exchanged within empty minds.

Even any good thinking during listening Dharma talks can be distraction. Therefore if you know this, and empty your mind during Dharma talks, you may have chance for sudden realization. This is key to entering the Dharma gate. Hearing same Dharma talks, some realizes and some don’t. Some illuminate like the rays of sun and some get lost in the darkness. Should you make poison or sweet milk? Should you attain enlightenment or dwell in cycle of birth and death?

You hold the key. If you listen to Dharma talks for merely learning knowledge, you will gain nothing but cycle of birth and death. But if you listen with empty mind, you may attain enlightenment. As it has been taught by many Masters, try to listen with empty mind. You will have the day of your enlightenment soon.

Vinaya Master Ilta Sunim

Looking Back on our life we can understand that cause & Effect are clear


Brief History

He was born Kong Ju in Chun Ahan, 1929

He became a monk by the teaching of Ko Kyung at Tong do-sa temple, 1942

He graduated the Master course of Tong do-sa monks’ college, 1949

He became the abbot of Hae In-sa temple, 1983

He has been the teacher of Precept Transmitter in the Chogye Order from 1993

He is present precept master of Hae In Monastery, and a member of th senior Committee of the Chogye Order.

He wrote the book “The precept of Samini” “Pray” “How to pray in daily life”

“Offering the Dharma”

The endless blue sky
Rain falls from the clouds
In the empty mountains
The stream flow with flowers blossom

It was well known that 41 people became monks from my family. The relation between Buddhism and my family started with my great grand mother. She had three sons, who worked for the family willow business. The Japanese willow machine made good money for the domestic economy. Every months they divided all the income, she took one-fourth of it, and among the rest, the son who attended her best last month would take more. Because all the sons wanted to let their mother stay in their homes, all the neighbors envied their good family relationship.

She was very content with her sons. One day a Buddhist nun came begging and said to her, “Attaching to home business too much will make bad karma.” My grandma was surprised by her saying this and , begged her to say how to avoid the bad karma following her as for as 3 miles. The nun stayed at her house one night without speaking, and at last said, “If you want to avoid the bad Karma, don’t be proud of your sons in front of your neighbors and instead, do mantra practicing, “Namu Amitabul” as many times as you can. So she did this for 30 years until she died. So when her consciousness became clear she received magic power , and saw everything. One day she said “Prepare water instead of working.” There was a fire on that day but they could escape.

When my mother became old enough to get married, she said to my grandfather “Go to the north as far as 12 km then you will find a young man named Kim. He will be your daughter’s good husband”

After she died, there was a light around the house for 7 days and that’s why all of my family was determined to become monks. My mother was as sincere a buddhist as my grandmother. My father was also sincere in Buddhism. They went to Man Kong zen master and received a writing “Everything comes from one thing, where does it come from?”

They put this writing on the wall to sit with this kongan. They moved this writing on their side of the wall when they went to sleep. They might be good dharma friends before life. I was accustomed to Buddhism since I was young. My uncle graduated Maichi University in Japan, he used to say to me “Everything comes from the mind.”

I carved it on the board and recited it everyday. One time I fell down and hurt my knee, I meditated it by heart, and the pain disappeared. After becoming a monk, I practiced with fasting and got some mysterious experience, and the strength to concentrate.

If you do mantra practicing, fast or vowing then you can clean your bad karma by what you have done before.
It’s nice that daily life would be a prayer itself. Every moment we should keep a praying mind and sincerely pay attentions to whoever we meet and whatever we do. Even in the case when we meet a person who we dislike, if we pray for him, then we don’t need spare time to pray.

I learned the “The great mantra and Chunsu Kyung” from my uncle. Once I recited in front of my friends at the picnic while dancing, they laughed. So my nickname was sunim (Monk).

When I was 14 years old, my father became a monk under the Man kong zen master’s teaching, and I went to Tong do-sa in Yang san and became one of Ko Kyung sunim’s disciples. Ko Kyung sunim became the Sutra master in Tong do-sa at the age of 26. But he did many odd jobs like cooking and washing clothes by himself, so visitors misunderstood him; as an attendant asked him where Ko Kyung sunim was. He took care of his mother after she became old. After sixty, he cooked for her in her eighties by himself. His mother also, did mantra practicing for a long time. She passed very comfortably.
He was just like a clean mirror.

Once I was called to the government office. They asked me if there was an article to prevent monks to marry. As for the commandments, if the precept of sensual appetite is broken, then it is just the same as breaking the rock(crag). If the precept of a false remark is broken, then it is just same as cutting the head. Breaking the precepts makes it useless, just the same as needles without eyes. Occasionally I was called to be asked about the commandments. So I was determined to go to the O Dai mountains to practice hard. I burnt my fingers to make my heart strong. One day I saw a cloud in the sky. I felt that my body was impermanent and shapeless just like the cloud.

With this thought, I burnt my right hand after vowing 3,000 times everyday for 7 days. Then I went into Do sol Ahm hermitage to the Tae Baik Mountains alone. I was determined to sit without sleeping nor eating after lunch for ten years. Kong an practicing is the way of looking inside myself and it is the way to control my mind by mind. What is Kong an? It is just like the key that opens the mind, which is full of eighty-four-thousand dharma. It is this way that can make us like the Buddha. But it is not easy.

If you keep the Kong an in your mind, then recite inside it and think it over. Think it over without stopping, then the Kong an can be seen clearly. Then one step more; with great courage needed, it can be a true Kong an. If you come to this point then enlightenment is not far. If you want to be enlightened then you should take off the slot. To take off the slot you need great courage. It is just like a sharp sword that cut the hair by the breath on it.

I used to read the sutra when I felt sleepy. That was because I was determined not to sleep even I felt sleepy. When I finished reading the sutra, somebody outside spoke and moved. “That monk has finished reading now let’s go.”

According to the sutra there are references like this: ” If some one reads the sutra at night, the spirits hear outside and are scattered.”

Really I’d like to return back to those days of hard practicing. One day I hit my head and stomach to get rid of the slot. Old teachers pricked it with a pin to get rid of the slot. But I was only lazy. That night I could sit, keeping kong an cleary. Soon it became bright outside, I went out and found a flower smiling blossom. The sun shone and the birds sang. I thought the time to study zen had come to me. I was sure I could concentrate for 10 years. But only a few years passed when I stared to be disturbed from other businesses again. Like a stream, our lives go without stopping and are formless. Cause and effect are very clear. These days, all of us are confronted with a dilemma. So that makes us harsh easily. But this is a good time to practice zen. When we practice zen we can get an empty mind, and with an empty mind we can be happy and comfortable. Our state-of-mind can make our society bright.

I left my last words to my disciples already. After I’m dead, burn me and divide my ashes in three. One-thirds shall be flown to the air by balloons. And one of these shall be mixed with rice and be scattered in the mountain for beasts. And the last one shall be put into the sea for fish.

I don’t want any sign like a stupa or tombstone for my dead corps.

coming and going
like rising and falling of moon
when the Sun set in the west valley
the Moon will shine on the shore