Enlightenment is free from evil yet does hold wholesomeness : Daehyo

By Venerable Daehyo (Wonmyeong Seon Centre, Jeju Island)

If one dwells in enlightenment, one has no anxiety and worries, enjoying unhindered happiness free from envy. Whether one has just started on the Buddhist path or whether one has been practicing for a long time, if one enters directly into enlightenment, one can realize a mind which can be used freely, without entanglements.

In the state of enlightenment, there is no distinction between self and other. Neither is there self-centred dislike for others, clinging such that one thinks well of oneself when things go well, or disregard for one’s own well-being. In non-discrimination between wholesomeness and evil, evil is eliminated yet wholesomeness is not taken. This is enlightenment. Adopting and defending good is to become attached to good; to hate evil is to be taken prisoner by it.

Enlightenment has no distinction between “getting enlightenment” and “not getting enlightenment”. If we make a demarcation between enlightenment and non-enlightenment, dividing enlightenment from delusion, then it is not possible to speak of enlightenment. If one half of an apple is rotting, and the other is fresh, we still say this is a rotting apple. In the non-distinction between enlightenment and delusion there is no delusion and there is no enlightenment.

It is not something that exists following enlightenment, since originally in enlightenment the distinction was never made. Because we see with the eye of delusion we perceive this division of self and other. Enlightenment and delusion both result from fallacious discrimination.

Therefore we might ask, “If the mind is in ignorance, what can we do? Originally we are enlightened but if we cannot attain it there is suffering, there are obstacles and hateful people, so what is it we should do?”

If we cultivate an awakened mind that does not discriminate between self and other, then this is no different from the mind of the Buddha. If we apply this one mind of enlightenment that does not distinguish self and other in the home and the workplace, in school and society, then all these are sacred places in which we become the recipients of the unlimited virtues of liberation, able to use freely endless love and compassion. Free from a grasping mind, not bound to or influenced by accomplishment, one is able to move through life uninhibited.

Among those with whom we practice, we sometimes see those who, with an enlightened mind, live unencumbered and are blessed with serenity. We can experience the overabundant ease with which they are able to give of themselves. However, although they may seem to have extinguished their minds, this may not be complete enlightenment and if they lack wisdom they will not be able to effectively deal with those around them.

Of course, because we do not live in isolation, in the awakened mind thoughts are not absent, and certainly it is not that things to be removed disappear. Yet if we live using the enlightened mind, the world as it is lacks nothing and there is no coming and going, so all causes and conditions of time and space must be met with wisdom. This is the enlightenment that we must share with our neighbours. When our families and all our communities together keep the Buddha mind, we sustain and protect each other and grow strong.

Attaining perfect enlightenment in this life, within the cycle of birth and death, requires the cultivation of the power of awakened emancipation. It is necessary to find the correct way of practice. The Buddha attained enlightenment through practice; without it, he could not have awakened. Therefore we must know what proper practice is, for without it, it cannot be understood, nor even called Buddhism. Seen in this way, it can be said that Buddhism itself is practice.

However, from the time they are born people wander about without knowing the purpose of their lives and for what they work. Entangled, multitudes run furiously, competing with each other, pouncing on one another like a pack of wild demons. All beings are hindered by the need to propagate their species, faced with the ultimate problem of preserving their own lives. Our situation is like being imprisoned in a fortress of darkness, besieged by greed and attachment, discord and fighting, personal and group selfishness.

But together, through the emancipation of enlightenment, we can all escape this fortress of darkness, be born in a bright new life, and discover a whole new world. This is the attainment of enlightenment in which we come to know our true selves, which have heretofore been concealed.

Buddhism is the path of resolution of the problems of one’s whole life. The achievement of this resolution is enlightenment. Of all the myriad practices, the ultimate way is that of the practice of Seon (Zen, Ch’an). Although there are many kinds of practice, traditional Korean Seon is a shortcut through which complete, perfect enlightenment can be attained.

Buddhist practice is fundamentally different from other kinds of spiritual practice. Moreover, the difference between traditional Buddhist practice and more recently developed Buddhist practices and meditations lies in whether they address the fundamental problem of birth, death and suffering. If this fundamental problem is ignored, the focus is only on cultivating a state of comfort in body and mind, and is different from traditional practice. Whereas traditional Buddhist practice engenders liberation through the transformation of the fundamental mind, other similar practices serve only to cultivate the ability to modulate the discomfort that arises in the mind.

If we look at the object of the practice, we can ask whether or not there is the cultivation of vivid clarity and tranquility. Through clarity we control the mind and through tranquility mental afflictions are severed; these are like the two wheels of a cart.

Chanting, mantra recitation, reading sutras and so forth are all various forms of practice which seem easy to enter into. However, rather than engendering both clarity and tranquility, they mainly cultivate tranquility and are therefore not the correct way. Although one strives diligently, it is easy to become lost on the wrong path. Thus one may enthusiastically undertake various practices, but if they do not engender both clarity and tranquility, the longer one practices, the further one proceeds down a dangerous path.

Furthermore, it is easy to become attached to this tranquility, as beginners easily feel comfortable in mind and body. However, while practicing only tranquility can result in freeing the mind of some distractions, these cannot be completely eliminated, wisdom cannot be cultivated, and the practitioner thus again enters a state of ignorance.

In addition, Ganhwa Seon can be misunderstood to be the practice of “thinking about the hwadu ” or “reciting the hwadu”, practices which are actually bound in worldly knowledge. The practice of thinking about or reciting the hwadu can also lead to tranquility. Because this quiescent state of mind can be misunderstood to be the attainment of awakening, we must exercise caution lest we mistakenly follow an erroneous method of practice.

These days, among both monastic and lay Seon practitioners, there are those who become well-known, and prematurely teach meditation and hwadu practice to others, although they have not yet reached a level of attainment that qualifies them to do so. There are also many books about Seon practice that are unreliable. People read whatever appeals to them and then cross their legs and pretend to sit in Seon meditation. But once a mistake has been made, it is more difficult to correct. This is analogous to hammering a nail improperly. If one removes it and then tries again, the nail will most easily slip back into the original position.

Buddhism and Seon practice must be undertaken through the motivation to resolve the problem of birth, death and suffering in our lives. Even if this is not initially so, as one listens to dharma talks or reads books, one’s motive must change in this direction. If one doesn’t get a correct start with the proper motivation, there is no resolve to correct the mind and although meditation practice will develop, there will be no progress, enthusiasm for practice will wane and finally practice will become perfunctory and fruitless.

Practice with an improper or weak motivation simply becomes practice for the sake of practice. Carrying on with merely a superficial appearance of practicing, the way becomes degenerate and the practitioner falls into a quagmire. Although one may ordain, become an abbot, and enjoy success as an influential and dignified person of position, it is only in a worldly sense.

The most formidable obstacle faced by Seon practitioners is that of egotism. If one begins Seon practice with the view that it is a personal problem or the though that one must control one’s mind, a tendency toward individualism and selfishness is aroused. Individualism in practice is as foolish as trying to make rice from grains of sand, and can only become an obstacle. Strong practice becomes difficult as self-centred thinking causes all things to be distorted. When one is excessively self-centred and judgemental, it is impossible to become free of desire, and one dwells among those of lesser ability. When opinions are purified and communal and personal interests can be met with a calm presence and an open mind, one attains the state of unsurpassed ability.

It is incorrect to think that one of lesser ability should practice chanting or mantra recitation, and that those of superior ability can begin meditation practice directly. Rather, with chanting and mantra recitation it is easy to fall into tranquility and become attached to a fixed way of thinking. Thus it should be said that caution is necessary.

As chanting and mantra practice can lead us astray from our true nature, even as one undertakes these practices one must not cling and become attached, but rather with an open mind listen intently to dharma talks on Seon practice, never straying from the cultivation of vivid clarity and tranquility.

Our practice and all the activities of our lives ultimately must be devoted to resolving the problem of birth, death and suffering. We must live such that everything we do in life is done within this practice.

The True Buddha

Dharma Speech given by Seungsahn Sunim at the International Zen Center of New York on Buddha’s birthday, May 18, 1975.

(Holding up the Zen stick and hitting the table)

An eminent teacher said, “Before Buddha was born and came to the Kapila Empire, he had already saved all people.”

(Hitting the table)

When Buddha was born, he took seven steps, looked in the four directions, pointed with one hand to the sky and with the other hand to the ground, and said, “In the sky above and the sky below, only I am holy.”

(Hitting the table)

Somebody once mentioned these words of the baby Buddha to Chan Master Yunmen and asked what they meant. Yunmen said, “As soon as Buddha said this, I hit him and killed him and fed his body to a hungry dog. The whole world was at peace.”

Today we are celebrating Buddha’s 2519th birthday. These three sentences are all in praise of the true Buddha. If you discover the true meaning of Buddha’s birthday, then you will become the same as Buddha, and you will finish the great work.

We say that Buddha was born. But what is the true Buddha? Is Gautama Shakyamuni, who was born long ago in India, the true Buddha? Is the golden Buddha just behind me on the altar the true Buddha?

The Diamond Sutra says, “All things that appear in this world are transient. If you view all appearances as nonappearance, then you will see the true Buddha.”

The historical Buddha, who was born, became enlightened, and died, and the golden statue behind me — is either of them the true Buddha?

The Diamond Sutra says, “All things that exist are like a dream, a phantom, a bubble, a reflection; they are like dew or lightning; thus should you view them.”

If you view all things in this way, then you will see the true Buddha. This is the true meaning of our celebration today.

Then what is Buddha? Chan Master Mazu once answered, “Mind is Buddha, Buddha is mind.” Another time he answered, “No mind, no Buddha.” When Chan Master Linji was asked what is Buddha, he only shouted, “HAL!!!” Deshan Xuanjian only hit the person who had asked. Dongshan answered, “Three pounds of flax.” Gyeongheo said, “Before you came, did you wash your bowl?”

Which of these answers is correct?

The Diamond Sutra says, “If you are attached to color and sound and want to see your true nature, you are on the wrong path.”

If you are attached to the words of eminent teachers, then you cannot understand the true Buddha. You must cut off all thinking and return to before thinking. Then your mind will be clear. A clear mind has no hindrance at all. Everything you see, hear, smell, taste, touch — everything just as it is — this is the true Buddha.

So just like this, mind is Buddha, Buddha is mind. Just like this, no Buddha, no mind. Just like this, HAL!!! Just like this, HIT. Just like this, three pounds of flax. Just like this, did you wash your bowl? All this is the true Buddha.

So just like this, Gautama Shakyamuni, who was born 2519 years ago today, is the true Buddha. Just like this, the golden statue behind me is also the true Buddha.

All things are equal. There is no holy or unholy. But Buddha said, “In the sky above and the sky below, only I am holy.” So I will hit Buddha thirty times.

In original nature, there is no name or form, no life or death. But Yunmen said, “As soon as Buddha said this, I hit him and killed him and fed him to a hungry dog.” So I will hit Yunmen thirty times. But already there is nothing. Whom can I hit? So I will hit myself thirty times.

Where is the mistake?


In front of Buddha, the paper lanterns are shining.

Wake Up!

From a talk by Seon Master Seung Sahn on December 5, 1992

Buddha’s story is very interesting because he had a very good situation, but he gave up this good situation to have a suffering situation. He did suffering practice for six years, and then BOOM! got enlightenment. So today is Got Enlightenment Day. Everybody understands this day, but when Seon Master Mangong celebrated this day, he called it “I Lost Enlightenment Day.” That’s a famous story.

Chunseong Sunim was the disciple of a very great monk, Seon Master Mangong. He did not give the usual style of teaching. So only some people understood. Chunseong Sunim’s temple(Mangwol-sa) was in the Mt. Dobongsan of Korea.

It was wintertime. Buddha’s Enlightenment Day was coming, so many people came to the temple. They were very cold, so everyone went outside and cut trees to make firewood.

But there was a law against cutting down trees, so a policeman came and took this great Seon Master to the police station. He asked Chunseong Sunim, “Why did you cut down these trees?”

“You already understand.”

“WHY?! It’s not correct!”

“What is ‘correct’? What is ‘not correct’?”

“That is the rule!”

“Who makes the rule?”

“The country!”

“Oh! That’s a country rule. I don’t care about country rules. My rule is important.”

“You cut trees, and now you must go to jail. You speak strangely. Who are you?”

“I am a monk.”

“Where do you come from?”

“My mother’s ——–.” (Seon Master Chunseong was famous for his scatalogical speech.) A very strange thing to say to a policeman, right?

“WHAT? Where is your hometown?”

“My father’s ——–.”

“You’re crazy!” shouted the policeman. “Go away!” And he let Chunseong Sunim go. That was Seon Master Chunseong’s action.

On Buddha’s Enlightenment Day, Chunseong Sunim said, “Buddha is number one stupid man!” Everybody asked themselves what this meant.

“Everybody already has enlightenment. Why did he sit for six years, see a star, and then get enlightenment? That’s stupid! If you see a star, you get enlightenment NOW!”

So everybody wondered: now see a star, now get enlightenment? Where is this star?

Nobody understood. “HERE! HERE! This is the star!” But still nobody understood. Then he hit the floor with his Seon stick and yelled “KATZ!!” Still nobody understood him. But under the floor a sleeping dog was woken by the hit. Jumping up, it hit its head. The dog howled.

“Only this dog has enlightenment,” Seon Master Chunseong said.

As Big as the Whole Universe

a talk at Cambridge Zen Center on July 29, 1993.

Question: How does Seon practicing take away karma?

Seon Master Seung Sahn: Seon practice does not take away karma. If you practice Seon, your karma becomes clear. If you are not practicing, your karma controls you. But if you are practicing, you control your karma. So your karma becomes clear. Good karma, bad karma, whatever karma you have becomes clear; then only help other people. That’s the point. Sometimes when a person first starts practicing Seon we talk about “taking away karma,” but those are only teaching words. Bodhisattvas have bodhisattva karma. Karma means mind action. So, karma controls me, or I control my karma and help other people. These two are different, but same karma.

Q: Bodhisattva karma is helping people?

SMSS: Of course.

Q: But first we have to help ourselves, right?

SMSS: Myself?

Q: To get a center.

SMSS: Where is your center?

Q: Talking to you.

SMSS: That is not your center. If you make “my center,” then you will have a problem. Our minds are always going around and around … seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking. We see something and think, “I like that. I don’t like that.” If your mind is moving then you are not clear, because you have “my” opinion.

So, take this “around and around mind” and put it inside. At first keep your center here (points to lower belly). If you have a strong center, then your mind is not moving and your opinion disappears. If your mind is not moving, then you see clearly, hear clearly, smell clearly, taste clearly, touch clearly, and think clearly. Then everything becomes clear.

If you keep your center here at first (points to lower belly) then your center will become bigger, bigger, bigger … as big as the whole universe. The name of this is Buddha. So if you want to understand the name of the Buddha, keep a mind which is clear like space. Clear like space has no center. The universe and you are already one. So there is no life and death. But if you only keep your center here (points to lower belly), then one day your body will disappear and your center will also disappear. Then you have a problem (laughs).

Seon is Understanding Yourself

One day a student from Chicago came to the Providence Zen Center and asked Seungsahn Seonsa, “What is Seon(Zen)?”

Seonsa held his Seon stick above his head and said, “Do you understand?”

The student said, “I don’t know.”

Seonsa said, “This don’t know mind is you. Seon is understanding yourself.”

“What do you understand about me? Teach me.”

Seonsa said, “In a cookie factory, different cookies are baked in the shape of animals, cars, people, and airplanes. They all have different names and forms, but they are all made from the same dough, and they all taste the same.

“In the same way, all things in the universe – the sun, the moon, the stars, mountains, rivers, people, and so forth – have different names and forms, but they are all made from the same substance. The universe is organized into pairs of opposites: light and darkness, man and woman, sound and silence, good and bad. But all these opposites are mutual, because they are made from the same substance. Their names and their forms are different, but their substance is the same. Names and forms are made by your thinking. If you are not thinking and have no attachment to name and form, then all substance is one. Your don’t know mind cuts off all thinking. This is your substance. The substance of this Seon stick and your own substance are the same. You are this stick; this stick is you.”

The student said, “Some philosophers say this substance is energy, or mind, or God, or matter. Which is the truth?”

Seonsa said, “Four blind men went to the zoo and visited the elephant. One blind man touched its side and said, ‘The elephant is like a wall.’ The next blind man touched its trunk and said, ‘The elephant is like a snake.’ The next blind man touched its leg and said, ‘The elephant is like a column.’ The last blind man touched its tail and said, ‘The elephant is like a broom.’ Then the four blind men started to fight, each one believing that his opinion was the right one. Each only understood the part he had touched; none of them understood the whole.

“Substance has no name and no form. Energy, mind, God, and matter are all name and form. Substance is the Absolute. Having name and form is having opposites. So the whole world is like the blind men fighting among themselves. Not understanding yourself is not understanding the truth. That is why there is fighting among ourselves. If all the people in the world understood themselves, they would attain the Absolute. Then the world would be at peace. World peace is Seon.”

The student said, “How can practicing Seon make world peace?”

Seonsa said, “People desire money, fame, sex, food, and rest. All this desire is thinking. Thinking is suffering. Suffering means no world peace. Not thinking is not suffering. Not suffering means world peace. World peace is the Absolute. The Absolute is I.”

The student said, “How can I understand the Absolute?”

Seonsa said, “You must first understand yourself.”

“How can I understand myself?”

Soensa held up the Seon stick and said, “Do you see this?”

He then quickly hit the table with the stick and said, “Do you hear this? This stick, this sound, your mind – are they the same or different?”

The student said, “The same.”

Seonsa said, “If you say they are the same, I will hit you thirty times. If you say they are different, I will still hit you thirty times. Why?”

The student was silent.

Seonsa shouted, “KATZ!!!” Then he said, “Spring comes, the grass grows by itself.”


From Dropping Ashes On The Buddha: The Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn
edited by Stephen Mitchell (Grove Press, New York, NY, 1976)
Copyright ©Providence Zen Center

What is Seon?

Seon is very simple… What are you?

In this whole world everyone searches for happiness outside, but nobody understands their true self inside.

Everybody says, “I” — “I want this, I am like that…” But nobody understands this “I.” Before you were born, where did your I come from? When you die, where will your I go? If you sincerely ask, “what am I?” sooner or later you will run into a wall where all thinking is cut off. We call this “don’t know.”

Seon is keeping this “don’t know” mind always and everywhere.

When walking, standing, sitting, lying down, speaking, being silent, moving, being still.
At all times, in all places, without interruption — what is this?
One mind is infinite kalpas.

Meditation in Seon means keeping don’t-know mind when bowing, chanting and sitting Seon. This is formal Seon practice. And when doing something, just do it. When driving, just drive; when eating, just eat; when working, just work.

Finally, your don’t-know mind will become clear. Then you can see the sky, only blue. You can see the tree, only green. Your mind is like a clear mirror. Red comes, the mirror is red; white comes the mirror is white. A hungry person comes, you can give him food; a thirsty person comes, you can give her something to drink. There is no desire for myself, only for all beings. That mind is already enlightenment, what we call Great Love, Great Compassion, the Great Bodhisattva Way. It’s very simple, not difficult!

So Buddha said that all beings have Buddha-nature (enlightenment nature). But Seon Master Joju said that a dog has no Buddha-nature. Which one is right? Which one is wrong? If you find that, you find the true way.

Illiness Helps Your True Self

Our physical body is not our true self. What is our true self, our true I? Every human being
must find their true I. If you find the answer to this question then freedom from suffering and
freedom from life and death appears.

Don’t be afraid of your sickness. At times everybody is afraid of what will happen to their
body. However, the only difference between human beings when it comes to death is: go
early, go late. So again, what is a human being? You must find this! Then when you die, your direction will be clear.

Some people are strong, very smart and have a lot of power. But still, if the direction of their
life is not clear, when they die their consciousness will go round and round.

Being alive is very lucky. At this time you must find your owner, your master. You must ask
yourself, who is my master? If you find your master, then throwing away your body at any
time will not be a problem for you. Don’t be afraid of life and death. This body is like a floating cloud that appears and then disappears. What are you?

No matter what the disease, your true self has no sickness; only your body is sick. Sickness, any sickness, helps your practice. Without sickness, there is only more wanting and desire,
wanting and wanting; so you don’t understand your true self, your direction is not clear. If you die at that time, you will have a big problem.

To know that you are dying is very important. For a dying person, completely putting it all down is very easy. Letting go of desires and attachments is easy because at that time you cannot get anything. Now you are sick. What do you want? Money? Sex? Power? What do you want? Finding your true self when you know that you are dying is the easiest way. So this sickness helps your true self.

True God, True Buddha

Adapted from a talk during a retreat at Providence Zen Center in December, 1990.
Question: I’m a Christian, and I would like to know, is there anything you would like us to understand that we tend not to understand?

Zen Master Seung Sahn: Christianity says God made everything — good and bad, heaven and earth, human beings and animals and so on. He worked for six days, then rested.

But in Buddhism, there is no original cause or creator; there is no coming, no going, no existence, no nonexistence; all of these are opposites thinking. Sun and moon, light and dark, day and night — all these are names; the world of names is opposites thinking. “God” is also a name; it’s also opposite thinking. True God has no name, no form. In no name/no form, there is no coming, no going — no opposite thinking. That which is beyond all names and forms is always bright. That is True God.

The purpose of Buddhism is to find primary point. What is the primary point of this universe?
The Bible says, “God made everything.” But what is the primary point of God? Where does
God come from?

These days, not many young people are becoming monks or nuns. I was in Paris — a big
Catholic university had closed its doors. No more students! Any society that has a “good
situation” doesn’t have young monks, only old monks. This is a different age, a different mind, Old-style religion was to just believe in God. Now people check — what kind of religion will
help me, help society? Monk or not monk is not important. They like new idea, new style
religion, perhaps some meditation.

This is a time of great change and religions need to adapt; a change in teaching style is necessary. A simple belief in God is no longer enough for many people. They want to understand: What is God? What is my true self? In the Bible, it says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
” What is this “I”? Is this “I” God? Is this God separate from me? If this God is not separate from me, are God and I two or one? Through meditation practice these questions can be resolved on a deep level. Then one can truly understand religion, understand this world. In meditation all opposites become one point: mind, God, dharma, truth. You can call it many things, but this
point is before all names and forms.

If you only talk about a belief in God, then there are many questions: Where is God? Inside the body or outside? Someone says God is in heaven; nowadays spaceships roam about in vast outer space, but don’t find any God because all is curved space. Here is God? Here is God?
True God has no inside and outside, no name and form.

Nowadays many Christians like Thomas Merton’s books. He didn’t only analyze Biblical words. He understood and practiced Zen meditation, so he was able to connect with his true self, and wrote about this connection. That’s why his books are so popular.

Any kind of religion, any kind of style doesn’t matter. Why do this? Making this direction clear is very important; if this direction is clear, then your life is clear. If you only hold your religion, your idea, then you have a problem. If you are not holding “my religion,” not holding “my practice,” have a clear direction, and only try, try, try, then you attain something. Clear direction and try mind are most important.

Zen mind means put down any idea, any form. If your direction is clear and you completely put down everything, then you will attain something. When you attain something, you connect with everything else.

All religions are like different paths to the mountaintop. The top of the mountain is very clear; it’s the primary point. But there are many paths leading to this point; there is the eastern road, western road, southern road, and northern road. When people begin climbing the mountain, they are always fighting: “My way is correct, your way is not correct.” But from the bottom of the mountain, they cannot see the top, so they are very strongly attached to “my way.” Having clear direction and try mind means just going up, going up, one step after another. So you don’t spend energy in fighting other people or their ideas; you just practice. Then you can reach the mountaintop.

The different paths to the mountaintop are made by our mind. But what is mind? If you try to understand it intellectually, you will not find it. Our mind is very big, but it’s also small. A very sharp needle cannot touch this mind, because this mind is smaller than the tip of the needle. But our mind is also bigger than the whole universe. Sometimes our mind is very bright, sometimes very dark. If you make “my path,” you also make “my mind.” But if you let go of “my mind,” you become a Buddha. Then any path will lead you to the mountaintop.

If you control your mind, you control everything. But if you say, “I control my mind,” then what is this that controls the mind? Is it some other mind that controls the mind or is it no mind? Also, how do you control your mind? Where is your mind? Are you and your mind two things or one? Same or different? Big problem! That’s all thinking. POW! Put it all down, OK? Don’t think!

The Diamond Sutra says “All things are impermanent. A pure view is to see all appearances as non-appearances. When all appearances and non-appearances disappear, that’s complete stillness. Then you can see Buddha nature.” But if everything is impermanent, I am also impermanent; Buddha is also impermanent. Then how can I see Buddha? How can impermanence see impermanence?

If you check the words in the Bible or in the Diamond Sutra, then it’s all checking, all opposites thinking. But truth means there are no opposites. No opposites means the absolute. If you are checking, then everything is not correct. If you are not checking, everything is correct. That is Zen. The Diamond Sutra teaches that silence is better than holiness. And the Bible says “Be still and know that I am God.” This silent mind is very important. How do we transmit this silent mind from me to you? Buddha picked up a flower, and only Mahakashyapa smiled. Then Buddha said, “My true dharma, I transmit to you.” But that was a big mistake on Buddha’s part. If I was Mahakashyapa at that time, I would have said, “No, thank you, Buddha, I already have dharma.” Then Buddha would have a problem!!

So, already everybody has dharma, already everybody has truth, already everybody has the correct way and correct life. Already everybody has, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” So why does anyone need transmission from someone else? Open your mouth and it’s already a mistake. But our job is to help all beings. So, we only use this mouth to teach the dharma and help all beings. That, we say, is “tongue formula.”

If you only keep a try mind, a don’t-know mind, then your center becomes stronger, stronger, stronger. Then everything you hear, smell, see, taste, touch is better than the Buddha’s speech, better than the Bible’s speech. That’s enlightenment. Then you can save all beings from suffering.

Women Cannot Get Enlightenment

One day, one of Zen Master Seung Sahn’s female American students asked him, “Sir, are there any women Zen masters in Korea?”

“No, no, no!” he quickly replied. “Of course not!”

The student was completely shocked, even angered by this, more so because
Zen Master Seung Sahn himself had always treated his female students with complete
equality, and even formally authorized several of them to teach. “How could he think like
this?” She thought. “This is completely outrageous.” After a few moments, she stammered
out. “But how is this possible?”

Eyeing her and half-smiling, he replied, “Because women cannot get

This was unbelievable! Half-expecting that he was joking she looked up, but by
then he had already marched into another room. She followed him, where he had busied himself with some things, almost as if the conversation had never occurred.

“I have been practicing with you for several years now,” she continued. “You
have always just taught us to believe in our true self 100 percent. How can you
possibly now say that women cannot get enlightenment?”

Wheeling around sharply, Zen Master Seung Sahn pointed his finger at her and,
looking into her eyes strongly, said, “So, you’re a woman?”
The student was silent as his teaching sank in.

Don’t Know

Knowing is originally knowing Don’t Know
Don’t Know knowing is knowing
Today we transfer this Don’t Know
Four times five is twenty

1.  What is “Don’t Know?
2. “Know” and Don’t Know,” are they one  or two?
3. “Four times five is twenty.”  What does this mean?


Knowing Don’t Know- just that is seeing true nature.  Human beings know too much, and are thus hindered by what they know.  As the saying goes, ” Many people all over the world know, but how many truly understand?”  If you can put down your views, opinions, and understanding,then the truth just appears right in front of you.