Chapter 5: The Investigation of Hwadu Method in Everyday Life

Seon Master Mazu said, “The everyday mind is the Way.” The Way is in the mind of everyday life of eating, sleeping and working.

Even when studying by taking up hwadu, one can study properly as soon as the hwadu is clearly devoted to in the midst of everyday life. If basically one has resolved the mind well, one will have the preconditions for that. But in conditions where the mind is not resolute, it is not easy for the beginner to take up the hwadu properly while working in the midst of everyday life. The beginning practitioner must take up the hwadu earnestly and induce the mental resolution, discarding all worldly thoughts in a still and clean place.

It is easy for people to be seduced mentally by the various events they come into contact with in the course of everyday life. If so, one will be unable to sit at ease while the mind is always coming and going here and there. The Buddha said of the mind of sentient beings that it in taking the characteristic of busily moving that, “This characteristic of moving here and there is just like a monkey that cannot be still for even a moment.” Thus while people repeatedly have “I am busy, so busy” on their lips, they cannot have calm of mind, and rush about outside and only outside.

Our mind has become accustomed to such meaningless confusion. And so first of all one must be able to place the mind in the hwadu to calm the mind in that silent place. Without hesitation one must grasp hold of the illness of sentient beings that is confused and madly rampaging with the still mind. Therefore one must enter into and earnestly doubt and take up the hwadu in a quiet place. Doing this, even though one tries to put down the hwadu one cannot put it down, and even if one tries to abandon it, one cannot. At that time one can reach that state continuously with the mind in a quiet place. This is what is called “study in midst of calm.”

If one consistently studies in a quiet place, one has to foster even greater strength to study when one goes out to a noisy place. This is called “study in the midst of movement.”

There are times when one has taken up the hwadu well continuously in a quiet place and then has discontinued it in a noisy place and it becomes faint. At such times, if one pushes it very much and strains even more completely in a noisy place, and unrelated to whether it is a quiet or a noisy place, one in movement or calm continuously and consistently achieves the state of study. This is called movement and calm in one thusness. There are here no boundaries between study in the midst of movement and study midst calm. If one gains strength with the study midst calm, it is necessary to move straightaway to study midst movement. When one does not discontinue the hwadu whether it is moving or when it is still, then one can call it movement and calm in one thusness. And, if one always maintains the mental resolution, the point also that movement and calm are not divided up must be understood.

If one takes the quiet place to be right and considers the noisy place to be wrong, this is trying to find the form of reality and to get rid of the mundane life, and is the pursuit of a nirvana apart from rising and ceasing. Of course, once one studies well at quiet times, even when it is noisy, one can well study without change. And if the taking up of the hwadu has matured a bit, the noisy time becomes a good opportunity to gain even more strength than in times of quiet. One is a true practitioner only if one has gained strength at the time when one studies really midst everyday life. And further, one can be called a genuine student when one purely continues to study impartially no matter where or when it is noisy or calm.

Method of Overcoming Sexual Desire and Sleep

Sexual desire and sleep are instinctual habits that have matured over thousands and ten thousands of eons. To the extent that they are connected to to life, they are instinctual appetites that are difficult to remove. It is said that there are no sentient beings lacking sexual appetite and no sentient beings that do not sleep. Sexual desire and sleep naturally accompany sentient beings. How should one accept the instinctual appetites related to the opposite sex and sleep that have taken on attitudes and views as various and complex as the numerous cultural forms or the length of history?

Desire and liberation are in the same locations as the appearances of life. But that life differs as to whether it is the life of opposition and trouble that is centered on desire, or whether it is the peaceful and free life with its roots in the no-self. If the practitioner perfects study, he becomes free from all instinctual desire. This is because it has gotten rid of the life criteria of “I”.  The love and compassion that are the perfection of the conditionally-produced life is the light of no-self mind, so leaves no place for the sexual appetite and its images. Therefore, according to the extent to which one has escaped from the bonds of such instinctual appetites, one can estimate this extent of practice by the practitioner.

Method of controlling sleep

Realistically the most difficult thing for practitioners to overcome is sleep. Can one name anything that is a greater hindrance to study than “sleep” or “sleepiness”? Anybody at all who sits on the cushion and calms down the spirit a little bit is immediately assaulted by sleepiness. Each time sleepiness comes, it is important that one gets rid of the impediment to meditation practice by disciplining the body well in the midst of everyday life so that one can go on to overcome it and to spur one on to taking up the hwadu. Sleepiness comes from false thoughts. That is definitely not an absolute thing. If one tries to continue practice well, the time for sleep diminishes bit by bit. Do not try to keep to the sleeping time, but rather, if one honestly sits in meditation, one can continue on the vigorous practice that brims over energetically with energy that does not trap one in sleep. Now let us talk about a number of methods of overcoming sleep.

First, it is easy for beginning meditators to close their eyes. But one must have one’s eyes open. The patriarchs of the past said that those who meditated with their eyes closed were like sitting in the cave of the demons in the gloomy mountains. If one closes one’s eyes, although it seems that the mind is concentrated and is still, it is easy to fall into dullness not knowing that. Especially, when sitting in meditation in the afternoon or at daybreak, shutting one’s eyes is the same as requesting sleep. Therefore, when sitting in meditation, one must keep one’s eyes about half open. In particular, unable to keep sleep in check, it is best to clench the molars hard together, open the two eyes clearly, breathe deeply and repeat that slowly. If one does so, generally the sleep disappears. During the sitting in meditation, one must try not to sleep. It is also best when sitting and not chasing away drowsiness, to stand up, and having concentrated on the body, to breathe as above. If one does so, the sleep that does not disappear will go away.

Second, regulate one’s food and drink. One must ingest food suitably. If one sits inmeditation when eating too much, in making them digest that food, the organs of the body will feel easily fatigued and immediately drowsiness will be thrust on you. It is very important to ingest suitably the food needed to help in the life of practice. Knowing the amount and eating, the practitioners must have a correct mental attitude, and in fostering a practice environment one cannot be negligent about important elements. One soup and one vegetable is said to be the menu of the Seon School. If one can, one must eat little, have little desire and be content with that. If one does not consume evenly, eventually the mind is not even, and the study cannot be consistent.

And so, in the Xiuxing daodijing it says, “People who practice must not relax the body so that it becomes heavy. If one eats suitably, the body will become light and drowsiness will lessen, and even when one sits, rises and walks, one will be at ease and not short of breathe, and seeing that evacuation and urination are lessened, even in one’s own polishing of practice, the carnal desire, anger and foolishness will become less.”

Third, one must go to bed early and rise early. It is not good to meditate at night and get up late. Even if the night study time is lessened, it is best to keep the morning study.

Fourth, sitting in meditation is like stretching out one’s waist and thinking that there is a thousand-fathoms deep precipice right in front of one’s nose, and that one is sitting on it. There are also practitioners who really do sit on top of a precipice in order to overcome sleep.

Fifth, one must give harsh admonishment. One must be cruel in the admonishment. The admonishing person and admonished person both must have minds that are frugal and thankful.

The method of controlling sexual appetite

Seon Master Seosan said the following about sexual appetite and behavior that violated the precepts:

    Meditating while lustful is like trying to cook rice by steaming sand, and meditating while breaking the precepts is like carrying water in a leaking vessel. (Seonga gwigam).
Without distancing oneself from sexual desire, one cannot practice meditation properly. If one is inclined to sexual desire one’s mind is confused and cannot be calm because the mind is captured by a thirsty love that cannot be fulfilled. But it is not easy to cut off sexual desire.

As a method of distancing oneself from sexual desire a method that really observes the feeling of impermanence is recommended. That is, if one is clearly enlightened to the fact that sexual desire is false, it is possible to overcome it. Therefore, when sexual desire occurs it is hoped that one will try to see the rising of an appearance that disappears as soon as the object of that sexual desire is scattered into the four elements and changes into dust. This is to become distinctly aware of the falsity of sexual desire.

But for the person meditating with hwadu the correct path is that one should overcome that through hwadu study. Just when that sexual desire has arisen is when the hwadu is taken up. The Shuzhuang says in relation to this that when the habits of the past life, such as sexual desire, arise, combat it with the hwadu:

    When suddenly the habituation accumulated in the past arises one should only looks at the hwadu that answered with “mu” upon the question “Does a dog have a Buddha-nature or not?”.  At just that time your habituation will become a like a snow flake that has fallen into a red-hot brazier. (Shuzhuang, In reply to Controller-general Liu)
If one earnestly takes up the hwadu in this way when the sexual desire arises, the sexual desire disappears without a trace. And to the extent that sexual desire and sleep have prevented the realization of the Way over broad eons, one must make an effort, without rest in order to overcome them and be conscious that they are great enemies.

Methods of Controlling Dullness and Restlessness

What are dullness and restlessness?
Dullness (honchim) and restlessness (do-geo) hinder practice. Seon Master Dahui also took up dullness and restlessness as representative malfunctions in meditation. Afflictions by dullness and restlessness in this way are because of a lazy mind and delusions. It is because the mind is not woken up entirely.

If the mind cannot be clearly woken when it functions and falls into a stupid and dim condition, that is called dullness. If this dullness is severe, one will fall into sleep. Moreover, the condition in which the mind cannot be still and wanders in disorder is called restlessness. Because the mind wanders here in a condition of confusion due to frustrations and delusions, the disordered mind cannot find calm and is the concrete appearance of that restlessness.

Methods of overcoming dullness and restlessness
Falling into restlessness or dullness while practicing meditation happens because one has not managed the hwadu properly. If one investigates hwadu continuously, there is no time gap to find dullness and restlessness. Seon Master Bojo Jinul said one had to control dullness with an aware mind and control restlessness with the still mind. If the mind is vividly woken, there is no reason to find dullness or drowsiness, and if the mind is immersed into a single object continuously, the restlessness that wanders and is entangled in the threads of thought cannot get a foothold. One must only take up a hwadu earnestly through thought of this study alone, and it completely maintains the mind whether dullness and restlessness comes or not. If one genuinely takes up hwadu, the mind becomes still and sparkling and therefore the two types of malfunction completely disappear.

If it is a hwadu that induces a genuine feeling of doubt, one can repel dullness and restlessness together. When drowsiness or delusions enter, in the place where they come in, one must not dislike or fear the drowsiness or delusions, but only give rise to the hwadu with full sincerity. If one fears or dislikes, that fearing and disliking mind therefore instead fosters drowsiness and delusions.

Seon Master Dahui said this:

    Do not try to empty or get rid off the mind; do not be attached to thought or discriminate, but take up only the hwadu continuously wherever and whenever. When false thoughts arise, also do not forcibly try to stop them. If one stops movement and finally manages to stop them, that is only temporary and they will come to move even more. Just look only at the hwadu in the place where the movement of the mind is stopped. (Dahui yulu, fascicle 17)
One must know that dullness and restlessness are all produced in the site of our mind. Thus dullness and restlessness are not objects that have to be repelled, but must be known to be images also of the Buddha-nature, and by investigating the hwadu, must be put back into their original site. As frustrations and delusions also are originally Buddha-nature, it is extremely natural that they be returned to that place as they are through the hwadu. It is not that something that was non-existent is made existent. It is merely confirming the original site. Therefore it is said, “frustrations (kleśa) are bodhi.” If one tries to be like this, one must proceed by study with a fixed support on which the boatman tries go upstream and with the earnest mind of a person who has fallen into a well and tries to escape from the well.

The Method of Controlling Rising Gi

Rising gi means the rising of the energy and fervor to the head. In the condition where mental resolution does not work, if one impatiently takes up the hwadu, or takes it up excessively, or forcibly takes it up, and takes it up as if pushed into it, rising gi occurs and the head hurts as if it is being split apart. If this occurs, even though one tries to be devoted to the hwadu, because of the pain and distress, one can do nothing more.

The reason for the occurrence of rising gi is because of the impatient mind that wants to be rapidly enlightened or forcibly is made to take up the hwadu without producing a genuine doubt about the hwadu. If one gives rise to a desire that one wants to do something and be rapidly awakened, the mind of rapid result is produced, and if one tries to fight the endless delusions, the mind can’t help burning with a pent up frustration. In circumstances where one is unprepared, when one wants to rapidly achieve a certain matter, the mind becomes impatient and the nerves come on edge, just like the activation of a fierce fervor.

If the mind becomes impatient the mind boils over and quakes. Therefore the fervor does not go down, but goes up to the head, and the illness of rising gi occurs. That is the cold energy goes upwards and the hot energy descends. When that (circulation of) water rides up and fire descends does not work, that becomes the original source of the illness of rising gi. Because the illness of rising gi cannot be cured by modern medicine, for monk meditators it is a fatal illness. If the illness is severe, it can reach an acute condition where one is even made to vomit.

If, having investigated the hwadu and rising gi occurs and the body throbs, one must go outside and expose oneself to the breezes, rest the mind and calm oneself and gently enter into the hwadu. Even so, if rising gi occurs and the head hurts, it is a help to “water riding up and fire descending” by lowering the rising gi through breathing exercises at dawn. If one stretches the waist erectly, the flow of the breath becomes natural and one can check the rising gi. But if one controls rising gi by technical means such as the breathing method, there is a worry that one may fall into the subsidiary practices.

If one catches the illness of rising gi, one must make a vow in order to produce a genuine doubt that wells up in the chest through a re-resolution of the mind. If one does so, the hwadu will appear again before one’s eyes. If one is mentally resolved and the hwadu is devoted to naturally, the hwadu and I become one and the blazing fervor disappears.

But in case the illness of rising gi worsens and one cannot take up the hwadu, one can cure the illness by bowing practice. If one tries to bow with the mind earnest and at the utmost, the mind will calm down, and through the bow, and due to the stimulus on the foot one therefore can obtain the result of water riding up and fire descending.

However, the most important thing is not to catch the illness of rising gi. One must start the study of the hwadu naturally and earnestly by a genuine mental resolution, and in order to be able to block the illness of rising gi in advance, it is important to investigate the hwadu by receiving the detailed guidance of a teacher or long-term practitioner.

The Difference between the Mind of Rapid Result and the Mind of Indignant Outburst

What is the Mind of Rapid Result?

The mind of rapid result (sohyo sim) means the preceding mind that has a desire that “I must rapidly achieve” or “I must be awakened rapidly.” One must definitely not produce this mind of rapid result. The mind of rapid result fosters an impatient mind, putting the nerves on edge, and also induces the illness of the rising gi (sanggi byeong) in which this fervor rises up to the head. Therefore, the more this mind of rapid result arises, the more one has to earnestly and distinctly manage the hwadu so that the mind is more at ease and disinterested. The more the mind of rapid result appears, the more the study of hwadu is slowed.

If we look at the root cause of the mind of rapid result, we see it is due to the fact that the correct mental resolution has not been made. The mind that wants to perfect something or other through rapidly being awakened produces an impetuous mind. One cannot be enlightened at all if one produces the mind of rapid result. The mind that wants to be awakened becomes a delusion, and instead obstructs enlightenment because it only makes the mind impatient.

Seon Master Dahui had the following to say about this:
    The point that one must bear in mind above all is that one must not produce the mind and move thought trying to be suddenly enlightened burning one’s insides. If such a thought arises for even a little bit, that thought will block the path of practice and cut it off, and one never will be enlightened. (Shuzhuang, Reply to Prefectural Governor Huang)
Just as Seon Master Dahui indicated, “If you produce the mind of rapid result even a little bit, you will never be enlightened,” the mind of rapid result is a major malfunction that must be warned against in the practice of Ganhwa Seon.

What is the Mind of Indignant Outburst?

The mind of indignant outburst (bunbal sim) is a mind that must be held by people who cannot do the hwadu and by people who do not advance much despite being devoted to the hwadu. When the study of it does not work, an indignant mind may also emerge, and one also becomes ashamed of oneself and one will produce a depressed mind. As I myself am Buddha, why can’t I find that place? The Buddha and generations of patriarchs found that place and led true lives, so why can’t I? One must sincerely harbor such an indignant mind.

If so, how are the mind of rapid result and the mind of indignant outburst different? The mind of indignant outburst is the study that establishes the genuine power of the vow and the correct views about the principles of one’s own existence, but if it is preceded by a desire that wants to be rapidly enlightened without the power of the vow or the correct views, that is the mind of rapid result. If one proceeds to hasten study with an impatient mind that (thinks I) must rapidly achieve the Way in the condition that has not made a mental resolve properly, instead one will induce an illness that will make it an obstacle to the study and so one definitely must not produce the mind of rapid result.

Methods of Removing Ten Malfunctions in the Investigation of Hwadu

Cleverness produces a mind that considers things are this way or that way. This is a function that understands, discriminates and judges with the head and knowledge. Our consciousness, in using the relativistic discriminative consciousness, while comparing, opposing and involving, not only injures others, it also lives on while injuring ourselves.

Cleverness is a style of mistaken knowing that summons up a thorough distortion of knowing. And so in studying hwadu, there are many cases of considering the hwadu with the mind but without producing doubt. Therefore, one cannot be awakened even if one takes up the hwadu. Cleverness functions as a malfunction and is an obstacle to enlightenment.

In the Shuzhuang, Seon Master Dahui said in taking up the hwadu of the character mu as an example, there are ten malfunctions related to cleverness. Practitioners of meditation enter into a doubt, for the Buddha said that all sentient beings have a Buddha-nature, so how could Seon Master Zhaozhou say they do not? That is the characteristic of the mu character hwadu.
Let us introduce the ten malfunctions of the hwadu one by one:
  1. Do not consider that it has or has not.
    This is not considering whether a dog “has a Buddha-nature” or “does not” while taking up the mu character hwadu. The moment one considers it in this way it is impossible to advance any further.
  2. Do not consider it in terms of principle.
    This means do not think that in the hwadu there is any profound principle. When one takes up the hwadu it is a mistake to discriminate and interpret the hwadu as this or that on the basis of a special theoretical foundation.
  3. Do not try to conjecture or consider it via the discriminative consciousness.
    This is that while meditating, one must not seek for an answer by considering it through thought.
  4. Do not use cleverness by moving one’s eyebrows or winking.
    This means to not give it a meaning with cleverness in respect of the extraordinary actions shown by the patriarchs, such as the movement of the eyebrows or winking the eyes.
  5. Do not make a livelihood in the framework of language and writings.
    In saying one has to doubt the hwadu given by the teacher, one must not try to consider and discriminate this and that in the words and characters and be captivated by the phrases of the hwadu.
  6. Do not fall into doing nothing at all.
    It is a malfunction to empty the mind and in a solitary and quiet place to rest without doing anything, and not take up the hwadu, but just to vacantly sit. This means one must not fall into an entirely quiet realm, not doing anything at all and not taking up the hwadu.
  7. Do not inform about where one took it up and give rise to a hwadu.
    It is a malfunction to inform the hwadu just with consciousness, not giving rise earnestly to doubt about the hwadu.
  8. Do not make evidence or draw on characters.
    This is, do not try to prove this way or that about the hwadu by drawing on characters of the scriptures or recorded sayings.
  9. Do not think that there is a true mu that transcends existence and non-existence.
    This is a criticism of the concept that there is a mu that transcends the relativistic existence and non-existence.
  10. Do not wait for enlightenment with the mind.
    This means do not await enlightenment with the discriminative consciousness. One must not have a mind that seeks enlightenment consciously. The practice that waits for enlightenment consciously in this way is called waiting-for-enlightenment Seon.

If one consciously waits for enlightenment, this is akin to denying that one originally is Buddha. Moreover, because it is consciously waiting for enlightenment, it creates an obstacle to advancing on the Way by having a mind of such cleverness. If one is seen as a self-deluded existence, while considering enlightenment and waiting for it, this is like seeking enlightenment while deluded, so no matter that one has practiced for numberless eons, one definitely cannot be enlightened.

The Buddha also said, “The mind that wants to be awakened gives pain.”

Seon Master Dahui repeatedly stressed not to wait for enlightenment with an intentional mind. Seon Master Hyesim emphasized faith as a means to overcome waiting-for-enlightenment Seon. This is not something that is different for saints and commoners; it is a faith that stands in the place of the original share (of enlightenment) that is shared by all. It is not a half-hearted dubious faith, but a thoroughly decisive faith that can overcome the mind that waits for enlightenment. The world of enlightenment is not that distant, separate thing, but one must be aware that it is here in this place where we see, hear and act.

Chapter 4: Overcoming the Malfunctions

Methods of Removing Ten Malfunctions in the Investigation of Hwadu

Cleverness produces a mind that considers things are this way or that way. This is a function that understands, discriminates and judges with the head and knowledge. Our consciousness, in using the relativistic discriminative consciousness, while comparing, opposing and involving, not only injures others, it also lives on while injuring ourselves.

Cleverness is a style of mistaken knowing that summons up a thorough distortion of knowing. And so in studying hwadu, there are many cases of considering the hwadu with the mind but without producing doubt. Therefore, one cannot be awakened even if one takes up the hwadu. Cleverness functions as a malfunction and is an obstacle to enlightenment.

In the Shuzhuang, Seon Master Dahui said in taking up the hwadu of the character mu as an example, there are ten malfunctions related to cleverness. Practitioners of meditation enter into a doubt, for the Buddha said that all sentient beings have a Buddha-nature, so how could Seon Master Zhaozhou say they do not? That is the characteristic of the mu character hwadu.

Let us introduce the ten malfunctions of the hwadu one by one:
  1. Do not consider that it has or has not.
    This is not considering whether a dog “has a Buddha-nature” or “does not” while taking up the mu character hwadu. The moment one considers it in this way it is impossible to advance any further.
  2. Do not consider it in terms of principle.
    This means do not think that in the hwadu there is any profound principle. When one takes up the hwadu it is a mistake to discriminate and interpret the hwadu as this or that on the basis of a special theoretical foundation.
  3. Do not try to conjecture or consider it via the discriminative consciousness.
    This is that while meditating, one must not seek for an answer by considering it through thought.
  4. Do not use cleverness by moving one’s eyebrows or winking.
    This means to not give it a meaning with cleverness in respect of the extraordinary actions shown by the patriarchs, such as the movement of the eyebrows or winking the eyes.
  5. Do not make a livelihood in the framework of language and writings.
    In saying one has to doubt the hwadu given by the teacher, one must not try to consider and discriminate this and that in the words and characters and be captivated by the phrases of the hwadu.
  6. Do not fall into doing nothing at all.
    It is a malfunction to empty the mind and in a solitary and quiet place to rest without doing anything, and not take up the hwadu, but just to vacantly sit. This means one must not fall into an entirely quiet realm, not doing anything at all and not taking up the hwadu.
  7. Do not inform about where one took it up and give rise to a hwadu.
    It is a malfunction to inform the hwadu just with consciousness, not giving rise earnestly to doubt about the hwadu.
  8. Do not make evidence or draw on characters.
    This is, do not try to prove this way or that about the hwadu by drawing on characters of the scriptures or recorded sayings.
  9. Do not think that there is a true mu that transcends existence and non-existence.
    This is a criticism of the concept that there is a mu that transcends the relativistic existence and non-existence.
  10. Do not wait for enlightenment with the mind.
    This means do not await enlightenment with the discriminative consciousness. One must not have a mind that seeks enlightenment consciously. The practice that waits for enlightenment consciously in this way is called waiting-for-enlightenment Seon.

If one consciously waits for enlightenment, this is akin to denying that one originally is Buddha. Moreover, because it is consciously waiting for enlightenment, it creates an obstacle to advancing on the Way by having a mind of such cleverness. If one is seen as a self-deluded existence, while considering enlightenment and waiting for it, this is like seeking enlightenment while deluded, so no matter that one has practiced for numberless eons, one definitely cannot be enlightened.

The Buddha also said, “The mind that wants to be awakened gives pain.”

Seon Master Dahui repeatedly stressed not to wait for enlightenment with an intentional mind. Seon Master Hyesim emphasized faith as a means to overcome waiting-for-enlightenment Seon. This is not something that is different for saints and commoners; it is a faith that stands in the place of the original share (of enlightenment) that is shared by all. It is not a half-hearted dubious faith, but a thoroughly decisive faith that can overcome the mind that waits for enlightenment. The world of enlightenment is not that distant, separate thing, but one must be aware that it is here in this place where we see, hear and act.

Live Phrases and Dead Phrases

Seon Master Seosan said in his Seon-ga gwi-gam that, “Learners must investigate live phrases (hwalgu) and they must not investigate dead phrases (sagu).” This point was stressed by all Seon masters. The core of Ganhwa Seon is in the taking up of the hwadu and the investigation of the live phrases. Live phrases are living words, true words, vivid words. They are not words that have cleverness attached. On the other hand, dead phrases are empty words, dead words. These are words that have discrimination attached. One definitely cannot enter into the world of awakening through dead words. Seon Master Bojo Jinul said, “If one investigates dead phrases I will not be able to save even myself.”

    Generally, those who study hwadu must investigate live phrases, they must not investigate dead phrases. If one is wakened by live phrases, one will never forget it for eternity, but if one is wakened by dead phrases I will not be able to save even my own body. (Ganhwa gyeoleui ron)

If so, what are the criteria for discriminating between dead phrases and live phrases? Live phrases mean phrases of the Buddha and patriarchs of opportune conditions that take a direct short-cut and are concise and which transcend the discriminative consciousness and all delusions. That is, live phrases are where the paths of language and thought are cut off, the places where language and thought have no corner anywhere for expectation or groping after and dissatisfaction. That is a vacant, empty place where there is no taste or smell or shape.

Doing this won’t do, doing that won’t do, if you go left it is not right, and if you go right it is not correct, and so one cannot comprehend it even through silence. This live phrase that has cut off the path of the mind cannot be attained by philosophical gropings or any thought, even the doctrines of the eighty-thousand page Buddhist canon. Live phrases are a style of linguistic existence of the original face that here and now vigorously lives and moves.

If one’s practice is filled with the shadows of words and permeated with the discriminative thoughts, that is, a dead phrase. If one follows after words, dead phrases are dead words. This is because this leaves signs and causes discrimination, and has one twisted by other’s opinions. Even though one is said to be wakened in pursuing words that live in the path of thought, because that is an enlightenment that understands through the form of thought, it can in no way be a genuine enlightenment. If one says that it is enlightenment that is a huge error. That place of life cannot be experienced in the introspection via language or thought. Therefore if one is enlightened via dead phrases, it is said one cannot save even one’s own self.

If one’s hwadu does not become a live phrase and if one is subordinated to the frames of various theories and concepts, it certainly will end up falling into a dead phrase. Although there are numberless excellent words and writings in the world, they are all dead phrases that are caught up in the function of discrimination or have fallen into theory. All the frameworks of theory and concepts are cleverness that obstructs fundamental doubt.

The point that one must be careful of is that according to the person, even though they investigate live phrases, those can become dead phrases. If one takes up the hwadu without doubt or considers it with the discriminating mind, it will be such (a dead phrase). Ultimately, hwadu without doubt or hwadu that do not engage doubt as they should can be nothing but dead phrases.

When one is not possessed by hwadu, may one use mantic power or chant hwadu or be mindful of hwadu?

The cardinal point of hwadu study is to take up a hwadu that has no path to grope for or seek, and to earnestly give rise to doubt and smash that doubt. One must not open up and use any rational thought at all. In the condition in which thought is thoroughly intercepted, there is entry into and doubt about hwadu. If one chants the hwadu that one has to doubt in this way as if one was chanting the name of the Buddha, this is the casting off of the original path of the investigation of the hwadu. Thus even if one is not possessed by the hwadu, one must not use mantic power or chanting of the hwadu or being mindful of the hwadu.

Chanting hwadu (song hwadu) is making the sound of the hwadu such as “What is this?” or the character mu and to endlessly and continuously recite it. For example, saying “What is it?” “What is it?” “What is it?” or “mu” “mu” “mu” is the continuous recital without any doubt.

Mindfulness of hwadu (yeom hwadu) is not making such sounds of hwadu as “What is it?” or “mu”, but reciting it in the mind. When one takes up Zhaozhou’s mu character hwadu, this is taking it up just repeating “mu” “mu” without any doubt. But whether or not one makes the sound or not, when one looks at it in Ganhwa Seon, this is a mistaken method. No matter when one is going on the path, it is mu, when sitting is mu, when wearing clothes and eating food is mu, no matter whether it is mu at any time, this method is not a proper method of taking up a hwadu. And even more, one must not use thought to think of mu.

Mantic power is the chanting of “Om mani padme hum” or the Dharani of the Gwaneum Bodhisattva of a Thousand Hands or the Lengyanjing mantra. Because these incantations are the mysterious words of the Buddha, one can gain power through chanting them. But in Ganhwa Seon one must earnestly doubt the hwadu alone. Due to not resolving the mind properly or not knowing well the investigation method of hwadu, the hwadu is not taken up well. And so there are those who gain confidence through such mindfulness of hwadu or the chanting of hwadu.

However, the life of the investigation of hwadu lies in exciting the feeling of doubt. If one does not give rise to the feeling of doubt one cannot be said to be investigating the hwadu. Even though one continues to devote oneself to the hwadu by constantly chanting it and are without worldly thoughts, one definitely will not be able to conquer the hwadu by such methods. People who devote themselves to the mantic powers and the chanting or mindfulness of the hwadu without the feeling of doubt will often not give rise to mental resolution as they should.

The Differences between Investigating the Hwadu and Contemplating the Hwadu

The Investigation of the Hwadu and the Contemplation of the Hwadu

The investigation of the hwadu and its contemplation are definitely different. The investigation of the hwadu means to give rise to the feeling of doubt about the hwadu, whereas the contemplation means to concentrate the mind on the hwadu. One must investigate the hwadu, for it is difficult to produce a genuine doubt only by concentration. While investigation is the endless persistence in the condition that achieves the feeling of doubt fully, on the other hand, contemplation is the continuing concentration and observation of any phenomena or things as they are. So there are large differences on this point.

If one contemplates hwadu, the contemplating I and the observed hwadu come to be divided from each other. In such a condition of the separation of host and guest, if the hwadu is objectified and contemplated, this is not taking up the hwadu, but is the observation that follows after the hwadu. If one divides the subject I and the object hwadu, inevitably that separates I and the object, the subject and the object, I and hwadu. Therefore when one looks at contemplation of the hwadu structurally, one cannot deny that it is a relativistic standpoint.

Of course, through such contemplation one can achieve a mental unification. Excluding the wandering mind, one can unify the mind and enter into the state of clarity. However, this is not a hwadu samādhi in which the hwadu and I are one. Wherever, it is only a relativistic state that is projected into my consciousness. Thus the object that is illuminated in this realm is not a pure feature that is an object that surfaces in my consciousness. Because that does not cast off the subject and object completely, it cannot be thorough.

The investigation of hwadu must transcend all dichotomous realms of subject and object, I and you. If it cannot be so, one will not be able to cast off completely the oppositional discriminative consciousness. It is called being at the top of a hundred foot pole and advancing one step. One has to step one pace forward on top of a pole one hundred feet in length. To reach the origin, this means that one can be free and independent once one has transcended even the origin.

Why mustn’t one contemplate the hwadu?

Seon Master Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch, who founded Patriarchal Seon, criticized the watching of the mind and the watching of purity in sitting meditation as mistaken. In short, in achieving sudden enlightenment and seeing the nature, seeing the mind and even seeing it as pure becomes an obstacle. All objectifying methods of contemplation are incorrect.

If one tries to find a pure mind or tries to see the mind, Seon Master Huineng warned against vainly giving rise to the delusion of “the pure mind.” Moreover, he indicated the mind that one tries to find itself is a delusion. This is the same principle as the eyeball cannot see the eyeball. If one tries to find the mind with the mind, not only can one not find the mind, that seeking mind itself is a delusion.

Therefore, Seon Master Huineng also said, “One cannot calm the mind with the mind, one cannot halt the mind with the mind, and one cannot operate the mind with the mind.” This is because this is to create yet another mind and objectify it. If one happens to try to find the pure mind, on the contrary, one will fall into the discriminated mind of the pure mind and the false mind, and fall into the objectified mind. If one objectifies and contemplates the mind, as Seon Master Huineng indicates, it becomes the discriminating mind and the relativistic mind.