Why We Chant

One Sunday evening, after a Dharma talk at the International Zen Center of New York, a student asked Seung Sahn Soen-sa, “Why do you chant? Isn’t sitting Zen enough?”

Soen-sa said, “This is a very important matter. We bow together, chant together, eat together, sit together, and do many other things together here at the Zen Center. Why do we practice together?

“Everybody has different karma. So all people have different situations, different conditions, and different opinions. One person is a monk, another is a student, another works in a factory; one person always keeps a clear mind, another is often troubled or dissatisfied; one person likes the women’s movement, another doesn’t. But everybody thinks, ‘My opinion is correct!’ Even Zen Masters are like this. Ten Zen Masters will have ten different ways of teaching, and each Zen Master will think that his way is the best. Americans have an American opinion; Orientals have an Oriental opinion. Different opinions result in different actions, which make different karma. So when you hold on to your own opinions, it is very difficult to control your karma, and your life will remain difficult. Your wrong opinions continue, so your bad karma continues. But at our Zen Centers, we live together and practice together, and all of us abide by the Temple Rules. People come to us with many strong likes and dislikes, and gradually cut them all off. Everybody bows together 108 times at five-thirty in the morning, everybody sits together, everybody eats together, everybody works together. Sometimes you don’t feel like bowing; but this is a temple rule so you bow. Sometimes you don’t want to chant, but you chant. Sometimes you are tired and want to sleep, but you know that if you don’t come to sitting, people will wonder why; so you sit.

“When we eat, we eat in ritual style, with four bowls; and after we finish eating, we wash out the bowls with tea, using our index finger to clean them. The first few times we ate this way, nobody liked it. One person from the Cambridge Zen Center came to me very upset. ‘I can’t stand this way of eating! The tea gets full of garbage! I can’t drink it!’ I said to him, ‘Do you know the Heart Sutra?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Doesn’t it say that things are neither tainted nor pure?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Then why can’t you drink the tea?’ ‘Because it’s filthy” ” (Laughter from the audience.) “‘Why is it filthy? These crumbs are from the food that you already ate. If you think the tea is dirty, it is dirty. If you think it is clean, it is clean.’ He said, ‘You’re right. I will drink the tea.”‘ (Laughter.)

“So we live together and act together. Acting together means cutting off my opinions, cutting off my condition, cutting off my situation. Then we become empty mind. We return to white paper. Then our true opinion, our true condition, our true situation will appear. When we bow together and chant together and eat together, our minds become one mind. It is like on the sea. When the wind comes, there are many waves. When the wind dies down, the waves become smaller. When the wind stops, the water becomes a mirror, in which everything is reflected-mountains, trees, clouds.Our mind is the same. When we have many desires and many opinions, there are many big waves. But after we sit Zen and act together for some time, our opinions and desires disappear. The waves become smaller and smaller. Then our mind is like a clear mirror, and everything we see or hear or smell or taste or touch or think is the truth. Then it is very easy to understand other people’s minds. Their minds are reflected in my mind.

“So chanting is very important. At first you won’t understand. But after you chant regularly, you will understand.  ‘Ah, chanting-very good feeling!’ It is the same with bowing 108 times. At first people don’t like this. Why do we bow? We are not bowing to Buddha, we are bowing to ourselves. Small I is bowing to Big I. Then Small I disappears and becomes Big I. This is true bowing. So come practice with us. You will soon understand.”

The student bowed and said, “Thank you very much.”

A Whole World Flower Blooms

This talk was given at Nam Hwa Sah Temple, China

The whole world is a single flower. What does that mean? Twenty five hundred years ago, Buddha stayed at Yeong Sahn Mountain. One day, in front of an assembly, he picked up a flower. Nobody understood; only Mahakasyapa smiled. Buddha said, “The all-pervading true dharma I transmit to Mahakasyapa.”

Eight hundred years later, Bodhidharma came to China. The emperor of China, Emperor Yan, asked Bodhidharma, “I havemade almost infinite temples, I have made almost infinite robes and kasas for monks. How much merit have I earned?” Bodhidharma said, “No merit.” Buddha’s flower had infinite merit, but what is the true teaching in this flower of Buddha? Bodhidharma said, “Only don’t know.”

Three hundred years later, the Sixth Patriarch said, “Originally there is nothing, where can you find dust?”

So Buddha’s holding up one flower, Bodhidharma’s don’t know, and the Sixth Patriarch’s originally nothing, where is dust… those three, are they the same or different?

If somebody says that they are the same… this stick will hit them thirty times.

If somebody says that they are different, this stick will also hit them thirty times.

Why is that?

The sky is blue and water is flowing. Today at Nam Hwa Sah, this whole world flower has blossomed.

This world is changing all the time. The last time we came here, three years ago, we noticed that the roads were not so good, and that Shaoguan, the city near here, was not very developed. This time, we cannot help but notice that the roads are very well constructed, and there are many new high buildings in the town. This gives us evidence that China is growing up, developing, and becoming a modern society. I have been traveling all over the world, and I have seen the development of many different countries. No other country has demonstrated the kind of rapid development, and change in people’s minds, that I see today in China. This makes me very happy.

However, this outside environment does not necessarily mean that our minds are becoming pure. Many temples have been reconstructed, many new temples have been built, many congregations are forming and people are attending temples again. I hope that people continue to come to these temples, learn sutras and do chanting, also do meditation, attain their true selves, and become teachers for all human beings. We have gathered here from all over the world to recognize that Nam Hwa Sah has a very important role to play in this matter. I sincerely hope that the people gathered here from many different countries attain the Sixth Patriarch’s “originally nothing” and help this world.

Everyone can see that our world is not clear. There are many, many problems. Why? On this earth, the human population has suddenly exploded. Before the end of World War II, the whole population of this planet was less than two billion people. Today, the population of this earth has increased to five-and-a-half billion people. Over many thousands of years on this planet we only reached a population of two billion people, but in fifty years it has increased by three and a half billion people. In this short span of time, the minds of human beings as a whole have become less human and have become more animal-like. If we cannot fix the animal mind inside ourselves, then how can we expect to achieve world peace, how can we expect to make the whole world a single flower?

Starting from here, we need to fix this world, make this world a better place. The Buddha taught us a special mantra for cleansing our minds and purifying this world. This mantra is “Jong Bop Gye Jin On Om Nam.” Let’s all together try Om Nam. By doing this mantra we cleanse our minds. By cleansing our minds, we can cleanse the whole world. So hold your hands together in hapchang, and together we will do the Om Nam mantra.

Om Nam Om Nam Om Nam Om Nam Om Nam…

Thank you. This world is now becoming a better place. This world is becoming clearer. Attaining world peace has now begun at Nam Hwa Sah temple.

Always the sky is blue, and the water is always flowing down, down to the ocean.

Thank you very much.

e Whole Universe is Plastic

One Sunday, while Seung Sahn Soen-sa was staying at the International Zen Center of New York, there was a big ceremony marking the end of one hundred days of chanting Kwanseum Bosal. Many Korean women came, with shopping bags full of food and presents. One woman brought a large bouquet of plastic flowers, which she presented smilingly to an American student of Soen-sa’s. As soon as he could, the student hid the flowers under a pile of coats. But soon, another woman found them and, with the greatest delight, walked into the Dharma Room and put them in a vase on the altar.

The student was very upset. He went to Soen-sa and said, “Those plastic flowers are awful. Can’t I take them off the altar and dump them somewhere?’

Soen-sa said, “It is your mind that is plastic. The whole universe is plastic.”

The student said, “What do you mean?”

Soen-sa said, “Buddha said, ‘When one mind is pure, the whole universe is pure; when one mind is tainted, the whole universe is tainted.’ Every day we meet people who are unhappy. When their minds are sad, everything that they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch is sad. The whole universe is sad. When the mind is happy, the whole universe is happy. If you desire something, then you are attached to it. If you reject it, you are just as attached to it. Being attached to a thing means that it becomes a hindrance in your mind. So ‘I don’t like plastic’ is the same as ‘I like plastic’ — both are attachments. You don’t like plastic flowers, so your mind has become plastic, and the whole universe is plastic. Put it all down. Then you won’t be hindered by anything. You won’t care whether the flowers are plastic or real, whether they are on the altar or in the garbage pail. This is true freedom. A plastic flower is just a plastic flower. A real flower is just a real flower. You mustn’t be attached to name and form.”

The student said, “But we are trying to make a beautiful Zen center here, for all people. How can I not care? Those flowers spoil the whole room.”

Soen-sa said, “If somebody gives real flowers to Buddha, Buddha is happy. If somebody else likes plastic flowers and gives them to Buddha, Buddha is also happy. Buddha is not attached to name and form, he doesn’t care whether the flowers are real or plastic, he only cares about the person’s mind. These women who are offering plastic flowers have very pure minds, and their action is Bodhisattva action. Your mind rejects plastic flowers, so you have separated the universe into good and bad, beautiful and ugly. So your action is not Bodhisattva action. Only keep Buddha’s mind. Then you will have no hindrance. Real flowers are good; plastic flowers are good. This mind is like the great sea, into which all waters flow — the Hudson River, the Charles River, the Yellow River, Chinese water, American water, clean water, dirty water, salt water, clear water. The sea doesn’t say, ‘Your water is dirty, you can’t flow into me.’ It accepts all waters and mixes them and all become sea. So if you keep the Buddha mind, your mind will be like the great sea. This is the great sea of enlightenment.”

The student bowed and said, “I am very grateful for your teaching.”

The Whole Universe Is Medicine

July 1, 1980

Dear Soen Sa Nim,

It would be wonderful if you please could answer this letter before my letter of about a week ago.

Life has put a task on my way and I am very glad to feel I want and I can be of help. A short time ago I met a man of my age. We liked each other from the very beginning and it was good to be with someone who in his way is clear, open, warm, brave and understanding. Today I got a letter from him telling me that he would like to learn about Zen. He asked how to handle a situation like his and mine, asking what he could do for me, because he is fighting a cancer in his kidneys, lungs, and bones.

He has already done enough for me because he is the way he is. My job in the office is finished in three weeks time and I have no obligations. And I can manage as a temporary for a long time, as it looks now. This gives me the chance to serve and learn from a person I dearly like.

I have reread your letters to me. What can I do, apart from trying to express that we are not our body, when pain is getting hard? My friend wrote that he still often feels well — I had not noticed anything of his illness — but that the pain sometimes is devilish. He seems to hope that I, who have mentioned that I have been sitting for fourteen years now, have some yogi-knowledge. True, I can take away a headache for friends but bone cancer I happen to know is terribly painful. If you can think of anything to tell me for my friend’s sake, I would be very glad.

One hundred and eight bows to you. Thank you so much for your teaching.

Sincerely, yours in the Dharma,


July 21, 1980

Dear Ingrid,

Thank you for your letter. How are you and your friends?

In your letter you said a new task has appeared — helping your friend who has cancer who wants to learn about Zen. That’s a little difficult But a bad situation is a good situation. A good situation is a bad situation. You must understand that. A bad situation forces you to find the correct way. In a good situation it is very easy to get attached to good and begin to make bad karma. So we say a bad situation is a good situation and a good situation is a bad situation.

You and your friend can use this difficult situation to find the correct way, truth, and correct life. But be very careful! Originally there is no life, no death. If you want life, or you want anything, you are already dead. Wanting life will only make more suffering and a living hell.

Put down all your understanding and don’t check your condition and situation; then already you are complete. That, we say, is primary point. Which is no life, no death; no coming, no going; no high, no low; no good no bad; no holy, no unholy. We say that is the absolute. If you attain that, then you must make this primary point function correctly and make your life correct and then help other people. We call that Great Love, Great Compassion and the Great Bodhisattva Way.

You already understand that. But, in looking at your letter, I find you are holding your understanding, also holding your feelings, a little bit. If when you are doing something you completely do it, then the little bit that you are holding your feelings and understanding will completely disappear; then you can see, you can hear, you can smell — all, just like this, is the truth.

Your friend has three kinds of cancer. That is the human route. Suffering is the truth. Also pain is the correct way. Cause and effect are very clear: your friend’s previous karma has already been determined, so by natural process his sickness appears. Only correct practicing can change this natural process. Then maybe his cancer will disappear. Even if it doesn’t disappear, worrying is not necessary; it cannot help. Only go straight, try, try, try, for 10,000 years, nonstop. If you keep this mind, moment to moment, you are perfectly complete, for infinite time. Then everything is no problem.

Here is another kong-an for you: (Blue Cliff Record case #87)

Yun Men, teaching his assembly, said, “Medicine and disease cure each other. The whole universe is medicine; what is your True Self?”

So sickness, medicine, and your True Self — are they the same or different? Tell me, tell me! If you don’t understand, only go straight, don’t know, O.K.?

I hope you only go straight, don’t know, which is clear like space, help your friends and find the correct way, truth, and correct life, get Enlightenment, and save all people from suffering.

Yours in the Dharma,

S. S.

Who is it that Sees these Leaves?

A Student wrote to Zen Master Seung Sahn:

In the Fall, there are leaves on the ground. If they are on a lawn, someone may come out of a house and sweep them into little piles. In the afternoon the wind comes and blows all the leaves away. Many people become mad at the wind. Some may go out again and sweep the scattered leaves into new piles. But again, the wind comes and sweeps them away. Then what work must be done?

As to your kong-an; ‘The tree has no roots,’ I ask you, ‘If the tree has no roots then how can it stand?’

Zen Master Seung Sahn replied:

If a person goes outside and stays with leaves and wind and people, he cannot find his way back home. Why are you attached to leaves, wind and people’s anger? Who is it that sees these leaves? Who?

The Sixth Patriarch, long ago in China, once passed two monks who were arguing about a flag blowing in the wind. One monk said, ‘It is the flag that is moving.’ The second monk said, ‘It is the wind that is moving.’ The Sixth Patriarch said, ‘You are both wrong. It is not the flag, it is not the wind; it is your mind that is moving.’

It is the same with the leaves, wind, and anger. When your mind is moving, then actions appear. But when your mind is not moving, the truth is just like this. The falling of the leaves is truth. The sweeping is truth. The wind blowing them away is truth. The people’s anger also is truth. If your mind is moving you don’t understand the truth. You must first understand that form is emptiness, emptiness is form; next, no form, no emptiness. Then you will understand that form is form, emptiness is emptiness. Then all actions are the truth.

You say, ‘If the tree has no roots, how can it stand?’ I say, ‘The dog runs after the bone.’ You must not be attached to words. First attain true emptiness. If you do not dwell there you will attain freedom and no hindrance. Then you will understand that the tree has no roots. Thinking is no good. Put it all down. Only ‘What am I?’ This don’t know mind is very important. If you keep it for a long time, you will understand this tree with no roots.

Where Does the True Buddha Dwell?

Zen Master Ku San wrote to Ven. Duk Sahn as follows:

Once Zen Master Ang Sang asked Zen Master Wi San Yungwoo, ‘Where does the true Buddha dwell?’

Wi San answered, ‘When origination and matter come together, they become light. This light is emptiness and this ’empty’ is ‘full’. When all phenomena, extinguished, return to the origin, then nature and form become clear. Origination is origination; matter is matter. only like this – this is the true Buddha.”

At this remark, Ang San was suddenly enlightened.

Now, Duk Sahn, what is your view?

Ven. Duk Sahn wrote in reply as follows:

It is said that there is no place of abode of mind. Duk Sahn, the general of the guards keeping the gate of Sambosa on Robin mountain, has also no place of abode and no view.

Regarding the dialogue between Ven. Ang San and Ven. Wi San, I give them both thirty blows and give the bodies to a hungry dog.

Zen Master Ku San wrote again as a reply:

In your letter you mentioned that you are a general of the guards who keeps the gate, and so on – but In True Emptiness, there is no entry and no exit. So what do you guard?

And, you said that you hit Ang San and Wi San thirty times. Please give me an answer that is before words. You give them thirty blows. To whom do you give them?

At this Ven. Duk Sahn wrote to Zen Master Seung Sahn:

Ven. Seung Sahn, how should I answer the questions? I look forward to your kind instructions.

Zen Master Seung Sahn answered Zen Master Ku San:

The sword of the general who keeps the gate at Robin mountain kills Buddhas when it meets them, and kills patriarchs when it meets them, as well. If Ven. Ku San opens his mouth here, he too shall have no way of escape from being killed by the pitiless sword.

Regarding the second question, the thirty blows are given to Ang San and Wi Ran, why do you carry these thirty blows around on your own back?


The sky is blue and the ground is yellow.

What Will You Give?

Question: Recently I travelled in India. Everywhere I went, people were suffering because of a lack of food. I wanted to help them but I had nothing to give them–there were so many people and so much suffering. I realized I could do nothing.

Zen Master Seung Sahn: You have everything. You say “nothing,” but that isn’t correct. You don’t understand “you,” so you say “nothing.”

Q: But I had nothing to give them.

ZMSS: You are only attached to “outside”; you don’t understand “inside.” Outside you have nothing, but inside you have everything. If you have nothing on the outside to give them, then everywhere you go bow and chant Kwan Seum Bosal. Also, in your mind keep “I can!” Then this helps them, and also helps you. You have “that,” yeah?

Everything happens from primary cause, condition and result. Our world has a big problem. So Buddha said this is a suffering world. In the United States, we have a lot of food. And every day we throw a lot of food in the garbage. It’s the same in Korea. But in India, there isn’t enough food. So, our world is unbalanced. Who makes things unbalanced? Human beings make this.

Nowadays there are too many human beings. Also, humans do many bad things. For example, humans kill a lot of animals and eat them–eat their meat. Then cause and effect are very clear. All suffering comes from cause and effect. If two religions are fighting–like Hinduism and Islam–then many people will be killed. Then these people reappear again. The suffering goes around and around. Everything is from primary cause, condition and effect. So, what’s our job?

Our job is to practice hard and perceive this world. Human beings do more bad actions on this planet than any other animal. The outside… how can we help the outside? If we chant Kwan Seum Bosal, then our consciousness and suffering people’s consciousness connects. If you only practice for yourself, that’s not correct practicing. Our practicing means attain your true self. Attain your true self means Great Love, Great Compassion, the Great Bodhisattva Way. In other words, moment to moment keep correct situation, correct relationship and correct function. If we don’t have enough money to help people, then we chant for them. Chant Kwan Seum Bosal many times and say, “Please, may all suffering human beings and all suffering animals be relieved of suffering. Same day, same time! Together become Buddha.” That’s our direction. This direction never ends, life time after life time. That’s our great vow. So, if we see suffering people, then we chant for them. That’s our job. O.K.?

What is that Rock Saying?

One Sunday night at the Providence Zen Center, Seung Sahn Soen-sa told the story of Su Tung-po’s enlightenment. Afterwards he said to his students:

“What do we learn from this story? That Zen teaches us to cut off all discriminating thoughts and to understand that the truth of the universe is ultimately our own true self. All of you should meditate very deeply on this. What is this entity that you call the self? When you understand what it is, you will have returned to an intuitive oneness with Nature and will see that Nature is you and you are Nature, that Nature is the Buddha, who is preaching to us at every moment. It is my wish that all of you will be able to hear what Nature is saying.”

Student A (pointing to a rock in the zendo) — What is that rock saying to you right now?

Soen-sa — Why do you think it’s speaking to me?

Student A — Well, I hear something, but I can’t quite make out. what it is?

Soen-sa — Why don’t you ask the rock?

Student A — I already have, but I can’t understand its language.

Soen-sa — That’s because your mind is exactly like the rock! (Laughter)

Soen-sa — Are there any more questions?


Student A — If there are no questions, can you answer?

Soen-sa — If there are no questions, then you’re all Buddhas. And Buddhas don’t need to be taught.

Student B — But we don’t know we’re Buddhas.

Soen-sa — That’s true, you don’t know…. Fish swim in water, but they don’t know they’re in water. Every moment you breathe in air, but you do it unconsciously. You’d only be conscious of air if you were without it. In the same way, we are always hearing the sounds of cars, voices, waterfalls. All these sounds are sermons, they’re the voice of the Buddha himself preaching to us. We hear many sermons, all the time, but we’re deaf to them. If we were really alive, whenever we heard, saw, smelled, tasted, touched, we’d say, “Ah, this is a fine sermon!” We’d see that there’s no scripture that teaches as well as this experience with Nature.

Student C — Why do some see and others not?

Soen-sa — Your nose sticks out and your eyes are sunken. Do you know why? It would be just as functional to have two holes in the middle of our face, and eyes on a flat plane. So why are our eyes and noses the way they are?

Student C — I don’t know.

Soen-sa — Well, it’s human karma. In the same way, you’ve sown certain seeds in the past that now result in your encountering Buddhism. Not only that: some people come here only once, while others stay and practice very earnestly. When you practice Zen earnestly, you’re burning up the karma that binds you to ignorance. In Japanese the word for “earnest” means “to heat up the heart”. If you heat up your heart, this karma, which is like a block of ice in your mind, melts and becomes liquid. And if you keep heating it, it becomes steam, and evaporates into space. Those people who practice come to melt their hinderances. Why do they Practice? Because it’s their karma to do so, just as it’s others’ not to. Man’s discriminating thoughts build up a great thought-mass in his mind, and this is what he mistakenly regards as his real self. In fact, it’s merely a mental construction based on ignorance. The purpose of Zen meditation is to dissolve this thought-mass. What is finally left is the real self. You enter into the world of the selfless. And if you don’t stop there, if you don’t think about this realm or cling to it, you will continue in your practice until you become one with the Absolute.

What is Happiness? What is Sadness?

Zen Master Seung Sahn gave the following talk in London, England, towards the end of his trip to Europe in the spring of 1978.

Long ago in China there was a famous student of Zen Master Ma Jo named Han Ong. Everyone said to him, “You are lucky, you are happy.” Then he said, “What is luck? What is happiness?” He always spoke like this.

He had a good horse, which he liked to ride every day. One day the horse disappeared, so everyone said, “Oh, are you unhappy? Are you sad?” He said, “What is sadness? What is happiness?” No feeling. His horse ran away, but he only said, “What is sadness? What is happiness?” Everyone said, “This man has no feeling.” Usually, if someone is attached to something and it goes away, then he is very sad. But Han Ong only said, “What is sadness? What is happiness?”

A week later Han Ong got a very good horse; we say, jun me. This means it only has to see the shadow of the whip and it runs. This is a very clever horse. So everyone said, “You are happy. You are lucky.” He said, “What is luck? What is happiness?” Only this. No feeling. Then everybody said, “This man is very lucky.” His son liked the horse and rode it every day. He only had to mount the horse and it would go, so he rode around and around, very happy. Then one day while riding, he fell and broke his leg. So everyone said, “Ah, I am sorry your son broke his leg. Are you sad?” He said, “What is sadness? What is happiness?” No feeling.

Soon after this, there were many wars, with North China and South China fighting each other. All the young people had to go to the army. But Han Ong’s son had a broken leg, so he could not go; he stayed at home and only helped his parents. His leg was not so bad, so he could work in the garden and help them with their chores. Everybody said, “You are lucky. You are happy.” So he said, “What is luck? What is happiness?” This style speech.

This is Han Ong’s famous, “What is happiness? What is sadness?” His whole life he used only this speech to teach other people. Outside, happiness appears, luck appears, sadness appears, but he is not moving. “What is true happiness? What is sadness?” Not moving. This mind is very important. Originally there is nothing. If you attach to something, then you have luck, happiness, sadness, suffering — everything appears. If you don’t attach, this is clear mind. Then there is no sadness, no happiness, no unhappiness — they all disappear. So if you attach to name and form, if you attach to words, then your mind is also moving. Don’t attach to anything. Then your mind is enough. Then appearing, disappearing, whatever happens outside doesn’t matter. Then teaching other people is possible. So Han Ong’s friends and all his students learned from him. Only one word: “What is sadness? What is happiness?” This means your mind moving is no good. If you make happiness, if you make sadness, that’s no good. Don’t make anything; don’t attach to anything; don’t hold anything. Then you are complete. This was his teaching.

So our Europe trip is almost finished. We too have had many kinds of happiness, appearing and disappearing. Put it all down, O.K.? Only go straight: “What is luck? What is happiness? What is sadness?” We have had a lot of luck, a lot of happiness, a lot of suffering, a lot of sadness. But what is happiness? What is sadness? What is luck? Only go straight.

What is Belief?

On the trip to Europe in the spring of 1978, Soen Sa Nim gave kong-an talks every morning to the small group of students who traveled with him. In West Berlin, following the morning talk, Diana Clark had this exchange with Soen Sa Nim.

Diana (D): I wish that you would talk a little more about belief. What is belief?

Soen Sa Nim (SS): How many hands do you have?

D: Two.

SS: How many fingers do you have?

D: Ten.

SS: How do you use them?

Diana claps.

SS: Correct. That is belief. I have fingers, I have hands — no thinking. Only action. Already my hands and me become one; there is no thinking. Can you believe your eyes? How? (Laughter) What color is that?

D: White.

SS: White. That is belief.

D: Okay. I understand that. But you say you must believe in yourself one hundred percent, or if you don’t believe in yourself one hundred percent, then you must believe in Buddha, or a tree, or your teacher, or something. So okay. How do you do that? I mean you can’t just make a decision to believe. I know that’s white because I see that it’s white. I know I should believe in Buddha, but… I’m not sure. How do I go from not being quite sure to belief?

SS: You want to believe something; this is already a mistake. So, put it all down and true belief will appear by itself (laughs). Very simple. The mind that wants something cannot believe in anything. Throw away this wanting mind. Try!

D: Try what? Can you try to believe?

SS: No! No! I didn’t say try to believe. Only try. Only try means only go straight don’t know; don’t know means that your ideas about this world disappear. When your ideas disappear then you and this world become one. So in true belief there is no believing in something or not believing in something because it has already become one. If you and Buddha become one, how do you believe in Buddha?!

This is one mind, try mind, go straight don’t-know mind and put-it-all-down mind. But many people hold their thinking: “What does he think about me? I think this about him.” Holding this creates opposites when originally there was no problem.

D: Thank you. I see that making “believe” and trying to believe is a mistake.

SS: Believe is only a teaching word. Don’t attach to words, okay? (Laughs.)

D: Okay. Thank you very much.