The material for this Newsletter was contributed by the Lawrence Chogye Zen Group in Lawrence, Kansas. It is a dialogue between a student (P) and Soen Sa Nim. (SS) that took place at a Dharma Talk last November at the University of Kansas.
Digesting our understanding is very important. It’s like a cow eating grass – eat, eat, eat, eat. A cow has two stomachs. The first stomach stores food and takes out the juice; later the cow chews her cud until the food is again swallowed to be digested and become energy. Not everybody digests their understanding in this style. They only eat, eat, eat. Then comes consciousness, questions, computing and thinking, thinking, thinking. Too much understanding. Everybody understands too much but they cannot use their understanding because it is not chewed and digested.
So what am I? Only meditate: what am I? Don’t know. Chew, chew, chew. Then your understanding food becomes correct cognition. That is meditation; that is Zen. Complicated mind becomes simple mind.
People who only read books and do not chew their mind food cannot make their understanding and action come together. Understanding goes one way, action is different. They have a problem. So you must chew and digest your understanding.
P: How can I gain the most from being here with you?
SS: Sit Zen (pause). I am not special (pause). Okay, let’s talk about that, but first: where are you coming from? Zen is keeping a very simple mind, okay? Many people understand too much, so they have many questions and some confusion. Am I from God? From the universe? From nature? Thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking. Now I ask you — where are you coming from? Where is your home?
P: New York Street.
SS: You are from Now York Street. Whose hand is this? (pointing to person)
P: My hand. SS:
Correct. Whose leg?
P: My leg.
SS: Whose body?
P: My body.
SS: Correct. Your body is from New York Street.
SS: Correct. Your true self comes from where?
SS: God, correct. Where is God?
SS: Only here?
SS: I ask you, is this God in your mind or outside your mind?
P: Well, both.
SS: Both? Sometimes not in your mind?
P: I don’t know. You’re asking me about something I can only think about.
SS: You say God. You also say you don’t know. Correct. I asked you, “your true self comes from where?” You said, “God.” You understand God, so I ask you: is this God in your mind or outside your mind? If you say both, I will hit you sixty times!
P: I say both.
SS: I hit you sixty times! Okay, we will talk about that. You don’t understand where your true self is coming from. Don’t know. This don’t-know mind is very important. What am I? Don’t know. Where are you coming from? Don’t understand. An eminent teacher said: “Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed, that is human. When you are born, where do you come from? When you die, where do you go?” Don’t understand. Don’t know. “Life is like a floating cloud which appears; death is like a floating cloud which disappears. The floating cloud originally does not exist. Coming, going, death and life are also like that. But there is one thing which always remains clear and pure, not dependent on life and death. What is the one pure and clear thing?”
Your body is like your car. This one thing controls your body; it is not dependent on life and death. Your body has life and death, but your true self, this one thing, is not dependent on life and death. But what is the one clear and pure thing? You don’t understand? So, this don’t understand, don’t-know mind is very important. What am I? Don’t know. Okay?
P: Okay. But what do I do? What do I do with my don’t-know mind?
SS: I ask you, what are you?
P: I don’t know.
SS: Only keep this mind, don’t-know mind. What am I? Only don’t know. You keep it 100%, okay? Then only go straight, don’t know. Then when you are doing something, do it 100%. When you are driving, just drive. When you are eating, just eat. This everyday mind is Zen mind. Today is Friday, November 3rd.