A Dharma Speech given by Seung Sahn Soen-sa at the Harvard Divinity School, on March 12
(Hitting the floor with his stick) Are you alive? Are you dead?
(Hitting the floor) Where does life come from? Where does death go?
(Hitting the floor) If you think life, you go to hell like an arrow. If you think death, your body has no place.
The blue mountain does not move; the white cloud floats back and forth. Life is like a cloud appearing in the sky. Death is like a cloud disappearing in the sky. Originally the cloud doesn’t exist. It is the same with life and death. But there is one thing that is present forever, forever clear and luminous.
What is this one thing?
If you want to understand, listen to these four sentences:
1. Under the sea the running mud cow eats the moon.
2. In front of the rock the stone tiger sleeps, holding a baby in its arms.
3. The steel snake drills into the eye of a diamond.
4. Mount Kan rides on the back of an elephant, pulled by a little bird.
Of these four sentences, there is one that will give you freedom from life and death. Which one is it?
When you can see the horned rabbit sleeping under the tree with no roots, then you will first attain.
What is enlightenment? If you want to understand, you must let your mind become clear like vast space. All thinking and all desire fall away, and you have no hinderance anywhere.
To let your mind become clear like vast space — what does this mean? Do you understand? This is true enlightenment.
All Buddhas and all six realms of existence return to it. All things have it, one by one. It is happening in everything.
So, even if you have never meditated, you already understand.
(Holding up his stick) Do you see this?
(Hitting the floor) Do you hear this?
Already you clearly see and hear.
Then this stick, this sound, and your mind — are they the same or different?
If you say ‘the same,’ I will hit you thirty times. If you say ‘different,’ I will still hit you thrity times.
The willow is green, the floor is red.