Zen Master Seung Sahn’s opening talk at Hwa Gye Sah temple in Seoul for the 1999-2000 Winter Kyol Che
The day after tomorrow we will begin our three month winter retreat, Kyol Che. Kyol Che means tight practicing. If you have mind, it’s very important to do tight practicing. If you can put it all down, then everything becomes “no problem”; but if you are holding something and are thinking, then doing Kyol Che is very important. If you do tight practicing then it’s possible to take away your mind: your thinking, your situation, your condition, your problem. Then you can attain your True Self and save all beings. This is our direction.
Human beings come into this world empty handed and go empty handed. When you are born, where do you come from? When you die, where do you go? Are you clear about that? Life is like a floating cloud which appears; death is like a floating cloud which disappears. The floating cloud itself originally does not exist. Coming, going, life and death are the same as a floating cloud. If you attain that, then you attain what it means to be a human being. Human beings are originally nothing. Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” “Thinking”… that’s a problem! If you are thinking, everything appears: I, My, Me appears, my direction, my condition, my situation–everything appears. Put it all down, completely put it all down. Then… nothing. You must attain “nothing”; that’s very important! If you attain nothing, then your job appears clearly in front of you.
Why did you come into this world? What you do here is your direction. This must become very clear. So, becoming clear means moment to moment put it down, then the bodhisattva way appears in front of you–only help all beings. Our True Self doesn’t have coming or going. Our True Self is clear like space. Clear like space means clear like a mirror. Clear like a mirror means everything is reflected. Something appears then–BOOM!–reflect. Then there is no I, My, Me mind. There isn’t any “my” direction. There is only help, bodhisattva direction. Moment to moment… how can I help all beings? That’s our correct direction.
Now we begin three months of hard practicing. Hard practicing means completely put it all down. Moment to moment put it down, put it down, put it down. Then our correct situation, correct function and correct relationship appears. That is the bodhisattva way. Not only this life. Life after life after life… continue, until all beings become Buddha, then your job is finished. But we still have all beings, ya? So, our job is not yet finished. Completely put down everything. Then you can see clear, hear clear, smell clear… everything is clear. Clear means truth. Sky is blue, tree is green, dog is barking, ” woof woof”, sugar is sweet–eveything is the truth. What is not the truth? The Bible says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” “I am the Way” means put it down, then the great Way appears. Then truth and you are never separate. Then how does this truth correctly function? Only help all beings. That’s very important. When hungry people appear give them food, when thirsty people appear give them drink, when suffering people appear only help them. That’s our direction. If you cannot find your direction, then you are same as an animal. Animals don’t understand themselves. They don’t understand truth, don’t understand the correct way and correct life. Three months practicing together means attain your True Self. Attain your True Self and believe in your True Self 100%.
Everyone here has read the old Chinese stories in our kong-an books. Very famous, but truth and function are not clear in these stories. The teaching is not clear. Our Kwan Um School of Zen teaching, though, is very clear. Primary point, truth and correct function are very clear. So most important is correct function, bodhisattva action. Only help all beings. And not only in this life, but life after life after life. Actually infinite time. If everybody becomes clear, then this moment becomes clear. Then this moment connects with infinite time. So, a moment is infinite time, infinite time is this moment.
So I hope everybody becomes clear moment to moment, attains their True Self, finds the correct way, truth and correct life, and saves all beings from suffering.