Dear Soen Sa Nim,
I returned last Friday from twelve days of “hard sitting” – a Vipassana meditation retreat led by Jack Kornfield, whom you know. There was your letter with the Kido tape and pictures to welcome me home! Thank you so much! Although all that sitting (my first such intensive, continuous sitting) was “good” for me, what a gift to hear your chanting! I missed the bowing, chanting, eating ceremony, and your bell. It was also the first time in years (many, many) I have been away, alone, from my family and my usual life. Very strange. We lived very simply – a place far off in the country – no electricity – everything slowed way down – no talking – a mother Banty hen and eleven baby chicks – a full moon – hot mineral springs for our sore muscles – good teaching from Jack – the hardest thing I’ve ever done, nevertheless, to face my many, many attachments.
While there, I answered for myself the question I had asked you, why it is necessary to make our bodies suffer. It just is, that’s all! The axle, the wheels need breaking for the mind to be still. I feel discouraged that this will ever happen to me; yet I think (pardon that word!) that I scare myself when I look at the huge mountain of my ego, my habits, the way my small I is. I am trying to take each minute as a chance to let go to Big I.
It is very hard for me not to check my mind. I am not sure of myself. I feel when I reread a letter, sometimes, that what I say is not important, maybe no longer even true since the writing of it changed it somehow – that I should not be wasting your time, etc. Words are such a terrible way of communicating, and yet, how can people know each other without them? Especially at a distance? Also – another thing about checking my mind – I have tended all my life to be overly impulsive, to say what I feel too quickly – and later be sorry, since had I been able to wait, I would have perhaps been able to respond from a deeper level, not just from small I. So – I don’t trust myself at that point. Zen actions as opposed to impulsive, small-I actions: this is hard for me to learn!
It will be good to see you again, in Los Angeles. We are both very eager to be part of what you are doing – “to save the whole world from suffering.” What else is important?
Thank you very much for your letter. You said you sat for twelve days – hard training. I sometimes say hard training is like dry cleaning the mind. All people use their minds every day, but they do not dry clean their minds, so their minds become dirty, and bad karma appears, and then more bad karma, so their minds cannot become clear. So hard training is sometimes very important. Sometimes cleaning is necessary; then your mind is not dirty.
Sometimes I check my mind, and my mind is sometimes clean and sometimes dirty, so hard training is necessary. If I don’t check my mind, then my mind is clear like space, so hard training is not necessary. Descartes said, “I think; therefore I am.” I am not thinking; therefore what? Cleaning is not necessary. If I think, then cleaning is necessary.
You were practicing with Jack. Jack is a very good teacher. Finally you understand about making our bodies suffer: “It just is.” That is wonderful. Clear mind means intuition mind. Intuition means no subject, no object; inside and outside become one mind. If you keep this mind always, moment to moment, you can understand your correct opinion, your condition, and your situation.
Most people separate their opinion, their condition, and their situation, but if you have a clear mind, your opinion, condition, and situation become one action; you cannot separate them. At teaching time, only teaching; when you return to your house, only mother’s mind; when talking to your husband, only wife’s mind; when you’re driving, only drive; when you’re walking, only walk; when you’re eating, only eat. Correct moment to moment action is your correct opinion, correct condition, correct situation. So don’t check anything. Only go straight – Kwan Seum Bosal; then you will get everything.
You say, “Words are such a terrible way of communicating.” But words are very important. If you are attached to words, words control you. You must control words. This means words and speech do not hinder your true self. So if you’re thinking, you are hindered by words and speech; if you’re not thinking, you have freedom from words and speech – no problem.
You say that you say what you feel too quickly. If you are attached to something, then you’re too quick; if you’re not attached to something, then you’re not quick but like a clear mirror. If something is reflected, then reflect; if something is not reflected, then nothing. Why quick? So, how do you keep just-now mind? This is very important.
Don’t check anything. Then you will get everything. Only go straight – Kwan Seum Bosal.
You did not say anything about your homework. Did you finish your homework?
I look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles.
I hope you always keep Kwan Seum Bosal mind, then soon finish the Great Work and get Enlightenment, and save all people from suffering.
Yours in the Dharma,