Bobby Rhodes, JDPSN, (now Zen Master Seong Hyang) gave this formal Dharma Speech at the Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony at the Providence Zen Center on December 9th, 1978.
(Holding up the Zen stick.) Do you see?
(Hitting the table.) Do you hear?
If you say you see and hear, you lose it. If you say you don’t see and you don’t hear, you also lose it. Why? Seeing, hearing, winning and losing, you must wake up from this dream.
Every day many babies are born, and they all have eyes and ears and noses and tongues and little bodies. And because they have all these things, they start crying, and they start suffering right away. Sometimes they get wet and cold; sometimes they get hungry; sometimes they get frightened.
And then they grow up a little bit and they learn how to cope with these things and they become young children. And these children still cry sometimes, and they get cold and wet. They still cry when they get hungry sometimes; they cry when they get frightened. But they also have another whole set of things to cry and suffer about: they start to develop a little anger; they start to develop a little ignorance; and they start to develop a lot of desires.
And so they grow and they grow, and they cultivate their anger and their ignorance and their desires, and they become grown-ups.
So then something really wonderful happens: they get something else to suffer about. The Buddha got it, and we all got it, and this extra added-on suffering is: “What am I doing here? Why was I born? Where am I going to go after I die?” And if you give it time, you’ll start suffering more and more with this question. And then you don’t suffer so much when you’re wet or when you’re hungry, and you don’t suffer quite so much when you have a lot of desire, or when you have anger. And this question begins to grow and grow: “What am I doing here? Where am I going to go after I die?”
So we all came here today to honor this final great suffering. We came to honor a man who did a really good job at it. And we came to honor ourselves because we have that same mind. So we came to honor this mind.
Some of us have been cooking all day in honor of this mind, and some of us have travelled great distances in honor of this mind. Some of us have racked our brains all day figuring our what to say for a Dharma Talk in honor of this mind (laughter). We’ve bought special flowers for the altar and put some fruit on the altar.
So I ask you, what did the Buddha understand? What is Enlightenment? You must first put down your desires, put down your anger, put down your ignorance. Kill your eyes, your ears, your nose, your tongue, and your body. Cut off all thinking and become empty. If you keep this empty mind for just a little while, you lose yourself, and you stop having this big wrestling match we all have with ourselves: “this is I, my, me and everything else is outside there.” So you lose that, and so there’s no more suffering, no more happiness; there’s no more “I,” there’s no more “this,” and everything becomes one.
But as Soen Sa Nim has said several times this afternoon, one more step is necessary. So what is this step? There’s a very famous kong-an that says, “Ten thousand Dharmas return to One. Where does the One return?” Once I heard someone ask Soen Sa Nim, “Where does the One return?” and he said, ”When I am hungry, I eat; when I am tired, I sleep.” This is very boring speech. I think that everything you say that’s just like this is often very boring. That’s a problem many people have: it’s not enough that the wall is white, and the cloth is blue — it’s too boring. And so our practice gets us so that we tolerate this boredom more and more, and we have more and more of what Soen Sa Nim calls “enough mind.”
So slowly this mind where things become enough grows and grows. You can stop making things, and everything is O.K. just as it is. If you keep this “enough mind” for a while, one day you’ll hear this speech: “When I am hungry, I eat; when I am tired, I sleep,” and it sounds incredibly profound and very, very wonderful. And you hear, “The wall is white; this cloth is blue,” and that sounds profound and wonderful. And you hear someone say, “Today is Buddha’s Enlightenment Day, and outside it is raining,” and that sounds wonderful. Your mind just rests a little bit. You accept things as they are, and you accept yourself as you are. And everything is O.K. You accept your jealousy; you accept your anger; and you accept your ignorance. Once you accept those things, then you accept everybody else’s jealousy, anger, and ignorance. You rest your mind, and you just start looking at people for what they are; you look at yourself for what you are. And that’s a very wonderful feeling.
So we came here today to honor this mind. A little while ago I held up this stick: “Do you see this?” I hit the stick on the table (hit): “Do you hear this? Then I talked about Soen Sa Nim’s boring speech, “When I am hungry, I eat; when I am tired, I sleep.” So I ask you: which is better, my action or Soen Sa Nim’s speech? If you answer me, I’ll hit you thirty times. If you don’t answer me, I’ll hit you thirty times. What can you do?
Thank you all for your hard training.