November 13, 1981
Hello, how are you? Do you remember me? How are Linc and the baby? Please say hello to Linc for me.
I have been practicing Zen for about two years now. All the while I had this nagging doubt about the extent of the usefulness of practicing clear mind. I could understand the necessity for clarity but could not see past that. Consequently, my practice (i.e. life) lacked direction and I was beginning to despair.
I have been very uptight lately and my mind has been like a live wire. But the other day, in a moment of clarity I really perceived the momentum of my mind. This momentum predetermines my (one’s) response in all situations. This being so, how can a person being dragged by their mind’s momentum really experience any situation? I have been “out of control.” This momentum is karma.
Now I know why keeping clear mind is so important. My practice now has direction, focus. My job is to break free of this karma.
I am very grateful for the teaching that Soen Sa Nim, you, and George make available. Thank you all very much. Take care of yourself.
December 2, 1981
Thank you for your letter. I just got back from a trip to California, so I’m a little late answering you.
How are you? Of course I remember you. It’s wonderful that you despaired and got uptight. Without those two emotions you may never have perceived the momentum in your mind. This is not saying that Zen practice has a particular recipe that must always include being uptight and in despair, but those two are common ingredients. The one necessary ingredient is the desire to understand yourself. Your description of seeing the momentum of your mind and also of it as being “out of control” is wonderful. It seems ironic, but we have to really accept and perceive this uncontrolled momentum before we break free and understand our true selves.
Now that you understand why keeping a clear mind is important, how are you going to keep clear mind? Just seeing the uncontrolled quality of your thoughts is not enough. So I ask you, where do your thoughts come from? Where is their original source? Please send me an answer soon. If you don’t know, then completely don’t know. Only ask, “Where are these thoughts coming from?” Or, even more simply, “What am I?”
I hope you never lose this new-found focus and direction and you continue to cultivate them until your energy and compassion fill the entire universe. It’s possible, you know.
I hope to see you soon.