This is an excerpt from a talk given by Zen Master Dae Kwang on October 5th, 1996 at the Whole World is a Single Flower Conference. The gathering was held at the Sixth Patriarch’s temple on T’ao Che Mountain in southern China, about 200 miles north of Canton.
Twenty-five hundred years ago the Buddha held up a flower, but at that time only one person understood.
Thirteen hundred years ago Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen said, “originally nothing.” At that time, only a few people understood.
Sixty years ago, as the Japanese withdrew from Korea at the end of the second World War, Zen Master Man Gong picked up a flower, dipped it in ink and wrote this calligraphy: The whole world is a single flower. At that time, how many people understood?
The meaning behind each of these Master’s teaching is actually the same, become one. That’s our big job in life. Many people have come from all over the world-from South Africa, from the United States, from Europe, from Korea and from throughout China-to attend this conference. One reason for coming here is to celebrate the gift of the Zen teaching of Hui Neng. Hui Neng was the founder of Zen as we practice it today. Hui Neng’s teaching, China’s great gift to the world, is now traveling all over the world and helping many people. That gift is wonderful, but more important is that we attain this gift in our hearts and minds. So the reason for our whole world is a single flower conference is to help all people become one. Everybody understands that in our world there is a lot of suffering. All people become one means everyone find their true self and help this world. Then this conference is not just a ceremony, but has real meaning for the life of this world. So I want to thank you all for coming here to Zen’s primary point and I hope that we all practice hard and continue to attain our true self moment to moment.
Tomorrow we will visit the home temple of another great Chinese Zen teacher, Un Mun Zen Master. His name means “cloud gate” after the name of the mountain where he taught. This temple is also the home of a large memorial to the famous modern Zen Master Hsu Yun. Hsu Yun means “Empty Cloud.” So here is a poem for you:
Empty Cloud Gate says, “Hello!
Do you see me?
If you see me you are blind.
If you don’t see me you are still blind.”
Do you see this gate?