How to Study Kong-an

One The Closing Day of Winter Retreat

Once Venerable Master Hye-Am was staying in Paljong-Sa in Seoul.
On the closing day of Winter Retreat he was asked to give a dharma talk.
He ascended the podium and began by singing a Gatha:

People today do net see old ancient star:
Today’s star has shone on the ancient people.
people today and of ancient times flow like water;
Watching the bright star together is also the same.

“When you, the student, preoccupied with Study, achieve greater intimacy with the Kon-ans, more and more you will find yourself in a feeling of ennui. It is the time to remind yourself that this is a sign of great progress and the time for full-blooming. Furthermore, this is the time when you should eagerly introspect upon yourself with vigilant doubt. Returning to doubt should never be delayed.

While introverting upon the Hwa-du(Kong-an,”the head of the dialogue” means the core of the dialogue), if the introversion is pure, it will suddenly enter the place of tranquility. After it becomes tranquil, it can enter Samadhi. However, in Samadhi there can be two kinds: right Samadhi and defiled Samadhi. This also should be kept in mind.

When the power of Samadhi has increased, your body and mind will naturally be bright by the untainted faith; so, finally, you will achieve great alertness.

You should use your mind well, even finely concentrated in everyday life movements. Besides, when you are preoccupied with Study, either beginning or ending, you should never depart from the clear and bright tranquility and purity. When the tranquility is fully matured, enlightenment will be imminent. When the purity is fully matured, the brightness will be pervasive.

If the effort of returning to the vigilant doubt is sincere, and if the determination is thorough, then, whether moving or still, the outer perspective will also be like the color of the autumn sky: transparent and bright. This is the moment your study blooms fully. If you uphold and guard that well, as we have said, your brightness will be like the transparent autumn sky and your tranquility will be like the cold incense holder of the old shrine.

If the act of the mind is not darkened but is bright in tranquil stillness and alertness, your illusory and empty physical subsistence will experience being beyond the world of mankind.

The result of this vigilance with Hwa-du will be like one silk thread hanging straight down from on high; you will see that it would never be severed by any means. If you achieve this level, all the dust will be settled and brightness will pervade. But, naturally, right at this moment, if you allow yourself the idea of being awakened and claim that you are enlightened, then that consistency and loftiness from the awaken mind will immediately cease; for which you must watch out carefully.

At this level, for one who does net commit himself to tardiness, movement and stillness will be conjoined. Also, while you are awake in watchful mind and tranquil. the Hwa-du will abide in front of your eyes constantly; just as, for instance, the reflection of moonlight in the water moves freely in accord with the waves, but the moonlight, itself, is net affected by the waves. It, as-it-is, has never moved. Even though defilement and delusion arise from time to time, if you introspect upon yourself with vigilant doubt immediately, then you will not be subject to defilements and delusions.

By cultivating in such a way, one day the whole bundle of doubt will be destroyed; suddenly seeing it right will be manifested in proportional accord, as the strings of a harp. An analogy to this is the hen sitting continuously on the egg, sending down warm energy. If the warm energy is not supplied for even one moment, the egg will spoil. However, instead, the warm energy is effectuated and the hen, using her beak, then destroys the egg-shell, allowing the baby chick to break through with a sound of Chirp, Chirp.

Or, it is like the bamboo stalk, which, when greatly mature, explodes by itself, Boom, Boom, as the stalk bursts forth in growth. Finally, seeing the True Self-nature (Original Face) will be completed. After that, you should go and meet the TrueEyed Master-Mentor, the Good-and-Wise One and examine yourself with him hundreds and thousands of times to accomplish the Great Dharma Vessel. You should not, however, by haughty judgement, create any idea of being superior.

Without seeing the Good-and-Wise One after enlightenment, you would not be able to complete your life-task, which is a potential hazard, not just once, but endlessly and limitlessly.”

Finally Venerable Master sang a Gatha:

Ninety days, chained legs, ending today;
Suddenly winter retreat has no trace.
While Peter and Paul part from each other, north and south,
Stone tiger still fights high mountain peak.

Master hit the dharma floor three times and descended the podium.