SECRETS ON CULTIVATING THE MIND, an outline of basic Seon practices, was written by Chinul between 1203 and 1205 to instruct the throngs coming to the newly completed Suseonsa monastery. A seminal text of the Seon school, Secrets presents simple yet cogent descriptions of two important elements of Chinul’s thought―sudden awakening/gradual cultivation and the simultaneous practice of samadhi and prajna―interspersed with edifying words to encourage Buddhist students in their practice. Although Secrets was lost in Korea after the destruction wrought by the Mongol invasions two decades after Chinul’s death, it was preserved in the Northern Ming edition of the tripitaka, produced in the early fifteenth century. Reintroduced into Korea around that time, it was translated in 1467 into the Korean vernacular language using the newly invented han ‘gul alphabet. It remains one of the most popular Seon texts in Korea today.
Chinul, Susim kyol (Secrets on Cultivating the Mind). Translation from Robert E. Buswell, Jr., The Korean Approach to Zen: The Collected Works of Chinul, pp. 140-159. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983. Reprinted with the permission of the translator. For other translations of Chinul’s works, see Robert E. Buswell, Jr. Tracing Back the Radiance: Chinul’s Korean Way of Zen. Kuroda Institute Classics in East Asian Buddhism, no. 2. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, A Kuroda Institute Book, 1991.