As long as one has resolved the mind (for the Way) according to the Buddha’s teaching, anyone can practice Ganhwa Seon. If there is a clear-eyed teacher who possesses the believing mind and genuine mental resolution, and possesses the correct views, such a person can directly enter into the practice of Ganhwa Seon without the necessity of basic or preparatory types of practice.
However, in the condition where there was no mental resolution and correct views about the Buddha’s Dharma, no matter how much one has taken up the hwadu, even if one has made great efforts, one cannot give rise to sincere doubt about that hwadu. So before the beginner enters into the hwadu, they have to establish a tremendous power of vows and a determined, believing mind, and initiate a genuine mind that has a direct sense of insight into the Dharma.
A correct view means the establishment of a sense of values that are properly based on the Dharma. These are the theses of the world-view and view of human life seen directly from the conditional production of the Middle Way. Only then can one faithfully possess the basis that one must have as a Buddhist practitioner for such things as, “What is Buddhism? What teaching is it?” or “Why must one study” and “Why must one practice?”
There was a traveler walking along a road. What was his objective in going along that road? If he knows his certain aim in going along the road, the traveler will be able to travel confidently along it without hesitation. Master Seosan had a verse on this topic:
A traveler tramping through the snow along a path
Should not walk in confusion.
Today your footprints
Become the mileposts for later people.
The snow-veiled plain means the present life circumstances. One must walk directly with a consciousness of the aim of the path one is going along in that snow-covered wilderness. One can be running about here and there in confusion. The firm establishment of correct views is therefore important. On the basis of these correct views, when one ventures into Ganhwa Seon, one must proceed directly and not wander.
The establishment of correct views begins from the understanding of the core teachings of Buddhism; conditional production, no-self, emptiness and the Middle Way. These teachings are the truths discovered by and taught by the Buddha. If a practitioner is properly cognizant of these their path becomes clear. If one is cognizant of them as one should, one has to practice and the life-objective of that practitioner must be evident. That means that what one must be enlightened to and how one must practice becomes extremely clear.
Having a correct understanding of conditional production and no-self produces an earnest desire to practice them throughout one’s own life. So thinking in accord with conditional production and no-self, and practicing them, will open up a way to personalize them. All Buddhist practice, beginning with Ganhwa Seon, is a path that is thus for the personalization and internalization of the Dharma of conditional production. The Dharma is to confirm that truth and to live accordingly. If one does so, finally the Dharma accompanies one and the path I am walking on becomes the path of truth. At such a time, there will be no obstacles and one can go on alone like a one-horned rhinoceros. Further, the footprints of such a person will become an excellent guide for later people to follow.