How must one practice the basic practices of Ganhwa Seon?

If one is woken up, even though one meets any sense-realms there will be no entanglements. That is to become an unencumbered person of the Way. When one has a fervent desire to know that and to have a conviction about one’s original face that lacks entanglements one can resolve the mind (for the Way). One must have a sincere mind that (asks), “What is the genuine?” Then one can step out on the path of meditation that seeks the genuine self. So let us see what is needed in the fundamental practice related to that mental resolution. That can be divided into various types.

 

Firstly, the most important requisite for mental resolution is the firm belief that one originally is Buddha. Even so, the present I must have a cold self-reflection that the original appearance is one of wandering around in the sufferings that are unrelated to it. So now one must ignite the earnest and sad mind that says it will definitely seek its original form. At that time one takes up a hwadu.

 

Secondly, one must live embracing compassion, wisdom and the power of vows. The mind of compassion for others being the same as oneself that wishes to rescue beings who are groaning in the midst of suffering is the mind of the Mahayana bodhisattva and the mind of the Buddha. This practice in this world of pain is for wiping away that pain of the world. This is because that is my pain. Furthermore, in order to remove oneself from that pain one must open up the eyes of wisdom. The power of the vow is a pledge to endlessly practice compassion through the eye of wisdom and to set up awakening without fail. These three kinds of mind are the basic requisites that one must certainly possess before entering into practice.

 

Thirdly, one must foster a zeal for practice that definitely cannot be diverted. As it is not easy to produce a genuine doubt in the investigation of the hwadu, a continuous effort is required. One must earnestly make an effort in trying to take up the hwadu unceasingly and not be easily discouraged. Looking at it in this way, in no time one begins to take up the hwadu. To achieve this one must nurture the zealous power that does not step back, does not retreat.

 

Fourthly, before entering into Ganhwa Seon, one must believe deeply in the rules of causation preached by the Buddha and one must make an effort to live correctly, thinking of the next life that is incurred through evil actions. Therefore, one must be tender and correctly mindful of each one of one’s words, actions and thoughts. Seon Master Guishan Lingyou (815-891) said, “If one’s voice is gentle, the echo is favorable; if one’s appearance is graceful, the shadow will be decent.” On the threshold of death, because of the evil karma one has committed, so as not to be afraid, one must be continuously zealous in practice to have a good mind. One must have a practice of thorough knowledge of the Vinaya. Further, it is hoped one would bear in mind the point that one will be free if one frees oneself from causation, if one is enlightened through the hwadu, and is prepared to be tied to the response of causation that traps one in the net of karma for age after age and life after life if one cannot see the nature through hwadu.

 

Fifthly, one must have a sure understanding of hwadu and the method of meditation. It is important to understand in detail what hwadu are, how to select a hwadu, how it must be investigated and what the malfunctions are that can occur while practicing hwadu. Only then will the firm belief be produced that one will be able to discover one’s own original face through the practice of hwadu.

 

Sixth, the most important thing is to establish correct views.

 

It does not matter whether a practitioner fully possesses all of these conditions and is firm in mental resolution (for the Way) and has entered into the gate of Ganhwa Seon. One must know that the basic practice of the earlier stage is absolutely necessary for one to produce the great mental resolution if one was not a person of superior ability who practiced countlessly in the gate of practice in one’s past lives.

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