This business of enlightenment does not depend on whether you are lay or ordained, a novice or experienced, nor is dependent on the influence or the practice of the many past lives. Sudden awakening only lies within the one clear faith of the practitioner’s thought. This is why the Buddha also said, “Faith, as the root of one’s fundamental being and the mother of virtue, brings about the development of the good dharma of the fundamental unity. Faith brings about the development of wisdom’s virtue and faith infallibly brings one to the arrival in the seat of Vairocana.”
Whether presiding over domestic matters, directing public affairs at the ministry, having guests over to share some conversation, eating and having some tea, going out, standing, sitting or lying down, in the end, by all means please ask yourself, “What is all of this?” If you simply ask yourself this question ceaselessly, meditating on the truth without rest, before you know it you’ll find yourself laughing uproariously. Thereupon you’ll come to know for the first time that it is not necessary to shave your head, wear the robes, leave home, practice asceticism or sit on a cushion like a monk in order to have such an experience of awakening.
A letter written to Her Excellency Princess Sungnyeong
If you want to want to accomplish the one great thing, it makes no difference whether you reside amongst the ordained or not, among men or women, beginning or senior students. Everything lies within your final sincere singular thought. What I see that is different in the princess’s innate disposition compared to others is that from the beginning, there has never been selfishness or suspicion or a deluded mind, there has been nothing other than an entirely sincere mind searching for the complete and unsurpassed supreme enlightenment of Buddhahood. Isn’t it as if you’ve been permeated with the correct dharma of wisdom through a close association with Seon knowledge from some countless eons ago in the past? As the ancients say, “A grown man is not someone who pays attention to a woman’s figure, a grown man is someone who is endowed with the four dharmas.” These four dharmas are: one, an acquaintance with the knowledge of Seon; two, hearing the correct teachings; three, thinking about the meaning of those teachings; and four, acting in accordance with those teachings. If you are imbued with these four dharmas, it can truly be said that you are fully grown, if not, though you may have the body of an adult, it cannot be said that you are fully grown.
I pray, my princess, that you believe this teaching beyond a shadow of a doubt and that you ceaselessly focus on your hwadu everyday, twenty four hours a day, in all four of the bodies postures, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down. If you concentrate without stopping, never resting, and question your hwadu whether in the midst of tranquility or noisiness, even if you are not trying to concentrate, you will naturally concentrate. When speaking or being silent, even if you are not questioning your hwadu, you naturally question. Awake or asleep, your hwadu appears before you and though you may want to forget it, you do not; though you may want to awake from it, you will not awaken. In this mental state, unwittingly the body is overturned and abandoned. It is here where a woman’s body changes into a man’s, a man’s body changes and becomes a Buddha. This is my most ardent and sincere request of you.
Ten Points on Seon Practice
1. When ordinary people see a visual form or hear a sound, they are unable to escape it. What shall you do to be able to escape the world of form and sound?
2. If you have already escaped the realm of sound and form, you must immediately begin studying. What is the proper way to practice?
3. If you have already begun your practice, you then need to ripen your practice, but how?
4. If your practice has ripened, you must then rid yourself of all traces. How can these traces be eliminated?
5. If all traces have been removed, you become cold and aloof, with no appetite and absolutely no vigor. Your consciousness connects with nothing, your mind not active, in this state you are like a phantom, not knowing the ways of the human world. When you’ve gotten to this point, what is the boundary between human and phantom?
6. When your practice becomes extremely intense, you become perfectly still, unvarying whether asleep or awake. Though struck, you are not perturbed; though moved, your focus is not lost. Like when a dog sees a kettle of boiling oil, though they may have an urge to lick it, they cannot, in the same way, though we may want to quit our study, we seemingly cannot. At that point, what are you going to have to do?
7. Suddenly, it seems as if a two-hundred pound weight is brought down on you, instantly crushing and breaking you. At that point, what is your self-nature?
8. If you have already awakened to your own self-nature, you must know the correct way to utilize the original function of your self-nature, in accordance with your karma. What is the correct way to utilize the original function of your self-nature?
9. If you already know the function of your self-nature, you must be freed from life and death. When your sight fails you and your body withers, how will you free yourself?
10. If you are already free from life and death, you must know where you are going. When the four elements (earth, water, fire and wind) become dispersed, where do they go?
Without knowing you were born a weakling
You drink too much blood and can’t take to the sky
By all means, don’t covet other people’s precious things
Later on, you’ll certainly have to repay in full
Admonishing the People
Because you were busy wandering through the mundane world
You didn’t realize you were growing old and gray
Wealth and fame is like a gate of misfortune engulfed in blazes
From time immemorial, how many have perished in its flames?
Even though the newborn took seven steps, it was still a mistake
But pointing to the earth and sky was even worse
Were it not for those mistakes then
He might have been spared the pain of Yumen’s cudgel
I wish, in every place that I am reborn
No matter where I am, I never retreat from the wisdom of the dharma
Like Shakyamuni, with dauntless cognition
Like Vairocana, with profound attainment of enlightenment
Like Manjusri, with great wisdom
Like Samantabhadra, with extensive practice
Like Ksitigarbha, with a limitless body
Like Guanyin, through thirty different manifestations
In the worlds of the ten directions, may I emanate in every place, without exception
Leading all sentient beings to the state of the unconditioned
Let those who hear my name be freed from the three hells
Those who see my form attain enlightenment
In this way, I will continue enlightening the world, unto eternity
Until finally, there comes to be neither Buddhas nor sentient beings
I pray to the heavenly dragons and eight types of dharma protectors
In order to protect me, do not part from me
No matter what difficulty arises, please clear the way
And help bring about the realization of this profound vow