Dharma Talk to Begin the Winter Retreat 2009~2010

By Most Ven. Beopjeon

Supreme Patriarch of Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

“Where is that Path?”

A monk asked Seon master Geonbong, “It is said all the Buddhas of all the worlds realized the state of Nirvana through a single path. What is the single path to realize the state of Nirvana?”

At this the Seon master took his stick and drew a line in the air and said, “It is here.”

The monk didn’t understand, so he went to Seon master Woonmoon and asked the same question. Seon master Woonmoon replied, “If I were to throw this fan, it would go all the way to the 33rd heaven and stick into the nostril of Indra, and if I were to strike a carp with this fan, it would fly into the air to create an intense rain storm.”

Just as a freshwater carp would not be found in the ocean, to say the path to Nirvana is this or that is meaningless. We can never approach the path to realize the infinitely unobstructed state of Nirvana of all the Buddhas with conceptual distinctions. This is why Master Geonbong drew a line in the air with his stick to show that state. Although the stick may be raised from the path to Nirvana, hundreds of times—an obscured monk will continue to walk in the dark the same path hundreds of times. Although this lofty teaching of the master is like the bright sun shining in the cloudless sky, childish beings will consider it easy or hard to create delusion, and even if kalpas were to pass, there would be no chance of enlightenment.

If you were to ask this mountain monk, the path to Nirvana, I would at once beat you with a club. And in the moment you try to open your mouth again, I would let a yelp so fierce as to make the mountains tremble and chase you out. If we think about it, the two masters, Geonbong and Woonmoon’s undue compassion only resulted in making the monk more blind—so the faults of the masters are not at all small. Monks and nuns doing retreat this winter may simply search for what the two masters were implying. However, we should never follow after the mere words of two old people. We must find the path to Nirvana on our own, below our own feet. We must know that only when we fervently and correctly hold the hwadu, can we resolve the path to Nirvana on our own.

If you attain the meaning, you attain the path to return home.

If you find the words, you will led on the wrong path to be farther away.

2553 Buddhist Era (2009) Beginning of Winter Retreat