Dharma Talks

 Gateway to Seon(Ch'an)



For westerners interested in Zen(Ch'an in China, Seon in Korea), I present four major works chosen from Kyung Ho's edition of Zen writings; two by the Twenty-eighth(first in Orient) Ch'an Patriarch, Bodhidharma: On Lineage(On Blood Vessel)and On Mind-Watching, and two by one of the greatest Korean Patriarchs, Pojo(1158-1210): Golden Teaching of Mind Cultivation and Direct Talk on True Mind.

Each of the works of Bodhidharma and Pojo is a collection of dharma talks which I have assembled not only for Seon students but for Christians as will. One who reads these works will find a most important tool for and see a living beyond general religious practice. The situation for westerners is that they are in a dominantly Christian culture in which one either 'believes in God' or does not believe in God. 'If the former, he is considered a 'Christian.' if the latter, he is considered an 'outsider'. As Christian, the reliance on church, bowing, and praying always involves the mercy and salvation from without; from God who is outside of the person. In the works which follow, we find that each of us as human beings is perfect in origin and complete without time and that is why Buddha is called, 'the Perfectly Enlightened' and 'the World-Honored-One', and why each of us can know our own self-perfection. But Buddha is not a person; he is nothing but a name as is 'mind' a name. The real Buddha is self-nature and it is that to which the Sutras(writings and teachings of Buddha) point, like a finger pointing to the moon. And in these works of the present volume, 'outsider' takes on a new meaning, for here it refers to, 'one who does not trust the ability of the self-nature to be enlightened'-the belief of which we term 'heterodoxy'.

Bodhidharma, the Father of Ch'an Buddhism, once told the Chinese Emperor, who made a lot of temples and Buddha statues, that there was no virtue and merit in such building. Although this is a famous story, the essence of it has been little understood. Bodhidharma was the first to say, 'Buddha is nothing but the mind.' In this volume, two works of Bodhidharma are included. On Lineage deals with the question of how to see self-nature directly. This is a most important work by the greatest Master. Each sentence should be memorized, not by word but by heart. This chapter should be read by any religious leader, any kind of mind-cultivator, or anyone who wishes to be enlightened. It is simple and succinct in its teaching. On Mind Watching, for the first time translated in its entirety into English, is a work which deals with the relationship of enlightenment and Mind-watching and deals with issues of significance to any religious group; how to discipline body and mind. What are the poisons of the mind which prevent enlightenment? What are the roots of the poisons of the mind? What is true prayer? True chanting? True fasting? True worship? Since many of his writings are too abbreviated for immediate comprehension, I would like to introduce and emphasize certain matters.

Firstly, Bodhidharma's teachings remind us how to uphold true prayer to the Buddha-statue; one who bows(worships) to the Buddha-statue must correctly understand from where that Buddha-statue came.

Let me ask you once more!

From Where came the Buddha-statue?

It is the twinkle of radiance from your own luminous eye-ball. Buddha-statue becomes, 'my-mind' and the same for everyone. 'My-mind' becomes Buddha-statue and this is no longer divided, but one united whole. Secondly, one who bows to the Buddha-statue must understand correctly how we should bow to the Buddha-statue. While you bend your body, bowing to the statue, you should mobilize a great sincerity not only to the 'twinkle of' but to 'my-mind.' Thirdly, one should know to what to bow. Since the Buddha-statue is 'my-mind,' then to bow to the statue is to bow to the mind. But how is it possible; mind has neither figure nor size. If one bows and prays while within the living doubt of Kong-an practice in which the mind is totally revealed in itself, then, we can call this, 'true prayer' to the mind Doing this, you are not worshipping a physical form of Buddha, that is, the Buddha-statue, but are worshipping the true Buddha which is beyond our physical eyes; this is true worship. If one does not worship truly, and choosing the outer form of the statue, gets attached to and bows to the statue, then, as Bodhidharma warned us, he will thus sowevil seeds and not only may fall into the bad karmic sequence, but lose all virtue and merit. It is the same in the case of chanting the Buddha's names, such as Amitabha Buddha, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva, and all other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; if you chant while calling their names, without forgetting; in the one thought of calling-in-itself, then it can be called, 'true-chanting-of-Buddha-Bodhisattva-names-of-the-mind' As long as you follow this way in prayer, chanting, reading sutras and all other activities, the result will be the accomplishment of great virtue and merit in the mind.

Pojo, whose name means, 'Seon of Enlightenment,' was the finest of Seon (Ch'an) teachers. His writings provide us with a conclusive way of understanding Ch'an. While Ch'an ripened in China, it blossomed in Korea with Pojo. He synthesized all of the Ch'an schools to produce the great Ch'an flower in the Far East. His writings, which I include here, are still the golden textbook for all Seon students. His work, Golden Teaching of Mind Cultivation is one which some may find surprising, since he talks about the proper sequence of enlightenment first and cultivation second. Other topics dealt with include: What expedient is there for enlightenment; nothing other than your present mind, how to see the mind or self-nature directly; why are we born now as a humanbeing Many Gathas and writings from outstanding Patriarchs are included. In Direct Talk on True Mind, Pojo presents a systematic series of categories by which the mind can be studied. Other issues raised are; what is the true mind and the right faith, what are the sublime essence and sublime function of the True Mind, how mindlessness is the best way to study the mind, as talked about by the patriarchal masters.

Overall, these four works in the present volume constitute a single whole work on the purpose of Seon, it's enlightenment, and it's wisdom. This way is the best way to repay our debts to the Buddha-Bodhisattvas, all the patriarchs and wise masters, to former parents and patriarchs and wise masters, to former parents and all the devotees. Furthermore, as a result, you will liberate four different kinds of beings in six karmic branches (Heaven-beings, human-beings, animals, asuras, hungry ghosts, and hells).

1984. 11.20.  Myo Bong (Sublime Summit)

 * Bodhidharma : On Lineage

 * Bodhidharma : On Mind Watching

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