You Must Understand Yourself

We understand many things about this world, but we don’t understand ourselves. So why do human beings come into this world? Why do we live in this world? For love? For money? For respect or fame? Do you live for your wife, husband, or children? Why do you live in this world? If someone asked you these questions, you might very well answer. “I live for my children. I live to earn enough money for them, or maybe just to have a good life.” Most people think like this. They live only for their family, for some fleeting social respectability, perhaps to enjoy art or to get some powerful position.

Everyone wants to have a good situation for themselves. If you look at this world very closely, it is easy to see that most people eat and sleep and live merely for their own happiness. Yet these things are not the real purpose of human beings’ life. They are just temporary means for living in the world. If human beings cannot find out who they are, how can they ever truly be happy?

By Zen Master Seung Sahn

Everything Becomes Buddha

We sit, looking, perceiving how the thoughts are coming, going, coming, going. This is actually all that we are doing. Our work during sitting time is to sit and watch as thoughts are coming and going. And don’t touch this; then the thought itself is Buddha.

There is no good thinking and bad thinking. There are thoughts. We don’t welcome them, but we don’t reject them. And so we sit, straight but relaxed. We just naturally watch, without manipulation, just relaxed. But the thinking, the sounds that we perceive are not that important, too. Our minds just reflect these things, but it comes and goes.

But one thing: we stay awake, aware of what is coming, what arises. And we let go, by itself. This awakening from moment to moment is very important. In this way, we can be master of our house. We don’t get controlled by others, or by our mind.

So we don’t need to keep saying, “How may I help you” All this is bullshit. This is only speech. If we, from moment to moment, awaken and be aware of what is coming, that is already a big help. So I hope we keep clear mind from moment to moment, save first ourselves from suffering, and at the same time others.

By Zen Master Gu Ja

The World Is Full Of Suffering

I don’t really think of Zen students or Zen teachers. I think of Zen practitioners. We are all practitioners, whether we practice a lot or a little. Whether as a student or a teacher, our job is to practice. For those of us who are laypeople, we will sometimes be able to practice a lot, and sometimes only a little. But we need to keep practicing. As students, that is the biggest gift we can give our sangha. As teachers, that is the bone of teaching. But how do we encourage each other?

I was going through the Kwan Um website and came across a letter that Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Barbara Rhodes) wrote to her sister in 1978, a year after receiving inka but long before she was Zen Master Soeng Hyang. She was about to sit a 100-day retreat, and her sister wanted to know why. Bobby wrote, “The world is full of suffering. How can it be stopped? Every human being has a seed of compassion and wisdom that must be very carefully nurtured. It is our responsibility to find this seed and do everything we can to make it grow.

“First, you must believe that you have this seed. Then you must ask yourself with all the strength you have, ‘What is this seed?’ If you truly search for it, you will understand that everyone is just like you. Everyone has it. You will have no more desire for yourself; you will only want to teach everyone how to find their seed.

“Enlightenment is believing in yourself. Enlightenment is finding your seed. But your job is not over yet. Your mind must become strong enough to be totally wise and compassionate moment to moment in any situation.”

So that’s what we need to do: find that seed and nourish it to flower into compassion. To see this seed in others so that, without our having to say anything directly, their own seed is encouraged to flower.

That’s what Zen Master Seung Sahn was like. He didn’t have to say it directly, but it was clear that he really believed in us. And that’s what we have to offer each other: to really believe in each other. To believe in our don’t-know mind, our strong center, our direction. To believe in our Buddha nature: yours, mine, everyone’s. To me, that’s the essence of being a Zen student: practicing and nourishing that seed in ourselves and in everyone else.

By Zen Master Bon Hae

Sayings of Zen Master Kyong Ho (Part 2)

6) Make friends but don’t expect any benefit for yourself. Friendship only for oneself harms trust. So an ancient once said, “Have an enduring friendship with purity in heart.”‘

7) Don’t expect others to follow your direction. When it happens that others go along with you, it results in pride. So an ancient once said, “Use your will to bring peace between people.”

8) Expect no reward for an act of charity. Expecting something in return leads to a scheming mind. So an ancient once said, “Throw false spirituality away like a pair of old shoes.”

9) Don’t seek profit over and above what your work is worth. Acquiring false profit makes a fool (of oneself). So an ancient once said, “Be rich in honesty.”

10) Don’t try to make clarity of mind with severe practice. Every mind comes to hate severity, and where is clarity in mortification? So an ancient once said, “Clear a passageway through severe practice.”

11) Be equal to every hindrance. Buddha attained Supreme Enlightenment without hindrance. Seekers after truth are schooled in adversity. When they are confronted by a hindrance, they can’t be overcome. Then, cutting free, their treasure is great.

Zen Master Kyong Ho (1849-1912) was the Great-grandteacher of Zen Master Seung Sahn

Sayings of Zen Master Kyong Ho (Part 1)

1) Don’t wish for perfect health. In perfect health, there is greed and wanting. So an ancient said, “Make good medicine from the suffering of sickness.”
 
2) Don’t hope for a life without problems. An easy life results in a judgmental and lazy mind. So an ancient once said, “Accept the anxieties and difficulties of this life.”
 
3) Don’t expect your practice to be always clear of obstacles. Without hindrances, the mind that seeks enlightenment may be burnt out. So an ancient once said, “Attain deliverance in disturbances.”
 
4) Don’t expect to practice hard and not experience the weird. Hard practice that evades the unknown makes for a weak commitment. So an ancient once said, “Help hard practice by befriending every demon.”
 
5) Don’t expect to finish doing something easily. If you happen to acquire something easily the will is made weaker. So an ancient once said, “Try again and again to complete what you are doing.”

Living in a Dream

You and I are also living in a dream. It might be a happy dream or a sad one, a prosperous dream or a poor dream; it might be a selfish dream or a selfless dream. Maybe we are having a Zen dream or a “practicing in order to help all beings” dream. Buddha said, “I am awake.” This is the teaching of all the Buddhas and eminent teachers. Wake up! Whenever we wake up from our dream-even if only for a single moment-we attain our original job.

By Tim Lerch JDPSN

Great Love And Great Compassion Mind

Do you know an elevator’s job? Many people can push the button wanting the elevator, but the elevator only comes when the proper floor and direction appears. When the elevator is going up, it only stops for up-buttons and coming down it only stops for down-buttons. The elevator understands its correct action sequence. That is only going straight.

If you put your mind in order, then it works the same as a computer. Then you will understand your correct action sequence. That is correct opinion, correct condition, and correct situation—Zen mind. Also, that is great love and great compassion mind. If you want that mind you must make your “I, My, Me” disappear. If you don’t hold your opinion, your condition or your situation, then your original high-class computer will work correctly. So, you must practice every day.

By Zen Master Seung Sahn

My Pain Is Very Expensive

In those last days of his life, Zen Master Seung Sahn was in the hospital and in a great deal of great pain. Dae Kwan Sunim was with him and asked if ZMSS would give his pain to her.

“No, no, no, no! It’s enough only I experience this. Never give to you……only I keep!”

Dae Kwan Sunim insisted, but Zen Master Seung Sahn said, “My pain is very expensive!”

“How much, sir?” she asked him. “We will buy it from you.”

“My pain is so expensive, you cannot buy it!” Zen master Seung Sahn replied.

Dae Kwan Sunim leaned into his ear and said, “Then maybe I will sell the Su Bon Zen Monastery, get lots of money and give it to you. Then you give us your pain!”

There was a moment of silence.

Dae Kwan Sunim continued, “If we give you all this money, then what will you do with it?”

Zen Master Seung Sahn replied, “I take your money, then rent another Zen center, save all beings from suffering!”

At these words, everyone burst out laughing. Then he said, “That’s not a bad business deal, yah?”

The Beginning Of The End Of Suffering

So that is the great question. What are we before we made up everything else? You know the monologue that has been playing in your head. We are always editing it, revising it, making up a story of who we are. But to try to arrive at the point where you can see what you are before you began to make up the story, that’s seeing true nature, the Buddha nature, and that’s the beginning of the end of suffering.

I said at the beginning that Buddha saw that but he didn’t stop practicing. Maybe you see something very strongly and very clearly, and then you say “Oh, now I am enlightened.” But, probably not, first of all, but yeah, maybe. And then, you think you can just coast. That’s not the case. If you stop practicing, it would just become a memory. It actually becomes a hindrance, worst than simply a memory, something you hold on to cherish, perhaps. So any kind of experience, just treat that with just “don’t know.” Always return to just the “don’t know” [hits the floor with his hand]. Be content to stay in the mystery.

By Zen Master Hae Kwang

Life is Zen

Life is Zen. But some people say that life is suffering. How are these different? If you make “my life is Zen,” then your life becomes Zen. If somebody else makes “my life is suffering,” then that person’s life becomes suffering. So it all depends on how you are keeping your mind just now, at this very moment! This just-now mind continues and becomes your life, as one point continues and becomes a straight line.

 

If you attain enlightenment, you will understand that all people are suffering greatly, so your mind also will be suffering. This is big suffering. So you must enter the great bodhisattva way and save all people from their suffering.

 

By Zen Master Seung Sahn