About Self-Nature

A woman once asked Zen Master Seung Sahn, “Do you believe in God?”

“Of course!”

She became perplexed. “You are a Buddhist monk, and a Zen master, at that. How can you possibly believe in God?”

“I can believe my hands. I believe in my eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Why not believe in God? If you believe in your true self completely, then you can believe that the sky is blue, the tree is green, the dog is barking ‘Woof! Woof!’ It’s very simple, yah?”
The woman was silent for a moment.

Zen Master Seung Sahn continued, “Buddhism teaches, ‘One by one, each thing is complete.’ That means that your mind is complete. How is your mind complete? (Hits the floor with his Zen stick.) Just this point. Did you hear that? (Hits the floor.) That point is already complete. If you’re thinking, it’s not complete. But in this moment (hits the floor), just hear that sound. At that moment, this sound and you (hits the floor) already become one, which means you and the universe already become one. This means there’s no subject, no object; no inside, no outside. Inside and outside already become one. The name for that is absolute, or truth.

“So if you keep this mind (hits the floor), your mind is already complete. The sun, the moon, the stars, and everything are already complete. Your sound and my sound are the same. This sound (hits the floor) is your substance: this sound’s substance and your substance already become one; my substance and this sound’s substance already become one. It’s the same substance as the sun, the moon, and the stars—any substance is the same substance. So Buddhism teaches, ‘Each thing has it. It and dust interpenetrate.’ This means that sound’s substance, and name and form, already become one. Let us consider ice, water, and steam. The names and forms are different, but fundamentally it is all still H2O. Water is H2O. Ice is H2O. Steam is also H2O. Name and form are different, and constantly change according to conditions, but the substance is the same.”

“But this seems so difficult, and not related at all to the question of God,” the woman said.

“Put it all down, OK? If you’re thinking, this seems very difficult. If you’re not thinking, it’s no problem. If you’re thinking, you make ‘I’,’my,’ and ‘me.’ Descartes said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Thinking makes I; thinking makes everything. But if you are not thinking, then what? When you are thinking, you make this whole universe, you make everything. And then ‘I’ and ‘God’ and ‘Buddha’ and everything are separate. But if you keep this point (hits the floor)—this moment—then you and God are never separate. It’s very easy, yah?”

Additional metaphor:  “cover the world with leather…”

36 thoughts on “About Self-Nature

    • Hi Meggie, it’s my pleasure to share Zen master Seung Sahn’s wisdom with you. Meditating on his teaching definitely keeps me aware and present in the moment. Please update us with your band sessions, you guys are totally awesome! 😀


  1. Another puzzle? Hehehe!
    I think I’d get this better if my head was hit with a stick. Hehehe. Kozo!
    Didn’t quite get how hearing the sound makes me one with it. Or is that just a way of saying my brain perceived/assimilated the sound?


    • Hi Doc! It’s only a puzzle if you think it is. That’s the whole point of the lesson, get out of your head, stop thinking about reality and live it! The stick and sound is just a metaphor for your all-consuming mind. If you just shut up and listen, be still/ quiet your mind…. silently….. silently….. shhhhh.
      BANG! Just like that your in. God, reality, enlightenment is just like that.
      Your brain is not needed, there’s nothing to perceive or assimilate. In that moment: Sound = GOD = “U” = “Me” = all the same. Words can not describe… it’s just like that. ☼


      • Hehehehehe! Stop thinking??????????? lol! coming from a smarthead who has to wittily try use the right words to even try convey this whole idea to me. Oh, and who plays chess too! Stop thinking! *shakemyhead* heheeheheh!!!!!!!!!


      • Or… we can just sit silently together and just be. That works better! You’re the best Doc, please keep gracing us with your wild and wacky presence. One love and Nf3… ☼
        P.S. regarding chess, I win from pure passion 😉


  2. Really loved it! What a great piece to share, Maddy!
    I particularly liked this point – that names and forms change, but the substance stays the same.. And also the unity of everyone’s vibrations and presence of God in us and each piece surrounding us..
    They seem unrelated to the mind when we Think. And when we think we get somewhat carried away from the Now.
    When you gather your point in the moment – like a reaction to a sudden knock of a stick against the floor – that’s how you become present in the now, and can actually grasp the unity of everything and presence of everything in everything ♥


  3. Loved this! Quite simple, and yet so powerful. I resonated with the “stick” hitting the floor – I could hear it even though it wasn’t really there. Very nice, thank you for that.
    Much Love, Sandy


  4. Wonderful teaching story, Maddy. Each time the stick hit the floor, my mind stopped – at least for a split second and everything merged into ONE. How wonderful — to bring that experience through words. Love-ly – Alia


    • YES! What powerful symbolism, each strike of that magical zen stick snaps us back to the present one reality that we all share now! All minds become One Mind. A really great awakening technique! ☼ Reminds me of sci-fi movies where the captain transports his crew to another dimension & avoids that collapsing time line as reality crumbles all around. We literally awaken to our new reality, Yay! ☼


  5. I think this lesson would work better if the master hit me on the head rather than hit the floor. haha. I agree with Rara. Like the Buddha said, “Nothing is to be clung to as I, me, and mine”–even I, me, and mine. {{{hugs]}} Kozo


    • Lol, it’s all hardwood… Kozo you’re so cute! You of all people have certainly “got” the message, and all your changes reflect that perfectly. You are good to go! ♥
      “Nothing is to be clung to as I, me, and mine”–even I, me, and mine. This realization evolved into a famous Zen expression, “If you SEE the Buddha, Kill Him Immediately!” All mind projections are illusions, due to our attachment with form and concepts. Drop it and just be. ☼ {{{hugs back}}}


  6. I totally get being in the moment with the floor hitting thing–great analogy–and get confused when I try to think about water forms–but water as it is–is. (without thought)

    I dunno, Maddy, I feel like I come close when I read your posts…perhaps that is enough. Maybe I shouldn’t “over-analyze”..!

    PS. your chart is plotted for this month, Libra Lady. 🙂


    • Hi Karen, thanks for visiting! Oh you are getting it, just sit quietly and observe. All matter of form changes from one state to another, yet it’s underlying substance is the same. For example, our true being is all the same, we’re all a divine expression of God, physically we’re all made of star dust which went supernova billions of years ago. Fundamentally we are all the same essence, but we vary in form – size, shape, gender, age etc – they’re all differing factors of expression. That’s what makes us divine. On the surface this seeming paradox reveals this “hidden” truth or absolute oneness with each other and the divine; and we can realize “this” every single moment, DON’T THINK – JUST LOOK, JUST LISTEN, JUST FEEL, JUST BE. That’s all there is to it. ☼ Just know that you are loved! ♥ 😀


♥Thanks for sharing♥

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