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…”

Calculating World Peace… #B4Peace

Here’s an easy peasy way to practice peace by numbers! Zen Master Seung Sahn simplifies this technique so that the child in us can understand. A brilliant little except from: Wanting Enlightenment is a Big Mistake.

A student at the New Haven Zen Center once asked Zen Master Seung Sahn, “You say that one must return to the mind of a child. Also Jesus talks like this. Then what is the role of intelligence in spirituality? What is the role of intelligence in understanding Zen?”

“What do you want, right now?” Zen Master Seung Sahn replied.

“I want peace and quiet.”

“Peace? What is peace?”

“No turbulence. No movement, I guess.”

“Yah, that’s not bad,” Zen Master Seung Sahn said. “Peace is a very good word. But what exactly does it mean? What is true peace?

“Sometimes we use calculators. If there is already a number on the screen, you cannot make another calculation with the calculator. The answer will not come out right. So this is why there is a button marked ‘C’. If you push ‘C’, the screen becomes clear: it returns to zero. Then any kind of calculation is possible.

“If you keep a clear mind, then you will get happiness everywhere. This is complete peace, like a child’s mind, holding nothing whatsoever. So always just push ‘C.’ If your mind is angry, push ‘C,’ and it will become clear. If your mind is sad, push ‘C’, and your mind will become clear. Don’t-know mind is push-‘C’ mind. If you have a lot of thinking, only go straight, don’t know; then your thinking will disappear.

“But when you do not return to ‘zero’ mind, from moment to moment, you cannot see this universe as it is. If you are thinking, then even if a mountain appears before you, you do not see this mountain; you only see your suffering thinking. If you keep a sad mind, and hold your sad mind, then even if a beautiful view appears, you cannot perceive it. You are only following your thinking. So you lose this world, from moment to moment. I always say, ‘When you are thinking, you lose your eyes.’ You have eyes, but when you look at something with a mind full of thinking, you do not see that thing. Also, you do not hear completely, smell completely, taste completely, or feel completely. It is like a calculator where the numbers stay stuck on the screen: you cannot do any new calculations. This is why Zen teaches that you must return to your original mind, from moment to moment. This is pushing ‘C’. We call this ‘only don’t know.’ Continue reading

The True Way

The True Way

One morning, during Yong Maeng Jong Jin at the Providence Zen Center, a student
walked into the interview room and bowed to Seung Sahn Soen-sa.

Soen-sa said, “What is the true way?”
The student shouted “KATZAAHH !!!”
Soen-sa said, “That answer is neither good nor bad. It has cut off all thinking, so there is
no speech, no Buddha, no mind, no way. Tell me then: what is the true way?”
The student said, “The sky is blue.”
Soen-sa said, “That’s true enough, but it is not the way.” Then, holding up his Zen stick,
“What color is this?”
“Brown.”
“Yes. When I ask you what color is the stick, you don’t answer, “The bell is yellow,”
even though that’s perfectly true. It would be scratching your left foot when your right
one itches. It’s the same when I ask you what is the true way and you answer, “The sky
is blue.”
“Go ask a child about the true way. A child will give you a good answer. Zen mind is
children’s mind. Children have no past or future, they are always living in the truth,
which is just like this. When they are hungry, they eat; when they are tired, they rest.
Children understand everything. So let me ask you again: what is the true way?”
The student stood up and bowed.
Soen-sa said, “This is the Great Way, the Buddha Way, the Tao. It is not the true way.
Do you hear the sounds outside the window?”
“Yes.”
“What are they?”
“Cars.”
“Where are these cars driving?”
“Over there.”
“What is the name over there?”
The student was confused and said nothing.
Soen-sa said, “It is Route 95. That is the true way. Hope Street is the true way. Doyle
Avenue is the true way. The way is only the way. There is nothing beyond.”
The student bowed and said, “I understand. Thank you.”
Soen-sa said, “You’re welcome. Now what is the true way?”
The student said, “Route 95 goes from Providence to Boston.”
Soen-sa closed his eyes.

After he had returned to Cambridge, the student went up to two children – a six year old
girl and a four year old boy – who were playing in the driveway by the Cambridge Zen
Center. He asked the girl, “What is the true way?”
The girl pointed down the street towards Main.
He then asked the boy, “What is the true way?”
The boy gave him a fierce look, turned around, and walked away.
LOL! Life is a perfect circle. We are all born Zen, acquire logical mind and grow out of
Zen, only to mature and realize we are already/ always were “Ahh, this.”
Just look: every grandmother sees the wisdom of children, so fresh and innocent.

What is your true way?