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 The Kwan Um School of Zen

Weekly Teaching Piece

Archive

 

How Can We Make Harmony?

By Zen Master Dae Bong

The Whole World Is a Single Flower Q & A: How can we make harmony?
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Meditation Frustration

 

In Lodz Zen Center I often hear from my co-practitioners about their meditation frustrations. My mind is almost never still and I’m trying so hard. Wha’s wrong? I feel this mantra stopped working for me. Should I try a new one? How can I make my meditation better? Maybe I’m not really meditating at all. Maybe I’m only wasting my time on a cushion. Most of our teachers’ answer for such questions is Don’t check. Just do it. So how can we practice the dhyana paramita? How can we perfect our meditation without checking?

For me, it is putting down the concept of perfecting at all and starting every day from the very beginning. If I start every day from the very beginning then I have no chance to perfect my meditation. I’m in the same situation as a newcomer who just received an orientation talk, only my legs feel better. I don’t know how to meditate, I have no meditation skills. There is only one thing I have: it's a decision. The decision to meditate, the decision to put everything down, the decision to return to this very moment with a wordless question. It's only because of this decision that I can meditate. I never perceive a moment when my mind catches something and starts to move. I can only perceive a moment when it stops. It's like finding myself at the crossroads. Should I continue to follow this thought? Should I continue to nourish this feeling? Well, I could, and sometimes it would be very nice to, sometimes it feels so important to, but there is a decision. So I let go, so I put down whatever my mind is holding at the moment and for a short while I’m a newborn baby buddha. Dooooon’t know.

 

Excerpt from Meditation by Igor Pininski JDPSN

Being the Commitment 

By Zen Master Bon Haeng


ZMBH on being the commitment
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What Am I?

 

Paul Majchrzyk JDPSN

 Watch the Video

Teachings of Zen Master Man Gong
(Part 2)

 

What Am I? The Necessity of Finding Your True Self


6. If I shout someone’s name and they immediately answer, “Yes!” – that is true nature. True nature has no birth or death. It can’t catch fire, get wet, or be cut with a knife. It is completely free and without hindrance.

7. Just like the prisoner screaming as he is dragged, twisting behind a horse, the chains of karma drag us down the road of suffering. Repeatedly, we follow the cycles of life, sickness, old age and death. Only your wisdom sword can cut these chains.

8. No matter how well educated or respected you are, if you haven’t resolved the great question of life and death, you are like a person who has lost their mind.

9. When Sakyamuni Buddha was born, he pointed with one hand to the sky and the other to the ground and said, “Between the heavens above and the earth below, only ‘I’ am holy.” This ‘I’ means the true nature.

10. Everyone already has Buddha nature (true nature) but they cannot become Buddha because they do not understand themselves.

From the book, The Teachings of Zen Master Man Gong.

 

Time Will Not Wait For You

Zen Master Soeng Hyang Hurry Hurry
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Teachings of Zen Master Man Gong

What Am I?

The Necessity of Finding Your True Self


1. It is said that human beings are the most precious of all things because they can attain their true nature.

2. True nature means total freedom, being in charge of one’s life, yet human beings are rarely free anytime or place. They cannot control their lives because their deluded thinking (small ‘I’) becomes the boss while their true nature is just a slave.

3. The small ‘I’, deluded thinking, is the offspring of true nature. Deluded thinking arises from selfish desire. True nature (clear mind or bodhisattva mind) is correct mind, which has no beginning and no end; it has no existence or extinction, yet it lacks nothing.

4. How is a human being who has lost sight of his true nature any different from an animal which only pursues sex and food instinctively? No matter how great or famous you are, if you do not attain your true nature, you are just like a molecule, subject to the four types of birth and death and the six realms of existence (samsara).

5. In our world most people live together, sharing a lifestyle, mindlessly following their karma. Their lives just happen, without direction. They don’t see the terrifying thing waiting for them. When death comes, they are blind to what lies ahead.

From the book, The Teachings of Zen Master Man Gong.

 

The Tool For Enlightenment

 

Watch the Video

Never Unemployed

Zen Master Seung Sahn said there are two central questions for every human being.

Number one: What are you doing right now?

Number two: Why do that?

These two questions point to how we live our life, moment to moment, and our great vow. The meaning behind “life after life” is “What are you doing right now?” This is not an abstract, philosophical concept. It’s not anything you have to believe. It’s something you have to wake up to, moment to moment. That’s our human beings’ job. That’s Buddha’s job; that’s my job; that’s your job... you don’t have to worry about being unemployed. We’re born into an ocean of suffering. So our vow is without bounds.

(Zen Master Dae Kwang: from a talk in 2015)

 

Now Is The Time
 

Nobody guarantees our life. So if there is anything that you think may be useful, just now is the time to use it. In our life, past mind cannot be attained. Present mind cannot be attained. If you say “present,” it is already not present, already gone. If you lose this moment, you can never regain it.

We follow Buddha’s example. Buddha means awakened. If you are going to awaken, tomorrow is too late. One hour from now is also too late. Even one second from now is too late. Just this moment, wake up. I hope each of you will make correct practice in your life and attain this wake-up. Then one more step is most important: use this wake-up to help all beings. 




By Zen Master Wu Bong

This Moment Is Our Life




If you go into the realm of metaphysics about life after life after life, you're in the world of supposition. But take everything about our past actions creating a future life and substitute the word “moment” for “life”. Our action in this moment creates our life in the next moment. Bring it down from the metaphysical to the very practical, “What am I doing right now?” because this moment, my action in this moment, brings about my life in the next moment. 
 
Whatever it is that you are facing in this moment, how you deal with it, creates how you are reborn into the next moment. So it's not metaphysical, it's very practical and down to earth. This relative self is the idea that you carry from moment to moment to moment. So your actions create your life. There's a saying that says, “You make, you get.” What you get is your life. You get to choose.

The Teacher and the Thief



A long time ago, there was a Buddhist teacher who was wise and compassionate. He had many bright students, he taught them meditation and other practices. They held him in high respect. But there was this one thing in the monastery that they couldn't tolerate.

There was a young disciple who would often steal from his brother monks, he would steal their money, he would steal small things in the monastery.
 
Monks complained about him to their teacher "Master! he steals things from us, please advise him"

The wise one said "Give him some time, he will learn. I'll talk to him", wise one called the young disciple after everyone had left "These things are puny, only right practice will give you what you crave for, work hard on your practice, stop stealing things.


The young monk prostrated before the wise one in respect and left, he was ashamed of his habit, he was determined to try and stop his habit. He was an intelligent and good person, like most people who come on the path, but it was too difficult for him to change his mental pattern (isn't it often difficult for everyone).


Few days passed without any trouble, but he could not resist the temptation for long, he fell and unfortunately for him he was caught again, monks paraded again to the wise one taking the culprit along, the wise one dismissed them saying "Give him some time he will learn".

They caught him few more times and brought him in front of the wise one for justice, he would simply dismiss them saying "Don't mind him, do your practices. He will learn to behave".  Monks were all growing impatient with their teacher for his strange behavior. They couldn't understand why he wouldn't send him out of the monastery.

It happened once again, they submitted the young monk in front of him, and not surprisingly he neglected the case without saying much.  This time monks were determined, they wanted a permanent decision from the Guru's part. They said in chorus "Master we can't take it anymore, you can keep us here or this thief, we will not stay here if he stays".

"Alright then, you all may leave. I'm not going to abandon him." came the reply, monks were all surprised at the unexpected answer.

"Oh master! Oh master! Please" pleaded the disciples in a gentle voice. 

"You are all good disciples, you will get admission into any monastery. But he won't be accepted anywhere else, I'm not going to leave him." said the compassionate one.

The young monk who was watching all this commotion was touched by the compassion of the great one, his resolve was so strong that he gave up stealing thereafter for good.

Great Effort

Great Effort, I think of as the hinge-point of our practice. If we don't have this great effort, then we really don't have a practice. Because unless we bring our practice to the difficult parts of our lives, it's not much of a practice. In fact, what often seems to happen is many people will practice when things get difficult in their life, but as soon as things start to get better, then they don't feel like they need it anymore.

So in a sense for a Zen practice, great effort really needs to be applied when things are going well, because that's the time it's easy to fall asleep. When we're suffering it's easy to keep this great question, “What am I? What is this life about?” But when things are going well, we can get very complacent. 

Zen Master Seung Sahn used to say, “A good situation is really a bad situation, and a bad situation is really a good situation.” This is in a sense what that means. If things are going well, you can easily lose your direction. You can easily fall into selfishness and self-centeredness. But when things are difficult, then you have to call into question all your different assumptions, your different beliefs, and ideas.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

True Compassion  

Zen Master Dae Kwang


True Compassion
Watch the Video

What Am I?  

Paul Majchrzyk JDPSN


"What Am I?" Paul Majchrzyk JDPSN
Watch the Video

New Year Poem


From Zen Master Seung Sahn 1980

Every year, every year, 
New year, new year.
Every year, every year,
Old year, old year.
 
Old year gone.... New year.
New year gone... Old year.
 
Who made that?
You? I? We? They?
No, no, no!
Then God? Buddha? Time? Space?
No, no, no!
Then the sun? The moon?, The earth? The stars?
No, no, no!
Then the mountain? The river? The tree? The flower?
No, no, no!
Then the elephant? The dog? The cat? The mouse?
No, no, no!
Then, "Three pounds of flax?"
"Dry shit on a stick?"
"Katz?"
"Mu?"
No, no, no!
 
Then what?

The snow sparkles in the dawn.
In the morning 1972 plus 8.

 

Success

If you know what you want, it will become your dream. If it’s a small dream, when you get it, it comes with small success. If you fulfill your small dream and get success, you should be happy with it. If you have a big dream, you get big success. Actually, you can get anything you want, but there’s a catch—you cannot keep it. You will lose it and all your effort will be for nothing. That’s why desire makes so much suffering.

In Zen we say, “Don’t want anything, then you get everything”—but nobody believes that. Most people want something, not knowing that the very thing they want is not good for them. Now you have a choice—don’t know what you want and get busy; know what you want 100 percent, go for it, get it and then lose it; or, don’t want anything and get everything. Three kinds of success—which one do you like?

By Andrzej Stec JDPSN

Attachment = Suffering  

By Zen Master Dae Bong


Zen Master Dae Bong Dharma Talk (Attachment = Suffering)
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Wanting Enlightenment

If you want enlightenment, this enlightenment is far, far away. If you don’t want enlightenment, you can see, you can hear, you can smell, everything is enlightenment. So put it all down—“I want something.” If you keep I-me-my mind and do zen in this way, for infinite time you cannot get enlightenment. If you make I-me mind disappear, then already you have enlightenment. O.K.?

Only go straight—don’t know. Don’t check your mind; don’t check your feelings; don’t check your understanding; don’t check something. Only go straight— don’t know; for 10,000 years try, try, try. That is very important.

By Zen Master Seung Sahn

 

Dharma Obligation
 


I have been teaching Zen students on this mountain for almost forty years. Many people come to visit me thinking they are visiting a Zen Master but they only see my form body, the house where my true nature lives. They don’t see my true nature. That is not a problem but it means that they have not seen their true nature.

Because they haven’t seen their true nature, they cannot see their parents, siblings, wife and children, or anybody. They wander through life in vain, like a crazy person. We have to say that this is truly a world of darkness. Students who receive my teaching must do it with sincerity and dedication, not forgetting the methods I used. Ultimately, being sincere and dedicated is paying back your Dharma obligation, so you will not waste your practice or suffer a mental loss.

 

By Zen Master Man Gong

Back to the Shore
 

 

Our mind is always making something, and then we enter the ocean of suffering. So we want to go back to the shore. However, even if our direction is OK, we still have a problem. We make “I,” and as a result we perceive the ocean as suffering. Within this I-view, we cannot see clearly and we think that the other shore is far away. Then it is impossible to see that the way out of suffering is nearby. No matter how much effort we put forth, we cannot reach the other shore. Only when our wisdom sword cuts through the wall of I-my-me, then the sandbank appears clearly. This “I” is created by our thinking. So, only cut off your thinking and return to before thinking. Then you can see clearly and walk the bodhisattva path on the sandbar, transcending the ocean of suffering.

By Koen Vermeulen JDPSN

 

Our Intuition 

Some of our actions are not visible to others, and the results will only appear in the future, but inside we know already what we are doing.

Our true self, our intuition, is guiding us.

If we are aware of this guide—in touch with it, hearing it—then there should be no problem deciding what to do. There should be no problem in quickly understanding the situation, choosing the correct action, keeping the correct action from moment to moment.

By Ja An JDPSN

Feeding The Wolves
 

 Recently I heard a story about two wolves. In this story, a grandfather was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf expresses fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, hatefulness and lies. The other wolf expresses joy, peace, love, hope, humbleness, kindness, friendship, generosity, faith and truth. These wolves are always fighting with each other. My grandchildren, this same fight is going on inside of you. And not just you, but inside every other person too.” 


The children thought about it for a minute. Then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win the fight?” The grandfather replied, “The one you feed will win.”

So which wolf do we choose to feed? Do you see that we have choice? If we cling to our anger, how can we let go of it and feed instead the wolf of kindness and understanding?

The only way we can choose wisely is to come to the place before anger and kindness. In our Zen school we call that place “before thinking.” And then we return to moment-mind. Remember that you have a choice which wolf you feed. When you are fully alive in each moment, then the two wolves of opposites completely disappear. When we do anything 100 percent, then opposites disappear. Then our correct situation, correct relationship and correct function become clear. And then we can really help this world.


From Inka Speech by Myong Hae Sunim, JDPS

 

The Limits of Thinking

By Zen Master Bon Hae


The Limits of Thinking by Zen Master Bon Hae
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I Have No Time To Practice 

 

A student once asked Su Bong Zen Master at a dharma talk: his friend wanted to come to the Zen center to practice but he had no time, because he had a family, he had a job, he did volunteer work and he had to attend the functions of his company. What could he do?
 
Su Bong Zen Master said: “A Zen-style answer means put it all down, that’s all. I am this, this, this. I want this, this, this… but I cannot this, this, this … what shall I do? That’s not necessary. Put it all down and what? Just do it. Without checking: ‘Should I be doing this or this? Which one is more important?’ Then, when you are doing something and just do it, you would have time for everything. I do my job but should I be doing something else? So your job takes twice as long."

"You all understand by your experience, without me telling you, how much time you waste wondering should I be doing this or that. But if you just do it, it would all be finished. There would be no extra baggage. That name is meticulous, meticulous and complete. So I said put it all down, that means your checking mind."
 
"Many of our teachers don’t have time. They are laymen just like you. They have very important positions and they have families and they must work very hard to make everything come together. But they only try and they got it. So this try mind is necessary. You cannot get anything with excuse mind.”

By Zen Master Su Bong

Place of Practice 

A young bodhisattva named Shining Adornment once asked Vimalakirti, “Layman, where are you coming from?”  “I’m coming from the place of practice."  “The place of practice—where is that?"  Vimalakirti said, “Mind itself is the practice hall.”

 
Generosity of giving is the place of practice, because it hopes for no reward. Patience or forbearance is the place of practice, for it enables the mind to be free of obstruction. Zeal and energy are the place of practice because they forestall laziness. Meditation is the place of practice, because it makes the mind tame and gentle. Wisdom is the place of practice, because it sees all things as they are.



By Zen Master Wu Kwang

Lose Everything
 

 

Many times we want to get something from practice, but enlightenment means to lose everything – not to get anything. You don’t get anything, you lose everything. You have to be prepared for that. You have to be ready to really lose everything to lose all illusions about yourself.

That’s not easy. We don’t like it.

We want to keep at least a little illusion, to have at

least something, some little thing to hold onto so we can feel secure.

But, if you have a clear direction then your practice will be non-stop, 24 hours a day.

But for many people the question is, what do I want? Why do I practice? To get what?

 


By Zen Master Bon Shim

Why Ask Why?

By Zen Master Bon Haeng 



Why ask why?
Watch the Video

Moment World
 

 

Talking about opposite worlds or absolute world or complete world is an intellectual style where more explanation, more analysis becomes necessary. Zen only points to the moment world, the world of this moment.

This moment is very important. It has everything in it. in this moment there is infinite time, infinite space. In this moment there is truth, correct life and the Bodhisattva Way. This moment has everything. Also this moment has nothing. If you attain this moment you attain everything. This is the teaching of Zen Buddhism.



By Zen Master Seung Sahn

Being Clear

 

 

Barry Briggs, JDPSN on Being Clear
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Middle Path
 

In this world and in our life, many things are in duality: negative and positive, good and bad. When we hear something negative, we would probably feel bad. At that moment, our life is not on the middle path. Learning Zen gives us a way out; to be free from good and bad, free from our emotions. It leads us back to the middle path. 
 
When hearing others’ speech, only reflect. This means to accept reality. Salt is salty, sugar is sweet. This is truth. When someone says something irritating, perhaps you could invite him to have a cup of tea. In our life, we should rehearse continuously until nothing can bother us. Then you become free. At this point, you are the master.

 

By Zen Master Dae Kwan

Clear View

The Buddha saw a star and attained enlightenment. What kind of Buddhism was that?

If we have some idea of what we are or who we are, it is usually connected with some view of the world. It may be a religious view, political view, a man or woman view, a black or white view, even a Zen view. All of these views have their place, but if we are attached to any view, then we can longer longer see the truth. This is ignorance. We ignore the truth by seeing the world through our own attached view. And many times we think our view is correct. This attachment results in fear and anger which causes many human beings to respond to the world that results in much suffering. 

If we are sincere and diligent in our practice, the way of ignorance, anger and greed, can turn into wisdom, love and compassion. If we can return to our true self and perceive the truth of this world, without attaching to any view, then it is possible to help ourselves and all those around us.

By Jason Quinn, JDPSN
Excerpt from Buddha's Enlightenment

Great Love

In our teaching tradition, we have a wonderful tool for working with our tendency to move away which is don’t know. It’s through the practice of don’t know that we can discover a genuine way to be safe in the world. Don’t know brings us closer to whatever the world presents, moment to moment. Often, we respond to life’s demands by saying to ourselves, “I don’t know what this is and I don’t like it,” or we say, “I know what this is, I’ve been here before, and I don’t like it.” And we move away.
 
So separation appears, and with separation comes a tremendous loss of safety and intimacy. We pull back from the great love that we so much need. We chant about Great Love in our chants every day: it’s the "dae ja" in "dae ja, dae bi". Traditionally in Buddhism, we say that Great Love is the vow to help all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness. That’s what we commit to when we begin our practice and every day, when we chant, we renew the vow to manifest Great Love.

By Barry Briggs, JDPSNHelp

Help Each Other

The Avatamsaka Sutra says, "If you want to understand the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, then you should view the nature of the whole universe as being created by mind alone."  

We all understand what this sutra is talking about on some level. If we are happy and active, then the whole world around us becomes joyous. But, when we are sad or depressed, then even the clouds look sad and the rain turns into the teardrops of the world. Everything becomes a problem, and we are passive spectators in a world not of our making.

Stick, kasa, robes, scriptures, sutras, masters, Buddha, religions: all these are actually only placebos. But as long as we have mind, we need them. And even if we keep no mind, become completely free, we still need them. If even one being is still entangled in their difficulties and suffering, then we must put on our robe and practice Zen together with them. Because that’s what we are all about: become a fellow-being, help each other.
 

By Zen Master Ji Kwang 

Practicing Together

So when we practice together, we learn from one another. Individual practice is important, but when we only practice individually, it is difficult to see our limitations and our karma, the karma of our mind. The sangha is like a mirror, in which you can easily see your limitations, the limits of your actions and your opinions. 

 

Together action is like a wave that carries you away and you cannot resist it. Your small self, your ego is too weak to resist that wave. This wave of together action is the wave of your true mind, of your true self. The name of it is – Just do it! 
 

By Andrzej Piotrowski JDPSN

 

 

Teach Me the Dharma

"When Dae Ju first came to Zen Master Ma-jo, the Master asked him, 'What do you want from me?'

Dae Ju said, 'I want you to teach me the Dharma.'
'What a fool you are!' said Ma-jo. 'You have the greatest treasure in the world within you, and yet you go around asking other people for help. What good is this? I have nothing to give you.'


Dae Ju bowed and said, 'Please, Master, tell me what this treasure is.'

Ma-jo said, ''Where is your question coming from? THIS is your treasure. It is precisely what is making you ask the question at this very moment. Everything is stored in this precious treasure-house of yours. It is there at your disposal, you can use it as you wish, nothing is lacking. You are the master of everything. Why, then, are you running away from yourself and seeking for things outside?'

Upon hearing these words, Dae Ju attained enlightenment."


--Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teaching of Zen Master Seugn Sahn

 

The Power of Sitting 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng



The Power of Sitting
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The Great Bodhisattva Way

One, two, three. Where do these numbers come from? You already understand. Children want candy; business people want money; scholars want to become famous. There are many kinds of people and many directions. Where do they finally go?

If you attain this point, you attain human nature and universal substance. If you attain universal substance, you can see and hear clearly, and your emotions, will, and wisdom can function correctly. Then your life is correct and you can help all beings. This is called the Great Bodhisattva Way.

 

Zen Meditation
 

 

Zen meditation is involved with cultivating the practice of present centeredness and looking into the question of self by asking, "What am I?" Initially, one does this by setting aside some time every day to sit quietly and attempt to remain present with a sense of inquiry into the nature of self. Zen meditation, however, is not limited to a formal exercise done in a sitting position. One is encouraged to cultivate the attitude of present centeredness and self-inquiry in all of one’s daily activities. Ultimately, everything is Zen, even driving your car Zen, eating Zen, and working Zen.


By Zen Master Wu Kwang

The Practice of Service
 

This is our practice. It is not some great, expanded commitment to the universe. It's not some hope of how things can be in the future. It is not some longing for things to be as they were in the past. It is only in this moment, responding spontaneously: what can each one of us do that is of service?

 

 


By Zen Master Bon Haeng

Thinking During Meditation
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By Jason Quinn, JDPSN

The Thirteenth Gate

When you are asked a kong-an and you hit the floor, at that moment you become one with the kong-an. You actually become one with the whole universe. That doesn't have correct or incorrect, like or dislike. It’s already complete. There is incredible power in that moment of complete not knowing. When we return to don’t know, our job is always right in front of us. In fact our whole life is just that moment! But if we immediately re-enter the realm of like or dislike, then we can never find our job.

The “Mind Meal” of our school has 12 courses, 12 gates. These 12 gates are actually no different than our everyday life. This is what I call the 13th gate! That’s your moment-to-moment life. How do you respond to that kong-an? Do you like it? Do you dislike it? Do you dodge difficult situations? Do you try to create comfortable situations? Practicing helps us to see that the 13th gate is always right in front of us, but with this gate there isn't a Zen master sitting across from us to verify whether or not we are correct. That’s when kong-an practice takes root, becomes real and is not just an exercise in how clever we can be. If we are willing to respond directly out of our intuition, our innate wisdom, then any kong-an is no problem. 

 

Strong Sitting
 

Strong sitting means not checking your mind and feelings. Everyone sometimes has many thoughts and feelings while sitting. This is correct. Don’t worry. But many people check themselves. “I am no good. What do other people think of me? I am always thinking. How can I cut off all thinking? How do you only go straight? How do you put it all down?” etc. This is being attached to thinking. Thinking itself is not bad or good. Just don’t be attached to thinking. Don’t worry about everything. Thinking is thinking; feeling is feeling. Only go straight—don’t know. That is strong sitting.



 


By Zen Master Seung Sahn

Cake is Delicious

 

As a great Zen master Roshi Taji approached death, his senior disciples assembled at his bedside. One of them, remembering the roshi was fond of a certain kind of cake, had spent half a day searching the pastry shops of Tokyo for this confection which he now presented to Roshi Taji. With a wan smile the dying roshi accepted a piece of the cake and slowly began munching it. As the roshi grew weaker, his disciples leaned close and inquired whether he had any final words for them.

 "Yes" the roshi replied.

 The disciples leaned forward eagerly. ’

  "Please tell us!"

"My, but this cake is delicious!" And with that he died.

Zen Master Dae Bong - Thinking
Watch the Video

 

 

Are You Enlightened? 

Zen Master Wu Bong

Clear Direction

So when your direction is clear, it is already beyond all the opposites. Life and death, possible or impossible, good or bad, right or wrong—it’s already beyond all the opposites. And what kind of direction you have is also important. Sentient beings are already numberless, they cannot be counted. Is it possible to save them all from the suffering?

When your direction is clear, actually it doesn't matter that your wish or hope is going to come true or not. It’s not about success or failure. It’s not about truth or untruth. It’s not about coming true or not coming true. It just keeps going on straight, for infinite time. Which means, actually, you’re the direction, the direction itself is you. 

 

By Hye Tong Sunim JDPS

 

Correct Action Sequence

 

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

 

 

Karma 

 

During a talk at the Cambridge Zen Center Ken Kessel, JDPSN is asked to explain Karma.

 

Holiday Offering

 

How do we live in a world that often seems to be getting more and more confused and destructive? How do we stay centered, focus on our Vow to get enlightenment and help others to do the same?  Do we stop listening to the national and international news? Do we increase the hours of our formal practice, go to more retreats? What are the answers, how can we maneuver in our current existence? How can we “deepen” our wisdom?

Great Faith, Great Courage, Great Question all need to be realized each moment of our day. The ability to access these three abilities totally depends on effort and vow, and the effort and vow comes from the ability to access. If that sounds like a circle, it’s because it is. The circle is our breath, our wisdom, our innate Buddha nature.

So in this time of increased darkness in the Northern hemisphere, both literally and karmically, let us all access our Great Round Circle, our continuous breath. Consciously allow your attention to enter all of the events that offer themselves to you. Breathe each thing in with curiosity and warmth, knowing that your ability to digest it all lies right there with every inhalation.  

Let’s remember that we are all Buddha’s, that we are all capable of embracing the confusion and pain. Embrace it with your warmth, unconditionally. Ask how you can help and be willing to be perhaps confused and frightened. We are all on this earth of ours for one purpose, and not a moment needs to go by when we don’t remember this. What is this purpose, how can we help?

With Total Gratitude for Our Wonderful Sangha,

Soeng Hyang-Bobby

 

Don't Know and Right View



Big Suffering 
 

 

Often Zen Master Seung Sahn said, "If the direction of your life is clear, then your whole life is clear. If your direction is not clear, then your life will always be a problem."

The reason we practice Zen is to understand ourselves completely, attain our original nature, and save all beings from suffering. This is our direction - the original job of all human beings. In this there is no "I, my, me." If we have "I, my, me" then we will get suffering, guaranteed.
 
One time a monk came to Zen Master Seung Sahn and said that he wanted to stop being a monk because the monk's life for him was a living hell. Zen Master Seung Sahn replied, "If your direction is clear, then even living in hell is not a problem." This means if you want to help this world, then even suffering should not be a hindrance. Most important is direction. If your direction is clear, then the suffering you experience becomes "Big Suffering" and helps this whole world. So, what do you want?


By Zen Master Dae Kwang

 

Thousand Year Treasure

 

We either don’t get what we want, then end up dissatisfied. Or, we get what we want, but we can’t keep it. There is not one thing in this world we can keep. Or, we get what we want but it is not enough or maybe we wish it could be just a little bit different. The Buddha said the reason we are dissatisfied is because we don’t understand our original nature and we don’t see the nature of cause and effect. 

The good news is that there is another way. As the calligraphy states, “Three days of looking into self, a thousand year treasure.” Three days of looking into the self means right now in this moment, what is this? What am I doing right now? What is this “I”? If we look at that with sincerity, honesty, and openness, it is possible to return to the mind before thinking. Before thinking is our original nature. In our school we call it “don’t know”.


“Don’t know” plus action is human being’s function. When we return to this moment, we also return back to the realm of name and form. Here we can use name and form in a clear and helpful way rather than name and form pulling us around and around. That even means using this “I”. Attachment to “I” results in I like and I don’t like. Using this “I” results in how may I help. Every moment. Every breath. How may I help? The name for that is Great Love, Great Compassion, the Great Bodhisattva Way. And that is a thousand year treasure for the whole universe.

 

By Jason Quinn, JDPSN
Excerpt from Inka Speech
Published by Primary Point Summer 2015, Volume 32, Number 2

 

Kill and Eat The Buddha
 

Zen Master Man Gong was Seung Sahn Soen Sa's Dharma grandfather. As a thirteen year old child, he was studying sutras at the temple Donghaksa in Korea. The day before vacation, everyone gathered to listen to some lectures. 

The lecturer said, "All of you must study hard, learn Buddhism, and become as big trees, with which great temples are built, and as large bowls, able to hold many things. The verse says:

"Water becomes square or round according to the shape of the container in which it is placed. Likewise, people become good or bad according to the company they keep. Always keep your minds set on holiness and remain in good company. In this way, you will become great trees and containers of Wisdom. This I most sincerely wish."

Everyone was greatly inspired by this lecture. At this point, the Sutra Master turned to Zen Master Kyong-Ho, who was visiting the temple, and said, "Please speak, Master Kyong Ho; everyone would like to hear your words of wisdom."

The Master was quite a sight. He was always unshaven and wore robes that were tattered and worn. Although he at first refused, after being asked again and again, he reluctantly consented to speak.

"All of you are monks. You are to be great teachers, free of ego; you must live only to serve all people. Desiring to become a big tree or a great container of Wisdom prevents you from being a true teacher. Big trees have big uses; small trees have small uses. Good and bad bowls both have their uses. Nothing is to be discarded. Keep both good and bad friends; this is your responsibility. You must not reject any element; this is true Buddhism. My only wish is for you to be free from discriminating thoughts." Having completed his talk, the Master walked out the door, leaving the audience astonished. The young Man-Gong ran after him, and called out, "Please take me with you; I wish to become your student."

The Master shouted at him to go away, but the child wouldn’t listen. So he asked, "If I take you with me, what will you do?"

"I will learn. You will teach me."

"But you are only a child. How can you understand?"

"People are young and old, but does our True Self have youth or old age?"
"You are a very bad boy! You have killed and eaten the Buddha. Come along."

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?"

Life Is A Dream 



Life Is A Dream
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Sayings of Zen Master Kyong Ho  

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."
 

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 over-come. Then, cutting free, their treasure is great

 

 

Inner Peace 
 

 

Don’t be distracted by inner peace. Don’t be distracted by anxiety. Don’t be distracted by anything. What are you doing right now? What is in front of you right now? Pay attention, see clearly and act correctly. It’s simple, but not easy. Our delusions mislead us. Our thoughts and feelings control us. We don’t know who we are. Some kind of practice, a daily practice over a lifetime, is necessary to cut through all this. And not in isolation, but within a community, to cut through self-absorption and delusion.


By Zen Master Bon Hae

 

 

Nature of Suffering


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Zen Master Wu Bong on the Nature of Suffering

Clear Karma
 

Question: How does Zen practicing take away karma?
 

Zen Master Seung Sahn: Zen practice does not take away karma. If you practice Zen, your karma becomes clear. If you are not practicing, your karma controls you. But if you are practicing, you control your karma. So your karma becomes clear. Good karma, bad karma, whatever karma you have becomes clear; then only help other people. That’s the point. Sometimes when a person first starts practicing Zen we talk about “taking away karma,” but those are only teaching words. Bodhisattvas have bodhisattva karma. Karma means mind action. So, karma controls me, or I control my karma and help other people. These two are different, but same karma.

 

Excerpt from Desire for Fame: Unsurpassed Humility by Andrzej Piotrowski JDPSN 

 

 

Desire for Fame

 

The problem of “I, my, me” mind is that it looks for happiness but finds only temporary satisfaction. It is unstable, weak and easy to destroy by external, impermanent circumstances. Fame easily becomes infamy. Success easily becomes defeat. Attachment to and constant desire for them make our minds crazy, never Displaying satisfied and always hurting others.

That’s why Buddhism instructs us to meditate correctly and get insight into this old “I, my, me” habit. It is originally empty and doesn’t exist outside the deluded mind. When we realize its emptiness and delusion, desire for fame—and all other desires as well—lose their power and control over our lives. Dissatisfaction turns into complete mind. Our true self doesn’t need any acclaim or applause. It is always here and now, present and ready to help and love others. Then all beings reflect and return our love, and we are already bodhisattva celebrities without even knowing or being concerned about it. That’s correct fame!

 

What is This?




Zen Master Seong Hyang talks about "What Is This" .mov
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The Ancestral Teacher
 

 


The Ancestral Teacher’s coming from the West only means that winter is cold and summer is hot, night is dark and day is light. It’s just that we vainly set up meaning where there is no meaning, create concern where there is no concern, impose “inside” and “outside” where there is no inside or outside, and talk endlessly of this and that where nothing exists.

 

 

 

 

By Zen Master Ta Hui

From Swampland Flowers

Why We Sit 

Traditionally, in China and Korea, only monks did Zen practice. But 

Zen has come to the West and here lay people practice Zen besides monks and nuns. This has changed the character of Zen. Now our teaching is about Zen in everyday life. Sitting Zen all the time is not possible for lay people. Everyday-life Zen means learning mind-sitting. Mind-sitting means not-moving mind.

How do you keep not-moving mind? Put down your opinion, condition and situation moment-to-moment. When you are doing something, just do it. This is everyday Zen. Sitting meditation is a particular kind of meditation, unique to Zen, that functions centrally as the very heart of the practice.


By Zen Master Seung Sahn 

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

Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn 


Third anniversary of Zen Master Seung Sahn's death
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Digest Your Karma

There is a very beautiful forest at Providence Zen Center. It’s a deciduous forest, a very high-class, ecologically advanced forest. In a deciduous forest about seventy to eighty percent of the energy comes from its own dead matter – the leaves and trees that fall and rot over a period of years. More than the sunlight and the nutrients it picks up from the air, the forest gets energy from its own dead matter. We can be the same. Often we feel like we have no energy or the situation is overwhelming us. But it’s very rarely the situation. It’s just that we’re keeping seventy percent of our energy locked in our own dead karma, so practicing is very important. If you practice correctly, you’ll digest your own dead karma, and you’ll have lots of energy.

Why is it difficult to practice? We face a lot of pressure in this world to go fast, and we've become very complicated. We have to make our minds simple, present, and attentive. If we don’t make our minds simple, it’s very difficult to pay attention to what we’re doing. If you can wash the dishes, drive to work, do your job, and take care of your family with attentiveness, then everything is your gate. Everything is your way in, and every action can be saving ourselves and saving others.

By Zen Master Dae Bong

 

The Most Important Thing About Zen

By Barry Briggs, JDPSN 

 

Barry Briggs, JDPSN on The Most Important Thing About Zen
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Wanting Enlightenment
 

 

If you want enlightenment, this enlightenment is far, far away. If you don’t want enlightenment, you can see, you can hear, you can smell, everything is enlightenment. So put it all down—“I want something.” If you keep I-me-my mind and do zen in this way, for infinite time you cannot get enlightenment. If you make I-me mind disappear, then already you have enlightenment. O.K.?

Only go straight—don’t know. Don’t check your mind; don’t check your feelings; don’t check your understanding; don’t check something. Only go straight— don’t know; for 10,000 years try, try, try. That is very important.

By Zen Master Seung Sahn

 

 

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

 

Your Family Doesn't Like You Practicing Buddhism

Your family doesn't like you practicing Buddhism, many people have that situation. Why is that? Because they love you. All human beings want to protect the people they love. Because all human beings have an idea of what is correct life and what is good for their family and their children. Everybody has that.
 
Eugene is director of a Zen Center in Czechoslovakia. His parents are No.1 good Catholics and have never heard of Buddhism. Buddhism in Eastern European countries is really new and people consider that it could be a cult. After finishing a seven-day retreat, Eugene said, “Su Bong Soen Sa, let’s go to my parent’s place and take a little rest.” Right away, I was a little uneasy – “That’s OK with your parents?” So he said: “Don’t worry.” Then we went there. When we arrived at his house, his mother put out food, all vegetarian. They never ate vegetarian but she put out vegetarian food. After the meal, I laid down and slept on the couch next to the dining room, because I could perceive his mother’s mind is very open. The feeling to us is like – “You are my son. To me, you are family.” So I could do that. But still I didn’t understand.
 
At around 9 o’clock, Eugene’s father came home. Eugene stood up from his seat and went to the cabinet, took out his father’s eyeglasses, held them, and said “Dad, sit down, please.” He gave to his father the eyeglasses, then introduced us to him. Then I understood, this Eugene is No. 1 correct son. Not dependent on his practice or what he believes or not believes, always he has correct relationship, function and situation to his family.
 
So his family doesn't care, meditation practicing or demon practicing. Most important is what is our son’s relationship to us. That’s the proof. “One action is better than ten thousand words”. One action – what you are doing, is beyond dependency on name and form.

By Zen Master Su Bong
 
Manifesting Your True Self

By Zen Master Bon Soeng



Manifesting Your True Self
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How To Extinguish Desires

We used to have a different translation of the second great vow: "Desires are inexhaustible. We vow to extinguish them all." Once during an interview, a student asked Zen Master Wu Kwang: 

Student: "Desires are inexhaustible. What does this mean?"
ZMWK: "I want!"
Student: "Then how do you extinguish them all?"
ZMWK: "I want!"

Commentary: Human life is "I want!" Even to direct yourself toward extinguishing desires is a want or desire. Strictly speaking, desire or even preference is not the problem. Clinging and self-centered craving is really the core of the issue. Why do "I want," and for whom? How do I use the energy of desire to go beyond just I, my, me? When hungry, eat; when someone else is hungry, give them food.

 

What Are You?

Zen is very simple…
What are you?
 
In this whole world everyone searches for happiness outside, but nobody understands their true self inside. Everybody says, “I” — “I want this, I am like that…” But nobody understands this “I.” Before you were born, where did your I come from? When you die, where will your I go? If you sincerely ask, “What am I?” sooner or later you will run into a wall where all thinking is cut off. We call this “Don’t know.”
 
Zen is keeping this “Don’t know” mind always and everywhere.

 

 

 

This Moment and Love

 

By Koen Vermeulen, JDPSN

 

Koen Vermeulen, JDPSN on This Moment and Love
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What is Primary Point? 
 

 

I often talk about primary point. What is primary point? When you have a scale and there is nothing being weighed, the indicator points to zero. You put something on it, and the pointer swings to “one pound.” You take it off, the pointer goes back to zero. This is primary point. After you find your primary point, then good feelings come, bad feelings come, so your pointer swings in one direction or the other. But this doesn't matter. Don’t check it. When the feeling is over with, the pointer swings back to zero.

 

But if you haven’t found your primary point, then it is like taking a heavy object off of the scale and having the pointer stay at “ten pounds.” Or the pointer moves back only part-way, it doesn't go completely back to zero. Then you have a problem. Your scale does not weigh correctly. Maybe if you put a heavy object on it, it will break completely. So first you must find your primary point. Then you must keep it very strongly.



A taxi has weak shock absorbers, so it hits a small bump and bounces up and down. A train has strong shock absorbers, so it is very steady. If you keep your primary point, your mind-spring will become stronger and stronger. You will meet big problems and your mind will move less and less. A big problem comes, your mind moves, but soon returns to primary point. Finally your mind will be very strong; it will be able to carry any load. Then saving all people is possible.

By Zen Master Seung Sahn

Change and Suffering

 

By Zen Master Wu Kwang

 

Zen Master Wu Kwang on Change and Suffering
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Good Situation or Bad Situation?
 

 

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many yearsOne day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "Maybe," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "Maybe," replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "Maybe," answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe," said the farmer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perceiving Sound
 

 

 

 

 

Perceiving sound means everything is universal sound: birds singing, thunder, dogs barking—all this is universal sound.  If you have no mind, everything will be perceived just as it is.  Therefore, when you are chanting with no mind it is also universal sound.  If you have “I” then it is “my” sound. But with a mind clear like space, sometimes even the sound of a dog barking or a car horn honking will bring enlightenment, because at that moment you and the sound become one.  When you and the sound become one, you don't hear the sound, you are the sound.

 


Foreword from the  KUSZ Chanting Book by Zen Master Seung Sahn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Direction In Your Practice
 

Shortly before Zen Master Seung Sahn passed away, he was giving a Dharma talk.

A student asked him, “How will we continue our practice after you die?” 

Zen Master Seung Sahn answered: “If your direction is clear, your practice will become even stronger after I die. If your direction is not clear, your practice will die with me.”
 

No Meaning is True Meaning 

By Zen Master Dae Kwang



No Meaning is True Meaning
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Buddhist Teaching About Death

By Tim Lerch, JDPSN

 

The truth is, we don’t know what happens when we die. The Buddhist teaching about death can be 

helpful in that it gives us a good feeling, some sense of comfort in this mystery. This framework that can be helpful in the grieving process, but the Buddha taught that originally there is no life or death. Our true self is infinite in time and space. Don’t Know Mind doesn't have a beginning or an ending.

Zen Master Seung Sahn’s teaching is to wake up in this moment and attain our true nature. When we keep a Don’t Know Mind we are addressing the big question of life and death moment to moment. The big meaning of a 49-day memorial ceremony is to wake up just now. Actually, whenever anybody dies, they are teaching us that we must wake up, because our lives only occur in this moment [snaps fingers]. Just that.

 

Where Zen Practice Begins
By Zen Master Seung Sahn

 

Everything in this world – the sun, the moon, the stars, mountain, rivers, and trees – everything is constantly moving. But there is one thing that never moves. It never comes or goes. It is never born and it never dies. What is this not-moving thing? Can you tell me? If you find that, you will find your true self and attain universal substance. But understanding cannot help you find that point. Even one hundred Ph.D.’s will not show you your true nature. 

 
 Our true nature cannot be found in books and academic studies because our true nature is before speech and words. It is before thinking. If you find your before-thinking point, then it is possible to attain your true self. So, a long time ago, Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” This is where philosophy begins. But if you are not thinking, what? This is where Zen practice begins.

Which Style of Buddhism is the Best?

 


Student: Buddhism have Hinayana, Mahayana, Tibetan & Zen, how do I know
which is the best for me ?
 
Zen Master: (Pick up a glass of water) Please taste this. (Student then drink the glass of water.)
 
Zen Master: When you are drinking the water, you by yourself will know its cold and warm. (The student seemed to attain something and he continued his meal.)
 


When the student started to eat, Zen Master again asked: Is this Hinayana, Mahayana, Tibetan or Zen? (Student returned with a big smile and happily enjoyed his food.)
 
Commentary: 
 
Buddhism consists of eighty four thousand teachings. They all help us to wake up from our illusion. If you only attached to words and its differences, you cannot taste the truth. Zen means put it into practice. Don’t indulge in empty talk.   - Zen Master Dae Kwan

 

 

Two Kinds of Religion

By Zen Master Dae Bong

 

Zen Master Seung Sahn said there are two kinds of religion: "I want something" religion and "Give to" religion.
 
"I want something" religion means people want something - health, prosperity, peace, happiness, enlightenment, salvation, to go to heaven. Many kinds of wanting. "Give to" religion means don't think about "my" situation. How can I help you? In "Give to" religion, you must put down your opinion, your condition, and your situation. Then you can realize your true nature. Just give to others whatever they need. Just do it!
 
This is Zen practice. Then before you enter the meditation room, you are already practicing correctly.

 

Observing Your Experience

 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Observing Your Experience
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Don't Know Compass

 

If you keep a don't know mind one hundred percent, then your demons cannot find you. Suffering cannot find you. Karma, problems, life, death, coming and going, good and bad; nothing can touch you when you only keep a don't know mind. This don’t know mind is your most important treasure; it can do anything. It is not dependent on God or Buddha, Hinayana, Mahayana or Zen. It is not dependent on life or death. 
 


If you want to get out of the ocean of suffering, only one kind of compass is necessary: your don’t know compass. It is always inside you. When you use this, then you can find that your correct direction always appears clearly in front of you, moment to moment. 




From the Compass of Zen by Zen Master Seung Sahn

I Have No Time To Practice 

By Zen Master Su Bong

 

A student once asked Su Bong Zen Master at a dharma talk: his friend wanted to come to the Zen center to practice but he had no time, because he had a family, he had a job, he did volunteer work and he had to attend the functions of his company. What could he do?
 
Su Bong Zen Master said: “A Zen-style answer means put it all down, that’s all. I am this, this, this. I want this, this, this… but I cannot this, this, this … what shall I do? That’s not necessary. Put it all down and what? Just do it. Without checking: ‘Should I be doing this or this? Which one is more important?’ Then, when you are doing something and just do it, you would have time for everything. I do my job but should I be doing something else? So your job takes twice as long."

"You all understand by your experience, without me telling you, how much time you waste wondering should I be doing this or that. But if you just do it, it would all be finished. There would be no extra baggage. That name is meticulous, meticulous and complete. So I said put it all down, that means your checking mind."
 
"Many of our teachers don’t have time. They are laymen just like you. They have very important positions and they have families and they must work very hard to make everything come together. But they only try and they got it. So this try mind is necessary. You cannot get anything with excuse mind."

 

 

Becoming Human 
 

By Zen Master Seung Sahn
 

We come into this world empty-handed. What do we do in this world? Why did we come into this world? This body is an empty thing. What is the one thing that carries this body around? Where did it come from? You must understand that, you must find that. So, if you want to find that, you have to ask yourself, "What am I?" Always keep this big question. Thinking has to disappear. We have to take away all our thinking, cut off our thinking. Then our true self appears, then our true mind appears...
 
In this world, how many people really want practice? Many people don't practice at all, fight day and night, and all day exercise their desire, their anger, their ignorance. When you lose this body, then you have nothing you can take with you. When this body disappears, what will you take with you? What will you do? Where will you go? You don't know, right? If this "don't know" is clear, then your mind is clear, then also the place you go is clear. Then you understand your job, you understand why you were born into this world. Then you understand what you do in this world. When you understand that, then you can become a human being.

 

 

 

 

Four Seasons
 

 

Flowers in Springtime
      Moon in Autumn
Cool Wind in Summer
      Snow in Winter
If you don’t make anything in your mind,
      for you it is a good season
 
From the Mu Mun Kwan

 

How Do You Practice?

By Zen Master Bon Hae
 

We lead these very complicated lay lives. We are not monks, we are not nuns, and we all have responsibilities. The question is how do you practice? 

The more you practice, the more you have time for it. You are never too busy to practice. Never. You can always get up just a little bit earlier and at least sit on the cushion for 10 minutes, or at least bow for 15 minutes. You can always do that. And that means touching our true nature. So if you don’t touch your true nature, then what is your life? 

So we have these ideas about these busy busy lives that we have, and that’s just an idea. “Oh I am so busy, I am so busy.” Is there anyone who never goes on Facebook? Never surfs the web? Never checks email? Never turns on the TV? Never listens to the radio? Never does things like that? 

No. We all find a little time here and a little time there and a little time somewhere else. So why not find time to touch your true self, find your true nature? Why not do that? Try not practicing then see what happens to your life. If you have been practicing for a while and then you stop practicing, you very quickly find out why you practice.

 

Buddha Nature

By Zen Master Dae Kwang

Buddha is interesting because he is not an example of what you should become, but what you already are. He is not an exemplar for us in the conventional sense of the word. Usually, we look to other people because we want something: "I want to look like him";

"if only I could sing like her"…

In the Diamond Sutra Subhuti asks the Buddha if he got anything when he got enlightenment. The Buddha answers by saying that he didn’t get anything, if he would have gotten anything it  wouldn’t have been enlightenment. 

Human beings are always looking outside for the solution, when it is actually already inside themselves, if they would just look. The Buddha even said that he had no teaching to give. His job was to remove people’s misunderstanding, so they could see their own Buddha nature for themselves. The teaching of Buddhism and Zen is just a “pointing”; it points towards us having a direct experience of our Buddha Nature

 

What is Zen?

 
Zen Master Wu Kwang on Zen Practice

 

5/5/2014

 Faith

By Zen Master Bon Yeon

 

 

Zen Master Bon Yeon on Faith
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4/21/2014

Three Steps To The Left

 

By Zen Master Bon Haeng
 

 

A couple of years ago I was walking to to work, a walk which takes me through several busy intersections in Cambridge. My mind was filled with the day's activities and plans. Consequently, my attention at that particular moment was not with the moment as it was unfolding. I was crossing a particularly busy intersection; a blind man was walking beside me, waving his stick back and forth. As this man was walking, his stick hit a car parked right in the crosswalk. I glanced over and you could see an expression of "what is this?" on his face. He didn't know how to overcome this obstacle in his path. Perhaps he thought he had lost his way or that he had not counted his steps correctly. As I watched, another man looked up and said: "Three steps to the left, around the front of the car." And I said to myself, "That's wonderful. But where was l?"
 
This is our practice. It is not some great, expanded commitment to the universe. It's not some hope of how things can be in the future. It is not some longing for things to be as they were in the past. It is only in this moment, responding spontaneously: what can each one of us do that is of service? Our task as we go through our daily lives is to cultivate this practice that we are already connected with. Only don't know; how can I be of service? I often wish it were more complicated, but just can't seem to find more to it. That's all there is. 

4/14/2014

 

Who is the Master?

 

One student drives Zen Master Dae Kwan to Lantau Island, during the trip… 
 
Zen Master Dae Kwan: "Who is the Master of this car?"

Student: "Honk honk honk" (student made car sound) 

ZMDK: "You are not this car, why make car sound? You ask me the same question."

Student: "Who is the Master of this car?" 

ZMDK: "Now taking Zen Master to Lantau Island." 

Student: "Ha ha……thank you for your teaching, Zen Master."

The car continues its way to Lantau Island……… 
 
Commentary: Do you have a Master? Between Question and Answer, Master already appears.

3/31/2014

Entering Buddahood
 


A monk asked a master, "I just became a monk and would like to know how to enter Buddhahood."

 
The master said, "Do you hear the waterfall?"
 
"Yes I do" replied the monk.
 
The Master said, "Enter there.

 

 

 

 

3/17/2014

 

Zen Is Not Self Improvement
 

 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

 

Mind makes everything. If we don't get underneath that, it's all playing with the branches and the leaves. We can have a better life, but not really getting to the base of it. Our teaching is keeping a great question. The great question in Zen practice is "What Am I?".  "What Am I?", you could say, is "What Is Mind?" Then bring that doubt to this very moment.  

We often say Zen is not really about self improvement. What is the self that you want to improve? Who are you really? That's the fundamental point. And until we really deal with that question, we are not really getting to the base of practice. Because our desires, our beliefs, and our opinions drag us around. Until we doubt them, investigate them, and use the moment as an investigatory tool, we're just playing around.  

Moment to moment to moment to moment, we're being reflected and we always have an opportunity to ask the question and observe what is. As we are lost in our mind, in our thinking, our desire, our fears, our confusion, we don't see anything. It's all colored. It's all mirrors. So our teaching is to pierce through the mirror and come back to the moment.

3/10/2014

Freedom From Life and Death
 

By Zen Master Dae Kwan

All these years of training taught me that there is just a fine thread between life and death. When you attain “before thinking,” there is no life, no death. I joined the Kwan Um School of Zen and learned from Zen Master Seung Sahn’s teaching. He said that just to perceive life is life, and death is death, is not enough. One more step is necessary.

This step is how to use our situation and karma to help all beings. That is great love, great compassion, the great Bodhisattva way. That is our direction. So if we practice, then we can use – and even change – our situation and karma for ourselves, as well as for the people around us. If we are not practicing, then we will be controlled by our karma and situation. We have no freedom from life and death. This is the most precious teaching I ever received.

3/3/2013

Thinking

Zen Master Dae Bong - Thinking

Watch the Video

2/17/2014

Fifteen-Minute Practice
 

 

By Barry Briggs, JDPSN
 

 

Almost everyone struggles to incorporate meditation practice into the flow of daily life. We say, “I’d like to practice, but can’t find the time,” and then we go about our daily affairs. 
Some people have unrealistic expectations, thinking that if they don’t practice an hour every day, then perhaps they shouldn't practice at all. An hour is a lot of time, but almost everyone can find fifteen minutes for daily practice. And that’s enough.  Follow this link to learn more.

 

2/10/2013

Dharma Obligation

By Zen Master Man Gong

Man GongI have been teaching Zen students on this mountain for almost forty years. Many people come to visit me thinking they are visiting a Zen Master but they only see my form body, the house where my true nature lives. They don’t see my true nature. That is not a problem but it means that they have not seen their true nature.

Because they haven’t seen their true nature, they cannot see their parents, siblings, wife and children, or anybody. They wander through life in vain, like a crazy person. We have to say that this is truly a world of darkness. Students who receive my teaching must do it with sincerity and dedication, not forgetting the methods I used. Ultimately, being sincere and dedicated is paying back your Dharma obligation, so you will not waste your practice or suffer a mental loss.

 

2/3/2014

Death of A Child and Karma

 

By Ken Kessel, JDPSN

Watch the Video

1/27/14

 

Bodhisattva Vow

By Zen Master Soeng Hyang
 



In order to have a great vow to attain enlightenment and save all people from suffering, one has to understand suffering. Sometimes more suffering is necessary, that is sad but true. Once suffering has reached a saturation point, most humans urgently want to find a way out of this suffering.

The “Bodhisattva Vow” appears when suffering and love become one. This “Bodhisattva Vow” allows wisdom, compassion and generosity to deepen their roots into the ground of patience, endurance and urgency.

 

 

1/20/14

Enlightenment's Correct Job

 

Attaining my true self simply means moment to moment I keep a correct situation, correct relationship, and correct function in this world. I function clearly in this universe to save all beings.

So getting enlightenment and teaching other beings are not two things, because when you return to your mind before thinking arises, at that point, everything completely becomes one. At that point, how could you not help all beings? Your correct situation, correct relationship, and correct function appear clearly in front of you. Helping other beings is enlightenment's correct job - it is really not all that special. This is the true purpose of Buddhism. 

From The Compass of Zen

 

1/13/14

Back to the Shore
 

By Koen Vermeulen JDPSN
 

 

Our mind is always making something, and then we enter the ocean of suffering. So we want to go back to the shore. However, even if our direction is OK, we still have a problem. We make “I,” and as a result we perceive the ocean as suffering. Within this I-view, we cannot see clearly and we think that the other shore is far away. Then it is impossible to see that the way out of suffering is nearby. No matter how much effort we put forth, we cannot reach the other shore. Only when our wisdom sword cuts through the wall of I-my-me, then the sandbank appears clearly. This “I” is created by our thinking. So, only cut off your thinking and return to before thinking. Then you can see clearly and walk the bodhisattva path on the sandbar, transcending the ocean of suffering.

1/7/14

How to Meditate

By Zen Master Bon Yeon



Zen Master Bon Yeon on How to Meditate
Watch the Video

 

12/30/13

 

Mind Revolution
 

By Zen Master Dae Bong
 

 

 

Buddha said very clearly that humans have five main desires: food, sleep, sex, money, fame. As we grow these five desires all become stronger. So the real Mind Revolution comes from looking back at ourselves. Looking into “I.” Don’t worry about finding anything. Just by looking into “I,” things change. You don’t have to believe in Buddhism. It is not Buddhism; it is just a human being having a big question. That’s all.


The five desires are important to satisfy, but if that is all your life is, you will never be happy. Look back at yourself. What am I? Don’t know. That is the true treasure—so valuable. Then you can change your relationship with the five desires and even use them to help all beings. That is the real Mind Revolution.

 

 

 

12/23/13

 

Our Intuition 
 

By Ja An JDPSN
 

       

Some of our actions are not visible to others, and the results will only appear in the future, but inside we know already what we are doing. Our true self—our intuition—is guiding us. If we are aware of this guide—in touch with it, hearing it—then there should be no problem deciding what to do. There should be no problem in quickly understanding the situation, choosing the correct action, keeping the correct action from moment to moment.

 

 

12/16/13

 

The Great Bodhisattva Way

One, two, three. Where do these numbers come from? You already understand. Children want candy; business people want money; scholars want to become famous. There are many kinds of people and many directions. Where do they finally go? If you attain this point, you attain human nature and universal substance. If you attain universal substance, you can see and hear clearly, and your emotions, will, and wisdom can function correctly. Then your life is correct and you can help all beings. This is called the Great Bodhisattva Way

 

By Zen Master Seung Sahn

 

12/9/13

 

Now Is the Time
 


By Zen Master Wu Bong
 

Nobody guarantees our life. So if there is anything that you think may be useful, just now is the time to use it. In our life, past mind cannot be attained. Present mind cannot be attained. If you say “present,” it is already not present, already gone. If you lose this moment, you can never regain it.

We follow Buddha’s example. Buddha means awakened. If you are going to awaken, tomorrow is too late. One hour from now is also too late. Even one second from now is too late. Just this moment, wake up. I hope each of you will make correct practice in your life and attain this wake-up. Then one more step is most important: use this wake-up to help all beings.  

 

 

12/2/2013 

 

How Not to Burn Out

 

 

By Barry Briggs JDPSN  

       

 Barry Briggs JDPSN on How Not to Burn Out

Watch the Video



 

11/25/13

 

Cookies and Compassion
 

     

A woman who goes into a cafe one morning to have a cup of coffee. She’s glad that she brought her bag of cookies along with her. She gets a newspaper, sits down, and starts enjoying the morning. Reading the paper. Picking up a cookie and eating it. Having a sip of coffee. There’s a guy at the counter next to her doing the same thing: having a cup of coffee, reading the paper. He reaches over and takes one of her cookies out of the bag, and she thinks, “That’s kind of strange—he didn't even ask.” She takes another cookie, and soon he takes another cookie too. They don’t say anything to each other; they just keep reading their papers. Now she’s getting kind of annoyed because she really wanted to enjoy her bag of cookies, but every time she takes one, he also takes one shortly afterwards. She’s getting more and more annoyed; she can’t believe he doesn't even say anything. She can’t say anything at this point either, it’s actually become too weird.

 

Finally it gets down to only one cookie left, and he quite casually, while still not looking up from his newspaper, breaks the cookie in half, eats half, and gently pushes the remaining half toward her. She’s totally enraged at this point and can’t believe somebody could do such a thing. She eats the remaining half cookie, finishes her coffee, throws down the newspaper and leaves the cafe. She gets in her car, reaches in her purse for her glasses, and there’s a bag of cookies there. The same kind she was just eating, in an unopened bag! She’s stunned. Her angry mind totally dissolves and she feels completely silly that, not only was she getting upset about this guy eating her cookies, but she was eating his cookies! And he was even so kind as to split the last one with her!

 

 

11/18/2013

Reminders of Our Original Nature

By Zen Master Hae Kwang


  

This world is already complete before anything can be said about it. Then why do we have sutras and dharma talk and articles, such as the one you are reading now? It is only because we forget that we are already complete that we have all these words. Dharma talks and kong-ans and poems and sutras and explications of sutras and poems are all only reminders. 

 

If we attach to all these words and sentences we are lost, as these lines from one of Mu Mun's poems reminds us: 

 

One who holds onto words is dead,

One who attaches to sentences is lost. 

 

But if we let these words remind us of our original nature, the completeness of our mind before thoughts and words arise in it, if we perceive what these words are pointing to then let them go, even these words and sentences can help us fulfill our great vows to wake up from our dreams and help this world. 

 

 

11/4/13

 

Regret

By Zen Master Bon Haeng

 

Regret.mov
Watch the Video

 

 

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Practice Schedule

Practice is held every Thursday evening at the New Ark United Church of Christ, 300 E. Main St, Newark, DE 19711.

 

Practice begins at 7:00pm with a short orientation for beginners, followed by chanting. We then have two 25 minute periods of sitting meditation with a 10 minute period of walking meditation in between.

Beginners are encouraged to attend the free Meditation Instruction session offered the first Thursday of each month at 7:00pm

There is no fee to attend our practice, you do not have to be a member.

 

Monkey Mind Zen,

is a new DVZC satellite.

The group meets in Philadelphia.

For information about their practice visit:

http://www.mmzen.org/

 

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