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Dharma Talks : The Kwan Um School of Zen and Providence Zen Center

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Transmission Speech  

Bang! (Hits the table with the Zen stick.)

Everything is always coming and going; going and coming. That is the first teaching of the Buddha. But the true meaning of this teaching cuts off the tongue of the Buddha. In the end even the five schools of Zen disappear. So, Un Mun Zen Master said, "Medicine cures disease, disease cures medicine."

Bang!

This point is complete stillness, the universal substance. The whole universe comes from this point. This is the second teaching of the Buddha. But, this point has no name, no word, no speech, no form. So, this point has already cut off my tongue.

Bang!

This is the third teaching of the Buddha. It means "just like this" is the truth, which is the universe just doing it moment to moment; so now everybody's tongue is cut off -- what can you do?

Ho!

Outside the birds are singing, inside the candles are bright.

Our whole life is only one thing. But nobody believes that. The reason they don't believe that is because everybody wants something. For example, many times people who practice Zen expect or want something from their practicing. But that's not correct practicing, because wanting and expecting something is what causes the wheel of samsara to turn round and round. This is the source of life and death and all suffering. But if you just practice, without wanting anything, then you can attain your true self. In the Diamond Sutra a student of the Buddha asks the Buddha if he got anything when he got enlightenment. The Buddha said, "No, I didn't get anything; if I'd gotten something, it wouldn't have been incomparable enlightenment" If you completely attain that, you get one thing, this moment. That is very simple! Zen is not a special thing; it's just one thing.

About a hundred years ago in Korea there was a young woman who was about to be married. In those days marriages were arranged through a go-between. It was the custom that a bride would not know or even see her prospective marriage partner until the day of the ceremony. Hearing that the arrangements had been completed, the woman became quite excited, also very anxious. After all, her marriage would be the most important deciding factor of the rest of her life, and she didn't know exactly what was going to happen. She started thinking: "What will my husband be like? Handsome or ugly? I'd like a handsome man. Will he be kind or will he be inconsiderate? Oh, I so want a kind husband." Then she was also thinking, "I wonder if he'll be stupid or smart? I really would like to have a smart and clever husband. I hate dull men." Then she started to think about her mother-in-law to be.

In Korea at that time the wife went to live with the husband's family. Since life for a woman was bound to family and home, the mother-in-law controlled the new wife's whole life. So she was just as worried about her mother-in-law as about her prospective husband. "What will this women be like? Will she be a tyrant? Will she be mean? Or, will she be kind and generous?" She thought about all this a lot, for months in advance -- thinking and thinking. Then, just the day before the ceremony she had to go to her sister's village for the final fitting of her wedding dress. Korea is quite mountainous; so she had to cross a low pass to get to the village. As she walked, she was thinking about her marriage and since it was close to the wedding day, her mind was reeling. Then, just as she came to the top of the pass and started down towards the village, a tiger jumped out in front of her...... "Grrrrrrrrrhh!!!" That's the end of the story as we know it.

To some, this story is sad because we have expectations. But this woman is not special because we always meet the tiger sooner or later. But to Zen students this story is interesting because one thing appeared very clear. We might say she got "tiger enlightenment." That means "wake up!" At any moment that can happen to us; it doesn't take a tiger. It's very simple.

However, most people live in a dream, their "like and dislike thinking" dream. They are always thinking about the past and the future. But the past and the future do not exist! All we ever have is "right now." We live in a "moment world," but we "think" that we live somewhere else. The only place that you can become you is right now. Thinking itself is not good or bad, but our attachment to thinking creates suffering. Zen means wake up from your dream, your attachment thinking.

If you look at enlightenment situations closely, they're simple -- really simple; you might even say stupid. Buddha saw a star and got enlightenment; that's simple. Hyang Eom Zen Master heard a rock hit against bamboo and got enlightenment; that's simple. Dok Sahn Zen Master had somebody blow out a candle just as he was reaching for it; that's simple. Buddha held up a flower and Mahakashyapa smiled. This is the first dharma transmission -- that's downright stupid. In each of these stories, nobody got anything. Only a very simple mind, our original nature, appeared. Just one thing appeared very clear, very clear! So this one thing appearing, the tiger, the rock sound; this means wake up now. Why wait? If you're waiting for something or want something, you're already dead. Our practice means just this moment, wake up. Very simple. This is not rocket science.

The other night some of us were out looking at the moon -- there was an eclipse. The earth moved between the sun and the moon and blocked out the light that is usually reflected off the moon. If you understand that, you have some wisdom. Some people think that a serpent is eating the moon during an eclipse -- munching it. As it is being eaten, they get very scared. So, they run off and get a shaman to chant and beat a drum to bring the moon back. Everybody's mind operates like that to some extent; everybody has some delusive thoughts which separate them from what's really happening; it's called a hindrance. However, if you have some wisdom, then there's no problem. That means, wake up. Your original light is already shining.

So today it happens to be cloudy; we say the sun is not shining. But that's stupid-the sun is shining. It just happens to be cloudy today, that's all. And even at night we say the sun's not shining, but the sun is shining. The sun's "out" all the time. It's very simple. Our original nature is just like that, it's out all the time, but we don't think so. We're very attached to our hindrance. But if you wake up to this moment -- cut off all thinking -- the hindrance evaporates and wisdom appears by itself. Simple. Then compassionate action appears naturally. So, our whole life is only one thing -- this moment -- wake up! It's already there.

Bang! (Hits the table with the Zen stick.)

One and two are always playing with each other.

Bang!

One and two play hide and seek with each other and hide behind a rock.

Bang!

One and two come out from behind the rock and each do a dance. But the famous Korean Zen Master Man Gong said that it's not one and it's not two. If it's not one and it's not two, then what kind of dance is it? You're not one and you're not two, what are you?

Ho!

Outside today it's cloudy and inside... (bows and returns to his seat.)


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