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

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Throw That Book Away  

From talks in Cambridge on April 1, 1999 and Providence on April 2, 1999

Question: In your book, Compass of Zen, you say that "Mu practice" is not a correct practice. But Mu is the same as Kwan Seum Bosal, so why is it not correct?

Zen Master Seung Sahn: Everything in that book was a mistake. [laughter] So throw that book away, then there's no problem. An old master said, "Anytime you open your mouth it's a mistake." So if opening mouth is a mistake, then making a book is even a bigger mistake! So if you want to not make a Mistake, go to a Zen center and only practice; only go straight, don't know. "Don't know" is the number one good practice, okay? Try it! More questions?

Q: Also in your book, you talk about going to cut grass in the field. When you had finished, you continued on to school. Later, one of your schoolmates says, "Look at the big cut on your leg!" Then you see that you had cut your leg very badly and you had to have it sewn up. What was your teaching there?

ZMSS: Cut your leg, cut your finger, cut your neck but most important is to cut ignorance. Cut grass no problem. Cut ignorance, that's our job, okay? If you can cut your ignorance, then you can see clear, hear clear... everything is clear. But, but if you are attached to my speech, or attached to anything, then you have problem. How do you cut? [Audience member makes a cutting gesture ... I Cut your finger? Why? Mistake. No problem. Cut finger, cut neck, doesn't matter. Cut everything, cut 'everything! Cut everything, then no problem. If even a small hair appears-even one hair-then you will have problem. Cut everything, then you can see clear, hear clear, smell clear, everything clear. So cut everything, okay?

Q: How important is this body in our search for enlightenment?

ZMSS: Yes, not only your body-everything is important. But, everything is not important. Everything important, everything not important: which one do you like? [laughter] You have a problem. Only do it. If your checking mind appears, then a problem appears. Don't check, okay? just do it!
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