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Dharma Speeches
by Zen Master Y.S. Seong Do
Dharma Speech given at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin
Vesag Ceremony 2543
On the Heart Sutra

24 October 1999
Dharma Speech at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin
Invited by Deutsche Buddhistische Union

Dharma Speech by Ven. Zen Master Young San Seong Do

Buddha, Dharma, Sangha

- all these messages; from whose household do they come?

If you wish to enter this gate, put down all your wisdom. Not through words and terms, a special transmission is outside the scriptures. Directly seeing your mind, you become Buddha.

Aaak! (a shout called “Hal” in Korean)

Where did the sound come from and where did it disappear? Once you can correctly realise the source of coming in and out of this sound, you can understand the mystery of life and death.
Now: Where did the sound come from and where did it disappear?

Please put it all down. Then you can see it right away.

One day, the teacher Ma-jo and his disciple Pai-chang were walking along the road. At that moment, a flock of wild geese, honking: kyauk, kyauk, flew away westward. The teacher Ma-jo, hearing this sound, asked Pai-chang:
“Did you hear the honk of the wild geese?“
“Yes, very revered monk.“
“Then: Where do you guess the sound disappeared to?“
“Yes, well, the sound disappeared westward,“ replied Pai-chang.
Just at that moment, Ma-jo, suddenly turning around, twisted his disciple’s nose hard.
“Ouch!“  Pai-chang screamed in great pain.
Ma-jo said, while letting go of his hold:
“You dare to say that one more time that the sound disappeared westward.“
At that moment, Pai-chang suddenly attained great enlightenment.

I want to ask you: What did Pai-chang attain?

We always wonder where all things disappear to and we are all puzzled when we witness others to die and vanish away like the sound.

What is Seon (Zen)?
The purpose of Seon lies, first of all, in awakening one’s true self, and next in keeping one’s correct function, keeping to one's correct purpose in life.

(holding up a Juk-Bi stick)

You see this stick. What is it that sees this stick?

(hitting the Juk-Bi)

You hear this sound. What is it that hears this sound?
This stick you see and the sound you hear - are they the same or different?
f you say: “The same“, then you go to hell. If you say: “Different,“ you also go to hell.
Then: How can you escape from going to hell? What is it that sees and hears? Is it mind?
Is it nature? Is it emptiness?

In the Surangama sutra it is called “mind“, but is it right to call it “mind“?
Besides of “mind“ this has been called by many kinds of names, such as “Buddha,“ “original nature,“ “Tathagata,“ “true self,“ “the World-honoured One,“ “emptiness,“ “one thing,“ “original face,“ etc., but all these are not just words and terms pointing to the very one thing that sees or hears but also names. Names and words are all abstract and illusive and they are all impermanent. You must not be attached to such illusions. Because of these illusions or forms you must not misunderstand the right function in your life.

Then: What is the awakening of one's true self?
Of course, it is the very one that sees one's original nature.
You don’t know? If you don't know something, what would you do? As you know, when you don't know anything, you cannot help but having a doubt about it: What is this? What is the one that sees and hears, now and here?
You must not try to know or understand it. On the contrary: You must keep on having a doubt about it. If only you were to do this, then finally even the doubt will disappear by itself.
Only go straight, holding: What is this?

In Gongan Seon (Koan Zen), what is the gongan?

Once a student named Huai-yang went to the famous Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng.
Hui-neng asked the student, immediately upon his arrival: “What kind of thing comes here?”
The student Huai-yang was completely dumfounded by this question.  “I don’t know,” he replied.
Because he couldn’t come up with an answer, he simply went back to where he came from. Thereafter, he practiced intensively around the clock, never losing his grip on the question:
“What is this? What is this? What is this?”
When he finally attained a firm belief about the question, he decided to revisit the Sixth Patriarch, and gave his reply as follows: “Even though you call me a thing, it’s already not correct.”
After this gongan talk, Huai-yang was eventually transmitted the dharma from the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng.

Likewise, if only a practitioner keeps having a strong doubt with regard to the gongan he has received, the ten thousand doubts and illusions that well up inside his mind will boil down to one essential gongan-doubt in time. Then, he should take care not to let go of it and should keep holding fast on to it. That is to say: A practitioner should not let his question escape him wherever he is and whatever activity he is involved in and should progress with the power of intense concentration in his gongan-doubt.

Seon practice is the essence of all Buddhist practices and especially Gongan-gazing Seon lays great emphasis on the enlightenment attained through passing a gongan.

The gongan practice has to be constantly connected directly to enlightenment and a practitioner should always bear in mind that the gongan question is used as a means to attain enlightenment. Those who have attained the true meaning of Seon by personally breaking through a gongan can display their correct function and ability, while pursuing the true purpose of their lives in this world.

One day, an abbot monk was cleaning the dharma room of the temple. Just at that time, a guest monk in tattered clothes came inside, smoking a cigarette, and wandered from place to place. He finally flicked the ashes from the cigarette on the Buddha's palms.
The abbot monk was much surprised to view such roguery and he shouted angrily:
“Are you crazy?! How dare you commit such an act to Buddha as a monk?!”
The monk in rags laughed loudly, saying: “In the Avatamsaka Sutra it is said that the three thousand galaxies of worlds are all Buddha’s dharma body. Now, I want to ask you: If the ashes of a cigarette would not fall on the body of Buddha, where could I flick them?“
The abbot monk was instantly dumfounded and couldn’t come up with an answer.

Now, I ask you: How could you answer if you were the abbot monk?

(after a break)

I’ll answer for you: You’d rather serve rice in a bowl than in a chamber pot.
Nevertheless, don't you know where you should flick the ashes of a cigarette?

What colour is the sky? Blue?
Yes, but the sky has never said: “I am blue.”
The colour of the sky has been created by you alone. Originally, the sky is not blue.
Why do you create the colour of that empty space?
Now, I want to ask you again: What is the original colour of the sky?
If you reply: “It is blue,” you make a mistake. Why? Because the sky has never said, “I am blue”.
If you say, “It is not blue”, you also make a mistake. Why? Because the sky has never said:
“I am not blue.”

Then: How could you let me know the original colour of the sky?
Only when you attain the true meaning of it, the sky and you finally become one.
Then, everything is O.K. just as it is:

Mountain is mountain, water is water - and the sky is also blue.

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