"People who wish to possess everything must not possess anything. People who want to become everything must not become anything. Even if you let something go, you must escape from the conception that you let it go. Don’t become attached to a nice thing you have done. It will pass just like the wind blows by a tree."
"If you have anything left that you own, use it in activities to make a pure, fragrant society. I now need to leave behind time and space."
"You will absolutely not kill any precious trees for any great cremation ceremony, and don’t waste money on new cloth for new burial clothes. There’s leftover firewood that I already gathered at my mountain hut. Cremate me there by the rocks where I used to meditate. Scatter my ashes on the ground where the azaleas graciously bloomed each spring. That will be my final recompense."
I am glad to see you all in this beautiful spring. Like the cold winter weather now warming up, I wish that you may put down your worries, distress, sadness and pain in this Dharma hall. Therefore you shall enjoy cheerful and free life. Before I say anything, I would first like to mention that I am here to give Dharma talk not as Seon teacher but as simple monk. In any cases, I would like to pay my respect to all Seon teachers and do not wish to dishonor them.
The stanza I just uttered was by Master Gyunghuh. What does ‘the song outside the mind of stone-lady’ means? If you reflect on its meaning, you may truly understand the teachings of all Seon masters. Master Gyunghuh and Mangong lived during when the teaching of Buddha was breaking down. They have restored the spirit of Meditation Schools. They are no different from Buddha, Master Gasup, Bodhidharma, or Haega. You may say that no other beasts can live in the cave of lion. Master Gyunghuh and Mangong have enhanced the life of no-possession. They have reestablished powerful Patriarch Seon characters and lived life free of attachments. I believe that today, an invitation of Seon masters for Dharma talks may serve to bringing someone like Gyunghuh and Mangong once again.
Old masters have said, “When you listen to Dharma talks, take it like you are stepping on a thin ice.” This means you must listen to Dharma talks with sincere faith without making judgment such as right or wrong, easy or difficult, and good speech or bad.
Actually, you should understand the meaning before it is uttered. There is saying that Buddhadharma gets distorted when it is spoken. It becomes astray once you raise a thought. Therefore it can be spoken all day long yet it is mere distraction from the viewpoint from the essence. When you don’t calm thought process, all becomes distraction. You must be able to understand it before it is uttered. Therefore Buddha, after he had taught for 49 years, he said he has not said a word. He was born on the road, lived on the road, and passed away on the road and teaching always. Yet, he said he has not spoken any of the Truth.
I would ask you to reflect on it deeply like a cat concentrates on its prey, the mouse. ‘Huhgongjanggyun’ writes, “Any names, texts, or even Buddha’s spoken words are of delusion.” I hope you may hear the teachings of Master Gyunghuh and Mangong with sincere hearts and aspiration thus, transform your mind to resolve the task of birth and death. You may live life freely without hindrances.
Gyunghuh senim’s father passed away when he was still a child. He followed his mother to temple at age nine and admitted by Gyehuh senim at Chunggyesa. He learned Confucianism from one of the scholars. But after awhile, his teacher Gyehuh senim returned to laity life. Gyehuh senim told him to go see Manhwa senim at Donghaksa in Gyeryong Mountains. He studied Sutras there and later started lecturing.
He lectured on Sutras for several years and one day, he wanted to go see his teacher Gyehuh senim. On his way, he was passing Chunan area where people were suffering from disastrous epidemic. He was shocked by it and felt the transience of life. He has been lecturing about the path of liberation from birth and death yet he himself was troubled by the matters of birth and death. He thought this was ridiculous. When he returned to Donghaksa, he told his students that, “What I have been teaching you is nothing but vain. All of you may go now and find yourself good teacher.” After saying this, he shut his door and sat for meditation.
Do not test someone’s intellect.
He held on to the Gonan ‘When the work of donkey is not finished yet, the work of horse has stated.’ for night and days. He hardly ate or drank. He had put an awl under his chin so that he would wake up if he fell asleep. He practiced sincerely and one day, a little Sami came to him and said, “Senim, when I went to the village, one gentleman asked me, ‘What kind of cow does not have a hole to put on reins?’” Hearing this, Gyunghuh realized instantly. Then he uttered, “I look everywhere and yet I find nobody. Who shall I pass on this robe and bowl to?” This meaning must hit your heart like someone strikes you.
Gyunghuh senim packed his backpack with cane on his hand and started for Chunjangsa. At Chunjangsa, his brother held position of abbot and his mother was a cook. One day, he went out for asking offering of rice. When he knocked his wooden gong, the owner of house came out and asked, “If I make donation, what kind of merits do I get?” Gyunghuh said to him, “There is no merit to offing when you wish for return.” The owner said, “If there is no return, who would make offering? Go away!” Gyunghuh said, “I may not receive offerings yet I can not lie.” He returned to temple.
That evening, a man called Lee Jinsa came to temple with sack of rice on his worker’s shoulder. He was the owner of the house that Gyunhuh visited asking for offering. He was famous landlord and scholar. Observing Gyunghuh’s words and appearance, Lee Jinsa thought he was not an ordinary monk and wanted to test his depth of knowledge. Gyunhuh asked him, “Then, did you bring the scale and measuring ruler?” Lee Jinsa answered, “Well, such knowledge can be measured by head without scale or ruler.” After hearing this, Gyunghuh shouted, “Ak!” like thunder. Then he asked Lee Jinsa, “Now, how much did that shouting weigh?” Lee Jinsa found himself embarrassing and apologized to him. They have become good friends for long since then.
When you have worries, your mind is in hell.
This is indeed characteristics of Seon tradition not expressed in words or texts. You must reflect on Gyunhuh senim’s shouting to Lee Jinsa’s remark. In this one shouting, you may find the laws of entire universe. Within it, everything is found, the heaven and hell, true and false, and happy and sad.
Gyunghuh senim’s story is not any different from Buddha’s or Bodhidharma’s transcending birth and death. It contains the teaching without words. When you are free of distinctions you may understand Buddhism and the meaning of meditation. Therefore, you give up trying to understand by words but try to let go of distracting thoughts and distinctions. When you have let go an attempt to measure someone by heads, you may truly understand the clue of Buddhism and meaning of meditation.
There are many stories regarding Master Mangong. But you must comprehend the true meaning yourself. There is famous story about Mangong senim scolding Japanese Governor Minami. When Mangong senim was head abbot of Magoksa, Japanese governor Minami called for meeting inviting head abbots from 31 major mountains. At the meeting the governor said, “Buddhism of Korea originated from Japan. Now we must unify Buddhism of Korea and Japan. For this, governor Darauchi should be honored.” At this, Mangong senim stood up fiercely and shouted, “When it is originally pure and natural, how did mountains and lands have originated?”
This is not mere words trying to convince someone. But the shout from his heart, Master Gyunghuh toward the scholar or Master Mangong towards the governor when there was violence of sword and guns during Japanese occupation, this truly shows the principle transcending life and death. It is not under control of physical body. The coming and going or right and wrong are made by mind. When you transform your mind, you find the state where there is no birth and death. When you continue to distinguish with measures, the mind dwells in the cycle of birth and death.
If you truly wish to become the Buddha, let go of all thoughts of greed, arguing, and distinguishing. If you don’t let go of that, there is no doubt that you will not be free from being crippled.
(By holding fist,) This is the greed. If you don’t open your palms, you are crippled. If you hold out a fist and not able to open it, you are cripple.
(Showing open palm,) When you have open palm and not able to close it, you are also cripple. The wisdom is within this hand. There is Buddha free from the law of life and death. In the mind, there is no distinction between Buddha or ordinary beings. What should you do then?
(Holding out a cup of water,) When you drink water, you should hold the cup. (Putting down a cup) Now, you have to let go of cup.
If any of you here today have worries in your hearts, give them all to me and take the gift of ‘happiness’ with you. When you have worries in your heart, your mind suffers in hell even if you are sufficient with gold and treasure in the house. I hope that this gathering has become the incidents for your enlightenment.