I venture to ask this assembly, ‘Have you awakened to and penetrated into the subtle Way of enlightenment with which everyone is endowed?’ If you have awakened, say something! HAK!
[a shout to awaken those listening]
As the sun rises brightly in the sky in the middle of the night, young monkeys are climbing up trees backwards.
The clear wind and the bright moon
demonstrate the great truth.
The green peaks and the white clouds
reveal the subtle function.
Every kind of form magnificently adorns
As a phoenix sings and a crane dances,
there is no end to the joy!
For the ninety days of this winter retreat people from nine different countries have gathered here. The times and seasons of all countries are not the same. Thus when it is winter here, it is summer elsewhere; and when it is daytime here, it is night-time elsewhere. Without thinking in terms of distance you came many thousands of li to this Chogye Chonglim. But what kind of task will you be performing? Are you eagerly seeking wealth? Are you eagerly seeking fame? Are you eagerly seeking glory? Are you just seeking to live in mere comfort? You are not here to seek such things. You must simply throw away all concerns and resolve the great matter of birth and death. Then you will ascend to the position of the Buddha and this noble deed will make you a great hero among heroes and a true Buddha among Buddhas.
North, south, east and west being void,
they form a single house.
Casting aside wrong views and searching for the truth
have the same meaning.
Who would enjoy a rain of fire which
pours like snow?
From the midst of the fire of bright and quiet concentration
a Buddha emerges.
All of you gathered here today, do not discard your fundamental intention to search for the mind and realize Buddhahood! If you intend to realize the unsurpassable Way, you should cast away all attachment and wrong views. The root of attachment is to always think of benefiting oneself whenever confronting good or bad circumstances. Wrong views are the activity of the ignorant consciousness conditioned by the circumstances in which one is enmeshed. And this is because the three poisons of greed, hatred and stupidity have been completely enveloping your mind since beginningless time. Thereby in simply raising one’s hand or moving one’s feet, one invariably produces unwholesome deeds. Thus the pure and marvellous wisdom is obscured like the sky covered by clouds.
When you are confronting such an opportunity as this, you must sever all good and bad states with a single sword-stroke. To dispel wrong views and look for the right way must become as unobstructed as a hand being waved in space. Only then will you be able to learn the Dharma of nonaction. Thus, in such a way should one’s practice be developed.
Having been taught a kongan (Jap. koan), then during the twenty-four hours of the day, while standing, sitting, lying and walking, one should grasp and raise the hwadu (head of the kongan, or its essence) firmly. You must investigate it in utmost earnest, in the same way as a person trying to extinguish a fire on his head or a cat trying to catch a mouse. Only then will you enter the doorless door and realize the awakening of no-awakening. Then you can demonstrate a compassion as great as the Buddha’s merciful compassion in the midst of the mind of nondoing. And you can save unfortunate sentient beings by skilfully discoursing on the indeterminate Dharma. One truly must act in this way as such a task is the duty of a practitioner of meditation. Therefore, how could you not perform it?
The thousand worlds being void,
there is not one particle of dust in them.
The white snow and the green pines
are beyond past and present.
In the path of the clay-dragon,
the waves of the Dharma sea arise.
In the roaring of the stone-tiger,
a cool wind blows.
Read some other Kusan Sunim teachings here.
From the October 1989 Buddhism Now.
Translated from the Korean by Martine and Stephen Batchelor from a lecture given by Ven. Kusan in the winter of 1982 at Songgwang Sa Monastery, Korea.