Guidance of a Departed Spirit by Kusan Sunim

Lecture for the
Guidance of a Departed Spirit,
Kusan Sunim

Kusan Suryeon ( 1909 ~ 1983 )

Kusan Sunim mounted the High Seat, struck his staff and said:

‘One Thing is constantly spiritually active; its sublime functioning is manifold. Can you understand that originally there is no birth or death? When we discard the sense bases and sense objects the essence manifests fully. The mountains, rivers, and the great earth are my home.

‘May the assembly of monks gathered here and today’s departed spirit speak! Do you understand the principle of this One Thing which is constantly spiritually active?’

After a pause, the Master shouted and said, ‘This staff supports heaven and sustains the earth. It cuts off the three time-periods and completes all things in creation. Again I ask you, can you fully comprehend the Unmoving Ground you were originally endowed with before your parents gave birth to you? If you have understood, you walk hand in hand with all the Buddhas and Patriarchs of the three time-periods.

‘However if you have not yet realised it, you fall into ignorance, extreme hardship and tremendous pain. How is it possible to avoid that suffering? You must grasp the three-foot Dragon-spring sword and cut off the horns of the lion who sits atop the eighty thousand foot high peak, then you will be able to avoid it.’

A poem says:

At the peak’s tip where there is no shadow, the rivers do not flow.
The light from the sword which is radiant like lightning reaches to the Pleiades. [The star group called the Seven Sisters in Taurus. They are worshipped, according to the native Korean shamanist tradition, to ensure prosperty, fertility, and good fortune.]
Alone I walk through heaven and earth without any companions.
The Buddhas and Patriarchs of the ten directions do not talk with one another.

The Master, quoting from The Complete and Sudden Attainment of Buddhahood by the National Master Bojo, said, ‘If one universally shines over all sentient beings with the Buddha’s bright universal wisdom which comes from one’s own mind, then sentient beings are all Buddhas, their speech is the speech of the Buddhas, and their minds are the minds of the Buddhas.

Shakyamuni triad Korea 석가삼존도 조선釋迦三尊圖 朝鮮, 1565 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

‘Furthermore, all ways of earning a living and all arts and crafts are the form and functioning of this bright universal wisdom. There is no distinction whatsoever. Simply because sentient beings deceive themselves they say, “this is a sage’’, “that is an ordinary man”; “this is me”, “that is someone else”; “this is cause”, and “that is effect”; “this is unclean” and “that is pure”; “this is essence”, “that is form”. They themselves produce discriminations, and regress on the path.

‘Since this is not something which is intentionally produced from the bright universal wisdom, if one can produce a mind of ardour and awaken to the fact that ignorance is originally immaterial and originally Truth, then one awakens to the constant, effortless Dharma of great function which is precisely the immovable wisdom of all the Buddhas.’

The Master then recited his own poem:

On the lofty mountains clouds scatter and rivers flow.
The void spirit peacefully and marvellously is apparent before us.
The thousands of worlds which are like grains of sand, become one whole.
White snow fills the courtyard,
And magnolia blossoms bloom.

The Master raised his staff, struck it on the High seat, and descended.

This talk was given during the winter meditation retreat of 1976-77 at Songgwang-sa monastery in Korea.

Reprinted from Nine Mountains: Dharma Lectures of the Korean Meditation Master Kusan,  © International Meditation Center, Songgwang-sa Monastery, Chogye Chonglim, Korea.

Read more Kusan Sunim teachings here.

Categories: Chan / Seon / Zen, Kusan Sunim, Mahayana

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