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Thread: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

  1. #1

    Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Coming empty-handed,

    going empty-handed -- that is human.

    When you are born, where do you come from?

    When you die, where do you go?

    Life is like a floating cloud which appears.

    Death is like a floating cloud which disappears.

    The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.

    Life and death, coming and going, are also like that.

    But there is one thing which always remains clear.

    It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.

    Then what is the one pure and clear thing?
    I have always loved this poem by ZM Seung Sahn.

    Sometimes I can spend hours thinking, "what is that one pure thing?" or "what is this life?" "what is death?"

    No satisfying answers ever come.

    But this morning while drinking coffee, eating breakfast, i realized that in that moment, if we are willing to look and see, everything we have been searching for was right there all along.

    The answer to our questions doesn't come from the mind, from our thinking about stuff.

    because there is no answer to be found that is separate from the question itself.

    "What is life and death?" Who is asking the question? Where is this question coming from? Find that. Understand that. And realize that there is no difference between life, death, you, other, enlightenment, delusion.

    Enough of my rambling...Happy Sunday to you all

  2. #2

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    [
    because there is no answer to be found that is separate from the question itself.

    "What is life and death?" Who is asking the question? Where is this question coming from? Find that. Understand that. And realize that there is no difference between life, death, you, other, enlightenment, delusion.

    Enough of my rambling...Happy Sunday to you all

    Hi Seiryu. That doesn't sound like rambling to me. When both questions and answers and all reaching and grasping cease.....O

    Personally I have aversion to the use of ontological terms around this, even simple ones like "reality", and "true nature", and feel that the descriptor "Cessation of Dukkha" is least likely to project subtle notions of an absolute. .....but I'm an eccentric that way, probably because I grasped such terms tightly. It may not be the case for others.

  3. #3

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Thank you, Seiryu.

    The clouds are also the sky ... light, boundless, clear ... when flown through as such. Birds are the sky, flying here and there while leaving no traces.

    A blue sky ever without clouds and birds would be so very lifeless.



    Gassho, J

  4. #4

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Gassho Seiryu,
    Myoku

  5. #5

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    Sometimes I can spend hours thinking, "what is that one pure thing?" or "what is this life?" "what is death?"

    No satisfying answers ever come.

    But this morning while drinking coffee, eating breakfast, i realized that in that moment, if we are willing to look and see, everything we have been searching for was right there all along.

    The answer to our questions doesn't come from the mind, from our thinking about stuff.

    because there is no answer to be found that is separate from the question itself.

    "What is life and death?" Who is asking the question? Where is this question coming from? Find that. Understand that. And realize that there is no difference between life, death, you, other, enlightenment, delusion.

    Enough of my rambling...Happy Sunday to you all
    No rambling! :lol:

    I'm happy for you! In some moments, everything is so clear.
    Then, at least for me, not so clear anymore... But as Rev Jundo says, life can not always be clear blue skies!
    I know very little about these things, but here are my thoughts anyway. :lol: ops:
    I am not you and I have no idea about the nature of your experience, but I consider some of my own experiences, that may or may not be similar to yours, to be just cool moments in life, nothing special. Nothing to cling to. But I don't see any reason not to be thankful, like we are thankful for many things in life and practice. My personal take is that they should neither be celebrated as an achievement nor be rejected as bunk or bullshit. Just aknowledge them and leave them be, without trying to repeat them or dwell in the memory of them, without letting the ego transform them into something they are not. Which is not so easy when you found the experience to be very profound... But the now is what matters, not the past or the future. If there is great faith and clarity arriving in this moment, then that is so. If there is not, then that is also so.

    Enjoy your day!

    /Pontus

  6. #6

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    .... sometimes (actually quite often!) I get lost in this enigmatic dance between 'mind' and the illumination of 'no-self' - the present moment, etc

    I find myself wanting to stick up for the 'mind' - because without it I feel we are lost. Yes the 'mind' can be deluded - but it is also the means by which we integrate the stuff of life - with the mind we can lovingly sculpt the 'core' self - not the 'false' self that causes so many problems. The 'authentic' self and the 'no-self' - they seem related to me.

    I sense there may be some resistence to the above - I am still finding my way through the relationship between buddhism, psychology, psychotherapy, humanism, etc
    Would really appreciate the thoughts of others on this.

    Gassho,

    Willow

  7. #7

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Quote Originally Posted by willow

    I find myself wanting to stick up for the 'mind' - because without it I feel we are lost. Yes the 'mind' can be deluded - but it is also the means by which we integrate the stuff of life - with the mind we can lovingly sculpt the 'core' self - not the 'false' self that causes so many problems. The 'authentic' self and the 'no-self' - they seem related to me.
    YES, A BIG Koan! And one of those opportunities for me to pull out the old Zen teacher quip (but truly, not a "cop out"):

    Just Keep Sitting, Keep Practicing.

    See what happens. Truly, that is not a "cop out" or ducking the question, but is facing them head on.

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    .... sometimes (actually quite often!) I get lost in this enigmatic dance between 'mind' and the illumination of 'no-self' - the present moment, etc

    I find myself wanting to stick up for the 'mind' - because without it I feel we are lost. Yes the 'mind' can be deluded - but it is also the means by which we integrate the stuff of life - with the mind we can lovingly sculpt the 'core' self - not the 'false' self that causes so many problems. The 'authentic' self and the 'no-self' - they seem related to me.

    I sense there may be some resistence to the above - I am still finding my way through the relationship between buddhism, psychology, psychotherapy, humanism, etc
    Would really appreciate the thoughts of others on this.

    Gassho,
    Willow
    In one of the sutras it is said that "the three realms of existence are nothing but mind". So even the greatest enlightenment of "no body and mind" is the product of mind and doesn't really exist outside of it. So I don't think that anyone is trying to get rid of the mind, even if it was possible.

  9. #9

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Thanks for sharing! Despite the controversies surrounding him, I've always found Seung Sahn Sunim to be one of the more vivid and insightful characters in Zen.

  10. #10

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin
    Thanks for sharing! Despite the controversies surrounding him, I've always found Seung Sahn Sunim to be one of the more vivid and insightful characters in Zen.
    The Kwan Um school folks I have practiced with are straightforward.

  11. #11

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Andy - thanks for the reference - I think I am beginning to grasp that 'no-self' does not mean 'no mind.'

    Jundo - I went back over the Buddha basics on this subject and listened to the podcast you've referenced (Rick Hanson).
    This has helped a lot - it was quite a relief to hear Hanson say he, at first, struggled with 'no-self' because of his background in psychology.
    I don't want to take up space with this here - but sense my own thought processes are scrambled on this subject for a
    similar reason. The experience of zazen has become full of 'noise' because of this, so I'm just trying to go with the 'noise' and
    waiting for a quieting down.

    Seiryu - thankyou for the poem - I did not mean to detract from it.

    Gassho,

    Willow

  12. #12

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    One word we don't hear a lot of in Buddhism is Faith. Not faith in the sense of having faith in something, but faith in the sense of resting with nothing, being suspended without "Mind" or "Self" or anything at all to hold. There can almost be a panic, a scramble, to find some principle to hold, but once the grasping and reaching wind down and subside, there is the ordinary solid ground. My favourite Image of the Buddha is the Earth Touching Mudra, where he reaches down and touches the solid ordinary earth...... calls the Earth to witness. Just like that.

    Anyway.. been on a posting roll here of late.... but I just wanted to say that. It is very beautiful and reassuring image.

  13. #13

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Kojip - a powerful and reassuring image.

    I had originally written I had 'faith' that the noise would recede - then deleted the word 'faith'. I'm not sure why
    - some discomfort in using the word faith.

    Anyhow - your words clarified what I was struggling to express - and helped untie a knot of confusion.

    Gassho,

    Willow

  14. #14

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Ss might say, don't make anything. Self, noself, trueself, false self. I guess it takes a leap of faith but with a clear mind you do the right thing. Now there is nothing wrong with thinking and planning, but its easy to get stuck in it so you really need to cultivate just sitting mind. Speaking as one imperfect being to others.

  15. #15

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    One word we don't hear a lot of in Buddhism is Faith. Not faith in the sense of having faith in something, but faith in the sense of resting with nothing, being suspended without "Mind" or "Self" or anything at all to hold. There can almost be a panic, a scramble, to find some principle to hold, but once the grasping and reaching wind down and subside, there is the ordinary solid ground. My favourite Image of the Buddha is the Earth Touching Mudra, where he reaches down and touches the solid ordinary earth...... calls the Earth to witness. Just like that.

    Anyway.. been on a posting roll here of late.... but I just wanted to say that. It is very beautiful and reassuring image.
    Thanks for this.
    Just like Willow, I have also had a strong antipathy against words like faith. It's only recently that I have found a meaning in this word. We are sometimes told to let go, put down, surrender. But if we feel that we are hanging from a cliff, holding on only to a small branch, and don't have great faith, there will be panic and frantic clinging, because beneath us is the certain death of our ego. In this situation, if someone tells us to just let go, we won't listen. So we have to find ways to build that faith. Personally, I have to know, confirm for myself, realize completely, that there is nowhere to fall, before I can let go. In this sense, I'm a control freak. Maybe we all take different paths, but I would say that by simple practice we can get an intuitive feeling of emptiness, the true nature of reality, and of our own nature. For some, maybe this is enough to have great faith? In Shikantaza, we may sometimes get a glimpse of the emptiness of reality and our true/original/buddha nature, experience it first hand. In that moment, I have great faith. But in the next moment, I am still hanging from a branch, refusing to let go. Maybe one day, there will be faith great enough to completely let go in every moment, in every situation in life, great faith always arriving. Then there will be no letting go, because I will not be holding on to anything. But in this moment I can't force myself to have faith, I can only practice. And I suspect that without any faith I wouldn't be practicing. In practice there is already enlightenment. If great faith is not arriving in this moment, that's fine. I will just keep practicing. Ignorance is just buddha nature and we are already Buddha. In this I have faith.

    Sorry for lack of clarity... :roll: ops:

    /Pontus

  16. #16

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    Kojip - a powerful and reassuring image.

    I had originally written I had 'faith' that the noise would recede - then deleted the word 'faith'. I'm not sure why
    - some discomfort in using the word faith.

    Anyhow - your words clarified what I was struggling to express - and helped untie a knot of confusion.

    Gassho,

    Willow
    Gassho, Willow. Glad the words coming off this keyboard aren't all just chatter in the aether, and can be useful sometimes..

    Gassho.

  17. #17

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    One word we don't hear a lot of in Buddhism is Faith. Not faith in the sense of having faith in something, but faith in the sense of resting with nothing, being suspended without "Mind" or "Self" or anything at all to hold. There can almost be a panic, a scramble, to find some principle to hold, but once the grasping and reaching wind down and subside, there is the ordinary solid ground. My favourite Image of the Buddha is the Earth Touching Mudra, where he reaches down and touches the solid ordinary earth...... calls the Earth to witness. Just like that.

    Anyway.. been on a posting roll here of late.... but I just wanted to say that. It is very beautiful and reassuring image.
    Thanks for this.
    Just like Willow, I have also had a strong antipathy against words like faith. It's only recently that I have found a meaning in this word. We are sometimes told to let go, put down, surrender. But if we feel that we are hanging from a cliff, holding on only to a small branch, and don't have great faith, there will be panic and frantic clinging, because beneath us is the certain death of our ego. In this situation, if someone tells us to just let go, we won't listen. So we have to find ways to build that faith. Personally, I have to know, confirm for myself, realize completely, that there is nowhere to fall, before I can let go. In this sense, I'm a control freak. Maybe we all take different paths, but I would say that by simple practice we can get an intuitive feeling of emptiness, the true nature of reality, and of our own nature. For some, maybe this is enough to have great faith? In Shikantaza, we may sometimes get a glimpse of the emptiness of reality and our true/original/buddha nature first hand. In that moment, I have great faith. But in the next moment, I am still hanging from a branch, refusing to let go. Maybe one day, there will be faith great enough to completely let go in every moment, in every situation in life, great faith always arriving. Then there will be no letting go, because I will not be holding on to anything. But in this moment I can't force myself to have faith, I can only practice. And I suspect that without any faith I wouldn't be practicing. In practice there is already enlightenment. If great faith is not arriving in this moment, that's fine. Ignorance is just buddha nature and we are already Buddha. In this I have faith.

    Sorry for lack of clarity... :roll: ops:

    /Pontus
    That sounds pretty clear. I have faith too. When I first took Refuge (too long ago ops I made a little note and sealed it with wax. it said....

    "Perfect Tathagata, Beautiful Tathagata, I open my heart to your blessing, I open my mind to your Dharma, I have deep faith in your way"

    Who was this addressed to? .....none other than this mind, but the intention and aspiration was real.


    Of course this ain't the kind of thing for everyone.

  18. #18

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Hi,

    I believe that this Way requires Faith and Trust of various kinds ...

    One is the Faith of a newcomer. I believe that starting off in Buddhist practice takes a certain amount of "trust & dedication" (a term I actually prefer to "faith" because of all the baggage that "faith" carries for many folks coming out of a Judeo-Christian background). At the outset, one has to trust that there is something to what our practice and philosophy is about, because one yet has no personal experience and must just go on the assumption that the teachings and teachers and books are reliable.

    We need the same faith the first time we try anything without personal experience. Even a cake recipe from a book requires a certain trust in the recipe and the book's authors, although sooner or later that recipe must prove itself in the real baking. Same with these Practices and Teachings, which require some trust, effort and open-mindedness until actually proven in our lives. The Buddha said as much in many of the oldest Suttas.

    Another "Trust" that is at the heart of this Buddhist Way I sometimes call "Gratitude Trust & A Willingness to Yield." We yield to life, trust life, are at one with life (or the "universe" or "reality" or whatever you want to call it) without too much worry about what that self/life/universe/reality actually is or why it is. It is a little like jumping into a river and letting the water carry one ... totally merging into the current and flowing ... without too much worry about where its headwaters are found or where it spills out. We just know there is a river, and we trust that ... embrace the river profoundly. I sometimes compare this to a newborn baby who trusts its mother even without knowing her whole life story, without fully comprehending much at all, without even knowing what is "mama" (Something gives us life, miracle of miracles, and sticks food in our mouths ... and that is enough for me!).

    Folks sometimes think that Zen Practice will give them "all the answers" and the "Meaning of Life"!

    And IT WILL! ALL THE MEANING OF LIFE! However, those answers and meanings may not be necessarily what folks were anticipating and envisioning. The Buddha, in many of the old Suttas, avoided to answer some BIG questions (perhaps because he did not know, perhaps because it was not relevant to him) ... focusing instead on answers to human suffering and lack of Wholeness. I once wrote this ...


    Our Practice provides some very specific (and wonderful) answers to some 'big questions'. For example, Buddhism provides very clear guidance for and understanding of the origins of human suffering in this life. The "Four Noble Truths", for example, provide a formula that effectively describes the sickness and provides the medicine for its treatment or cure. (More about that here: http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=2942).

    Our Practice provides some very wonderful answers to other 'big questions' by instructing us to drop the questions as meaningless. Some questions are as pointless as our asking 'how many angels can gather on the head of a pin' or 'what color are the rabbits that live on the moon'. ...

    Hand in hand with the above, many questions we regularly ask may just be phrased poorly, biased by our narrow, anthropocentric human understanding. ... When we change the way the question is asked, answers begin to present themselves (that whole "life and death" thing may be an example!) .... Hitting the "reset button' on so many of our misguided questions are what most of those old Koans are on about, by the way.

    And sometimes, Buddhism provides no answer to some 'big questions' ... although that is often a kind of 'answer' too! ...

    So, my response for today: Sometimes YES! Sometimes NO! Sometimes WHAT QUESTION?!?!

    Gassho, J

  19. #19

    Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Thank you Rev Jundo,

    Gassho,
    /Pontus

  20. #20

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Thank you for your post, Jundo. I like your trust & dedication phrasing... you are right that "faith" is a dangerous word.

  21. #21

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    "Faith" can sure carry heavy associations for some.. My relationship with that word has changed over time, as it has with the word "religion". It isn't uncommon to meet people who reject the word "religion" because of the same associations as "faith", and who prefer to speak of having a "spiritual" practice rather than a religious one . But then for others "Spiritual" has taken on a wishy washy New-Age association... on it goes. I can only speak to how a word sounds to me. For a teacher with the responsibilities of a teacher, it must be a different matter altogether.

  22. #22

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    have just lost my reply - apolagies if this gets printed twice.

    Rahula mentions the word 'saddha' - which he translates as 'confidence' born out of conviction - a form of faith - but he distances from the notion
    of faith/belief as understood in most religions.

    He goes on to write that faith (understood as conviction) comes through seeing and knowing - 'seeing through knowledge or wisdom' - not 'believing
    through faith.'

    The teaching seems to be that it's fine to say one has faith but not to make it into an 'absolute Truth' that is imposed on others.

    I think 'faith' is a gentle sounding word - 'conviction' sounds more strident - so no harm is re-claiming 'faith' for personal use.

    Gassho

    Willow

  23. #23

    Re: Human Route By Zen Master Seung Sahn

    Ah, thank you!
    I really like the word confidence!
    I will try to remember to use "trust" instead of "faith" when speaking about the faith we need to get involved in buddhist practice, and confidence meaning faith attained from knowing through experience. Conviction has other associations for me, like being falsely convinced about something although it is clear that it isn't true, ie delusion. Personally I'm also not very fond of "spiritual" and "meditation" because of their New Age associations. The meanings of words are indeed like clouds drifting across the sky. Even more so with words like "buddha", "enlightenment" or "truth", their meanings shifting from moment to moment before our eyes, according to our current state and understanding.

    /Pontus

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