I hope the new year has been finding everyone well! Things here are proceeding along; we’re still working on translating Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s edition of the Diamond Sutra, as well as a couple of great talks about health and healing. Kind of looking forward to seeing those in print!
I realized that I haven’t done anything with the blog for quite a while, so I’m changing the theme, as well as reposting some excellent posts from long ago. Please bear with me! There may be few hiccups as I get this sorted out. As we approach the lunar new year, may your families all be healthy and happy, and may all your worries about health and finances soften and turn out well!
In his post a while back, Joseph relayed the story of a monk who died in the Jiri Mountains (A glimpse). It highlighted two critical truths, namely, that we are not our bodies, and the importance of how we use our minds.
In Chapter 2 of No River to Cross, Daehaeng Kun Sunim also covers these points:
Even after your body falls away, your consciousness remains. It often happens
that people do not understand that their body does not exist anymore, and they do not realize that living people cannot see or hear them. So, sometimes, in their confusion and desire, they cause other people to suffer. If you sincerely cultivate mind while you have a body, then you can leave without having any attachments. However, if you don’t practice, then even though you’re dead, you’ll be caught up in all of your old relationships, and won’t be able to freely leave. Instead, you may just wander around, stuck in that state for a very long time. When people die, if they have never practiced spiritual cultivation, their consciousness cannot see and cannot hear. In the middle of the darkness, their consciousness cannot correctly perceive things, so those people may (accidently) enter the womb of a pig or a magpie. However, people who have cultivated mind give off a great light and thoroughly illuminate their surroundings. Even their families tend to live brightly, although individually they may not know anything about spiritual practice. (p 20-21)
Have you ever gotten caught up in a dream about walking through a building that no longer exists? Those steps you were walking up are now only empty sky a hundred feet off the ground. After we die, we no longer have physical senses, so with what are we seeing and hearing? If we haven’t practiced while alive, then we’re only experiencing the arising of karmic states of consciousness. However, we think those things are really happening, and so chase or flee them. In essence, we’re running outdoors at full speed, while blindfolded.
Thus, how we use our minds while alive is critically important to us.
In order to be born as a human being, it may have taken a thousand years of accumulated virtue and merit. It’s so hard to become a human being. Nevertheless, if you don’t let go of the habits you developed prior to becoming a human being, and if you think of only yourself, your suffering will be endless. If you live this way, you may live like this for many, many lives, stuck like a hamster on a wheel, unable to evolve. Or you may devolve and be reborn as an animal. Once you are reborn as an animal, you will suffer a lot, having to eat others or be eaten. There will be very little opportunity to reflect upon your state, and if you develop the habits of an animal, it will be even more difficult to free yourself from that state, even over billions of eons.(p 19)
We go where we look. Or in this case, where we think.
From the perspective of evolution, lives are affected by circumstances and the
environment, and can adapt themselves to a certain degree. However, the more fundamental things all depend upon consciousness. (p 21)
Once the level of mind changes, the body also changes accordingly. Evolution is the process of the mind becoming brighter, while creation is the outward manifestation of the minds design. Thus, while this process is evolution, it is also creation.
Mind is the basis of both evolution and devolution; they aren’t separate forces. Devolution is also done by mind. All of this is the manifestation of our fundamental mind (and how we use it.) (p 22)
Farmer’s band: one of the great things about the day are incredible traditional music groups
We’re working on translating Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s Korean version of the Diamond Sutra into English. This is from the last chapter. There is still some work and review to go, but even so, this seemed like a nice way to start the new year!
Everything is arising and responding
in accord with you yourself.
Because you are here, it is here.
So in whatever situation you find yourself,
with whatever confronts you,
entrust all of this inwardly,
entrust everything you need inwardly,
All sorts of flowers,
every kind of flower
blooms and fades,
blooms and fades,
blooms and fades,
fades and blooms,
You have to bring to ripeness
the fruit on your own tree,
without being too narrow
or too diffuse.
As fruit of your tree ripens
and becomes able to respond and manifest
to whatever arises,
it will feed every kind of unenlightened being,
feeding, giving, feeding.
When they too can go forward with wisdom,
with future enlightenment assured,
with the future ability to manifest
according to any need encountered,
then this world will become at peace,
the universe will become at peace,
everything will become at peace.
As every color of flower
blooms and fades,
fades and bears fruit,
that fruit has to ripen
on its own tree
for its true flavor to appear.
As soon as you concern yourself with the “good” and “bad” of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter.
Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weakens and defeats you.
Morihei Ueshiba, The Art of Peace, page 55
This is such a wonderful verse. Like other truly profound teachings, it causes everything within me to settle deep down. It’s a lot like the deep-centered feeling of sitting in the full lotus posture (assuming one isn’t being tormented by rending knee pain!)
I think the reason for this is that it acknowledges and reinforces the fundamental truth of our lives: that we are not separate. We’re living together as one, and anything I direct towards someone else is felt equally (or more!) by myself. It’s as if we’re living in the same room, breathing the same air, and eating from the same plate. If I said I was…
The other floors were filled with people who couldn’t get into the main Dharma hall during the ceremony, which was projected onto large screens in the other floors.
A friend of mine posted this verse from Daehaeng Kun Sunim, and I thought it was so nice that I’d share it here. Particularly after the hard year it’s been around the world, I thought this was nice to read.
Because of Others
Trees breathe in carbon dioxide, and give us oxygen,
we breathe in oxygen and give the trees carbon dioxide,
each one always helping the other to live.
If you understand the implications of this,
you will realize that
no matter someone is rich,
or poor and suffering hardships
they exist because you exist
you exist because they exist.
Each and every being is so precious.
The good things you see
enable you to give rise to thoughts
The bad things you see
also enable you to give rise to thoughts.
All the things you encounter are helping you.
Is there even one single thing that isn’t your teacher?
There are many wicked people in the world,
thieves and thugs abound,
yet even these people are not separate from you.
If you raise a good thought for them,
sooner or later even they will escape from that level.
The same is true for all seen and unseen beings.
Although it may seem like they have no karmic affinity with you,
that they have no good seed for you to reach out and connect with,
their only true crime is ignorance.
Thus if you share your kind heart with them,
sooner or later it will bear fruit.
This is compassion.
How could someone just say “They have nothing to do with me?”
If you are engaged in spiritual practice,
how could one person be a foe,
and another a supporter?
Just keep trying your best to put this into practice.
Then, like the sun shining without reasons or conditions.
Your heart will shine forth upon all.
~ Daehaeng Kun Sunim
The paper edition of “Sharing the Same Heart” is out!
(available outside Korea at Amazon.com )
This is a nice collection of talks about issues relating to parents and children, and how spiritual practice plays into all of that. One of the talks has very specific questions and answers related to pregnancy, one is more general about raising children and taking care of parents, and one touches more on the health aspects.
The heavens, Earth, and human beings, every kind of thing in the universe, unfolded in an instant. In this vast land, everything is constantly gathering together and then separating, the flowers and trees, all follow this rhythm, spreading its cadence far and wide. Singing along with this, a sad sigh arises from within me and from every great peak in the universe,
“You have this life, live it wisely, generously, broad-mindedly.”
Every life, every living being just keeps unfolding together, on and on, endlessly.
The laughter of my one mind shakes all realms of the universe, causing every drop of water to give off a sweet fragrance, and every blossom to transform into fruit, ripening those who are utterly free of all traces of craving, as well as those for whom some traces yet remain, and so each and every life sings this song of endless unfolding, each according to its level.
You have this life, and you can choose to live in this way or in that, but if you can awaken to this unfolding, interconnected whole, this unseen whole from which everything in the universe arises and returns, where each mind is connected to every other, if you can keep returning everything here, and thus awaken, then forevermore, you will be free. Truly free.