The pillar of all work on behalf of Buddhism…

In a short letter, the Korean Seon master Hanam (han-am) Sunim, said something that’s stuck with me ever since:

The pillar of all work on behalf of Buddhism is harmony.

That’s all.  Nothing fancy.  But it packs such a wallop.  Everything about interconnectedness and nonduality is right there, together with tremendous power to guide.

Am I feeling harmonious as I approach this issue?
Am I viewing the others involved in a harmonious way?
Will my intentions and behavior result in a harmonious outcome?

Although obvious in hindsight, this is such a critical issue, for we are all inherently connected, as Daehaeng Kun Sunim says, sharing the same life, the same mind, the same body, and working together as one while freely giving and receiving whatever is needed. 

There’s only helping, not “helping her.”  There’s only loving, not “loving them.”  There’s only hating, not “hating them.”  There’s only defeat and humiliation, not “defeating them.” 

May all beings know happiness and harmony, joy and wisdom, virtue and merit.

with palms together,

Seon Master Hanam Sunim

Chong Go

11 thoughts on “The pillar of all work on behalf of Buddhism…”

  1. Bamm! There it is, so simple. “There is only helping, not helping her.” With a tiny shift in language (and intention) I leave duality behind, no me/them, no separation. With a bow, Daishin (Victoria, BC)

  2. LOL! I like your response Daishin:), now I’ll release my like of it…

    Thanks Chong Go, for this one:)! I remembered this while calling my grandmother to wish her a ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. She decided to tell me about how irritated she was with me about not ever calling her back, or people back, and how horrible I have been at this my entire life! (She got all riled up and irritated). I remembered being harmonious, and the words that came were laughter and love which diffused the situation. We ended with love:)…

    I’m going to copy this for work too:), is this okay?

  3. There’s only helping, not “helping her.” There’s only loving, not “loving them.” There’s only hating, not “hating them.” There’s only defeat and humiliation, not “defeating them.”

    This point of view is so precious, i find. it reminds us to just do things, because they should be done – not to expect any advantage from it or win somebody’s affection… i do it for me and my inner peace, because my inner self knows this is the right thing to do. if i don’t expect anything i can be perfectly contented having done what i could. looking after my surroundings i’m looking after myself.

  4. Just to pile on a little . . .

    Not only is there no helping “her,” “him” or “them,” but there’s also no “I” doing the helping.

    I don’t mean this in a heavy-handed Buddhist metaphysical way (I’m not referring to anatman).

    I only mean that if we act with any trace of self-interest, our “help” (or “love” or “compassion”) will be tainted through and through.

    Which isn’t very helpful.

    1. Barry, I appreciate your comment: it points to the tricky ways the ego insinuates itself in the most altruistically-motivated actions.

      This is not an easy point to understand for most (moi included): how can there be no “I” (says the I)?


  5. For some strange reason, the analogy of peeing in a swimming pool often comes to mind.^^ Whatever “I” put out there, I’ll be swimming in it, along with the people I directed it towards. This thought that “I” could send something to “them,” and not be equally affected by it must surely be the purest delusion.

    1. Question:

      Is all pool-peeing harmful? What about compassion and loving kindness — do they not have the potential to benefit all beings, the “giver” included? As long as I don’t expect a return-on-investement …. am I still creating delusion?

      1. “Is all pool-peeing harmful?”

        ^^ Thanks for the smile, Daishin!

        It works all ways, we’re also swimming in the love and kindness we’ve produced. And when there’s no “Me” involved, it seems to benefit the whole (including ourselves) much more deeply. This is what in Korean is called (true) merit and virtue.

        When King Wu asked Bodhidharma how much merit and virtue his donations had produced, he misspoke. What he really intended to ask was, “How much good karma have I produced?” Which the answer would have been “A lot!” However there was no “merit and virtue” because that’s only produced when there’s no “I” involved.

        In part, this is because of the difference between karma and merit and virtue. There’s no dynamic wisdom in karma, more like just input in and output, with interest. So you can have money karma, but it’s just money. There’s no wisdom or anything else with it. If we create pain and suffering, then there’s the resulting resentment and hatred floating around! I’m getting out of my depth here, so I’d better stop before I’m reborn as a fox! I guess the point I’m aiming for is to say that there is a real qualitative difference between what’s produced from a dualistic state, versus a nondualistic state. Which you probably already knew!^^

        Back to your question ^^, the delusion I meant was that I could be free from the results of what I do to others, that I wouldn’t have to breathe in the same poisoned air I produced. When you do things unconditionally, without expectation of a reward, while letting go of “me” and “I” and “you”, you are most definiately not in the realm of delusion. This is exactly what we should strive for in our actions and thought.

        “How does the Bodhisattva save all beings? Like you adjust your pillow in the middle of the night.” I think this describes a very deep level of this unconditional functioning. There’s no me or them, just suffering all together; relying upon inherent Buddhanature, the wisdom and ability to respond to it arises and is acted upon.

        I seem to have truly rambled on and on!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s