advice to the sincere practitioner

In 1929, Hanam Sunim was asked about how to practice after enlightenment,  but I think his answer applies just as well to any point in our practice.  There’s also a bit of practical advice about how to avoid false teachers (or becoming one yourself!)

Yong-jia (永嘉玄覺, 665-713) said about people who are satisfied with one enlightenment experience and so stop practicing: “Saying that everything is empty, yet ignoring cause and effect, and behaving badly is to invite disaster.”

Don’t follow the example of those shallow people who misunderstand the meaning, who are too stubborn, who ignore the principle of cause and effect, and who don’t understand that what they receive is the result of their own actions.

If you don’t awaken to the living word and see only words and letters, or if you are caught by right and wrong, then you won’t be able to gather any strength, and your speech will not be in accord with your actions, so you won’t be able to avoid becoming one of those people who overestimate the level of their own practice. Thus you must have very sincere determination.

Bodhisattva statue in front of the Dharma Hall at Woljeong Temple

7 thoughts on “advice to the sincere practitioner”

    1. Hi Joseph,
      Some people may not realize it, but the things Hanam Sunim’s talking about there are just so incredibly huge. If we watch out for nothing else, we’ll still be in really good shape.

      The last few days, I’ve really been thinking about Marcus’s post about hell, and how the thoughts I give rise to and dwell on really “prime” my future reactions.
      Kun Sunim often talks about seeing everything as something that I’ve (at least helped) cause, and viewing things positively — these days I really notice the positive states of mind thinking like this leads to.

  1. “If you don’t awaken to the living word and see only words and letters, or if you are caught by right and wrong, then you won’t be able to gather any strength, and your speech will not be in accord with your actions…”

    Or, in my case, my actions won’t be in accord with my speech! Thank you for this post Sunim.

  2. “practice after enlightenment ” – sounds abit funny; if it is true enlightment – there is no practice, if it is just some experience with mind, then there is still way to go, there still will be the same things, like problems, suffering and so on. This initial enlightment, when you discover something about mind is more like an animal developing awareness, but, although it is great, it is not becoming Buddha. That’s why in Tibetan teachings they pay attention to what happens after death, because then good practitioner can easily become enlightened, they say for a good practitioner the death is not a death, it is a doorway; and it would be considered enlightment in this lifetime, because right after death it is still this life.
    It is very easy not to overestimate your level of practice, if the enquiry like that ever occures, because such thing as suffering (of any sort) can quickly show – long way to go.
    As vast as the Universe is – it is enormous barrel, before getting out of it, there are plenty of smaller barrels to get out of.

    1. Thing is, it’s best not to speculate about what one hasn’t experienced. The above is what Hanam Sunim said. Esentually that if one settles for what one has experienced, they’ll eventually be caught by the residue that’s still remaining. The practitioner has to let go of everything they know and everything they think they know and continously go forward with empty hands.

      Daehaeng Kun Sunim has said something similar, I believe it’s in “No River to Cross”: the practioner may get to a point where they seem to clearly understand everything they see, and “above” everything is dark, so they think they’ve reached the pinnacle and so there is no more for them to do. This is a very dangerous point where it’s very easy to screw up one’s practice.

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