How can I become a more spiritual person?

— Here’s another of the questions that Daehaeng Kun Sunim was asked. It’s quite nice because she clearly emphasizes where the focus of where our practice needs to be. I’ve highlighted a few of the really important points.
I’m trying to become a more spiritual person, and would like to know about spiritual practice and sitting meditation. 

Just physically sitting down is not the way to practice Zen, because spiritual practice is done through your mind, not through your body.  In this age, when people’s lives are so busy, our living itself– eating, working, driving, loving, sleeping – should all become practicing Zen. If sitting meditation were the only way to know your fundamental mind, there could be no more practice once you stood up.

A long time ago, when Ma-tsu was sitting in meditation, Zen master Huai-jang saw him, picked up a piece of roof tile, and began to polish it. Ma-tsu asked, “Why are you polishing a tile?” Huai-jang replied, “I’m polishing it into a mirror.” (In that age, mirrors were made out of polished bronze.)  Huai-jang then asked Ma-tsu why he was sitting there.  Ma-tsu answered, “I’m trying to become a Buddha.”  Huai-jang replied, “Then, you shouldn’t stand up, you shouldn’t eat, and you shouldn’t go to the toilet!  Otherwise, your practice will stop as soon as you move your body!” Ma-tsu awakened as soon as he heard this. The Buddha also tried practicing through his body for six years, but then realized that practice should be done through mind.

What is spiritual practice? What is Zen? It’s having faith in your foundation, and entrusting everything to it and observing the results while living your normal daily life.  Have you noticed what happens after a car accident?  The drivers stand around arguing about whose fault it was.  No matter whose fault it was, the drivers were the cause, not the cars.

Likewise, our fundamental mind, not our body, is the source of our every word and deed. Your fundamental mind is the driver; it can take care of every thing and guide you in your daily life.  In other words, the driver is taking care of every thing and resolving every problem in your life, so entrust everything to your fundamental mind and live smoothly.

Who makes you think, talk, and move? You may think it is obvious: “I do.”  But is that “I” the one that caused you to be born into this world?  Is that “I” responsible for your birth and death? W hat is responsible for the birth and death of every other being in this world? It is not the sense of “I” that you tend to think of as yourself. It is your true self, which is doing everything.  When you realize this truth, you can leave behind thoughts like “He did that to me,” “I’m doing…,” “I did…,” “I deserve….”  By the way, always view things positively.  If you keep interpreting things negatively or always criticize and blame others, this will lower your own spiritual level.

When you live with faith in your true self, which is taking care of every thing in your life, then your life itself becomes practicing Zen. You can practice while sitting, or if you are busy, you can practice while working or driving, and you can even practice while lying down: all of this is practicing Zen. Sitting meditation, standing meditation, lying- down meditation, and working meditation are not different.

No matter what you do in your daily life, if you believe in your true self, and entrust everything to it, you are practicing meditation. There is nothing in life that is not the cultivation of mind. So you should not think that practicing Zen and learning Buddhism are separate from your daily life.  Not ever!

Entrust all things to your true self. Then your daily life itself becomes practicing Zen. In everything you undertake, you should trust your true self to solve the problems you face and know that only it can lead you in the right direction.  This is the way to develop unwavering faith, to direct your attention inwardly, and to take refuge in your true self. If the thoughts of “I,” “me,” and “mine” die at every moment, then even though you do not sit down, everything you do becomes practicing meditation. 

5 thoughts on “How can I become a more spiritual person?”

  1. “Entrust all things to your true self. Then your daily life itself becomes practicing Zen. In everything you undertake, you should trust your true self to solve the problems you face and know that only it can lead you in the right direction.”

    Thank you – and Happy New Year!


    1. Hi Marcus,
      And a Happy New Year to you as well!

      Over here there were a ton of people going up on the mountain here this morning in the early, dark hours. They were heading up to the peak to see the first sunrise of the new year. I suspect it’s a bit more brisk here than it is in Bagkok!

  2. Hello Sunim!

    Climbing a mountain to see in the New Year sounds fun! But, yes, I don’t envy you that weather and winter darkness!

    The weather here is gorgeous! Not too hot, clear skies, and of course last night and today the temples were packed solid with thousands of people seeing in the new year and a really really great atmosphere.

    See you in Bangkok soon!

    Marcus _/\_

    1. Well, I actually wasn’t one of those people up on the mountain. It seems to me that sunrise is when one can first see the sun, ie, when it clears the horizon. And if horizon happens to be a mountain or apartment block, then when the sun rises above it, that’s the first sunrise of the year!

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