You need the sustenance of spiritual experiences

I was just reminded of this post, and although it’s from a while ago, it’s just as relevant today. Perhaps even more so.

Start your study with experiences, with applying and experimenting with what you know. Don’t think that you can wait until after enlightenment before you have experiences. If you want to know your true self, experiences are the fastest way to go.  

The Abbess, Hye Won Sunim

When I first became a monk, the abbess at the main Hanmaum Seon Center in Anyang said to me, “Without the experiences (that come from trying to rely upon one’s inherent Buddha-nature), it’s really hard to live as a monk or nun for very long. You need the sustenance of these experiences.”   

Here is a bit more that she has said about spiritual experiences.  

The more effort you make, the more results and experiences you will get.  And the more effort you make, the harder your true nature will push you. The harder you study, the harder your true self, Juingong, pushes you.   If you are determined to study very hard, and try to do so, you will have some obstacles from other people, monks and nuns, laypeople, and various people around you. If you stop studying because of obstacles from other people, you won’t make any further progress.  So don’t be bound or tied down by these.

The first thing you have to pass through is learning to ignore the obstacles from other people.  To me, I’m focused on taking care of my practice, regardless of what other people are doing to me.  I have seen many people, including sunims and laypeople who drop out because of obstacles from laypeople and hardships from their teacher.  Don’t try to have the same experience several times.  Once you have an experience, try to let it go so that you can have other experiences. 

The Rule of Fish

There’s an odd thing I’ve discovered about spiritual experiences – they have a lot in common with fish: They’re alive and vibrant at first, but unless we release them, within a day or two, they really begin to stink.  

Unless we let go of them, nothing new comes, so it’s very hard to keep growing. In addition, if we don’t release them, they will become a foothold for “I” and the all the opinions and fixed views that go along with this sense of “me.” Without even being aware of it, a subtle thought begins to pervade our consciousness, “Look what I know.” From the moment this stink of I starts to pervade our outlook, things begin to fall apart.  I can’t claim to know all the details about why this is, but my feeling is that the dualistic thought, of what I know, begins to cut us off from the whole and our source of energy and wisdom.   

However, when we release what we’ve experienced and become one with it, even though we seem to lose sight of it, it’s still there, transforming us. And when we need it, it will return.  

Trusting our root, our true nature, means that we entrust it with not just the bad things, but also the good things. We release them all to this root, remembering that is what’s really taking care of our lives and everything we encounter.

2 thoughts on “You need the sustenance of spiritual experiences”

  1. Hi, Chong Go,

    Just to advise all is well here as the inner work goes on and send a comment to this post, as going via WordPress still is fraught and not working properly: And most of all to comment on this post: “Whew! Earlier the same day you reran this article, I had just found the original while searching for help with whatever obstacle was bugging me that morning. When your reissue came, I was delighted at the synchronicity. Then, today, one of my morning positive spiritual experiences blew my wee mind, in a nutshell it was that as our Juingong is one with those others we may still love to criticize for their apparent lack of awareness, it follows that we must also be one with those we consider above us, like Kun Sunim and Shakyamuni Buddha… well, didn’t that float my tiny, leaky dinghy? For maybe a whole hour until the “scare news” came on tv and I was instantly ranting at the general stupidity being broadcast, while also kicking my own wide butt for being such an ignoramus after so wonderful a spiritual experience. Then I reckoned I ought to reread this very blog to see of I could eradicate the whale shark-sized fishy stink of a stale experience, do I did and it helped me prioritize what happened. Still, what this roller coaster ride has done, in the end, is goad me onward, so I figure both the positives and negatives were worthwhile. Palms together, “Carla” ” P.S. I have been rereading WU&L but also found Find the Treasure Within and imho it really deserves much wider publication. I’m only a couple pages in and Kun Sunim’s brilliance and incisiveness have already cleared up confusions and errors I didn’t even realize I’d been carrying for decades. No disrespect to other teachers who’ve helped me on my way, but Kun Sunim has sure cleared up places where by comparison they seem to have got bogged down in repeating and elaborating on clichés about what Shakyamuni Buddha taught instead of conveying what he really meant. Huge difference. Hoping all is well with you, Palms together, “Carla”

    Sent from my iPad


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