I recently posed a question to Chong Go Sunim about how our foundation guides us. His answer is insightful and I’d like to share it.
(The Korean word Juingong (主人空)means that which is really doing things, and which has no fixed shape or form. It can also be read as true nature or Buddha-nature.)
Question: How does our true nature, Juingong, answer, guide, and direct us? What should I be looking for? How do I know what is an answer from, my foundation and what is just noise from my busy mundane mind. Specifically, do answers ever materialize in dreams? Do they show up in circumstances in daily life?
Answer: I’ll break this down into two parts: “What form does an answer take?”, and “How do I distinguish it from ordinary, conditioned thinking?”
For me, so far in my practice, the answer takes a huge variety of forms. It can be a phrase from a sutra or a ceremony that suddenly pops into mind, it can be a feeling, or a sudden understanding of what needs to be done. Once, it was even a voice that seemed to be coming from outside me. (Okay, that was a weird experience! I thought it was a friend goofing with me.) It often comes out as “my” thought, or some variation thereof. A lot of times I suddenly seem to understand things exactly just before I wake up, and have even given myself really good Dharma talks while asleep, that I couldn’t remember upon awakening.
I think one of the things to be careful about, regarding our true nature, is looking for an answer that’s separate from myself. (A voice from the sky would be SO convenient!) Because what I think of as myself is also part of Juingong, it speaks through my own consciousness. Even if my understanding is hazy, Juingong is still there. Because my faculties are clouded with habitual perceptions, I may not be able to understand/perceive the answer as clearly as a better practitioner, but it still is pointing me in the right direction.
Sometimes the answer comes in results, such as a situation that seemed intractable suddenly resolves itself in a flash. People who seemed to be a huge obstacle are suddenly very flexible and amenable.
So, the question becomes, “What is coming from my true self, and what is coming from a bit of moldy cheese or a fragment of undigested potato?” What is arising from true nature, and what is just a bit of conditioned consciousness. I’ll admit this one is a bit tricky, and probably for truly advanced practitioners the difference is much clearer. But one thing I’ve learned is that things arising from our true nature are harmonious, wise, and tend towards the generous side. If it’s harsh, negative, and violates the precepts, you can be pretty sure that this is just the karmic echo, a bit of conditioned consciousness bouncing back.
At any rate, in practice if we cling to the idea that “I know” even if it’s something about our true nature, that act of clinging will lead us astray. So even when we know something, we need to respond as best we can, and entrust even that back to our true nature. It’s that act of letting go and entrusting that’s really magic, because it automatically corrects any delusions or misguided ways or dualistic tendencies that we may attach to the experiences we have, and to the things that seem to be arising from our Juingong.
Thank you Chong Go Sunim.