Unconditionally Letting Go

Some of you may be wondering what’s happened to me (or not!) but this is the time of year when we get ready for the Frankfurt book fair.  Book contents have to be finished so that layouts and artwork can be finished in August in order for everything to get to the printer’s in September.

One of the new books we’re finishing up is a collection of Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s poems that have been set to music and used as Dharma songs. They all have deep meaning, and this one talks about an idea that Daehaeng Kun Sunim sometimes mentions: Unconditional letting go expressed as dying. For when we deeply let go of the things we want and the things we fear, it does feel a bit like dying, like a kid denied Christmas. And yet when we entrust all of this to our inherently bright essence, the places that we are stuck seem to lose their hold on us and we can move forward with a fresh heart.

That which I’m fighting with, that which I’m clinging to, is a part of myself.

Die Three Times and Truly See Yourself
(세 번 죽어야 나를 보리라)

Vast beyond imaging
filled with an infinite variety of life,
yet everything in this universe
is but a shadow of one mind.
From an inherently empty place
appear empty things
being empty,
they all vanish.
If I truly realize that everything I interact with is empty,
this is dying one time.

From great Buddhas who rule the heavenly realms,
to tiny weeds alongside the road,
without excluding a single one,
die together with them all
die together with this empty “me,”
and realize that everything, just as it is,
is the truth.
This is dying a second time.

Among all the people, plants, and animals,
among the stones and the clouds,
there is nothing that is not me.
You and I, all of us together,
are sharing the same place
and the same body.
Everything is the manifestation of this inherent Buddha,
so when can you freely take care of everything with life,
and without life,
this is called dying a third time.

My one mind, which brings in and sends out everything
is my true foundation, that which is truly doing things.
We have to die in order to truly live,
die three times and see yourself.

– Daehaeng Kun Sunim

Sunday Photo; Buddhas in the snow

At Saturday Sangha yesterday, we discussed the beginning of chapter seven, in No River to Cross. It’s a part that really stood out the first time I read the book, and continues to drift a considerable distance above my understanding.

One term that really jumped out at me was, “manifesting nondually”. It reminded me of something Chong Go Sunim told us back when Saturday Sangha first began.

The Dalai Lama has a policy of meeting any Tibetan refugee who crosses the Himalayas into India. Apparently, upon greeting him, many people thank him for rescuing them at some point during their journey. If they’d fallen into a crevasse in the snow, for example, they say that he appeared there to help pull them out.

Manifesting nondually, what a wonderful to open yourself to the world!

good dust, bad dust?

This Fundamental Mind can be compared to a mirror, and whether covered with dust or not, a mirror is a mirror. It remains unchanged no matter how long it is dirtied and covered with dust, and once the dust is removed, it gleams as brilliantly as ever.

Even golddust is only dust to a mirror and an obstruction to its function. In the same way, words of the sages are but dust on our Fundamental Mind and they merely darken it.

-Zen Master Song Cheol

The ignorance and dust of desires are enlightenment and the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana.

-the Maka Shikan

I suppose it depends on what teaching suits you at this moment…


[I’d planned on posting this, and chuckled when I opened my email this morning and saw that Carl’s post beat me to it! A good example of working together, on some level!^^. I thought twice about posting again on the same topic, but figured it’s such a nice theme, it’s worthy of investigating together… Maybe others will be inspired to add more!]

In August, on the Ox Herding blog, Barry posted about the Responsible Life, where he quickly discussed intention and the Great Vows:

The Four Great Vows

Sentient beings are numberless, we vow to save them all.

Delusions are endless, we vow to cut through them all.

The teachings are infinite, we vow to learn them all.

The Buddha way is inconceivable, we vow to attain it.

In the ensuing conversation, someone asked if the original text used the word “I” or “we”.

Chong Go Sunim responded,

In the Korean and Chinese versions, there’s no personal pronoun of I or we. Statements like this depend upon the context, and in this case, the most natural choice would be “I.”

However, I can easily imagine Seung Sahn Sunim putting a spin on it with a “we,” and no one here would complain at all. They would see that as a teaching in itself, one that compliment and enrich the usual emphasis on individual effort.

From there, Barry added,

This brings to mind two Korean phrases that I’ve heard (in translation), sometimes said in greeting or parting:

– May you become Buddha!
– May we together become Buddha!

I hadn’t really thought much about the translation before, but at the end of Ye’bul (ceremony) people turn to each other and with palms together say, “Seong Bul ha’ship’shi’yo.” In this context “Seong” is to accomplish, achieve, attain, complete, fulfill, or succeed in, “Bul” is Buddha, or Buddha-nature, and “ha’ship’shi’yo” is a very polite way of saying, “do it”. There is, indeed, no I, me, or you, but in a Dharma Hall full of people, simultaneously wishing each other to become Buddhas, the feeling of, “Let’s become Buddhas together,” emerges.

On my blog Somewhere in Dhamma, I wrote of an afternoon trip I took to YongJu Temple, with my family and friend, Carl. But one part I saved to share here. We stayed for the beginning of Ye’bul, just long enough to recite the Heart Sutra, then followed the monks as they left the hall. One monk who I’d spoken with before the ceremony waited for us by the door to say good-by. Our parting wish to him was, “Seong Bul ha’ship’shi’yo,” But he answered with palms together, a bow, and large, “Ahhh’ni’yo! Gaaaat’chi, seong Bul ha’ship’shi’yo!”

Noooo! Together, may we become Buddha!

For more on YongJuSa, you can visit my blog:

Bowing, Meditating, And A Challenging Video

Love, Peace, and Joy to You!

Last night I did 108 bows, but I made about 114 vows, or so. I  bow for the same reason I meditate; I know that the benefits in bowing and meditation can change my behavior, or Karma. That is the point of spiritual practice, in my view.

I offered more vows, (and altered some of the existing ones) as I bowed and recited them, because I have my own ideas about what I need to do, think, believe, and practice, to live a better life for myself and those around me. 

This, to me, is finding the truth within; taking lessons from different doors I have walked through, but not forgetting the journey I can make by paying attention along the way, having walked through the door in my own “heart” and by looking through the window of my own mind.

When we do not do this, accepting one way or one dogma part and parcel, I feel we sacrifice our own mind; our own connection to the divine, and truths waiting to pass through us as individual portals of consciousness.

I have experienced the benefits of prostrations and meditation. I am not talking about anything supernatural, in any way, shape , or form. I am giving testimony about physical, mental, and behavioral changes in my life and in the lives of those around me as a result of my meditation and bowing, and as a result of the beautiful vows and acts of contrition I recite while doing these practices.

I believe that if most people on this planet-regardless of their religious, spiritual, or philosophical practices were to take these vows every day and try to be mindful of them (if not actually fulfill them all the time) many problems would begin to go away quickly, as long as we didn’t fight over the concept and force it on anyone.

I also believe that taking these vows while prostrating or meditating  makes the vows more effective and easier to follow because making a promise and acknowledging pious and impious behavior while doing something physical manifests the vows and acknowledgements deeper in the mind, and in one’s behavior. 

Having said this, I offer a great video for your nourishment, which actually sort of takes a crack at repetitive spiritual practices, like bowing…so I apologize to anyone who might be offended when they come across it.

Also, I saw only the first part of this video after writing my article, and put it up then. In addition, I have since discovered there are five other parts that go into greater detail.

Lastly, I can be a bit myopic, so I didn’t notice the title, which some may find a bit alienating. I often think people should be more careful with their titles if they would like a wider audience to consume their ideas! As consolation, I say that I feel the essence of the ideas expressed in the video, you may find worthwhile, if not wonderfully enlightening; perhaps even worthy of passing on.

Peace, Love, and Joy to You and Those Around You!


The Metta Sutta

The Metta Sutta, by Al Greene

This song kept running through my head just before I woke up this morning. It seemed like a 20th Century version of the Metta Sutta!

The subject of love in Buddhism is kind of interesting, because I think love is often mistaken for clinging or lust, and so people think it needs to be rejected. However, there is the non-dual love taught by the Buddhas.  Daehaeng Sunim pointed this out to me one morning as I was preparing to return to the US, saying, “Love your family, just don’t be attached to them.”

 The Metta Sutta, by Al Greene, and Anne Lennox

Think of your fellow man
Lend him a helping hand
Put a little love in your heart

You see it’s getting late
Oh please don’t hesitate
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

Another day goes by
And still the children cry
Put a little love in you heart
If you want the world to know
We won’t let hatred grow
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see
Wait and see

Take a good look around
And if you’re lookin’ down
Put a little love in your heart

I hope when you decide
Kindness will be your guide
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in –
Put a little love in your heart…