The Good for Nothing Son – text for week 3

Here’s the text for the third Dharma talk. I don’t want to go into this one too much right here, but there are a couple of such good points in this one!

audio – From the audiobook version of “My Heart is a Golden Buddha”

The Good for Nothing Son

Once upon a time, there was an old man who lived with his only son. Unfortunately, his son was the source of every kind of heartache and frustration.

He was always getting drunk and gambling away their money; he often stole from people, and was constantly starting fights. Sometimes he’d scream and rant in the streets, and at other times he’d pass out in a stranger’s yard.

His behavior became so outrageous that the old man didn’t dare show his face in town.

Not only did the son not take care of his elderly father, one day he even stole the deed to their house. He sold it and spent all the money in a single night on women and alcohol.

Finally the old man exploded: “Get out! Go crawl off and die! Never come back! May the typhus get you for all I care!” Indeed, before long, his son really did catch typhus, and died soon after.

The old man had spoken without thinking, out of deep frustration, but he hadn’t really wanted his son to die; it felt as if his sadness and regret would tear his heart into little pieces.

One day a sunim was passing by and saw him sitting in front of his little hut, so sad that no more tears would come.

Seeing the old man’s pain, the sunim looked deep inside of the old man. At last he spoke:

“The principles that guide this world function very precisely. They function without even the tiniest error, and nothing happens outside of them. We receive things exactly as we have done them.

“In your last life you wasted all of your family’s money on gambling and having fun, and you even sold your own wife. You caused your parents every kind of frustration and heartache, and eventually your father’s anger killed him.

“It was this connection that caused him to be reborn as your son. So, who else can you blame for all of this? Your karma from that life was just about to expire, and your son would have straightened out and become an upstanding person. Unfortunately, you couldn’t endure this long enough.

“However, losing yourself in sadness won’t help either you or your son. If you truly love your son, if you truly want to move past this suffering, then you have to return all of your regrets, anger, and sadness to your foundation. Let go and let go of those.

“Keep doing this, and eventually they will quiet down. It’s not easy, but this is the only way forward; this is the only way you can help your son.

“We all share a foundation, our true essence, which is inherently pure and can transform all evil karma and suffering. Through this foundation, we are connected to every animate and inanimate life and object throughout the universe.

“Thus, if you work on returning everything to your foundation, you can also help lift the darkness that is covering your son’s mind. So don’t be too sad, and don’t hate yourself. Let go of all of the bad karma between the two of you, and let go of all the stupid and harmful things that were done.

“When you can let go of those, they will melt down and disappear, helping your son be reborn in a good place.” The sunim then said a prayer for the old man’s son, and left.

Not a single thing in this world remains the same. Everything is ceaselessly flowing and changing.

Even though you or the ones you love suffer from the karma you have created through your words or actions, that suffering can change in an instant, depending upon how well you are able to return thoughts to your foundation, and depending upon the thoughts you give rise to now.

Suppose someone in your family did something truly bad; even in that case, you should unconditionally entrust everything to your foundation. Through it, the minds of parents and children, husbands and wives, and brothers and sisters are all connected as one. So entrust everything to your foundation, Juingong, knowing, “You’re the one that can take care of all of this.”

For example, if your child runs away and later returns home, don’t start yelling at him or her. Instead, embrace them with a warm and gentle heart. Ask them if they are hungry, ask if they were safe.

At first, your child will probably respond in a cold and distant manner, but gradually, as they begin to feel the warmth and love of home, they’ll stop wandering around. As you entrust all of your love and concern to your foundation, through their foundation your child will sense those things. In this way, your family will come to share love and happiness together.

This kind of harmony is the source of all good fortune, grace, and virtue.

Letting Go – Text for week 2

I decided to go ahead and put up all six week’s text and audio files of the text we’ll be starting with. After each week’s talk here at Anyang, I’ll be posting a recording of the English talk I gave the night before.

Here’s this weeks text and audiobook file for the Dharma talk. (From My Heart is a Golden Buddha.)

audio file – This is from the audiobook version of “My Heart is a Golden Buddha,” and read by Garan Fitzgerald. (He does a fantastic job!)

Letting Go

Long ago, in the high mountains of Korea, a traveler was making his way home along a mountain path.

Clouds were drifting between the peaks, and the mountains seemed to vanish into nothingness, only to reappear moments later. At times the clouds would close in and turn his world into just a few misty paces in front of him, with the only sound that of the river far below.

It was all very beautiful in its own way, and his thoughts turned to his family. No longer paying much attention to the path before him, he stepped a bit too far off the trail; with a sickening rush, the ground gave way under his foot.

Toppling sideways into the abyss, he somehow managed to grab a tree root as he fell. Clinging to it, he tried to pull himself back up, but there was nothing above the root to grab on to.

He was stuck there, hanging on the side of the cliff. The clouds had closed in again and he couldn’t see very far, but he heard the river and imagined the long fall to the rocks below.

He gathered his strength and cried out with a wavering voice. “Help! Is anyone there? Help me!”

Amazingly, someone called back, and a moment later an elderly Buddhist nun poked her head out over the cliff.

“Oh thank goodness! Pull me up!” the man cried.

“I’m not strong enough,” the nun replied, “but if you just let go, you’ll be fine. The ground is right there below you.”

“Are you nuts? I can hear the river! I’ll be crushed on the rocks—if I don’t drown first!”

“No, really!” she told him. “The ground is right below your feet. Just look down.”

The man glanced down, but between the heavy fog and his panic, he couldn’t see anything.

“There’s nothing there! What are you doing, trying to kill me?”

The nun’s eyes narrowed. “Listen, you,” she said. “You asked me to save you, and now I’m trying. Set aside your fear and let go of that branch. You’re just wearing yourself out, clinging and yelling like that. The ground is right below you.”

The nun’s reproach gave the man a bit of courage. He was still afraid of falling, but felt a bit less scared.

“Let go? I still can’t see anything, but I can’t hang here much longer anyway. That nun seems pretty confident that I’ll be okay….” With that thought, the man closed his eyes and let go.

In the next instant, he hit soft earth!

The “cliff” he’d been hanging from so desperately was only a few meters high. The whole time, his feet had been dangling just above the ground!

What the man was clinging to, and what he let go of, wasn’t just the tree root.

Behind his clinging was much more than simply the fear of death. Mixed in with that were all of his attachments to his possessions, his desire for fame and recognition, his disappointments over the things that didn’t go well, and of course his concern and love for his family. So you can imagine how much courage it must have taken for him to let go of that branch.

It’s a lot easier to talk about letting go than it is to actually do it, especially when it’s wrapped up with your family, your children, your pride, and your self-respect. But this letting go is so essential—it is the foundation of all spiritual practices.

Ironically, we’re already letting go of every moment. We naturally let go of every moment and go forward. Even with an act as simple as walking, as soon as we take a step, we leave that behind and take another step. Even when we’re breathing, as soon as we’ve finished exhaling, we just naturally inhale. The reason we can let go like this is very simple: because we deeply believe that we can. Not a single cell in your body doubts for an instant that it is possible.

So don’t get caught up in “I have to let go.” Just know that your foundation, your true self, can completely take care of everything.

Thoroughly trust your foundation. Keep working on this until it becomes as natural as breathing in and breathing out, and you’ll know what it means to live a true life!

English Dharma Talk series – text for week 1 – “A Greedy Daughter-in-law”

The Spring series of English Dharma talks is starting up on Thursday, March 14th! [We’ll meet at the 2nd floor Dharma hall at 8pm, at the Anyang Hanmaum Seon Center. It will be every Thursday, for six weeks.]

The text for this series will by the book “My Heart is a Golden Buddha.” I’ll post in advance each week’s story, as a link to the audio book version.
In the week after the talk, I’ll try to put up an English-only version of the talk.

Week 1: The Greedy Daughter-in-law
This is a fun, slightly weird story!
(Audio file)

Here are the links for the entire audiobook:

buy_button (1)

(direct from us, via Gumroad)
 also available at Audible.com and iTunes



A Greedy Daughter-in-law
 
 
Deep in the mountains of Korea, there lived a young man and his elderly mother. They were very poor, and the son was always working at some job or another in order to take care of his mother.

One day, as the village elders sat around chatting, the conversation turned to the young man. They all admired how hard he worked to take care of his mother, and as they talked, they realized that the young man had no other family to arrange a marriage for him. Then and there, the village elders decided that they would find him a wife.


They searched throughout the district, looking for a woman of good character willing to marry a poor farmer. At last they found a woman who seemed like a good match for the young man. She appeared gentle and caring, and like him was from a poor family. The elders made the arrangements, and the two of them were soon married.


Not long after the wedding, the young man began to realize that his new wife wasn’t quite as kind and selfless as everyone had thought.
She was never satisfied with the money he earned, and to make matters worse, when he was out working in the fields, she treated his mother harshly and often wouldn’t prepare proper meals for her. With each passing week, his mother was becoming thinner and weaker.


As the young man thought about his wife’s behavior and struggled with his anger, he tried to think about the situation from his wife’s perspective.
“Well, it can’t be easy being the wife of a poor farmer, trying to make do when there’s never enough. At the temple they say that our basic nature is inherently good and compassionate, so if I treat her with compassion and caring, maybe I can draw forth those things from within her. Then, perhaps she’ll behave better towards my mother.”


He tried this approach, but instead of getting better, his wife’s behavior only seemed to worsen. Finally, he realized that he couldn’t wait for his wife to change her behavior; he would have to do something himself. He reflected deeply upon the situation for several days, until at last an idea occurred to him.


The end of the harvest season was approaching, and with it his yearly trip to the district capital to sell their grain. Normally, it took him over two weeks to make the round trip, but this time he hurried home, arriving a week earlier than expected.


He rushed into their courtyard, shouting for his wife. When she came out, he looked around to see if anyone else was listening and lowered his voice:
“You won’t believe what I saw in the city! I stumbled into a side alley off the big market, and found a street where people were buying and selling grandmothers. The plump ones were going for a thousand strings of copper coins! Let’s sell my mother there! A thousand strings of coins, as easy as snapping your fingers!”


“Do you think we could get that much for her? She’s kind of scrawny….”
“Hmm, you’re right. We’ll have to fatten her up first. But not a word to anyone. If other people start selling their mothers, we won’t get a good price.”


A thousand strings of coins was a huge amount of money, and the wife wanted it all. Late into the night all she could think about were ways to make her mother-in-law plump and healthy-looking. As the days went by, she experimented with different foods and medicines reputed to be good for the elderly. Eventually, she became obsessed with her mother-in-law’s health.


With this kind of care, her mother-in-law began to recover. One day, as she took her grandson for a walk, she met some old friends and spoke with amazement about how well her daughter-in-law was taking care of her.
Over the next months, stories about how well the wife looked after her mother-in-law spread throughout the surrounding villages, and even reached the ears of the district governor.


Impressed, he ordered a stone monument to be erected, commemorating her behavior and holding it forth as a model of virtue for others.


The wife had started with the intention of getting rich, but as she spent day after day thinking about someone other than herself, her own greed and selfishness had begun to melt away. Seeing the stone monument was the final straw; she broke down into tears, determined to truly become the person described there.
 

 
Our fundamental mind, our Buddha-nature, contains infinite wisdom. However, this isn’t something you can find without making an effort.
Like the young man, you have to diligently reflect inwardly and return your questions inwardly, while searching for a solution that will benefit everyone. If you do this, then the wisdom of your Buddha-nature can come forth.


However, no matter how great the wisdom, you won’t see any results from it without ceaseless effort and strong faith. If you want to achieve something in your life, throw away self-centeredness and greed, and then, with faith, entrust everything to your foundation.


While continuing to observe and being patient, use both your body and mind to put your understanding into practice. If you can make this kind of effort, you will certainly find the best way forward for a woman of good character willing to marry a poor farmer. At last they found a woman who seemed like a good match for the young man. She appeared gentle and caring, and like him was from a poor family. The elders made the arrangements, and the two of them were soon married.


Not long after the wedding, the young man began to realize that his new wife wasn’t quite as kind and selfless as everyone had thought.
She was never satisfied with the money he earned, and to make matters worse, when he was out working in the fields, she treated his mother harshly and often wouldn’t prepare proper meals for her. With each passing week, his mother was becoming thinner and weaker.


As the young man thought about his wife’s behavior and struggled with his anger, he tried to think about the situation from his wife’s perspective.
“Well, it can’t be easy being the wife of a poor farmer, trying to make do when there’s never enough. At the temple they say that our basic nature is inherently good and compassionate, so if I treat her with compassion and caring, maybe I can draw forth those things from within her. Then, perhaps she’ll behave better towards my mother.”


He tried this approach, but instead of getting better, his wife’s behavior only seemed to worsen. Finally, he realized that he couldn’t wait for his wife to change her behavior; he would have to do something himself. He reflected deeply upon the situation for several days, until at last an idea occurred to him.


The end of the harvest season was approaching, and with it his yearly trip to the district capital to sell their grain. Normally, it took him over two weeks to make the round trip, but this time he hurried home, arriving a week earlier than expected.


He rushed into their courtyard, shouting for his wife. When she came out, he looked around to see if anyone else was listening and lowered his voice:
“You won’t believe what I saw in the city! I stumbled into a side alley off the big market, and found a street where people were buying and selling grandmothers. The plump ones were going for a thousand strings of copper coins! Let’s sell my mother there! A thousand strings of coins, as easy as snapping your fingers!”


“Do you think we could get that much for her? She’s kind of scrawny….”
“Hmm, you’re right. We’ll have to fatten her up first. But not a word to anyone. If other people start selling their mothers, we won’t get a good price.”


A thousand strings of coins was a huge amount of money, and the wife wanted it all. Late into the night all she could think about were ways to make her mother-in-law plump and healthy-looking. As the days went by, she experimented with different foods and medicines reputed to be good for the elderly. Eventually, she became obsessed with her mother-in-law’s health.


With this kind of care, her mother-in-law began to recover. One day, as she took her grandson for a walk, she met some old friends and spoke with amazement about how well her daughter-in-law was taking care of her.
Over the next months, stories about how well the wife looked after her mother-in-law spread throughout the surrounding villages, and even reached the ears of the district governor.


Impressed, he ordered a stone monument to be erected, commemorating her behavior and holding it forth as a model of virtue for others.
The wife had started with the intention of getting rich, but as she spent day after day thinking about someone other than herself, her own greed and selfishness had begun to melt away. Seeing the stone monument was the final straw; she broke down into tears, determined to truly become the person described there.
 

 
Our fundamental mind, our Buddha-nature, contains infinite wisdom. However, this isn’t something you can find without making an effort.
Like the young man, you have to diligently reflect inwardly and return your questions inwardly, while searching for a solution that will benefit everyone. If you do this, then the wisdom of your Buddha-nature can come forth.


However, no matter how great the wisdom, you won’t see any results from it without ceaseless effort and strong faith. If you want to achieve something in your life, throw away self-centeredness and greed, and then, with faith, entrust everything to your foundation.


While continuing to observe and being patient, use both your body and mind to put your understanding into practice. If you can make this kind of effort, you will certainly find the best way forward

New Book – Standing Again

We have a new book out! This is the combined English edition of “The Doctor is In” and “The Healing Power of Our Inner Light.” While the focus of these talks is awakening and realizing our true essence, they repeatedly touch on topics of health, illness, and using these as a way to deepen ourselves.

These were first published in Korean-English editions, and not widely available outside of Korea. Now they’re in one English edition, and available worldwide through Amazon in paper and ebook editions. (The ebook will be up on other retailers soon.)

20190131_115218.jpg
Start where you are! Learn to rely upon your inherent Buddha-essence. Learn to apply its energy to the world around you.
Every single one of us has this incredible, formless Buddha-nature,
this one great pillar that encompasses everything.
Take this pillar as your center,
and strengthen your ability to let go.
Develop your ability to entrust it with everything.
In this way, take all suffering, all illness, and burn it all up!
– Seon Master Daehaeng

Buy at Amazon (Paper edition) (ebook edition)

A Dharma Song

The Spark

At the center of our vast
and completely empty mind,
there is an eternal spark.

With my whole heart,
I’ll take this spark as my guiding light.
I’ll go forward
sharing its light
with all the world,
traveling this path of endless compassion.

This one mind,
deep,
deep,
so deep,
so profound,
so mysterious,
there within this
is the truth of “embracing everything.”
From this one mind
flows a great spring
that has the power to save all beings.

I’ll drink deeply of this sweet water,
and no longer be caught by life and death.
Together with all beings,
I’ll take this path,
this truth,
that transcends all fixed forms and ideas.

— Daehaeng Sunim

Joy and confidence, Week 3

northern lights

Here’s this week’s Dharma talk and reading of the text, “No River to Cross”

This isn’t a particularly long talk, but it does cover three huge points. Points that completely affect the direction our lives take. There are a hundred different ramifications for these, but rather than me talking for a week about them, just take one point that really clicks with you and, for one week, try to apply it every day.

No River to Cross, pg 72, reading

Living with Joy and Confidence, week 3 Dharma talk

 

HANDLING DIFFICULTIES AND SUFFERING

Even if somebody is causing you great hardship, never see that one as being separate from yourself. Don’t distinguish between “me” and “others.” Don’t be blinded by beautiful appearances, and don’t be awed by great things. Because you exist, they also exist. Because you exist, all kinds of difficulties are able to arise. Because all things in the universe are working as one, as Hanmaum, all other people are also fundamentally yourself. Never be shaken. No matter whether you meet Buddha, or the King of Demons, or a Dharma-protecting spirit, everything is merely another shape of yourself.

When you face hardships, don’t become depressed, asking yourself “Why do such difficulties happen to me?” When these things happen, you should think “Now I have an opportunity to grow up.” Your future depends upon which way you choose. You have been given the authority to decide your future. Bad circumstances are, in fact, an opportunity to learn. When you understand that those things are Juingong teaching you, you cannot help but be thankful for even those circumstances. In fact, when difficulties come, you can make more progress in your practice. Thus, your practice deepens and you gain wisdom and strength.

“Quietly embrace your difficulties” does not mean to just endure them. It means knowing that the difficulties you face are inherently empty, and furthermore, that those difficulties can guide and train you. This is the attitude of practitioners who quietly embrace all things.

— Daehaeng Kun Sunim, “No River to Cross,” page 72

Living with Joy and confidence Week 2: Escaping from the barrel

queens face

 

How do we become our full potential? How do we discover what it means to become a true human being? Well, the very first step is letting go of our fixed ideas. Just stop feeding them energy. It’s those ideas that push us into certain patterns and shapes, so when we start letting go of them, and trusting our inherent Buddha-nature, we can begin to discover our true shape. 

 

 

Dharma talk (audio file)

Audio file of the text below 

You can roll a barrel only when you are outside of the barrel. When you are caught by fixed ideas, it is as if you are trapped inside of a barrel, so you cannot freely use your mind. If you escape from your fixed ideas, you will see that all of the thoughts and perspectives that you considered so precious are utterly ridiculous. Mind is formless and can freely go anywhere in the universe, so if you give rise to thoughts in a wise and all-embracing manner, you can escape from the barrel, from bondage, and from the prison that has no bars. How can you freely use your mind unless you first step outside of your own fixed ideas?

Fixed ideas are like a wisp of cloud or smoke, but nonetheless people find themselves blocked or captured by these. You would laugh if you saw someone tripped by a cloud, or if someone claimed that they were imprisoned by the air. But, in fact, people are endlessly being trapped by things no more substantial than air or clouds. They make a wall with their mind, and then it imprisons them. Inherently, there is no wall or anything to trip over. These things are mirages they’ve created from the thoughts they gave rise to.

Do not insist upon your own fixed ideas. Your persistence is your own narrow mind. If your mind is broad, it can easily embrace the entire world. However, if your mind is narrow, even a needle cannot enter. You have to keep letting go of your stubbornness, and always be deeply respectful of all life and things. This is returning to and relying upon the Buddha-Dharma. This is also how to become a free person. Always be humble. Be humble. The fragrance of your broad and generous mind will warm other’s hearts.

— Daehaeng Sunim, “No River to Cross,” page 42