A Gung-Ho Pep Talk
- It is not a lark or a whim, something to make you cool, it's a way
to figure out where you are and who you are, and help you figure out life.
- All you have to do is figure out your thing, which is already in you.
- In finding your thing, what you look like and who you hang with aren't
the point, because these things sometimes suck and sometimes rule.
- Just live in the moment at all times and only be concerned with what
you are and how you are doing.
- Just the process of trying to work out your thing is most important.
You should drill in on this all the time, just as you are. Focus on
what this looking and thinking is.
- Study hard by raising your faith. Raising you faith is sincerely
re-examining the matter just mentioned.
- This may be the best, or only, chance you have to work this out.
What does that mean?
- Shakyamuni Buddha once said,
One who is already a human being is like a speck of dirt
clinging to a fingernail, while the one who has become
an animal by losing his human form is as common as the
dirt of the ground.
If you don't get it now, you might not ever get a chance to get back to it.
- When you've worked out what your thing is, then you don't have to
deal with what sucks or rules.
- Once Zen Master Kwon, a Bhiku, began meditating from morning to
night. As soon as the sun would set, he would beat his fists
against the ground in frustration and cry out, "I have lost another
day without realizing my Mind." He continued this way every day
until he was fully awakened. Since there are many who have
exhibited the determination of Master Kwon, it is impossible for me
here to cite everyone who has had the determination to meditate
- None of them were worried about living or dying, nor about eating,
dressing well, nor sleeping. In our study, we should practice the
same way. Consider this carefully!
- Once Zen Master Tung-san wrote:
Do not seek noble titles nor wish to have
possessions nor ask for prosperity. Wherever you
happen to be, just live in accord with your karma
here and now in this life. If your clothes
wear out, patch them again and again. If there
is no food, barely even search for it.
You could die tomorrow, tonight -- what's a bunch of stuff going
to do for you then?
- Once you've worked things out, just naturally stay with it and you'll
see that things will rule more than suck.
- Shakyamuni Buddha said,
If anyone -- man or woman, old or young -- has faith in
these words and studies, each will, as a result, become
Why would Shakyamuni Buddha deceive us?
- The Fifth Patriarch, Hung-yin, the Zen Master, said,
By examination and observation of mind, one will become
Then he further promised us that,
If you don't have faith in what I say, in future lives you
will be eaten by tigers over and over again. On the other
hand, if I have deceived you, I will fall into the dungeon of
If you don't believe, go on with your sucky life. If I'm lying, then
- Those of you who are in this Study, do not agitate your mind; let
it be like a mountain. Let your mind be like a wide and empty
space and continue to reflect on enlightening Dharma like the moon
reflects the sun. Whether others think that I am right or wrong is
not your concern. Do not judge or criticize others. Just be at
ease and go on mindlessly like a simpleton or fool. Or, be like
one who is struck deaf and dumb. Spend your life like you cannot
hear a thing or like an infant. Then, sooner or later, all the
delusion will disappear.
- If one wishes to accomplish Buddhahood, it is useless to attempt to
understand and master the worldly life. It would be like one
trying to fix food out of dung, or like trying to cut jade out of
mud. It is totally useless for the accomplishing of Buddhahood.
there is no reason for occupying oneself completely and thoroughly
with worldly affairs.
- See your own death in the death of others. Do not put your trust
in this body. Rather, remind yourself again and again to not miss
a moment to awaken your own mind.
- Ask yourself repeatedly, "What does this mind look like?" In your
daily rounds, continue to ask yourself, "What does this mind look
like?" Reflect upon this question so intensely that you are like a
starving man thinking of nothing but good food. Do not loose hold
of your questioning at any time.
- Buddha has said,
Whatever has a form, that is, everything, is all delusory.
He also said,
Everything that the ordinary human being does is subject to
life and death. There is only one way for use to be a true
man and this is Realization of our own mind.
- It is said, "Do not drink liquor", since it will intoxicate and
make your mind dull. Also, "Do not speak lies", since it will only
accelerate delusive states of mind. Furthermore, "Do not steal",
since it only helps to make your mind jealous and full of desires.
You should observe these and all the precepts. Breaking the
precepts can be very harmful for your cultivation and for your life
itself. You should not cling to or incline yourself towards
breaking any of them.
- Master Ox-herder, Mokguja (Chinul), once mentioned that,
Indulging in craving and desire for property are as vicious
as poisonous snakes. Watch your body and mind carefully when
such desires arise and then understand them as they are.
Detach yourself from them as much as possible.
- These words are very important and they should be remembered. They
will make your study more effective. Buddha said,
Becoming angry even once raises ten million vicious sins.
A student simply must endure and tolerate the angry mind. Many
masters have also said that because of anger, man becomes a tiger,
a bee, a snake, or some similar stinging or biting creature. From
foolish mindedness, man becomes either a bird or a butterfly.
Depending upon his degree of low-mindedness, man becomes either an
ant, mosquito or the like. From craving things, man becomes a
hungry ghost. The type of desire or anger molds the nature of hell
into which men will accordingly fall. Each and every state of mind
determines the kind of creature man is to become.
- However, if one's mind is unattached, one becomes a Buddha. Even a
"good" or positive state of mind is useless. Even though such a
condition of mind can create a heavenly future life, it is still
limited. As soon as one reaches heaven, he immediately begins
descending to the hellish or animal realms in successive rebirths.
If no intention is held in the mind, then there is no place to be
born again. One's mind is so pure and unconfused, it cannot go to
the dark places. This pure and quiescent mind is the way of
- If one questions with the one-pointed concentration, then this mind
naturally settles down and become tranquil. By this he
automatically realizes his own mind as quiescent and tranquil.
This is the same as becoming a Buddha.
- This way is very direct and goes right to the point. It is the
best way one can practice. Read and examine this talk from time to
time and, on the right occasions, even tell other people. This is
as good as reading eighty-four thousand volumes of scriptures.
Studying in this manner, one will accomplish Buddhahood in this
lifetime. Do not understand this talk to be some contrived
encouragement or expedient deception. Follow these words with your
- In the deep canyon where the clear stream is flowing continuously,
all kinds of birds are singing everywhere. No one ever comes to
visit this place. It is the so-called Bhiku's place (monastery)
and is quiet and tranquil. Here is where I sit and contemplate and
examine what this mind is. Now, if this mind is not what Buddha
is, then what else it?
- You have just heard a very rare talk. You should continue to study
this great matter enthusiastically. Do not hurry, otherwise you
might become sick or get a terrible headache. Calm yourself, then
ceaselessly meditate. Most of all, be careful not to force
yourself. Rather, relax and let your right questioning be within!
Southwest Chogye International Zen Academeia /
Aug 12, 1998