A Zen Demonstration

It is enlightenment nature.

Above is the dwelling place of all buddhas.

Below are the six realms of existence.
One by one, each thing is complete.
One by one, each thing has it.
It and dust interpenetrate.
It is already apparent in all things.
So, without cultivation, you are already complete—
Understand, understand.
Clear, clear.

[holding the Zen stick] Do you see?

[hitting with the Zen stick] Do you hear?

Already you see clearly. Already you hear clearly.

Then, what are this stick, this sound and your mind?

Are they the same or different?

If you say “same,” I will hit you thirty times.

If you say “different,” I will also hit you thirty times.

Why?

KATZ!

3 x 3 = 9

Just seeing is buddhanature. Then, what is not buddhanature?

So, buddhanature means not buddhanature. The name for that is buddhanature, okay? This is our Zen teaching style’s basic form. Our kong-an [Jpn., koan] interviews always begin with this point.

Buddhism’s teaching is actually quite simple, but the consciousness of human beings is very complicated; it is always checking and holding on to something. Zen teaching’s job is to take this complicated mind and make it simple, simple, simple, until finally, there’s nothing. All clean. Nothing.

If you are nothing, then a new idea will appear; that new idea is the truth. When your mind is clear, then everything you hear, see, smell, taste or touch is the truth. That is a very important point.

A long time ago in Korea, three famous masters from different traditions were talking about the path. The Confucian master said, “See clear, hear clear—then everything becomes clear.”

The Taoist master said, “It is clear like space. Keep your mind clear like space.”

Finally, the Zen Master said, “Moment to moment, do it.”

The three masters had different styles of speech, but the meaning is the same. Confucianism means keeping the correct situation, correct function and correct relationship at all times. Never think about the past, present or future. Only this moment: correct situation, correct function and correct relationship. This is Confucianism.

Taoism means keeping a mind that is clear like space. Don’t make anything: don’t make mind, don’t make body, don’t make “I,” don’t make “you.” Everything is clear like space. Then reflective action is possible.

The Zen Master’s speech means: don’t make anything, moment to moment. Just do it. Just do it means don’t make past, don’t make present, don’t make future, don’t make sky or earth, don’t make anything. Moment to moment, only one thing: “What are you doing now?”

This is very important. When you are doing something, just do it, okay? When you eat, just eat. When you sit, just sit. When you are working, just work. When you are teaching, just teach. When you listen, just listen. Moment to moment, just do it! Moment to moment just do it means correct situation, correct function and correct relationship.

These three teaching styles are almost the same; only the technique is different. But Taoism and Confucianism don’t have enlightenment. Taoism and Confucianism understand truth and how to attain truth, but they don’t understand how truth functions correctly in our life. Only Zen practice teaches us how to attain truth and make this truth function to help all beings. Even Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism do not have this teaching style.

“Just do it” is the basic form of our Zen teaching. If this goes into your consciousness and you do some practicing, then it can appear in your life—that’s most important!

If you want to understand the realm of Buddha,
Keep a mind which is clear like space.
So, let all thinking and all external desires fall far away.
Let your mind go anyplace, with no hinderance.
Then, what is keeping a mind which is clear like space?

If your mind is not clear, then listen to the following:

It is enlightenment nature.
Above is the dwelling place of all buddhas.
Below are the six realms of existence.
One by one, each thing is complete.
One by one, each thing has it.
It and dust interpenetrate.
It is already apparent in all things.
So, without cultivation, you are already complete—
Understand, understand.
Clear, clear.

This is very clear teaching. Taoism and Confucianism do not have this teaching, even Buddhism doesn’t have it. Only Zen has this teaching. Boom! Right to the point. What is your true nature? What is universal substance? Very important!

[holding the Zen stick] Do you see?

[hitting with the Zen stick] Do you hear?

Already you see clearly. Already you hear clearly.

Then, what are this stick, this sound and your mind?

Are they the same or different?

If you say “same,” I will hit you thirty times.

If you say “different,” I will also hit you thirty times.

Why?

KATZ!

3×3=9

However, explanation-style teaching is not enough. Some kind of demonstration is necessary, a Zen demonstration. How can someone get the point? Only through demonstration. If you experience the demonstration, you have already gotten everything.

Questions:

How do you keep a mind which is clear like space?

How do you keep mind which is clear like space? If you make something, then you will have a problem. Even “clear like space” means you have already made something. So don’t attach to speech. Moment to moment, just do it!

“Understand, understand, clear, clear.” What does this mean?

If you make something then you won’t understand. If you don’t make anything then you can reflect everything. At this point, everything is clear; you and everything are never separate. You and the whole universe become one point.

What does “3 x 3 = 9” mean?

This completes the teaching “picture.” If we are making a drawing of a cat, it’s very important to draw a tail. If there is no tail, then the drawing is not so good. If you are drawing a cow, you have to have horns.

Commentary:

In the springtime, many flowers. In the summer, the trees are green. In the fall, fruit appears. In the winter, it is very cold. In the beginning, four legs; next, two legs; next, three legs; next, no legs. Where do they stay? Do you understand that? If you don’t understand, ask the stone girl. She will have a good answer for you.

Four legs, two legs, three legs. That is a human being. Four legs: baby time. Then when we grow up: two legs. Then, when we are old: three legs. An old person uses a cane, so three legs. These legs are always changing, which means that everything is always changing. If you don’t understand that point, then ask the stone girl; the stone girl will teach you everything.

The stone girl’s teaching is very interesting. If you are attached to these words, then you won’t understand. But if you don’t attach to these words, then the stone girl has eyes and a mouth. Okay? Then you can use the stone girl’s eyes, the stone girl’s mouth, and the stone girl’s hands. You can use the stone girl’s eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. Then you can teach this whole world—no problem.

Zen Master Seung Sahn is the founder of the Kwan Um School of Zen and the 78th patriarch in his line of transmission in the Chogye order of Korean Buddhism. Seung Sahn came to the United States in 1972 and started the Providence Zen Center; since then he and his students have founded over a hundred temples, centers and groups around the world. Seung Sahn’s books include Ten Gates, The Compass of Zen, Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, Only Don’t Know and The Whole World Is a Single Flower

From “A Zen Demonstration” by Zen Master Seung Sahn. Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, Winter 2004.