Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Child asks about Death ?

A Child Asks About Death
(A Conversation between a Zen Monk & a Child)
Soen-sa (Zen Monk) recounts his conversation with Gita, the seven-year-old daughter of one of his students at the Cambridge Zen Center, after the death of the center’s beloved cat, cleverly named Katz. Katz had died after a long illness and was given a traditional Buddhist burial, but the little girl remained troubled by his death. One day after practice, she came to the great Zen teacher for an explanation. He relays the exchange:
“What happened to Katzie? Where did he go?”
Soen-sa said, “Where do you come from?”
“From my mother’s belly.”
“Where does your mother come from?” Gita was silent.
Soen-sa said, “Everything in the world comes from the same one thing. It is like in a cookie factory. Many different kinds of cookies are made — lions, tigers, elephants, houses, people. They all have different shapes and different names, but they are all made from the same dough and they all taste the same. So all the different things that you see — a cat, a person, a tree, the sun, this floor — all these things are really the same.”
“What are they?”
With an eye to our tendency to mistake a thing’s name for its thingness,

Soen-sa answers by urging the little girl to contact the universal life-force of the metaphorical cookie dough:

“People give them many different names. But in themselves, they have no names. When you are thinking, all things have different names and different shapes. But when you are not thinking, all things are the same. There are no words for them. People make the words. A cat doesn’t say, ‘I am a cat.’ People say, ‘This is a cat.’ The sun doesn’t say, ‘My name is sun.’ People say, ‘This is the sun.’
So when someone asks you, ‘What is this?’, how should you answer?”
“I shouldn’t use words.”
Soen-sa said, “Very good! You shouldn’t use words. So if someone asks you, ‘What is Buddha?’, what would be a good answer?”
Gita was silent.
Soen-sa said, “Now you ask me.”
“What is Buddha?”
Soen-sa hit the floor.
Gita laughed.
Soen-sa said, “Now I ask you: What is Buddha?”
Gita hit the floor.
“What is God?”
Gita hit the floor.
“What is your mother?”
Gita hit the floor.
“What are you?”
Gita hit the floor.
“Very good! This is what all things in the world are made of. You and Buddha and God and your mother and the whole world are the same.”
Gita smiled.
Soen-sa said, “Do you have any more questions?”
“You still haven’t told me where Katz went.”
Soen-sa leaned over, looked into her eyes, and said, “You already understand.”

Gita said, “Oh!” and hit the floor very hard. Then she laughed.
(Fom"'Dropping Ashes on The Buddha)

Friday, 29 January 2016

What is Freedom?

What Is Freedom?
(A wonderful dialogue between a student & Zen Master)

One afternoon, a young student came to tea at the Cambridge Zen Center and asked Seung Sahn Soen-sa, "What is freedom?"

Soen-sa said, "Freedom means no hindrance. If your parents tell you to do something and you think that you are a free person so you will not listen to them, this is not true freedom. True freedom is freedom from thinking, freedom from all attachments, freedom even from life and death. If I want life, I have life; if I want death, I have death."

The student said, "So if you wanted to die right now, you could die?"

Soen-sa said, "What is death?"

"I don't know."

"If you make death, there is death. If you make life, there is life. Do you understand? This is freedom. Freedom thinking is freedom. Attachment thinking is hindrance. Suppose your parents say, 'Your shirt is dirty; you must change it!' If you say, 'No, I won't change; I am free!', then you are attached to your dirty shirt or to your freedom itself. So you are not free. If you are really free, then dirty is good and clean is good. It doesn't matter. Not changing my shirt is good; changing my shirt is good. If my parents want me to change, then I change. I don't do it for my own sake, only for theirs. This is freedom. No desire for myself, only for all people."

The student said, "If you have no desire, why do you eat?"

Soen-sa said, "When I am hungry, I eat."

"But why do you eat, if you say you have no desire?"

'I eat for you."

"What do you mean?"

"When I am hungry, I eat' means 'just like this.' This means that there is no attachment to food. There is no 'I want this' or 'I don't want this.' If I didn't eat, I couldn't teach you.
So I eat for you."

"I don't really understand."

Soen-sa hit him and said, "Do you understand now?"

'I don't know."

"You must understand this don't-know. Then you will not be attached to anything. So always keep don't-know mind. This is true freedom."
(from 'Dropping Ashes on the Buddha)

Thursday, 28 January 2016

What to do about Noise?

What to Do About Noise :
(A dialogue between a Zen Master & his student)

One day a student at the Cambridge Zen Center said to Seung Sahn Soen-sa,

"I am disturbed by noise when I sit Zen. What can I do about this?"

Soen-sa said, "What color is this rug?"


 ''Is it quiet or noisy?"

 "Quiet ."

"Who makes it quiet?"

The student shrugged his shoulders.

 Soen-sa said, "You do. Noisy and quiet are made by your thinking. If you think something is noisy, it is noisy; if you think something is quiet, it is quiet. Noisy is not noisy, quiet is not quiet. True quiet is neither quiet nor noisy. If you listen to the traffic with a clear mind, without any concepts, it is not noisy, it is only what it is. Noisy and quiet are opposites. The Absolute is only like this."

 There were a few moments of silence.

 Then Soen-sa said, "What is the opposite of blue?"

The student said, "I don't know."

Soen-sa said, "Blue is blue. White is white.This is the truth."

(From the Book – Dropping Ashes on the Buddha)