Great Doubt


Question: Is awareness like a flashlight, or a glowing ball of energy? Is the mind like a tree? Why does the mind not look like, or feel, like a tree? I don't see a tree at all. The mind feels like a big empty ball.  Where is the root of the tree? When I imagine the mind, I feel inside the skull, and move the awareness around inside my skull. By holding awareness on different parts of the brain, different feelings emerge over time: Happiness, Sadness, Sound, Music, Peace, Body, Heart Beat, Space, Wonder, etc. So, where is the root? Is the root a place or location? Does one cut the root or to get under the root? Or merely watch the root? Does the tree contain energy? Is there a relation between emptiness and the tree?

Zen Master Jok Um: You make an important point in your questions. When you ask one question, it only generates more questions. That kind of questioning means looking for some thing. But there is no such some thing. If you look in that way, it cultivates the kind of suffering involved with looking for something that doesn't exist.  That is why a central element of practice is Great Doubt. It's the doubt of not believing an idea or a person. It's doubt that recognizes that there is no thing to hold onto. So if you find yourself grasping some thing, doubt that. Then you find the freedom of not grasping.  Then you see the nature of the questions you've been asking, and beyond that, you can see for yourself. So what do you see when you see for yourself? Please, come to our retreat and investigate this continuously and thoroughly. 

By Zen Master Jok Um