The Purpose of Form

The purpose of form is to help us put down our opinion and attain original mind. Anything we do in life has some form. By making a simple form and simply doing it together, it gives us a chance to see our opinion moment to moment, put it down, and then suddenly attain our original mind, which is open, wide and free. Most people who like freedom, especially in America, are attached to freedom, and they’re not really free. When they’re in a structured situation, their like and dislike mind appears and they can’t follow the situation. But if you’re really free, that means that you’re also free of your likes and dislikes. Even if you have likes and dislikes, you’re not controlled by them. So it’s possible to follow any kind of form to help others. So the first purpose of form is to help us put down my opinion and attain original mind.

The next purpose is to help us function together harmoniously. Zen Master Seung Sahn often said, “Follow the situation, then get happiness.” So in each situation, our teaching is always to follow the situation. If you go to a Tibetan temple, practice Tibetan style. If you visit a Japanese temple, follow the Japanese style. If you come to a Kwan Um School of Zen temple, then follow the Kwan Um School of Zen style. If you learn this way and can live this way, then in any situation you can make harmony, put down your opinion, attain original mind, get wisdom and be of great help to people. This means keeping our great direction.

Learn to use your eyes, ears, hands, your whole body. If you go to another Zen center and you watch what they do, soon you’re able to follow them. Then often they’re surprised, because most of the time we have to tell people over and over what a particular form is. Most people are not able to really use their eyes, ears and hands clearly. If we Zen students learn to use our eyes, ears and hands correctly, then we’re able to connect with others and other situations much more quickly.