It Is So Close to Us

A long time ago I heard from Zen Master Seung Sahn: "One after another, each thing has it. One after another, each thing is complete." This struck me very hard and I felt, it was what I was missing in my life. Some time later I discovered, that this is what is missing in the life of every person. In each of us, there is this original yearning for something pure, clear, luminescent. Some call it true nature, some call it Buddha or God. It is so close to us, but we can't see it. A long time ago someone asked Zen Master Un Mun: "Why is it that we are unable to see what is so close to us?" Un Mun answered: "It is because it is so close to us." We are unable to see it, so we try to understand it. But understanding will not bring us closer to it, it will not pacify the yearning. We have to experience it. As was said, it is beyond understanding and beyond words.

That is why a long time ago, when someone asked Zen Master Lin Chi: "What is enlightenment, what is true nature, what is Buddha?" Lin Chi would just respond: "KATZ!" At the same question Zen Master Dok Sahn would just hit the questioner. Gu Ji would just raise his finger. Zen Master Seung Sahn gave us this [hits the table with her hand], but we are unable to believe it. We constantly check whether this is true, who said it is true? We have to believe in this one clear thing, then we save this world from suffering.

We have also other obstacles: strong opinions, attachment to our understanding. We are unable to let go of them. We have the feeling that if we let go of them, all the world will cease to exist. In a way it is true, our world will cease to exist. The world of illusions will cease to exist. A certain Tibetan teacher by the name of Marpa would teach that everything is illusion. But one day his son died and Marpa cried and cried. One student asked him: "Marpa, why are you crying? You have been teaching that everything is illusion!" Marpa answered: "Yes, everything is illusion and my son's death is the greatest of all illusions."

If you see that something is an illusion, it ceases to be an illusion. Then things are just like they are. The sky is blue. When someone is hungry, give him food. If someone is suffering, help him. Only correct function, correct situation. But correct means also natural. Water flows from the mountains. It doesn't ask whether it is correct or incorrect, whether it is good or not, whether it should flow or shouldn't. It just does it. The same with the dog: when the guest comes, the dog barks; it just does its work. What is our work? What is the work of human beings?

(From her transmission speech, 2006.)