Inka Speech

On November 8, 1998, Gae Mun Sunim received inka from Zen Master Seung Sahn at Kwan Yin Chan Lin, our Zen Center in Singapore. [Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

At this point, receiving inka is losing inka. We say form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Mountain is water, water is mountain. This means this world is impermanent. We come into this world empty-handed, and leave empty-handed. When you are born, where do you come from? When you die, where do you go? Life is just like a cloud appearing in the sky. Death is like a cloud disappearing. The cloud originally has no existence. The cloud comes and goes; it is just like this. Only one thing is always clear. What is this one pure and clear thing? We do not know why we appear in this world. Even what we are doing right here, right now--we don't know. So where are we going after this? We say everything in this world is changing. Before we are born, we are zero; when we die, we return to zero. Before being born, who am I? After being born, who am I? If this one breath doesn't return to us, who are we then? This world keeps changing. In this world, everything comes and goes; it is changing all the time. So we say this is the impermanent world. So form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Mountain is water, water is mountain. At this point, receiving inka is losing inka.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

We do not receive inka and do not lose inka. At this point, we say there is no form and no emptiness. No mountain, no water. We call this emptiness world. We say that everything around us has its own substance. When we hear this sound [hit], the substance of the sound and the substance of the mind are not different. When a thought arises, then your mind and my mind are different. Before thinking arises, your mind, my mind, the Zen Master's mind, Buddha's mind, are all the same. This point only demonstrates the substance. This emptiness cannot be expressed by languages or words.

One day, a student of Zen Master Seung Sahn went up to him and said, "I have attained emptiness!" So the Zen Master said, "Oh! You have attained emptiness! Then tell me, who attained emptiness?" The student said, "Me! I have attained emptiness!" So the Zen Master took his stick and hit him. The student said, "Ow!" And the Zen Master said, "If there is 'Ow!' then where is emptiness?" This emptiness cannot be expressed in words or languages. We give it a name, however; that name is primary point. This primary point has many names and forms. Some people call it enlightenment. Some people call it mind. Some people call it Buddha. Some people call it God. Some people call it Tao. Some people call it nirvana. Some people call it substance. The Sixth Patriarch said, "Originally nothing." Zen Master Seung Sahn says, "Only don't know." But the true primary point has no name and no form. When you attain this emptiness of pure substance, then your eyes will freely open. Then your ears will hear clearly, your nose will smell clearly, your tongue will taste clearly, and your body will feel clearly; and your mind will be very clear, until it reflects like a mirror. Green comes, we reflect green. This point cannot be expressed by languages.

So put down all your thinking, all your understanding. Keep this don't know mind. What do you really want? We think we understand ourselves, but as Zen Master Seung Sahn says, human beings are stupid. We cut down all our trees, we ravage the atmosphere, we pollute the water. We must return to primary point and keep this don't know mind. But don't know does not mean don't know. You already understand this point. If you don't know, you are already pointed toward your true self. It is very important to return to this primary point, this don't know--our substance. So in this point, we say no form, no emptiness. No mountain, no water. So in this point we say, no receiving inka, no losing inka.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

To receive inka is to receive inka. To lose inka is to lose inka. Here we say form is form, emptiness is emptiness. The mountain is a mountain, water is water. The contact between the six senses and the six dusts are very clear. We call this the truth world. The sky is blue, the trees are green. The dogs outside are barking. It is very important to attain this point, so you and the truth become one. You and the sky become one. You and the tree become one. You and the dog become one. You attain the truth world. You and the universe become one. We say, "ta sungil pyun--[hit] become one." Then you can do anything. In this point, we say form is form, emptiness is emptiness. Mountain is mountain, water is water. So we say, receive inka is receive inka, lose inka is lose inka.

So we talk about three worlds: the impermanent world, the emptiness world, and the truth world. But which one is the correct world?

If you answer any of these, this stick will hit you 108 times. If you refuse to pick any of these, this stick will still hit you 108 times. What can you do?


High mountain never hinders the floating cloud. Thick bamboo cannot stop the water flowing. We call this function world. This means how we make use of our life to function correctly in this lifetime. This Zen is nothing special. On this day, may we attain this point--this primary point. When we attain this point, we see clearly, hear clearly. We attain the truth world and walk the bodhisattva way. Then, when someone is thirsty, you give them water. If someone is hungry, you give them food. When we need help, people come and help us. Actually, when you come here to help, you are not helping me, you are helping yourself. We call this "correct function."

I was very deeply touched by the teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn, because his teachings are simple and clear. They have nothing to do with some supernatural or divine force. Everyone here can attain his teaching. How do you attain this clear mind?

[Everyone hits the floor.]

You have already attained it. When we return home, it is important to continue to put in your effort. Everyday get up early, do 108 bows, and try some meditation. The important thing is to put in the effort, find your correct direction, and then just do it. If you do it, then you have it.

Zen mind is original mind. But today when you come, you make something special. Today I also make something special. So we lose this Zen original mind. [laughter and applause]

The Buddha said this universe is actually one big stage. Zen Master Seung Sahn wanted me to perform on this stage, to enter this world. So I am receiving this stick. [showing the Zen stick] This stick looks very small and light, but, to me, it is actually very heavy!

In these days, human beings don't understand their correct job which means they don't understand the correct situation, function, and relationship. I hope everybody in this lifetime can find their true job, put down I, my, me, all my situation, condition and opinions, only do it and find our original face and help all beings get out from suffering. Attain this point, then everybody can share this Zen stick. Then Zen Master Seung Sahn's stick and my stick are not so heavy.

Now already the time is over. Some people came from very far away and have to rush to their airplanes. Once again thank you very much everybody for attending this inka ceremony. But my having inka is not special. I and you are the same, only a little less hair. That's all. Now let's go eat lunch together. Thank you very much.