The Original Bubble

Our school's Whole World Is a Single Flower conference occurs every three years. Starting in 1987 at Su Dok Sa Temple in Korea, it has convened in many different locations around the world. This year, we are meeting in India, the home of the Buddha. Zen Master Seung Sahn had many reasons for creating this kind of international conference for our school, reasons which relate directly to our practice.

First, it brings together members of our school from all over the world so we can connect with each other as a worldwide school. Zen Master Seung Sahn was a genius at teaching people of many different countries and cultures. If he had started only one thing here, another there, and over there, it wouldn't have much effect. But by bringing them all together, it can really have some force. Every culture has its own ideas and style, but if we can let go of those ideas and come together, then i's possible to have some effect on the world.

Also, as you've experienced during the conference over the last couple of weeks, we come together in the context of practice. So, it isn't just a talk-talk-talk conference, i's a practice-together conference.

Another interesting aspect of these conferences is they always involve a trip. Maybe the trip is to Korea. Maybe the trip is to China. Maybe the trip is to Ma- laysia, or now India. One time the trip was even to the United States. But there is a teaching reason behind the trip:

As you probably know, right after the Second World War, Man Gong Sunim wrote a famous calligraphy: The whole world is a single flower. The concept of the whole world is a single flower is actually a description of our original mind. Our true self is the whole world is a single flower. But as you have all experienced, human beings have a tendency to attach to their opinions. Any time you attach to your opinion, your mind becomes narrow. Because of this, Zen Master Seung Sahn always taught us to put down our opinion, our condition and our situation; let it rest! When you put down your opinion, your condition and your situation, then the whole world becomes a single flower, because you have let go of your narrow, small mind. At that moment we can connect to the world around us and help it.

So, why are we going on this trip? Zen Master Seung Sahn once said to me, I's so people can see what the world is really like. As you know, people mostly live in a small little bubble. Maybe they live in a monk or nun bubble. Or maybe they live in an American bubble, or a German bubble, or maybe even an Indian bubble. So, by traveling around the world for these conferences, we widen our minds by experiencing the world outside of our bubble. Everyone on this trip has said to me, India is like this, like this, like this—i's so different than conditions in my country! When you have that experience, your mind is already a little wider. Also, you experience the suffering of the world.

For many of us, the bubble we live in is like the Buddha's palace. When the Buddha was born his father created a small bubble, a palace, for him to live in so he wouldn't experience the suffering of the world. But the Buddha was very smart; he knew there was something outside the bubble. I's just that at first he didn't know what it was, what was outside the bubble. Later he had his servant take him outside the bubble so he could see the world. He then saw a sick person, an old person, and a dead body. This direct experience hit him hard—boom! He then knew directly that his bubble life was not the answer to the great question of life and death. Inside of him at that time there was only a big question: What am I? What is a human being? Were does all this suffering come from?

Buddha only taught one thing: he taught about suffering and the relief of suffering. All the rest is just frosting on the cake. So, when we travel around we also see suffering; our trip is a kind of coming out of the palace. Zen Master Seung Sahn wanted us to directly have that experience.

Suffering, as the Buddha taught, is created by our like and dislike mind, by our opposites thinking. This is our desire for a good situation, for a bubble. When Buddha left home he was actually leaving behind his opposites thinking and his bubble. Also, our practice, moment to moment, is a leaving home, because our home—our palace, our bubble—is made by our opposites thinking.

You don't have to be a monk or a nun to leave home. What we wear is just a costume, a leaving-home costume. But any human being at this moment can let go of their opposites thinking. When you leave your opposites thinking behind, tha's true leaving home.

One time the monks of Hyang Bong Zen Center sent a letter to Man Gong Sunim. In the letter they said, On December 8, Buddha saw a star and got enlightenment. What does this mean? Man Gong Sunim wrote back and said, Buddha saw a star and said he got enlightenment. That is sand falling into the eyes. This statement leads to three very interesting questions:

First, Buddha saw a star and got enlightenment. What does this mean?

Second, what kind of enlightenment did Shakyamuni Buddha get?

And third, Man Gong Sunim said, Buddha saw a star and said he got enlightenment. Tha's sand falling in the eyes. What does sand falling in the eyes mean?

If you can answer these three questions then you, too, become Buddha. And even better than that, you get to be the teacher of Buddha. Tha's a big job, so be careful.

Finally, I want to thank you all who have attended this conference. It isn't easy, so thank you for your efforts. Le's all practice together so our minds can become clear. Then we can get enlightenment and save our world from suffering. Thank you