Sunday, July 7, 2013

You Are Already Dead!

In the class on Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, we cover the following interview between Zen Master Seung Sahn and a student:
SS: Do you have any questions?
Student: Yes, what is death?
SS: You are already dead.
Why would he say this? Clearly this student is sitting in front of him, still breathing. In the last post, we looked at how Zen Master Seung Sahn responded when asked "What is Zen?" One of his responses was, "Keeping the mind that is before thinking."

Here is how the interview continued:
Student: I'm only dying. I haven't really experienced death yet. I don't even understand what that would mean.
The Zen Master hit him
The student became confused and couldn't answer
SS: When you think death, you make death. When you think life you make life. When you are not thinking, there is no life and no death. In empty mind, is there a you? Is there an I?

First off, what is this hit? When Zen Master Seung Sahn "hit" somebody, it was usually a light tap with his Zen stick. It wasn't an act of violence! In this instance, the student was lost. So many words, so much thinking.

Next, what about this line: "When you think death, you make death?" In the history of Zen, there are many enlightenment stories. As part of these stories, there are some capping verse or phrase that the newly enlightened person writes or says. Several of these stories end with a line or phrase similar to "Mind makes everything."

So, if we keep the mind that is before thinking. We will not have life and death, like or dislike. It is possible to end suffering in this lifetime.