Posted by: Soh
Here's something I wrote last month after encountering a Zen master from the Kwan Um School of Zen.


(in photo: Zen Master Dae Kwan, Zen Master Dae Kwang, and translator)

The other day, I asked Emanrohe about the 'talk by Zen Master Dae Kwang'. That's strange, I don't know who Zen Master Dae Kwang is but his name pops up in mind and I just typed it out, later I re-checked, the website says its Zen Master Dae Bong's talk. So I sent a second sms and told him my error, it's actually Zen Master Dae Bong's talk.

But anyway, today it turns out Zen Master Dae Kwang was indeed giving a speech.

Halfway through, the thunder started to sound.. Someone asked a question, he said "can you hear the thunder?" *thunder claps* "that is it! that is the answer from Buddha (laughter)" And five more questions came - what is enlightened person, who can become enlightened, how to practice and become enlightened, "all dharmas return to one one returns to what?", etc.

And his answer to each question was, "did you hear the thunder?"

Then it started to rain, it got so loud that he stopped speaking and we just sat there. The rain itself becomes the dharma talk... so everyone sat there in meditation... the zen master sat very still. Just the sound of dripping rain filling the whole universe... the sound enjoying and hearing itself... that's Buddha, clear and blissful.

Then after 20 minutes he began to speak. He said you don't need to remember anything I said... the rain is the best dharma talk. So the talk ended, 15 minutes early.

It was still raining and I got a chance to chat with him a little.

I told him two years ago, I was contemplating on the Bahiya Sutta and that led to an awakening - in the seen, there is just the seen, in the heard there is just the heard, in the cognized just the cognized. When for you, Bahiya, there is in the seen just the seen, in the heard just the heard, in the cognized just the cognized, there is no you in terms of that, no you in there, no you here, and no you in-between. Just that is the end of suffering. Then I realized, oh, this entire notion of a self, a seer that is seeing the seen is entirely illusory! There is in seeing just the seen, seeing IS the seen only. No subject and object, inside or outside.

He smiled and said "Precisely! That's why I asked - did you hear the thunder?"

I said, "But I still have discursive thoughts sometimes, I feel my practice is still lacking. What do you say about it?"

He said thoughts are not a problem, it's the natural functioning of the mind - Buddha's sutras all came from his thinking. Just don't be attached to thoughts, that's all.

I asked him a few more questions... like, how long do you advise people to do meditation everyday?

He said 24 hours.

I asked, what about sitting meditation?

He said maybe 20 minutes in the morning, then the rest of the day also Just Do It.

I say in acting 100% action, no you remaining. He agreed and said no you practicing either. No inside, no outside, just do it.

I thanked him, bowed and left.

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A little background info:

Zen Master Dae Kwang is the abbot of the Kwan Um School of Zen. He is the guiding teacher of Providence Zen Center in Cumberland, Rhode Island, the head temple of our international School. He is also the teacher for Zen centers in Wisconsin and Delaware. Zen Master Dae Kwang travels widely, leading retreats throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. His interests include meditation practices common to Christianity and Buddhism. He was ordained a monk in 1987.

http://www.awaresilence.com/Zen_Teachings/Zen_Master_Dae_Kwang_Middleway.html

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I told Thusness later, he said that's the "total exertion" he talked about. He also said the insights I went through is quite compatible with their zen lineage and also it's "not easy to find a master with true insight, you should associate with him", but I said he's going back to America.

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From "What The Buddha Taught" by Walpola Rahula (great book, highly recommended):

"Mindfulness, or awareness, does not mean that you should think and be conscious 'I am doing this' or 'I am doing that.' No. Just the contrary. The moment you think, 'I am doing this,' you become self-conscious, and then you do not live in the action, but you live in the idea 'I am,' and consequently your work too is spoiled.

"You should forget yourself completely, and lose yourself in what you do. The moment a speaker becomes self-conscious and thinks 'I am addressing an audience,' his speech is disturbed and his trend of thought broken. But when he forgets himself in his speech, in his subject, then he is at his best, he speaks well and explains things clearly.

All great work -- artistic, poetic, intellectual or spiritual -- is produced at those moments when its creators are lost completely in their actions, when they forget themselves altogether, and are free from self-consciousness.

This mindfulness or awareness with regard to our activities, taught by the Buddha, is to live in the present moment, to live in the present action (this is also the Zen way which is based primarily on this teaching.) Here in this form of meditation, you haven't got to perform any particular action in order to develop mindfulness, but you have only to be mindful and aware of whatever you may do. You haven't got to spend one second of your precious time on this particular 'meditation': you have only to cultivate mindfulness and awareness always, day and night, with regard to all activities in your usual daily life. These two forms of 'meditation' discussed above are connected with our body."

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10/20/2012 9:51 AM: Thusness: What is non-meditation to u?
10/20/2012 9:51 AM: Thusness: And what is non-action?
10/20/2012 10:46 AM: AEN: Non meditation is simply experiencing experience as it appears without dualistic/inherent view which is rather similar to what jax is saying I think
10/20/2012 10:58 AM: Thusness: What do u mean by experiencing experience as it appears without dualistic/inherent view?
10/20/2012 11:00 AM: Thusness: If I ask u to take a deep breath now and then breath normal, are they non-action and non-meditation?
10/20/2012 11:01 AM: AEN: Yes
10/20/2012 11:01 AM: Thusness: Why so?
10/20/2012 11:02 AM: AEN: It is just experience in its natural state, without the sense of self or dualistic action arising
10/20/2012 11:02 AM: Thusness: Natural state refers to?
10/20/2012 11:03 AM: AEN: Appearance appearing according to conditions, unmodified and unaltered by dualistic action/sense of self
10/20/2012 11:04 AM: Thusness: That u r talking abt no-doership
10/20/2012 11:04 AM: Thusness: What if there is intention
10/20/2012 11:04 AM: Thusness: As in chanting
10/20/2012 11:05 AM: AEN: There is no problem with intention, bcos that too is an arising without self... Its like total exertion in every moment, total action without self, whether chanting, walking, sitting
10/20/2012 11:06 AM: Thusness: An arising without self meaning? As in no-doership...u hv to b clear...
10/20/2012 11:07 AM: AEN: There is total involvement of all conditions, just without agency
10/20/2012 11:07 AM: AEN: Conditions include intention
10/20/2012 11:08 AM: Thusness: Total is always void of self
10/20/2012 11:11 AM: Thusness: When there is no gap between actor and action, that is non-action
10/20/2012 11:13 AM: AEN: I see..
10/20/2012 11:13 AM: Thusness: Lot of movement in appearance but nothing truly moves
10/20/2012 11:15 AM: Thusness: When the one who will is gone (no-will), the entire movement appears to be "your willing"
10/20/2012 11:17 AM: Thusness: It is not abt no-doership and arising spontaneously but doer and deeds are refine till none in total action.
10/20/2012 11:18 AM: AEN: Yes there is no standing back watching action unfold but instead whole being is just action, no self
10/20/2012 11:18 AM: Thusness: When insight of anatta arises, the heat and cold "kill you" is the actualization non-action.
10/20/2012 11:18 AM: Thusness: Yes
10/20/2012 11:20 AM: AEN: Ic..
10/20/2012 11:21 AM: AEN: I think only zen emphasizes this very much
10/20/2012 11:21 AM: AEN: Like the seung sahn tradition
10/20/2012 11:21 AM: Thusness: Dogen
10/20/2012 11:21 AM: AEN: I see
10/20/2012 11:21 AM: Thusness: No...Theravada also when understood correctly
10/20/2012 11:22 AM: AEN: Ic..
10/20/2012 11:23 AM: Thusness: This total exertion is not the result of effort, but full integration of view/experience/realization
10/20/2012 11:24 AM: AEN: I was reading walpola rahula book
10/20/2012 11:24 AM: AEN: I guess he realized anatta and is very clear about this too
10/20/2012 11:24 AM: AEN: He said
10/20/2012 11:25 AM: Thusness: When we say this arising thought is just a thought, don't believe in the story...or this thought is empty...nothing to hold...that is only half understanding
10/20/2012 11:26 AM: AEN: Oic..
10/20/2012 11:26 AM: Thusness: The other half is the total exertion of this thought
10/20/2012 11:27 AM: AEN: Ic..
10/20/2012 11:27 AM: AEN: "Mindfulness, or awareness, does not mean that you should think and be conscious 'I am doing this' or 'I am doing that.' No. Just the contrary. The moment you think, 'I am doing this,' you become self-conscious, and then you do not live in the action, but you live in the idea 'I am,' and consequently your work too is spoiled.
"You should forget yourself completely, and lose yourself in what you do. The moment a speaker becomes self-conscious and thinks 'I am addressing an audience,' his speech is disturbed and his trend of thought broken. But when he forgets himself in his speech, in his subject, then he is at his best, he speaks well and explains things clearly.
All great work -- artistic, poetic, intellectual or spiritual -- is produced at those moments when its creators are lost completely in their actions, when they forget themselves altogether, and are free from self-consciousness.
10/20/2012 11:27 AM: Thusness: All past/present/future tendencies, ignorance, wisdom is in this one thought...
10/20/2012 11:30 AM: AEN: This mindfulness or awareness with regard to our activities, taught by the Buddha, is to live in the present moment, to live in the present action (this is also the Zen way which is based primarily on this teaching.) Here in this form of meditation, you haven't got to perform any particular action in order to develop mindfulness, but you have only to be mindful and aware of whatever you may do. You haven't got to spend one second of your precious time on this particular 'meditation': you have only to cultivate mindfulness and awareness always, day and night, with regard to all activities in your usual daily life. These two forms of 'meditation' discussed above are connected with our body."
10/20/2012 11:30 AM: Thusness: Yes...and insight of anatta opens the gate.
10/20/2012 11:32 AM: AEN: Ic..
10/20/2012 11:33 AM: AEN: Delma tells me today her total exertion has stabilized
10/20/2012 11:34 AM: AEN: "Interesting times. Nondual is becoming more and more stable. I don't understand it, but just reading your material and deeply contemplating it seems to have tremendous affect. Yesterday while driving home from work and walking to my house, there was just walking, just driving. This was is what is becoming more and more sustained.

I do follow your advice and follow the breath without counting. Then there is only breath. It's more effortless these days. So, thank you.
10/20/2012 11:34 AM: AEN: luminosity, but not awareness as a thing or entity. just the senses, experienced as independent streams. It's the walking experience which seems different and sustained. No one is walking. At first this would be experienced with a bit of effort, but it's becoming more natural and the feeling of it always having been this way is there."
10/20/2012 11:38 AM: Thusness: Quite good
10/20/2012 11:51 AM: Thusness: When the gap between actor and action is refined till none, that is non-action and that non-action is total action. Whether this total action is understood as the natural way will depend on whether the insight of anatta has arisen. Anatta is the insight that allows the practitioner to see clearly that this has always been the case.
 
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Hi James, I think after realizing anatta, the super-clarity of mindfulness becomes sort of effortless and uncontrived. Pure natural aliveness and crystal clarity in all six senses. Isn't it the case for you? So any kind of contrivance becomes counterproductive. But if you try to practice mindfulness before penetrating no-self, it is quite effortful to maintain. This is because clarity is intrinsic to mind/experience rather than being produced, only the sense of self is 'obscuring'.

Also the non-action that Thusness said is not merely 'no doer, everything just happening, just being done' but total involvement, total action, entire being is just action, so intention and effort is fully exterted to do what is being done. It is not a contrived effort like "trying to maintain a witness of what is being done", no. No contrived mindfulness is involved. I'm talking about full exertion in just doing that activity like the whole being, whole universe is fully exerting as the action, eating the apple, cleaning the stain off the toilet. Intention is fully included/involved in that moment, rather than dissociated/a kind of "let things happen on their own".

Whole body-mind is engaged in seeing, hearing, acting: "When you see forms or hear sounds fully engaging body-and-mind, you grasp things directly. Unlike things and their reflections in the mirror, and unlike the moon and its reflection in the water, when one side is illumined the other side is dark." - Dogen

When there is total action, that is also non action because there is no doer-deed dichotomy, whole being is just action and there is no doer or acting or even movement.


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This morning before I woke up, I dreamt of going to the new zen center Kwan Yin Chan Lin, when I woke up I was suddenly reminded about visiting KYCL (I probably would have forgotten otherwise) and realized today is a good time to visit that place as it is Saturday and they have activities on Saturday. I have never visited it before previously (the dharma talks I attended previously were held in a tent).

When I visited that place, they told me today is the first out of the 6 lessons in the meditation course. We sat in meditation for like half an hour? Then it was followed by a dharma talk... and surprise!

Zen Master Dae Kwang was the one giving the talk. (I was wrong, he didn't go back to America after all, he is staying in Singapore for some time)

That place is a cool and nice environment: simple, clean design, very zen. Incidentally I once had this thought in the past, how would I like to design the place if I ever were to build a meditation center myself? Kwan Yin Chan Lin was exactly what I had in mind - a very clean, spacious, uncluttered, simple design.

Anyway, Zen Master Dae Kwang was giving a talk about meditation and zen, he gives us tips about practice and meditation. His talk was also about clear mind - being fully present and letting go the thoughts (but not fighting them), then seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and even thinking becomes very clear. Clear mind is your buddha nature, what is already intrinsic and complete in everyone, so we are not trying to attain anything at all. As he says: in our practice and meditation, we will NOT attain anything!

It was a nice talk.

The funny thing is, the ending words in the talk was the same as it was in my dream - something about the teachings being about your direct experience and not some (intellectual) understanding. That was followed by the nun coming and commencing the vow recitation. Just the same scene as what I saw in my dream! Hahaha...

I told Thusness immediately after that, his comment was "auspicious karmic connection".
 
2 Responses
  1. pegembara Says:

    Munindra frequently reminded his students that thinking and meditation are not the same.

    He would inquire, “Do you want to think or do you want to meditate?” He made the distinction by speaking of two worlds: one of concept, the other of reality. “Mostly you’re living in the world of thoughts,” he said. “Dhamma and meditation practice is living in the world of experience.”


  2. Yes, and what is most important is to dedicate enough time everyday to experience this pre-conceptual, pre-symbolic naked awareness of our direct experience. This is a doorway to clarity and insight.