Slow Is Fast

by on Nov 17, 2012Zen Master Wu Bong

Dharma talk given in Hong Kong, November 17–18, 2012 for the Twentieth Anniversary Ceremony of Su Bong Zen Monastery

Thank you for your introduction. First of all, congratulations to the Su Bong Monastery family and to everybody here. Thank you for coming. We were asked to talk about Mind Revolution, so I would like to talk about a little bit of my experience. Before I met Zen Master Seung Sahn, actually before I even knew what Buddhism is, I had just finished high school and entered into university in the United States, and it was during the Vietnam War. So, like many young people at that time, I wanted to be useful to the world and do something for everybody. I believed the way to change the world was through the political system, so after I entered the university I began a lot of antiwar activities. Actually what we wanted was a revolution. So, for us, revolution meant change, and of course we believed the change we wanted was to make the world better. So we organized many demonstrations and I did a lot of marching, and we also did a lot of shouting, and made speeches.

At one point we organized the biggest event ever. It was quite a sizable demonstration and many people joined this protest. But while this was going on, something happened. At one point, when we were in this big garden in the center of the city with many, many tens of thousands of people, I looked at my coworkers and friends with whom I had organized this event, and suddenly I felt very deeply relieved. If my friends were in charge of this country, then I wouldn’t want to be there! All of a sudden it became clear. We are protesting the government, we are protesting the people because of their desire, anger and ignorance, but my friends and I were not any different. Actually that was not so bad, but then I looked at myself and all of a sudden it became clear: if I were in charge of the country, then I wouldn’t want to be there. That one moment of realization was the end of my political activity, because at that moment I turned around and left the demonstration.

After that I have only one question: How can I change myself? So, like many intellectual individuals, I read a lot of books—philosophy books, psychology books and religion books. And I found something called Buddhism, and I also found something called Zen, and all of a sudden—wow, it is possible to do it! And it is not necessary to believe in something mysterious or special. I can do it through my own experience. And not only myself, but anybody can do it in their own life. They just have to do something called practice. So I thought that was wonderful. Then I also wanted to do something called practice.

Of course in Buddhism there are many kinds of practice. In America at that time, the most famous kinds of Buddhism were Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. But somehow I met somebody who practiced Zen. He was not a teacher in any formal sense, but he became my first teacher.

So I started to practice and that was a great revelation because, looking at the world as a young man, I was always thinking, I am OK. The world is screwed up! It was revolutionary to me to realize that maybe the world is not so screwed up, and that maybe it was just me! So, this is my little experience of Mind Revolution.

There are two kinds of revolution: fast and slow (And the slow kind is sometimes called evolution.) As a young person I was most interested in something fast, but I discovered fast is not fast! This is just another kind of desire. When I practiced, I practiced in this style, with very hard training and then giving up, and then again very hard training and then giving up. Eventually it became clear that this is not the best way to do things. This Mind Revolution may be something that happened instantly, but we have to make careful and steady cultivation. So in other words, sometimes slow is fast.

But why do we have to talk about Mind Revolution? If you read the newspaper or watch the news, then you know there are many problems in this world. Who is responsible for fixing these problems, who is going to help this world? Is it God? Is it Buddha? Maybe i’s us! Maybe you and I! But we all know the blind cannot lead the blind, so if we want to be able to help this world, we have to wake up.

In the welcoming speech, Andrzej Stec JDPSN, the second guiding teacher of Su Bong Zen Monastery, explained this Mind Revolution, this Waking Up. I hope that everybody in your life makes correct practice, and that you save yourself from much suffering, practice steadily and don’t do it my way. Then finally this Mind Revolution can become yours. And of course please don’t stop there: one more step means please help this world, take care of your family, your society, this whole world and all beings. Thank you for your attention.

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