Zen Stick Swallows Universe
Question: If you see a lot of blame in your life and very little praise, and you feel a lot of pain and very little pleasure, and you hang on to this then you suffer a lot. So you always say put it all down. I ask you: What is the best way to put it all down?
Zen Master Seung Sahn: If you open your mouth, that’s a mistake. Close your mouth! Put it all down means more than just saying “put it all down,” okay? If you completely put it all down then there is no “I-my-me.” Many people have I-my-me mind. I-my-me comes from where? From desire mind. When desire mind appears then I-my-me mind appears. I-my-me makes all of our suffering.
But originally we don’t have I-my-me. When you were born did you have a plan? Did you say to your mother, “I am coming into the world and I want to try such and such… please help me.” You didn’t say that. You only came into this world and… WHAAAAA! So why did you appear in this world? If you don’t understand that, then you will have a problem. No direction, no reason, no condition, nothing… only come into this world. That creates a problem.
It’s very important to take away this problem. How do you do that? You must find your true self. Only practice, practice, practice. Then you can attain your true self. If you find your true self then you can attain your correct job in life. Attaining your correct job means helping all beings. We call that bodhisattva action. Then your direction is clear — your whole life is clear. But if you cannot find your bodhisattva job, then you are the same as everyone else. Why did you come into this world? — most people don’t understand. Why eat everyday? — they don’t understand. What is my correct relationship to this world? — they don’t understand. What is human being? They don’t understand! Even a dog understands its job. If a stranger comes then, “woof, woof.” A cat understands a cat’s job: if a mouse comes… “meow,” then catch the mouse. All animals understand their job. But human beings don’t understand their job. What’s your job?
Q: Can I help you?
ZMSS: Correct! Thank you. You do correct practicing, so no problem. Only DO IT.
Q: What is the difference between tantien practice and don’t know practice?
ZMSS: Tantien — the point one inch below your navel-practicing means this: In our consciousness many things are always coming and going… coming, going, coming, going. If you do tantien practice then you should do slow in, slow out breathing and keep your attention just below your navel; then your tantien becomes stronger and stronger. If you practice this way then your tantien and your mind will get a lot of energy. But what is the correct function of this energy? This is very important. If you cannot find the correct function of this energy, then maybe you will use this energy for bad actions. Sometimes this happens with people who practice martial arts like karate. They do tantien practice and get a lot of energy but then how to use this energy… they don’t understand. Maybe they drink a lot, sex… many bad actions. Then they will have a problem.
But if you practice correctly, then when you get energy you always become one. Then when the tantien becomes stronger and stronger and the tantien energy grows up-grows, grows, grows, then the whole universe and you BOOM! become one. If you don’t become one, then how can you control this energy? If you get a lot of energy too soon and your direction isn’t clear, then you cannot control your energy and many bad actions will appear. Then suffering appears. Tantien practicing is okay, but your direction is very important: Why do you do tantien practicing? How do you use tantien energy? How does tantien energy function correctly and your life become clear? That’s a very important point. If you are attached to only tantien practicing, then you will have a big problem.
Q: So how do we use kong-an practice with tantien practice?
ZMSS: Kong-an practicing means don’t make tantien. Put it all down, “tantien.”
Q: You can’t put them together?
ZMSS: Don’t make together. Put it all down, okay? if you practice correctly then your tantien will automatically become stronger. Then when you do kong-an practicing, your tantien will grow up. Then whole universe and tantien becomes one. Then your mind becomes clear and any kind of kong-an is no problem.
Q: Why do have a big stick?
ZMSS: For you: HIT!
Q: You missed!
ZMSS: I hit! Then what do you say?
ZMSS: Correct! If you are thinking, then you have a problem, okay? So “hit” means: cut off all thinking. Moment to moment become dear. Very important. That’s a “Zen stick.” Sometimes this Zen stick becomes bigger, bigger and bigger; it swallows the whole universe. Sometimes it becomes a snake; sometimes a club… but don’t make anything. If you make something, I will hit you, PITCHOO! Don’t make anything.