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The reason that human beings are the most noble of the myriad things is that they are able to find and attain ‘I.’ The essence of ‘I’ exists in absolute freedom, so one ought to be able to control everything as one pleases. But the reason we human beings do not have any freedom at any specific time or place, and the reason why nothing goes the way we wish, is that we live our lives with our ‘deluded I’ as the master and the ‘true I’ as the slave. The ‘deluded I’ is the child of the ‘true I,’ but the mind that we exercise at present is actually the perverted mind. Although the ‘true I’ is the correct mind that has neither beginning nor end, existence nor extinction, or any form, it nevertheless is ‘I’ that has no deficiency.
Once human beings forget the ‘true I,’ they are no better than dogs or pigs. What difference is there between animals that are lost because of attachment to their instinctive desires for food and sex or human beings who, being ignorant of their true face, are lost because of attachment to their superficial realities? Even though someone may be regarded as the most superior person in the world, if he does not understand his own face, then he is just a one tiny part of the turning wheel of transmigration within the four modes of birth and the six destinies.
In this Saha World where sentient beings who share their world of karma abide, others and I live similar lives. Hence, people live their lives unconscientiously, by accepting them as they appear to be. Without foreseeing the fearful events that are laid out in front of them, they live their lives heedlessly; and when death comes suddenly to them, their road ahead becomes unclear. ‘I’ is that which answers “yes” when someone calls out your name. It is free from birth and death; it does not get burned by fire, get wet in water, or get injured by a knife. Thus, it is the independent ‘I’ that is free from all entanglements. Human lives, being pulled by the chain of karma, are transmigrating repeatedly along the path of the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death, like a screaming prisoner who is being bound and dragged by a horse. Only with the sword of one’s own wisdom will one be able to sever that iron chain. Even for a person who is most respected in society for his extraordinary learning and personal integrity, if he does not understand this matter, then he is definitely a person who has lost the human spirit.
When the World Honored One, Sakyamuni, was born, he pointed to the sky with one hand and pointed to the ground with the other and said, “In heaven above and earth below, only I alone am venerated.” The ‘I’ he mentions here refers to the ‘[true] I.’ Although every person possesses the inherent nature to become a buddha, he is unable to attain this buddhahood because one does not know the ‘I.’ Because all things are ‘I,’ to waste even as insignificant amount of energy as that on the tip of a hair on matters other than finding the ‘I’ would be one’s own loss.
All human beings possess the three bodies of the physical body, karmic body, and dharma body. Only when these three bodies unite as a single substance and function as one can we become righteous people. Though all activities are carried out by the dharma body, because the dharma body is not separate from the physical body or the karmic body, phenomena are just that state which is free from birth and death. That state which is free from birth and death is inherent in all sentient and insentient beings, so even with the whole universe’s armaments the spirit of even a single blade of grass cannot be destroyed.
In this world, there are such sayings and phrases as ‘knowing I’ or ‘finding I,’ but we only consider ‘I’ through our own activating consciousness. We’re not even able really to imagine what ‘I’ is. ‘I,’ as that which possesses limitless life, has a diamond-like, indestructible spirit that cannot be destroyed even if one tries. Thus, the birth and death of this physical body is only like changing my clothes. If you are a human being, you should be able to put on or take off as you please your own clothes of birth and death.
‘I’ cannot be obtained through the knowledge we acquire by seeing or listening. Even the very thought of ‘I’ is already not ‘I.’ ‘I’ can only be found at the locus of no-thought, because the locus of no-thought already possesses all things. If one reaches that ultimate realm of buddhahood, one will discover that I am in fact a buddha. Ultimately, I have to discover the ‘I’ within myself.
From Man-gong beop-eo