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Part3: Formal Dharma Discourses - Winter Meditation Retreat 1976-77

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First Lecture

The Master addressed the gathering, saying, “Everyone designates themselves as ‘I’. May the assembly speak! What is the ‘True-I’?” After a pause the Master shouted and said, “You must take a rock for your body and cow dung for your eyes, then you will know. Can you understand this? If you understand, then all the sentient beings throughout the entire world and all the Dharma-realms are no other than your own ‘I’. Everywhere you will be without hindrances. Those who have not yet realized this are subject to the inversions at all the points of contact, and all things become their enemies. Noumena and phenomena are separated; the entire world is only coffin wood and you are submerged in the sea of suffering. When will you raise your head above it? Isn’t it suffering? Isn’t it pain?” A poem says:

“Take a leap off the top of an 80,000 foot cliff, and the Ancient Buddhas of the past thousand years will smile subtly. When one embraces all the mountains and rivers, the jade plum in the snow will exhibit the face of Spring.”

In ancient times a monk asked Master Yun-chu, “What is your abode ultimately like?” Yun-chu told him, “It is nice to live in the mountains.” The monk then bowed to Yun-chu.

Then the Master asked, “What did you understand from what I said?”

The monk answered, “Men who have left home are unmoving like mountains before everything good and evil, and favorable and unfavorable, within the realm of birth and death.”

The Master then struck him and said, “You blaspheme the ancients and murder the sons and grandsons of my lineage.” The Master then asked a monk who was sitting beside him, “What did you understand from what I said?”

That monk answered, “My eyes do not see any of the forms in heaven or on earth. My ears do not hear the sound of string and wind instruments.”
The Master then struck him also and said, “You blaspheme the ancients and murder the sons and grandsons of my lineage.”

T’ou Tse-ching’s verse says:

“The peaks and ridges extend for over 80,000 feet. At the four sides there is no road that does not pass through them. Since ancient times no light has ever reached the two wheels. Deep in the night the old venerable enters the western peaks.”

“Today this mountain monk is not of the same opinion. My poem says”:

“There is no place that is not a bodhimandala. There is no one who is not endowed with Diamond. To seek the realm of Truth while dwelling in discrimination is as difficult as trying to find the mountain goat that hangs by its horns.”

“May the assembly take good care of yourselves!”

The Master struck his staff three times and descended.
 
Second Lecture

Master Ku San addressed the assembly: “The ancients said, ‘There are no sentient beings who are not endowed with the active, bright, enlightened Nature which is no different from that of the Buddhas.’ May the assembly speak! What is this active, bright, enlightened Nature?” After a pause, the Master shouted and said, “At midnight the golden crow flies across the heavens which are as vast as 90,000 li. At midday the jade rabbit completely swallows the four seas. Do you understand this?”

“One thing has been spiritually active and never obscured, from days of old till now. All phenomena of the dharma-realm are adorned with it. The universal brightness of this bright wisdom is without obstruction. The bodhimandala of the ten Buddhas is in my hand as I please.”

The Master struck his staff three times and descended.
 
Third Lecture

Master Ku San addressed the assembly: “Look! Look! The Buddhas and Patriarchs of the ten directions are on the tip of this mountain monk’s staff, building large monasteries and turning the great Dharma-wheel. Though with different voices, they all say that every sentient being is originally endowed with the wisdom and meritorious signs of all the Tathagatas. May all of you meditators who are endowed with the Dharma-Eye speak out! What is it?”

After a pause he shouted and said, “When with a lump of molten iron you can burn up the cast iron mask, then you will know what it is.” A poem says:

“When the moon becomes full, it is the full-moon night. When the frost covers the ground and the wind blows, isn’t it the time when the chrysanthemums are fragrant? Don’t say that the Buddhas and Patriarchs exist within the three time-periods. Experience the Unborn, and you will be like vajra.”

“May the assembly be alert!”

The Master struck his staff and descended.
 
[Nine Mountains] {44} – Zen Master Ku San 

Fourth Lecture

On the High Seat, the Master struck his staff down three times and said, “Over this lump of red flesh there is a marvelous dharma which is marked by Truth. It is not differentiated by even a hairsbreadth from the Buddhas and Patriarchs. Have you understood it yet? Any monk endowed with the Dharma-eye, speak! What is it?” After a pause the Master shouted and said, “When the poison of a snake-eating bird changes into ghee, and bombs are transformed into bread, then you will know.” A poem says:

“The cliff opens its eyes; there is nothing it cannot see. The flint’s speak seems dull (when compared to the brightness of the cliff’s eye). Without moving one step one may trample down the Golden Wheel. Mount Chiri is riding upon an ox which a dragon-stallion is leading.”

Once an official in the imperial household named Ch’eng came and made an offering to Venerable Master Yun-Chu and asked, “The Tathagata has an esoteric teaching which Kashyapa does not conceal. What is the meaning of this?”

The Master called, “Officer!”
Official Ch’eng replied, “Yes?”
The Master asked, “Do you understand?”
The Official said, “No, I do not understand.”
Master Yun-Chu told him, “If you do not understand, then the Buddha does have an esoteric teaching; but if you understand, then Kashyapa does not conceal it.”

Another monk, Ch’ang Ling Cho, once ascended the platform and, commenting on this conversation, said, “How strange it is! Such a unique thing should be searched for by such a man. Do you know the Tathagata’s esoteric teaching which was leaked by Yun-Chu? If you still do not know it, though you see the wind blowing on a sail, you still pull up your sleeves.”

Then Master Ku San said, “I am not of the same opinion. Should I have been there when Officer Ch’eng asked his question, I would have said, ‘The blizzard strikes against the window and its cold cuts to the marrow.’ May the assembly consider this! Isn’t the blizzard striking against the window the Buddha’s esoteric teaching? And isn’t the cold which pierces to the marrow precisely what Kashyapa revealed? Should you understand, then this is the assembly on Vulture peak. You have to be such men in order to understand.”

“Take care!”

The Master descended.
 
Fifth Lecture

The Master ascended the High Seat, struck his staff three times, and said, “I dare to ask this assembly: Everybody says that the World Honored One completed the Path on the eighth day of the last month (of the lunar calendar), but is this actually true or not? If you say that the Tathagata attained realization, then you slander the Buddha. But if you say that He did not realize the Path, then you are also slandering the Buddha. May the assembly speak! What is correct?” After a pause, he shouted and said, “An ox in Sun-cheon eats grass, and a horse’s stomach in Jeju-do bursts. Do you understand?”

“Kalpas ago, as numerous as dust-motes, Buddhahood was already achieved. In order to ferry-across sentient beings He manifested spiritual powers. One strike of this staff pervades worlds as numerous as grains of sand. And the Tathagata’s work is already completed.”

“This ends the formal Dharma-lecture. However as you have all been diligent in your practice during this retreat season, I would like now to add a few words about my own practice.”

“In the past I was staying at a hermitage called Su-do Am near Chong-am Monastery all together for about five years. I was entrusted with the responsibility for looking after that small hermitage which was as destitute as the shell of an egg. During those five years it was mainly through alms gathering that I was able to obtain the provisions for the community of about seven or eight monks.”

“Among those monks there was one named Peop-ch’un Sunim, who practiced hard both day and night. One morning this monk accompanied me to a small town in the locality, called Sang-ju where we had some business to take of. We were invited to have lunch at the house of a lay-adherent in the town. Unfortunately, after the meal, my companion had completely ruined his stomach in a way that couldn’t be amended. Now in those days in that town there were no hospital facilities available where this monk could undergo an operation. We went to different physicians specialized in oriental and western medicine trying to arrange for treatment. Finally we found a doctor who examined him and, discretely taking me aside, asked, ‘Hasn’t this venerable been suffering from some kind of stomach disorder in the past?’”

“Actually there had been a time when this monk was living at Chiri Mountain, observing the ascetic practice of abstaining from eating grains and cooked foods, his sustenance consisting mainly of pine-needles and wild plants. After following this regime for some two or three years, he happened to be in Chin-ju one day, where a lay-follower, knowing of the hardships he had been enduring in the mountains, prepared some fancy glutinous rice especially for him. After such a long period of abstinence you can imagine his delight during that meal. However, having long been accustomed to raw food, his stomach could no longer bear that type of meal, and his stomach was injured permanently. This was the cause of his illness which had now become so acute. If he was not taken to Daegu, the nearest big city, before the next morning, his chances of survival were slight. The doctor urged me to take good care of him in the meanwhile. By the time we had consulted the doctor and received his diagnosis, it was quite impossible to get him to Daegu by the deadline as it was already late in the evening.”

“While helping him back to the lay-person’s home, he rested his head on my shoulder and sighed in distress, ‘Please practice earnestly and endeavor to ferry me across.’ This was his last request. I interpreted this to mean that my companion had given up all hope of survival. I replied, ‘It is our way of life to be aware of the impermanence of life; therefore we must be prepared for our departure at any moment. As far as the relationship between friends on the path is concerned, we should assist one another from one life to the next. So if I get enlightened first, I will help to ferry you across, and vice-versa. Consequently, you don’t need to worry.’”

“Finally, the next morning around six o’clock he yielded up his spirit. After arranging for the cremation, I started out on the return journey to Su-do Am. On the way I reflected, ‘Ah! When we went out we were two, but after having dispersed his remaining bones I’m now going back alone!’ Feeling quite sad, I resolved right then to awaken before his forty-ninth day death ceremony so that I could help ferry him across.”

“It was after the end of the Summer meditation retreat, but as I was still responsible for the requirements of the community, I could not immediately enter retreat. By the time I had arranged for the provisions, there were only eight days remaining before the death ceremony. You can imagine my urgency!”

“There was a small cabin behind the hermitage called Cheong-gak or Full Enlightenment. I arranged for food to be brought to me there twice daily, intending to enter a retreat of non-sleeping practice. After four days of sitting, I realized that much of my samadhi-power obtained from previous practice had been dissipated during the activities of the last few weeks. Most of the time I was alternately plagued by either drowsiness or fantasizing. With such poor practice how could I ever be able to help my friend at the time of the death ceremony? Consequently, I decided to fight drowsiness by meditating in the standing posture with palms together. After five days the other monks came to consult with me about the ceremony which was to take place in a few days, but I sent them back to arrange for it themselves together with the relatives of the deceased. Staying alone, I decided that I wouldn’t give up under any pretext, even if I was about to die ? such was my determination to continue on.”

“In standing meditation, the hardest part is to get over the first two hours, after which the main difficulties are overcome. Whether sitting, reclining or standing, it is finally all the same as the body settles (in samadhi). Consequently, although seven full days had passed since I had begun this practice, I felt neither tiredness nor pain in my legs.”

“The ancient Masters had good reason for advocating this type of sleepless practice, for as it drew near to nine pm on the last day, the clock on the wall made a click as usual before striking the hour. It was on hearing that click that I took one step over. On that occasion I composed the following gatha”:

“One sound: The three thousand-fold worlds are swallowed up. This fellow appears alone and shouts nine repeated ‘Hahs!’ the tick tock of the clock is but the all-embracing exposition of the Teaching. Piece by piece, the metal and wood is but the pure Dharmakaya.

“What does it mean when the clock strikes nine?”

“This type of intense standing practice removed my obstructions caused by torpor and restlessness. Its effect was like a clear sky completely clear of clouds. It instantaneously allowed me to enter and abide at the original place. It was in this manner that I stood throughout those seven days and nights. Hence, if practitioners having gone a little way on the path start to lose their impetus, as if their underpants were slipping down, these type of people are quite worthless, whatever they try to do. Those who have their minds set on cultivation should be endowed with spirits which would be willing to bore through rock with their fingers if it was necessary in order to become enlightened. Since we are close to the end of this retreat, know this and act accordingly.”

The Master struck his staff three times and descended from the Dharma-seat.
 
Sixth Lecture

The Master mounted the platform, struck his staff three times, and addressing the assembly, said, “Originally all is unborn; so how is there any death? This active-wonder is the Master Vairocana. May today’s departed spirit and the assembly of monks speak! Have you understood this one word, active-wonder?” After a pause the Master gave a loud shout and said, “The clouds disperse over ten-thousand li and the solitary moon shines. The Sutra (of Complete Enlightenment) says: ‘If one mind is purified, many minds are purified; if many minds are purified, the dharmadhatu is purified.’ May the assembly speak! What is the one mind?”

After a pause he lifted his staff, and striking it down once, said, “You can hear this clearly.” Raising his staff again, he said, “You can see this distinctly. (Is the one mind) apart from this seeing and hearing, or is it precisely this seeing and hearing?” The assembly remained silent.

The Master continued, “If someone were to ask me, I would say, ‘The clouds gather over the South Seas; it rains on the northern mountains.’” A gatha says:

“It is not form, not voidness, and not non-void. It exists neither within, without, nor in between. One ray of the red sun pervades worlds which are as numerous as sand grains. A stone horse turns his head and breaks out of the clay cage.”

“Again I will give some superfluous explanations (lit. add feet to a snake). When you are practicing there are times when it goes well, and times when it goes badly. Sometimes it is like pushing a boat over ice; but you should not then give rise to thoughts of joy, for you would then be captured by the Mara of joy. At other times it is like trying to pull an ox into a well; but there is no need then to give rise to thoughts of sadness or self-denigration, for you would then be apprehended by the Mara of sadness and denigration.”

“Sometimes you have headaches, dimness of vision, or a feeling as if your teeth were falling out. At other times when you are walking it seems as if the wind is blowing or the earth is wobbling; but you should not give into feelings of fear or thoughts of dread. Don’t let the hua-t’ou go, for these are only states of mind produced from tension in the body. Those people, who, under such circumstances, would lay down the hua-t’ou, will never achieve anything in their practice.”

“When the vital-energy rises (to the head and produces tension) you should establish your will like a mountain, and calm your mind like the sea. Sit erect on your cushion and contemplate the tan-t’ien (Jap. Hara) with the mind’s eye. (When you are troubled by headaches) gently put the feeling of doubt into the tan-t’ien.
Through this unawareness and non-attention the hua-t’ou will quickly ripen. Eventually the body will seem to be like empty space; it will seem both to exist, and not to exist. When the mind and body are very light and comfortable, you will gradually enter into auspicious states. As you are now transmuting iron into gold, you ought to be very careful. Be diligent!”

“The mountains move, the moon doesn’t move. Everywhere is a Bodhimandala. We drift along following the waves. On the thoroughfare a stone man gives his congratulations.”

The Master said, “Take care!” and raising his staff, struck it down three times, and descended from the platform.
 
Last Lecture

From the High Seat the Master said, “Today we have reached the end of the year. As you were able to finish an arduous seven-day non-sleeping period of meditation without any consideration for life or death, are you now able to tread that Path leading upwards which has been trodden by all the ancients? Any monk endowed with the Dharma-eye, speak! What is that Path?” After a pause, the Master lifted his staff, struck it once against the seat and said, “On the last day of the year when you meet the iron cudgel of Emperor Yama, should you not understand, the there will be no way (of escape) leading up towards the heavens and no gate entering down into the earth. When the light of your eyes falls to the earth, what will you do? You must get rid of any merit and realization, transcend any passionate discrimination and apprehend and defeat the Buddhas and Patriarchs. Only then will you be able to avoid the iron cudgel. Do you understand?”

“A hedgehog swallows the mountains, and the four seas are calmed. A clay ox exhales the air, and the ten-thousand regions are in Spring. The moon rises and the stone horse frees himself from the cage of sand. Anywhere we go we are the King, and everything is Truth.”

Quoting from an old record, the Master said, “A monk asked Ts’ao-shan, ‘When a child (disciple) returns to his father (Master) after the completion of his studies (i.e. when both are of equal attainment), why does the father completely ignore him?’”

The Master said, “That is the way it should be.”
The monk asked, “Then where is the love between father and son?”
Ts’ao-shan answered, “That is the consummation of the love between father and son.”
The monk asked, “What is that love?”
Ts’ao-shan replied, “Even though we cut it with a knife or an axe, it cannot be split.”

T’ien Tung-chiao said, “The path that the bright moon follows through the sky and the summit of the mountains towering over the roofs: both step back and display their talents. They share the same body and the same fate. At that point the meaning of ‘though we cut it with a knife or an axe, it cannot be split’ is understood. Can you comprehend this yet? When the Essence is shining fully it does not rely on anything, and the whole body is united to the Tao.”

“Should I (Ku San) have been asked, ‘What is the love between father and son?’ my reply would have been: ‘The precious sword splits the water; an arrow tip pierces the sky. The moon on the full-moon night doesn’t need to wait for any other brightness. Transmitting the Mind with the Minds is like transmitting fire with fire.’”

“The flower’s heart contains nectar and produces the fruit. Butterflies and bees come in time (to collect nectar), but they do not crave (for the flowers).”

The Master then descended from the High Seat, and joined the community in chanting the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows.
 

Lecture for the Guidance of a Departed Spirit

The Master mounted the High Seat, struck his staff and said:

“One Thing is constantly spiritually active; its sublime functioning is manifold. Can you understand that originally there is no birth or death? When we discard the sense bases and sense objects the essence manifests fully. The mountains, rivers, and the great earth are my home.”

“May the assembly of monks gathered here and today’s departed spirit speak! Do you understand the principle of this One Thing which is constantly spiritually active?” After a pause, the Master shouted and said, “This staff supports heaven and sustains the earth. It cuts off the three time-periods and completes all things in creation. Again I ask you, can you fully comprehend the Unmoving Ground you were originally endowed with before your parents gave birth to you? If you have understood, you walk hand in hand with all the Buddhas and Patriarchs of the three time-periods. However if you have not yet realized it, you fall into ignorance, extreme hardship and tremendous pain. How is it possible to avoid that suffering? You must grasp the three-foot Dragon-spring sword and cutoff the horns of the lion who sits atop the eighty thousand foot high peak?then you will be able to avoid it. A poem says:

“At the peak’s tip where there is no shadow,
the rivers do not flow.
The light from the sword which is radiant like
Lightning reaches to the Pleiades.
Alone I walk through heaven and earth
without any companions.
The Buddhas and Patriarchs of the ten directions
do not talk with one another.”

The Master, quoting from The Complete and Sudden Attainment of Buddhahood by the National Master Bojo, said, “ ‘ If one universally shines over all sentient beings with the Buddha’s bright universal wisdom which comes from one’s own mind, then sentient beings are all Buddhas, their speech is the speech of Buddhas, and their minds are the minds of the Buddhas. Furthermore, all ways of earning a living and all arts and crafts are the form and functioning of this bright universal wisdom. There is no distinction whatsoever. Simply because sentient beings deceive themselves they say, ‘this is sage’, ‘that is an ordinary man’; ‘this is me’, ‘that is someone else’; ‘this is cause’, and ‘that effect’; ‘this is unclean’ and ‘that is pure’; ‘this is essence’, ‘that is form.’ They themselves produce discriminations, and regress on the path. Since this is not something which is intentionally produced from the bright universal wisdom, if one can produce a mind of ardor and awaken to the fact that ignorance is originally immaterial and originally Truth, then one awakens to the constant, effortless Dharma of great function which is precisely the immovable wisdom of all the Buddhas.’” The Master then recited his own poem:

“On the lofty mountains clouds scatter and rivers flow. The void spirit peacefully and marvelously is apparent before us. The thousands of worlds which are like grains of sand, become one whole. White snow fills the courtyard,
And magnolia blossoms bloom.”

The Master raised his staff, struck it on the High seat, and descended.

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