Dharma Speech by Ven. Zen Master Young San Seong Do
I wholeheartedly thank you for your invitation to this great conference.
I am just a simple practicing Buddhist monk from Korea. My name is Young San Seong Do.
Now that this beautiful global village is faced with a very serious crisis caused by our mankind’s moral corruption and religious frictions, a few foresighted leaders of religion, having realized the absolute need for dialogue that transcends the barrier between religions, have organized this meeting of dialogue. Today, regarding their great effort, this humble monk would cordially like to eulogize again the host organization.
I take it that you have invited me for the purpose of hearing from a Buddhist monk at firsthand how Buddhists would overcome all violence, or other hostilities. Before I begin, I'd like to obtain your tolerant consent for I will be quoting many phrases of Buddha.
2500 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha has declared: “This world is called Sabha.”
Sabha means this wearisome world where no one can live without having to endure suffering. The number of pangs that exist in this world are as many as 84000 and these would incessantly anguish the minds of sentient beings. Looking from this perspective, it would not be so difficult for us to believe that all sorts of violence and aggressions today are not new but only a small fraction of the 84000 kinds of sufferings. Then: Why are all beings destined to pass through such hardship?
The Sutra says: “The reason is due to their previous Karmas which are good or bad,” and the old Testament, in Genesis, says that all mankind's distress originated from the Original Sin of Adam and Eve who violated the word of God due to their curiosities. Believe it or not, it is a fact that we, all human beings, are always experiencing incessant sufferings.
When we look back in history, we can all agree that the most atrocious violence against a man was the act of hanging Jesus Christ on the cross and driving many big nails into him. I am sure that the crucifixion must have been the most cruel form of all violent actions throughout all history of human beings. But, as you know well, what was Jesus' reaction to that? Didn't he just pray calmly: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”?
To endure his own pain of taking up the cross and forgiving his persecutors were the teachings of Christ. I think that we as religionists must never forget this teaching.
Shakyamuni Buddha was also like that. 2500 years ago, when his former Kingdom Gapira was invaded and his entire Shakya clan was on the brink of extinction, just at that time, Maudgalyayana, a disciple with supernatural powers, appeared before Buddha and requested him: “If I was to be allowed to use my supernatural powers to defeat the invaders, I could save all of the Shakya clan.” At that time, Buddha, in a calm voice, taught: “Maudgalyayana, do not mistake the true Dharma for using such worldly sorcery. On the contrary: Keep your own mind peaceful and silent, enter Samadhi.” And Buddha, too, calmly entered Samadhi unperturbed (i.e. he kept a calm, peaceful, and unmoving mind).
As we have now retraced the steps of these two great saints, we can clearly see that the essence of their teaching is to retain one’s own purity of heart in overcoming one’s difficulties under any kind of hardship. That is to say, retaining one’s purity of heart is the best way of overcoming all violences.
The New Testament, in the Matthew Gospel, chapter 5 paragraph 8, says: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This means that “the pure in heart“ will be able to go to the Kingdom of Heaven and live together with God.
The Sutra also says: “The Purity of Mind is better than building the Seven Jewel Stupas as innumerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges. Why? Because the Seven Jewel Stupas will finally be reduced to dust, but the Purity of Mind produces enlightenment.”
As we have seen from the lives of two saints, the Purity of Mind can make us overcome all obstacles such as violence or hostilities. What is more important is that the Purity of Mind itself is called “the Kingdom of Heaven” in the bible and “Enlightenment“ or “Buddha” in the sutra.
I am positive that if only all human beings could attain the Purity of Mind and retain it constantly, all violence in this global village will perpetually disappear and enduring world peace can be fulfilled.
Here, I would like to guide you in Zen practice.
The essence of Zen practice is to attain the Purity of Mind and to retain it.
Zen is the ultimate of Buddhist practices and Zen is a practice to see one's own mind directly and to remove all illusions. The impure mind means the illusive mind obsessed with lots of ideas or the 84000 passions. This is called the mind of sentient beings. On the other hand the pure mind is called „enlightenment“ or „the holy paradise”. Then: This impure mind of sentient beings is whose mind and where is it now? And the pure mind of Buddha is also whose mind and where is it now?
The impure mind and the pure mind together are clearly now, here, just before us. That is to say: The two kinds of mind are originally one - my own mind. But it is not easy for us to see our own mind even though it is clearly now, here, just before us.
How hard we may try to purify our mind from the 84000 passions, it will not be possible without seeing our mind directly. Because, without seeing our mind, we can’t understand whether our mind is pure or impure. Therefore, this monk would like to recommend Sitting Zen Practice to all believers. As said earlier, Sitting Zen is a practice to see one's mind directly. The practice of Sitting Zen will never interfere with one’s religious life, so there is no reason to regard it as a taboo. In fact, it is quite easy to practice Sitting Zen if you follow my instruction and learn how to sit still.
Regardless of one’s religion, through Sitting Zen, one can be more vigorous in his spiritual life, improve health, clarify the mind and enhance one’s understanding of religious doctrines and texts.
I do not instruct Zen practice in order to convert people of other creeds to Buddhism. I don’t think it is sound for people to abandon their own belief at once and convert to other religions. Why? Because having a religious belief is also connected to one's own previous Karma.
As a true pious religionist, one shouldn’t tamper with the religious life of others or confuse others' faith for the interest of one's own religion. This would contradict the very meaning of religion. But for those who do not yet have a religion, I do advice them to adopt a religion that suits their life style.
Maybe some of you wonder why I stayed in Europe and founded a Buddhist temple here.
I do not propagate Buddhism to people of other religious groups. But I see many young modern people in Europe who have lost their sanity and have fallen into the dilemma of depression. They are bringing themselves and this society to a dead end. This generation is jeopardising the entire mankind.
For this generation I offer Sitting Zen Practice so that they can find the right path to their precious and beautiful lives. For this reason I have built a Zen centre in Germany. I firmly believe that such guidance is the true Buddha's teaching and I always confidently advocate Zen practice to people of all creed so that they can dedicate themselves more strongly to their religious lives, of whatever religion, through Zen. It really saddens my heart to witness so called religious people who cannot control their own mind and thereby allow themselves in misconduct beyond retrieval.
Zen meditation is a practice to fully control your own mind. Zen practice leads you directly to your pure mind, allows you to witness your true soul, and provides you with countless wisdom and enough energy for your profound realisation of a sound life.
In Buddhism “enlightenment“ means “to clearly understand one's True Mind“.
Once you see your True Mind and realise it, you come to understand all secrets and mysteries of life and death, and you would be forever free from all obstacles. Realising one's True Mind, i.e. enlightenment, is not directly related to philosophical views, accumulation of knowledge, or deep intellectual research.
For example, about 1200 years ago in southern China, there lived a young woodcutter who was uneducated. Carrying firewood on his back he went to the market to sell it. On his way back, passing by a small inn, he heard a monk reciting a sutra in his room with the window opened and upon hearing these unknown phrases he had a great sudden realisation. Later, this young woodcutter became a monk named Hui-neng and he changed the entire history of Chinese Buddhism. He is honoured by us today as the Sixth Patriarch, in a lineage starting with Bodhidharma as the first Patriarch in China.
One day, just before he was ordained as the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng passed a temple called “Beob Sung Sa“ and came to overhear an argument that was going on between two monks sitting on a rock. They were arguing about a flapping flag on a pole. One of the monks was claiming that the thing that was moving was the flag, but the other monk objected that it was indeed the wind and not the flag that was moving. When one considers the causal agent of movement, this argument, however trivial it may appear, does not really allow for an easy answer.
At that time Hui-neng approached the two monks and said: “What really is moving is neither the wind nor the flag.” Completely shocked by this totally unexpected answer to their argument, the two monks asked Hui-neng: “Pardon us, Sir, but then: What is it that really moves?” Hui-neng replied: “What is moving is just your mind.”
If a Christian were to ask me: “How will we be able to overcome all violence?“, I’d reply: “Why don’t you believe in the Bible, and why don’t you repent your own sins?”
If you truly realize that all violence and hostile aggressions are just the reward of your own sins, all pangs will vanish clearly. And if a Buddhist asked me the above question, I would reply as the following: “Why don’t you believe in the teaching of Buddha? All good and bad situations are just the reward of your previous karma - didn’t Buddha say so? Then: Where does the reward of all good and bad originate from?”
All beings, if only they were to realise their clear minds and retain them all the time, will be free from all violence and hostilities.
If someone asked me: “Venerable monk, how do you overcome your own experiences of violence or hostilities?", I’d say:
When cold, I put on clothes,
When hot, I take them off.