29 May 1999
Vesag Ceremony 2543
Dharma Speech given at the Ceremony
of Buddha's Birthday
Dharma Speech by Ven. Zen Master Young San Seong Do
Who is the one that is the highest and the noblest between heaven and earth?
When Shakyamuni Buddha, the World-honoured One, was born in the palace of King Suddhodana, 2500 years ago, he looked around, walked seven steps in the four directions of the East, West, South, and North and, pointing one hand to heaven and the other to earth, he burst out:
“Above the earth and below the heaven, only I am the most honoured one.”
People have diverse opinions regarding this particular utterance of Buddha but it is not easy to clearly understand this teaching of Buddha from a worldly point of view. Then: What does the word of his teaching imply?
It does not mean that only Shakyamuni Buddha himself is the highest and noblest between heaven and earth. On the contrary: Buddha enlightens us to the fact that each of all sentient beings, even an insect or a worm, already possesses the “I” which is the most honoured one in the world.
The Christian Bible says: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Kingdom of God, but by me.”
Where is the Kingdom of God? And here: What does the “I” mean?
The New Testament, Luke (17:21) says: “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
Here, what does the inside of you (”within you”) mean? We should understand that the “I” spoken of by Jesus was a kind of symbolic word that stands for each of all sentient beings.
One day, a disciple asked Jesus Christ: “How can we enter the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Jesus taught as follows: “Relinquish all things and follow me. Then the Kingdom of Heaven is yours!”
The above teachings should be understood as: Believe in yourself (true self), and follow yourself (true self). Then you will be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Originally, in truth there is no “I”. Why? Because if in truth there was a personal “I” this would be but a selfish “I”. The same is true of “the Most-honoured One” which, 2500 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha burst out.
What does “the Most-honoured One” mean?
The Diamond Sutra says:
“If anyone by form sees me,
And by sound seeks me,
This person practices a wrong path,
And cannot see the Tathagata (true nature).“
Here, we can understand that the authentic meaning of Buddha's and Jesus Christ’s doctrines are not different from each other. Therefore, originally, the Truth of all religions is just One. And yet the One cannot be distinguished, nor can it be explained, nor can it be imagined. That is, this One is beyond all names and forms. Then what?
So, an eminent teacher asked: “The ten thousand dharmas return to One. Then: Where does the One return to?”
I’d also like to ask you about this One: What is the genuine meaning of this One?
When you attain its original meaning, you will free yourself from all attachments.
Then everything is just as it is:
Mountain is just mountain,
And water is just water.