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Lions Roar : May 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2006 74 Zen Master Seung Sahn replied, “OK, so first you must understand, what is time? One unit of time is an hour. But my thinking sometimes makes this hour very long, or very short. You go to the airport to pick up your girlfriend. You haven’t seen her in a long time. You wait at the airport, and the airplane is very late. Five, ten, twenty, thirty minutes— waiting, waiting, waiting. Even another half hour passes. Ten minutes seems like a whole day. So this one hour feels like a very, very long time because you want to see her very much, and you sit there saying, ‘Where is the plane? Why hasn’t it arrived yet?’ But yet some other time, you go dancing with friends, and dance all night, and even one hour seems to pass by very quickly. Now that same amount of time measured as ‘one hour’ seems very short. ‘A whole hour has already passed? It seems like only a minute!’ So mind makes one hour very long or very short. Time depends on thinking, because time is created by thinking. The Buddha taught this, and we can test it in our everyday life. ‘Everything is created by mind alone.’ “It is the same with space: Spain is here, and New York is there, Korea is over there, and Japan is over here. People in Spain say, ‘This way is north, that’s south, east, and west.’ But on the opposite side of the earth, Korean people say that north is here, south is over there, and east and west are here and here. If I stay here, my north, south, east, and west are like this. If I am not here, my north, south, east, and west disappear. Cause and effect are also the same: if I do some good action, I go to heaven; bad action, go to hell. That’s cause and effect. But if I don’t make anything, where doIgo? “So I make time, and space, and cause and effect. I make my world; you make your world. A cat makes a cat’s world. The dog makes the dog’s world. God makes God’s world. Buddha makes Buddha’s world. If you believe in God 100 percent, then when you die, and your world disappears, you go to God’s world. If you believe in Buddha 100 percent, then when your world disappears, you will go to Buddha’s world. But if you believe in your true self 100 percent, then you make your world, and that’s complete freedom: heaven or hell, coming and going anywhere with no hindrance.” Zen Master Seung Sahn looked at the questioner. “So I ask you, which one do you like?” The student was silent. “Anytime you open your mouth, your world appears.” The student asked, “So, who was the first person to open his mouth?” “You already understand!” Amid general laughter, the student was silent for a few moments. Then he bowed deeply. Enlightenment A student had the following exchange with Zen Master Seung Sahn: “What is enlightenment?” “Enlightenment is only a name,” he replied. “If you make enlighten- ment, then enlightenment exists. But if enlightenment exists, then ignorance exists, too. And that already makes an opposites-world. Good and bad, right and wrong, enlightened and ignorant—all of these are opposites. All opposites are just your own thinking. But truth is absolute, and is before any thinking or opposites appear. So if you make something, you will get something, and that something will be a hindrance. But if you don’t make anything, you will get everything, OK?” The student continued, “But is enlightenment really just a name? Doesn’t a Zen master have to attain the experience of enlightenment in order to become a Zen master?” “The Heart Sutra says that there is ‘no attainment, with nothing to attain.’ If enlightenment is attained, it is not true enlightenment. Having enlightenment is already a big mistake.” “Then is everyone already enlightened?” Zen Master Seung Sahn laughed and said, “Do you understand ‘no attainment’?” “ No.” “‘No attainment’ is true attainment. So I already told you about the Heart Sutra. It says, ‘There is no attainment, with nothing to attain.’ You must attain ‘no attainment.’” Good and bad, right and wrong, enlightened and ignorant—all of these are opposites. All opposites are just your own thinking. But truth is absolute, and is before any thinking or opposites appear.