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Lions Roar : May 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2006 75 The student rubbed his head. “I think I understand ...” “You understand? So I ask you, what is attainment? What is there to attain?” “Emptiness,” the man replied. “Emptiness?” Zen Master Seung Sahn asked. “But in true emptiness, there is no name and no form. So there is also no attainment. Even opening your mouth to express it, you are already mistaken. If you say, ‘I have attained true emptiness,’ you are wrong.” “Hmmm,” the student said. “I’m beginning to understand. At least I think I am.” “The universe is always true emptiness, OK? Now you are living in a dream. Wake up! Then you will soon understand.” “How can I wake up?” “I hit you!” [Laughter from the audience.] “Very easy, yah?” The student was silent for a few moments, while Zen Master Seung Sahn eyed him intently. “I still don’t get it. Would you please explain a bit more?” “OK. Can you see your eyes?” “Yes, I can.” “Oh? How?” “By looking in a mirror.” “That’s not your eyes! That is only a reflection of your eyes. So your eyes cannot see your eyes. If you try to see your eyes, it’s already a big mistake. Talking about enlightenment is also like that. It’s like your eyes trying to see your eyes.” “But my question is, when you were a young monk, you had the actual experience of enlightenment. What was this experience?” “I hit you! Ha ha ha ha!” The student was silent. “OK, one more try. Suppose we have before us some honey, some sugar, and a banana. All of them are sweet. Can you explain the difference between honey’s sweetness, sugar’s sweetness, and banana’s sweetness?” “Hmmm ...” “But each has a different sweetness, yah? How can you explain it to me?” The student looked suddenly even more perplexed. “I don’t know ...” The Zen master continued, “Well, you could say to me, ‘Open your mouth. This is honey, this is sugar, and this is banana!’ Ha ha ha ha! So if you want to understand enlightenment, it’s already making something. Don’t make anything. Moment to moment, just do it. That’s already enlightenment. So, first understand your true self. To understand your true self, you must understand the meaning of my hitting you. I have already put enlightenment into your mind. Ha ha ha ha!” [Extended laughter from the audience]