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Dharma Talk on the Buddha’s Enlightenment Day
By Hyobong Sunim
Ascending the dharma platform and taking his seat, Hyobong Sunim said,
“Over the last 3,000 years, there have been many who criticized the Buddha but
few who praised him; the only one in the past who did so was Master Yunmen (雲門).
However, today, this ‘mountain monk’ is about to praise the Buddha.”
He recited a gatha:
What thought did he needlessly arouse about entering the Snowy Mountains?
Sitting quietly for six years, what did he accomplish?
It is said that he awakened to the Way at the sight of the morning star, But what is the Way and what also is awakening?
”The Buddha is a crazy thief who has sullied the pure and clear dharma realm, as well as a sinner who has fallen into the sea of the suffering of birth and death. The reason I say this is because the dharma realm is originally pure, clear, and impartial; so why did he speak of the distinctions between the six destinies of rebirth? All sentient beings enter supreme nirvana [無上涅槃], so why did he speak about the dharma of transmigrating through birth and death, which prompts sentient beings to arouse doubts in their own minds!”
He recited a gatha:
Taking seven steps in each direction was the beginning of the Buddha’s transgressions,
Displaying his Nirvana in the twin Sala grove was the end of his transgressions.
His transgressions have been irredeemable since the distant past, Where will he be able to repent?
He paused for a while and then said, “Today, this mountain monk will repent on the Buddha’s behalf before this assembly. Will the assembly accept it and forgive him?”
He paused again for a moment and said, “The transgressive karmic fruit of the Buddha have now vanished.”
He continued, “Generally speaking, if practitioners who are cultivating the Way simply calm their restless minds moment (kşana) by moment, right away they will be connected to the buddhas and patriarchs. Does the assembly in fact know the buddhas and patriarchs? That which, right before your very eyes, hears the dharma is in fact the buddhas and patriarchs, but practitioners of the Way often resist believing it. Hence, if one seeks [the buddhas and patriarchs] outside oneself, he will not attain it in the end.
The triple world is like a burning house where one cannot abide for long,
The evil spirit of
impermanence, moment after moment, never stops
Without discriminating between noble and humble, young or old.
“In order to avoid the invasion of this evil spirit, one more than anything one must first find the Buddha. Where is the Buddha? This assembly’s one thought of pure and clear radiance is exactly the dharma-body buddha (dharmakaya-buddha) in your own family’s dharma hall; one thought of this body being free from discrimination is exactly the reward-body of the buddha (sambhogakaya-buddha) in your own family’s dharma hall; one thought of acting with the wisdom that is free from contaminants is exactly the transformation-body buddha (nirmanakaya-buddha) in your own family’s dharma hall.
“Commentators consider these three buddhas to be the most precise standards, but this mountain monk’s view is different. In my view, they are like wanderers who have left their homes; the equanimous enlightenment and sublime enlightenment (of the buddhas) are like a person in bondage; ‘voice-hearers’ [sravakas] and ‘solitary realizers’ [pratyekabuddhas] are like turds in an outhouse; bodhi and nirvana are like a blind man’s mirror. Because ordinary practitioners do not awaken to the emptiness of the three asamkhyeyakalpas [infinite eons], they are subject to such obstructions, but this is not the case with the true sages. At the moment a thought arises, there never is a thought present: They eat and put on their clothes as they may, come and go as they may, and sit or lie down as they may; at any time or place, they manifest themselves in only one way. Furthermore, they do not even have a thought of seeking the Buddha. Therefore, if you try to seek the Buddha, you only become entangled by the Buddha; if you try to seek the patriarchs, you become entangled by the patriarchs. Seeking is nothing but suffering, which is worse than if one had not sought anything at all.”
He recited a gatha:
Whatever thoughts one may have,
Make it difficult to become a person of no-affairs.
If one suddenly forgets all things at once,
There will be no final eight days in the last month of the year.
He raised his staff, struck the platform once, and said: “Today, there are many in this dharma assembly who have been listening to the dharma, but only one person among them will gain benefit. I ask you, ‘Who is this person?’ Aak!” He then descended from the dharma platform.
Dharma talk given on the
Buddha’s Enlightenment Day, December 8, 1948, at Haein-sa monastery, Gaya chongnim