Authentic Natural Self

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"Before thinking" is easy to talk about but difficult to practice. Our desire, anger and ignorance are so powerful, so encompassing and solid that we don’t even recognize their impact. Many people who first hear about before thinking find it absurd. Others feel that it is impossible to not attach to their thinking.

This leads us to the realm of Zen practice. Though our delusion seems enormous and our suffering feels so daunting and profound, Zen practice offers us a way to deconstruct our delusion. We can live a more centered and grounded life, in order to work with our desire and anger, so that we can reconnect with that authentic natural self which is always shining and free.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Purpose of Zen

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That's Zen mind. It's not being perfect. It's not being able to do everything right, and do it in such a way that somebody will tell this wonderful story about you that a thousand years from now people will still be talking about. It's simply paying attention, meeting the moment and helping. Our teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn said, "The purpose of Zen is to attain your true self and help others." So the helping others, that's pretty clear. Not judgmental, not with any sense of superiority. Attain your true self. What am I? Just help. 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Believe in Yourself 100%

Zen Master Seung Sahn, our founding teacher, with his stick, used to poke us right here (pointing the stick at navel).  He'd poke us and say, "Make your center Stronger....Stronger! Stronger! You must believe in yourself 100%!"

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But what does that mean, believe in yourself? Make your center stronger and believe in your own true nature 100%. Not your idea of who you think you are. But that who you are, before the concept of yourself even arises. What I am talking about is that we make a self concept, "I am this, or I am that." Then we want everybody else to believe that, so we spend our lives convincing ourselves and others that "I am this and I am that." But maybe I am not really that. And in that trying to convince, I get farther and farther and farther away from that true nature.  

Our Zen practice is so simple: Sit down, bring your attention to your lower abdomen, then watch. Then watch your experience. Don't push anything away. Don't grasp at anything. Observe.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Don't Look Outside of Yourself

The Buddha's enlightenment was about realizing what we already are. The Buddha's enlightenment wasn't about finding something outside of ourselves that suddenly now make us complete. It's finding and connecting to what we already are. We already have it. It's not something that we need to create, or get from somebody else. When we hear, "we already have it, don't look outside of yourself", it can bring up a view that myself is in the boundaries of this skin. But the confusing contradiction is that when you look really deeply, this whole universe is myself. I don't stop at the boundaries of my skin.

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So, don't look outside of yourself doesn't necessarily mean don't pay attention to everything around you. You are it! You and I are not separate. Our thinking makes us separate. Our self-centered "I-ness" makes us separate. But how do you really know where you and I begin?

By Zen Maser Bon Soeng



 

Just Hear The Bell

When the bell was hit tonight during the Evening Bell Chant, some people thought… “Uhmm, wonderful… Oh, great!” Other people thought, “Not loud enough!” Other people said, “I wish he’d do it faster!” Somebody else said, “What’s he doing?”

All that is commentary. Don’t-Know means let go of the commentary and just hear the bell. Simple as that. You and the bell become one. Where is the separation?

I believe I am here, and the bell is there. But that’s my idea. Where is the separation between you and the bell? Between you, (ZMBS picks up the stick and hits it on the floor) and that sound? Where do you start and the sound end? (Hits the floor again.) You may have some idea about it, but actually you don’t know. If you just let that don’t know be, then it’s already complete. It doesn’t need anything more.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

The Meaning of Buddha's Birthday

Once a year, our school celebrates Buddha's birthday. We celebrate the birth of a man who was born somewhere between 2,500 - 2,600 years ago. But the meaning of this in Zen is not celebrating a man; it's celebrating this awakening. But it's not his awakening; it's our awakening. So what is our awakening?

Our awakening appears in this very moment. Buddha's enlightenment, Buddha's awakening was about waking up to the moment that we are actually in. We say very often, before this moment is a memory; after this moment is a dream. Right now, we are alive. Right now, Buddha is born. Not 2,500 years ago. Right now is the awakening of Buddha. Zen can seem esoteric, but it's not about some strange thing. It's about finding our true self and manifesting it right now in the moment we live in. 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

What is “I”?

What is this thing that I call, “I”.  What is it really? We think we know who we are—we have stories about ourselves. But what is it really?  We have our own limited human perception of things, and that's good, that helps us somewhat. But it's not the truth.

We create stories and ideas then we believe them and we get farther and farther away from the experience of the moment. This question, “What am I? What is this?”, brings us back to the moment. If we can stop the story for a moment, then we can actually experience, “What is this?”  

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Understand Yourself

The basic teaching of the Buddha was that if you want happiness, don’t go chasing after the things that you want or like, and don’t push away the things that you don’t like. It's chasing after what you want and the resisting of what you don’t want that causes suffering. The very simple truth, the Buddha said, was if you can stay present in this moment and accept what’s here, happiness actually arises. In a way that’s counterintuitive and a little bit preposterous. Happiness is not about getting what I want and not getting what I don’t want. If I just chase after that, I will actually suffer rather than be happy. That’s the basic Buddhist teaching.

The strategy we usually have to find some semblance of peace and happiness actually makes the situation worse, not better. Don’t take the Buddha’s word for it, don’t take my word for it. Investigate your own life. What happens when you chase after what you like? It’s not about understanding this teaching, it’s about finding out in your own life what works and what doesn't work. What brings love, peace and joy? What brings hate, suffering and despair? That’s all. You find your own way. The investigation that we do for ourselves is where the real gem is. You can do it from a Buddhist perspective, you can do it psychologically, you can do it in other religions, that’s all fine. It doesn't matter which way you do it. But the point the Buddha taught was “don’t take anything for granted or on faith, find out for your self”. What distinguishes Zen and Buddhism in general is that it gives a practice to actually find out your own truth. You don’t have to accept anybody else's idea. But to do that you have to understand yourself. 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Purpose of Zen

That's Zen mind. It's not being perfect. It's not being able to do everything right, and do it in such a way that somebody will tell this wonderful story about you that a thousand years from now people will still be talking about. It's simply paying attention, meeting the moment and helping.

Our teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn said, "The purpose of Zen is to attain your true self and help others." So the helping others, that's pretty clear. Not judgmental, not with any sense of superiority. Attain your true self. What am I? Just help. 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Believe in Yourself 100%

Zen Master Seung Sahn, our founding teacher, with his stick, used to poke us right here (pointing stick at navel).  He'd poke us and say, "Make your center Stronger....Stronger! Stronger! You must believe in yourself 100%!"

But what does that mean, believe in yourself? Make your center stronger and believe in your own true nature 100%. Not your idea of who you think you are. But that who you are, before the concept of yourself even arises. What I am talking about is that we make a self concept, "I am this, or I am that." Then we want everybody else to believe that, so we spend our lives convincing ourselves and others that "I am this and I am that." But maybe I am not really that. And in that trying to convince, I get farther and farther and farther away from that true nature.  

Our Zen practice is so simple: Sit down, bring your attention to your lower abdomen, then watch. Then watch your experience. Don't push anything away. Don't grasp at anything. Observe.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

The Meaning of Buddha's Birthday

Once a year, our school celebrates Buddha's birthday. We celebrate the birth of a man who was born somewhere between 2,500 - 2,600 years ago. But the meaning of this in Zen is not celebrating a man; it's celebrating this awakening. But it's not his awakening; it's our awakening. So what is our awakening?

Our awakening appears in this very moment. Buddha's enlightenment, Buddha's awakening was about waking up to the moment that we are actually in. We say very often, before this moment is a memory; after this moment is a dream. Right now, we are alive. Right now, Buddha is born. Not 2,500 years ago. Right now is the awakening of Buddha. Zen can seem esoteric, but it's not about some strange thing. It's about finding our true self and manifesting it right now in the moment we live in. 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Authentic Natural Self

"Before thinking" is easy to talk about but difficult to practice. Our desire, anger and ignorance are so powerful, so encompassing and solid that we don’t even recognize their impact. Many people who first hear about before thinking find it absurd. Others feel that it is impossible to not attach to their thinking.

This leads us to the realm of Zen practice. Though our delusion seems enormous and our suffering feels so daunting and profound, Zen practice offers us a way to deconstruct our delusion. We can live a more centered and grounded life, in order to work with our desire and anger, so that we can reconnect with that authentic natural self which is always shining and free.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

True Way

Our job is to really discover what our experience is. Don’t worry too much about what Buddhism says. Use the practice to discover your own experience and use that experience to attain your true self and help all beings. That’s authentic. That’s real. The teachings will help guide you, but use your own experience to find your true way, and then you can use that true way to help this world. Become who you really are. Each one of us has a different karmic life. Use yours to help the world. Okay?  
 
By Zen Master Bon Soeng