The Compass of Zen (Shambhala Dragon Editions)
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The Compass of Zen is a simple, exhaustive—and often hilarious—presentation of the essence of Zen by a modern Zen Master of considerable renown. In his many years of teaching throughout the world, the Korean-born Zen Master Seung Sahn has become known for his ability to cut to the heart of Buddhist teaching in a way that is strikingly clear, yet free of esoteric and academic language. In this book, based largely on his talks, he presents the basic teachings of Buddhism and Zen in a way that is wonderfully accessible for beginners—yet so rich with stories, insights, and personal experiences that long-time meditation students will also find it a source of inspiration and a resource for study.
Man Gong Sunim practiced diligently and worked very hard around the temple. Five years passed since his meeting with Zen Master Kyong Ho. In a short time he mastered all of the ceremonial chants. It is said about Man Gong Sunim that when he opened his mouth to chant, the very sound of heaven itself came out. Many Buddhist faithful would ask him to chant ceremonies for them, so he was always very, very busy. From morning to night, Man Gong Sunim chanted, often missing meals in order to satisfy
cause and effect, name and form. That just comes from my thinking mind! Now I see that this mind is completely empty, this world is empty, everything is empty!” So how can anything ever come or go? How can original substance ever change? This is the meaning of the lines, “Sky is sky, earth is earth—when did they ever revolve?” In complete emptiness, nothing ever comes or goes. Sky is just sky; earth is just earth. Your mind is not moving, and never attaches to names and forms. This is a state of
he saw that one of the great waterfalls had started flowing up! Wuuuhhhhh! The water jumped from the ground and ran up to the top of the cliff, turned at the edge, and flowed back into the mountain. Sam Myong was very surprised. “Teacher! Teacher!” he shouted, anxiously tapping So Sahn Dae Sa on the back as he walked ahead. “Teacher, what’s happening?” But So Sahn did not turn and only kept walking. “Why are you surprised?” the Zen master said over his shoulder. “This is just the same as your
cannot save your life. Rather, from moment to moment, what are you doing, right now? Always keep a clear mind, and then when you are doing something, you just do it. Even if you understand that the blue sky is truth, and the green tree is truth, when you don’t keep a clear mind from moment to moment, this understanding cannot function correctly to help your life. So moment-to-moment do-it mind is very important. Just-now mind. It has no subject and no object. You only function clearly in this
there, back and forth, coming and going, always doing errands. But perhaps one day someone suddenly hits your car, and it is all broken. It is completely totaled, and you cannot use it anymore. But even if this car is completely broken, you don’t die. Before the accident you worked hard and paid money, and you have some good insurance. So a good car appears again! Ha ha ha ha! Before, your car was used and worn out anyway, yet now a new car appears. You get to drive a brand-new car. So the car