The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Three: Practice


The Founding Master said, “Ordinary people consider practice to consist of always sitting quietly in meditation, reciting the Buddha’s name, and reading scriptures, and do not realize that there exists a practice conducted throughout everyday life. How, then, can they be said to have learned the great dharma of practice in both internal and external absorption and quiescence? Generally, the great practice involves initially inquiry into the principle of one’s own self-nature and realizing the realm that is originally free from attachment, and then in everyday life performing actions that are free from attachment. People who keep to this road will in good time attain great ability. If a practitioner, in doing any one thing, does not become distracted by something else, that is in effect the practice of one-pointedness of mind; if in doing one thing the practitioner seeks knowledge of that particular matter in its proper order, and in doing another does the same, that is in effect the practice of Inquiry; if one is free from wrong when handling this or that matter, that is in effect the practice of Choice. If in one’s free time one focuses on ‘one-pointedness of mind’ by reciting the Buddha’s name or sitting in meditation, or on ‘Inquiry’ by deepening one’s acquaintance with the scriptures, and one continues to practice unremittingly whether or not one is involved in activity, then inevitably the power of Cultivation will accumulate in Spirit, the power of Inquiry will be gained in Human Affairs and Universal Principles, and the power of Choice will develop in Action. Look! Ever since Song Kyu entered our order, he has been so busy working at our headquarters and our branch temples in the countryside that he has been unable to attend even a three-month Sŏn-retreat. But if we were to examine his current abilities, as regards the power of his Cultivation of the Spirit he has severed most of his attachments and cravings, so that he is little given to the influences of joy and anger, sorrow and happiness, or of remoteness or closeness, intimacy or distance; as regards the power of his Inquiry into Human Affairs and Universal Principles, he understands and analyzes in broad swath the right and wrong, benefit and harm, of human affairs, and the great or small, being and nonbeing, of universal principles; and as regards the power of his Choice in Action, he can clearly distinguish right and wrong, and is thereby able to practice right actions eight or nine times out of ten. When I read the letters he sends even while he is so busy at the office, I can surmise that not only has he a profound understanding of the truth, but also a writing style that is easy for ordinary people to understand, and employs reasoning that is clear and accurate, so that there is very little that needs to be revised. It will not be long before he gains mastery of the three great powers and becomes a precious personage who will benefit the masses wherever he goes. This is in fact the merit that results from unremitting practice in both action and rest. All of you too must advance still further in your practice in timeless Sŏn of ‘one suchness in action and rest’ so that you will gain the three great powers you seek.”