The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Three: Practice


During the conversation period, Chŏn Ŭmgwang was talking about the issue of the differences between those who practice and those who don’t: “Even people who don’t engage in our practice end up using all aspects of our Threefold Study in various situations; but once those situations pass, they become careless and indifferent, and therefore make no progress in their practice over their entire lifetimes. However, because we practitioners continue to practice in the Threefold Study regardless of whether it is a time of action or rest and whether we have work to do or not, if we diligently continue in accord with the dharma, we are sure to perfect great personal character.” The Founding Master listened to him and said, “What Ŭmgwang has said makes sense, but let me now elucidate this point more explicitly. Suppose three people are sitting here, one inquiring into machines, one doing sitting meditation, and the last one just sitting idly. From outside, there may be no difference in their seated appearance, but after much time has passed, great differences will appear between them. The one who was inquiring into machines will have invented something; the one who was doing sitting meditation will have attained the power of absorption with regard to his spirit; the one who was passing the days idly will have accomplished nothing. In this wise, there are great differences in the results forthcoming from working continuously on something. I will give you another example. There was a boy with whom I studied for a while as a child. He had little interest in studying but he liked to sing the music of kwangdae (traditional entertainers), and sang even while his books were open before him or when walking down the street. He didn’t stop singing even after his hair turned gray, and had become a locally acclaimed singer when I saw him a few years ago. On the other hand, from early in my youth I somehow began to have an interest in the matters of truth and had little interest in reading books; day and night my thoughts were on the one abstruse principle, to the point that I would forget to eat or sleep and was often absorbed in meditation. Ever since then, my dedicated efforts have never flagged, and as a result I have to this day led a life of truth. Looking at these examples, the most important element in a person’s life is choosing a direction; and, once you have decided on a direction and taken the right stance, continuously exerting yourself toward that goal without any selfish motives will be the foundation of success.”