The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Three: Practice


Yang Tosin asked the Founding Master, “We have been trying our best to follow your instructions not to be distracted by one thing while doing another, and to try to maintain a peaceful and undivided state of mind whenever we’re doing something. However, recently while sewing I also had to prepare some herbal medicine, and I ended up burning the medicine because I was fully engrossed in my sewing. But if I were to attend closely to the medicine while I was sewing, then that would mean that something distracted me while I was doing some-thing else. On the other hand, if I were to pay close attention just to my sewing and ignore the medicine, then I would have to throw out the medicine again. In such a situation, what would be the correct path of practice?” The Founding Master replied, “If at that time you had to attend to both preparing the medicine and sewing, then both of these duties were your responsibility and you should have performed them with all sincerity and dedication. Fulfilling well that responsibility is perfect one-pointedness of mind and true practice. But if you say that you were focusing only on one of those duties, that would not be perfect one-pointedness but was instead a fragmented mind and negligence. Thus, whether you are attending to ten or twenty duties at once, as long as you deal with those within the range of your responsibility, it will not be distraction but an undivided state of mind and an essential method of practice during action. However, if you are idly thinking about things that are not your concern, idly trying to hear and see things that are not your concern, meddling in things that are not your concern, and thinking of one thing while doing another, and are thereby unable to bring an end to endless deluded thoughts, that then is something that practitioners should be scrupulously avoid. But to pay attention to various things within your responsibility will present no hindrance at all to your training in one mind, even if you are taking care of thousands of things a day.”