How to Practice
Who Sees the Thing in Front of Your Eyes?
s I¡¯ve told you so far, why we should practice Zen meditation
and how Zen meditation can benefit us, I will now
tell you how to practice Zen meditation, that is, I will give
you a koan (Hwa du in Korean). From now, on think over
what I say and find out the
You are reading this magazine
at this moment. What is it
that is reading this magazine?
Are your eyes reading it? Then
why can¡¯t a dead person with
his eyes open read this magazine
even though he has eyes?
What is it that is reading this
magazine at this moment? It is
neither your mind nor your
eyes. However, there is something
that makes you read this
magazine. What is it? This is
the koan (Hwa du) I give you.
You should not try to figure it out with common sense or
knowledge. You should focus all your attention on the koan,
keep wondering with all your mind and body what it is and
realize the answer by experiencing it in person through your
body. It is the essence of our being that is called True Self.
This is revealing itself clearly in the course of seeing and hearing.
Why are you trying to find it in vain outside?
Looking inside for it, you can¡¯t find it, either.
How can you find it?
Though I say ¡®inside¡¯ or ¡®outside¡¯,
It has neither inside nor outside.
The appearance in front of your eyes is what it is.
If you know this fact, you will find it easily.
If not, you will be no better than an open eyed blind man.
Try as you may to find it being deluded by false images and names,
The work can¡¯t be easy.
Who sees the thing in front of your eyes?
(After a while in silence)
It is neither you, your eyes nor your mind that sees it.
There, however, is no saying you don¡¯t see it.
You cannot but see it.
Seeing it yourself, you don¡¯t know who sees it.
Why not figure it out clearly and break up your darkness?
It is like
You, blocked by a barrier, can¡¯t see anything.
You should break it down.
If we say your eyes see the thing,
Why can¡¯t the eyes of a dead body see anything
Though they are the same in terms of eye?
It is because your eyes see it
Not because your eyes see it by themselves
But because something makes your eyes see it.
Some may say your mind sees it
But there is no saying your mind sees it, either.
They say so
Only because there is no other choice
But to refer to what makes your eyes see it as mind.
Mind called as mind!
It¡¯s very hard to find.
Not knowing who sees the thing in front of your eyes,
You will feel uncomfortable and heavy in your chest all day long
Whatever you may do; sitting, standing, going or coming.
If you keep on wondering who sees it without letting go of your doubt
In spite of the heavy feeling,
You can see all the changes arise.
Yet, you should not be deluded by them
But hold dear the wish to know it.
If you keep pushing yourself against the barrier in front of your eyes
Without letting go of the doubt caused by the wish to know it,
Time will be ripe enough before long
You should neither hesitate nor make any delusion.
If you keep trying to know who sees it,
You can¡¯t miss the old path to the correct answer
In spite of all the difficulties.
This is by no means a lie.
If a Zen master asks, ¡°Who is it that is dragging along your body?¡±
How can you answer it?
If you try to figure out the answer with your knowledge and discrimination,
You will not know the answer
Until even the end of an eternity.
If you, keeping the question in front of your eyes,
Try to get the answer with your best efforts around the clock,
The answer will never fail to reveal itself clearly.
As you should direct all your attention to solving the question,
With a deep faith
You must solve the question at a sitting.
The truth before the universe began!
Seeing it at the moment,
You don¡¯t know it.
Do you understand the words, ¡®A stone maid gives birth to a baby,
And a wooden man walks out of burning fire?¡¯
You are still far away from knowing the truth.
You¡¯d better visit a Zen room you¡¯d like to according to your karma,
And you will see a Zen master dozing on a fine Spring day.
Written by Master Subul Sunim of Ahnkook Zen Center
Translated by Boo Ahm (Song Soo-kyong)
Monthly Magazine SEOUL(August 2007)