Monday, September 16, 2013

LOOK INSIDE : A Dharma Talk by Zen Master Dae Kwang

We often think that the Buddha's life and our lives are different. We think that their situation and ours are different. Actually both of our situations are the same, except maybe that none of us here (referring to the audience) is a prince. However, we all want a good situation and wants to keep it forever, even though we know the wind will not always blow our way, so to speak. Situations will change. The Buddha realised that and saw no way out. So the Buddha left his princely home. We may not be like the prince but during meditation, even for 5 minutes, during that space of time, our mind has "left home". And furthermore, in many times of our lives, we will always encounter moments whereby we have this big questions about life itself. Whether it be when tough decisions that you have to make in your life, or when life does not seem so meaningful to you, basically these are the same life questions that beseeched the Buddha. These questions served as our wake up call. Similarly for the 6th patriarch Hui Neng. He was just a poor man selling wood for a living. Materially he was quite the opposite of the Buddha who was a prince. Hui Neng did not come from a rich family. But he too had a wake-up call when he heard a line of Diamond Sutra being recited one day by a wondering monk. So, for most people they have their chance encounter with Buddhism.

Before there were Buddha images, the Buddha was represented only by an empty space or the Buddha's foot with a dharma wheel on it. This has a meaning. Life big questions often cannot be answered by thinking alone. You see, there are two types of questions. One is "thinking question" and the other "before thinking question". Questions "before thinking" cannot be answered by thinking. Zen is a set of techniques that point to the answers and ask us to find the answers ourselves. Doctors check what is wrong with us and then prescribed medicines. They don't take the medicines for us. Similarly the Buddha cannot practice and find answers for you. You have to look for them yourself, but he can point the way. Hence there is no explanation to solve all of our problems. All the fingers pointing to the moon are to get you to look up at the moon. It's not to let you admire or examine the fingers. And when you do look up, you will be awakened by the moon, just as the Buddha did. You might think that the Buddha was incredibly stupid to leave a good situation. But he looked inside. That is the Buddha's message to us to look inside of us, instead of outside. And that is the meaning of the image of a foot of the Buddha. So, look inside.
- dharma talk by Zen Master Dae Kwang in Malaysia on 6 Sept, 2013. (note: the prepared from notes taken during the teaching. Any mistakes are mine. I have tried to retain as much of the original spirit and teaching style as possible. I have edited it to be suitable for publication, and is not a verbatim of the actuall talk. Also I have taken the liberty to tentatively label the title as above.)

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