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The Moon of Clear Mind

One Sunday evening, after a Dharma Talk at the Providence Zen Center, a student asked Seung Sahn Soen-sa, “How can I get beyond just verbalizing the question ‘What am I?’ ”

Soen-sa said, “You want this question to grow. This mind is no good. This is attachment thinking. You must cut off this thinking, and only do hard training. It is not important for the question to grow. What is important is one moment of clear mind. Clear mind is before thinking. If you experience this mind, you have already attained enlightenment. If you experience this mind for a short time — even for a moment — this is enlightenment. All the rest of the time you may be thinking, but you shouldn’t worry about this thinking. It is just your karma. You must not be attached to this thinking. You must not force it to stop or force clear mind to grow. It will grow by itself, as your karma gradually disappears.

“Clear mind is like full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don’t worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes. You must not be attached to the coming or the going.”

(From Dropping Ashes on the Buddha — the Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn, compiled and edited by Stephen Mitchell, published by Grove Press 1976)