Gold Coast Zen Meditation

February 12, 2012

On Zen Meditation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 12:16 am

Traditionally, in China and Korea, only monks did Zen practice. But Zen has come to the West and here lay people practice Zen. This has changed the character of Zen. Now our teaching is about Zen in everyday life. Sitting Zen all the time is not possible for lay people. Everyday-life Zen means learning mind-sitting. Mind-sitting means not-moving mind. How do you keep not-moving mind? Put down your opinion, condition and situation moment-to-moment. When you are doing something, just do it. This is everyday Zen. For lay people the teaching of great love, great compassion and the Great Bodhisattva Way is very important. To attain that, it is necessary to keep a not-moving mind, then correct situation, correct function, and correct relationship appear by themselves in everyday life.


Becoming Human

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 12:12 am

Zen Master Seung Sahn

If you look closely at human beings in the world today, you notice that they are not human beings. They don’t act like human beings. If a human being acts correctly, then he or she becomes a true human being. Moment to moment, what do you do? What is your correct direction? Moment to moment, what is your correct life? How do you find your correct way? How do you save all beings from suffering?

We come into this world empty-handed. What do we do in this world? Why did we come into this world? This body is an empty thing. What is the one thing that carries this body around? Where did it come from? You must understand that, you must find that. So, if you want to find that, you have to ask yourself, “What am I?” Always keep this big question. Thinking has to disappear. We have to take away all our thinking, cut off our thinking. Then our true self appears, then our true mind appears…

In this world, how many people really want practice? Many people don’t practice at all, fight day and night, and all day exercise their desire, their anger, their ignorance. When you lose this body, then you have nothing you can take with you. When this body disappears, what will you take with you? What will you do? Where will you go? You don’t know, right? If this “don’t know” is clear, then your mind is clear, then also the place you go is clear. Then you understand your job, you understand why you were born into this world. Then you understand what you do in this world. When you understand that, then you can become a human being.

Many Roads Lead to the Path

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 12:08 am

Many roads lead to the path, but basically there are only 2:  Reason & Practice.

1) To enter by reason means to realize the essence through instruction and to believe that all living things share the same true nature, which isn’t apparent because its shrouded by sensation and delusion.Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who meditate on walls, the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by scriptures are in complete and unspoken agreement with reason.  Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by reason.                                                                                      

2) To enter by practice refers to four all-inclusive practices:

     Suffering injustice

     Adapting to conditions

     Seeking nothing

     Practicing the Dharma

 First, Suffering injustice – When those who search for the path encounter adversity, they should think to themselves, “in countless ages gone by, I’ve turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner of existence, often angry without cause and guilty of numberless transgressions.   Now, though I do no wrong, I’m punished by my past.  Neither gods nor men can foresee when an evil deed will bear its fruit.  I accept it with an open heart and without complaint of injustice.’

The sutra say, ‘When you meet with adversity don’t be upset, because it makes sense,’

With such understanding you’re in harmony with reason.  And by suffering injustice you enter the path.

Second, Adapting to conditions – As mortals, we’re ruled by conditions, not by ourselves.  All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it’s the fruit of seed planted by us in the past.  When conditions change, it ends.  Why delight in is existence?  But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes.  Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the path.

Third,  Seek nothing –  people of this world are deluded.  They’re always longing for something – always, in a word, seeking.   But the wise wake up.   They choose reason over custom.  They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons.  All phenomena are empty.  They contain nothing worth desiring.  Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity.  To dwell in the three realms is to dwell in the burning house.  To have a body is to suffer.  Does anyone with a body know peace?  Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop imagining or seeking anything.  The sutra say,  ‘To seek is to suffer.  To seek nothing is bliss.’  When you seek nothing, you’re on the path.

Fourth, practicing the Dharma – The Dharma is the truth that all  nature are pure.

By this truth, all appearances are empty.  Defilement and attachment, subject and object don’t exist.  The sutra say, ‘The Dharma includes no being because its free from the impurity of being, and the Dharma includes no self because it’s free from the impurity of self.’  Those wise enough to believe and understand this truth are bound to practice according to the Dharma.   And since that which is real includes nothing worth begrudging, they give their body, life and property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment.   And to eliminate impurity they teach others, but without becoming attached to form.   Thus, through their own practice they’re able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment.  And as with charity, they also practice the other virtues.  But while practicing the six virtues to eliminate delusion, they practice nothing at all.  This is what’s meant by practising the Dharma.


June 27, 2010

Hinayan buddhism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 8:52 pm

Hinayan Buddhism teaches that when thinking appears, “I” appears. When “I” appears, then the whole world appears, then the whole world is divided into pairs of opposites.

Rene Descartes said,  “I think , therefore I am.” 

That is the same point.  If you have “I am” you also have “I am not”.

Existence and  non-existence, life and death, good and bad all come from this opposite thinking.  This thinking also makes suffering. 

So Hinaya Buddhism teaches that when mind appears, Dharma appears, name and form appear.   When Dharma appears, name and form appear.   When name and form appear, then like and dislike, good and bad, coming and going, life and death, happiness and sadness all appear. 

The Hinayana  view call this realm which we all  inhabit  a “suffering world”.

 All life is suffering,  and suffering is life: samsara.

Hinaya buddism explains that we are  living in this impermanent world, this suffering world, and it shows how we can get out of it.

This suffering world is created entirely by our own thinking.  Through this teaching we are shown how to go from the opposites world of life and death to attain the realm of the  Absolute, or nirvana. 

In Nirvana, there is no life and death; no coming and going no up or down.  It is a state of complete stillness and bliss.  Attaining the completely void state of nirvana is the ultimate goal of Hinayan Buddhist teaching.

“nothing to do nowhere to go” by Thich Nhat Hanh

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 8:48 pm


“According to Master Linji, the businessless person is someone who doesn’t run after enlightenment or grasp anything, even if that thing is the Buddha.  This person has simply stopped.  She is no longer caught by anything, even theories or teachings.  The businessless person is the true person inside each one of us.  This is the essential teaching of Master Linji.  When we learn to stop and be truly alive in the present moment, we are in touch with what’s going on within and around us.  We aren’t carried away by the past, the future, our thinking, ideas emotions, and projects.   

The person who has nothing to do is sovereign of herself.  She doesn’t need to put on airs or leave any trace behind.  The true person is an active participant, engaged in her environment while remaining unoppressed by it.  Although all phenomena are going through the various appearances of birth, abiding, changing, and dying, the true person doesn’t become a victim of sadness , happiness, love or hate.  She lives in awareness as an ordinary person, whether standing, walking, lying down, or sitting.  She doesn’t act a part, even the part of a great Zen master. This is what Master Linji means by “be sovereign wherever you are and use that place as your seat of awakening”

-A Buddha is a person who has no more business to do and isn’t looking for anything.  In doing nothing, in simply stopping, we can live freely and true to ourselves and our liberation will contribute to the liberation of beings.

6th Patriach-Hui Neng

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 8:45 pm

After I go, there will be no one to teach you.
Fa-hai and the others wept when they heard this. Shen-hui alond was psychologically unmoved and did not cry.
Master said, “Young Shen-hui has managed to maintain equanimity toward good and bad, unmoved by slander or praise, not conceiving sadness or happiness. The rest of you have not attained this – what path have you been cultivating all these years in the mountains? Who are you troubled about now, crying so sadly?
“If you are worried, I don’t know where I am going, I intuitively know where I was going. I wouldn’t have informed you ahead of time. Your weeping is because you don’t know where I’m going. If you knew where I was going, you wouldn’t be crying. The nature of reality has no birth or death, no coming or going.

“Sit there, all of you, and I will recite to you a hymn called Hymn on True and False Action and Stillness. Memorize this hymn, for its intent is the same as mine. Practise on this basis, and you won’t lose the essence of the source.”

The hymn went as follows:-
Everything has no reality
We do not see reality thereby
If you “see reality, that is a view, not reality at all.
If you can yourself embody reality,
Detached from falsehood, mind itself’s reality
If your own mind does not detach from falsehood,
There’s no reality – where is real?

Animate beings are mobile,
Inanimate things are inmobile;
If you cultivate a practice of not moving,
That’s the same as inanimate immobility
If you seek true immovability
That’s immobility in action.
Not moving is unmoving –
Without sentience, there’s no seed of buddhahood.

Be able to distinguish characteristic skilfully
While immovable in ultimate truth
As long as you see in this way,
It’s the function of reality as is
“Unmoving, not cultivating goodness.
Ebullient, not doing evil,
Serene, detached from the senses
Clear, mind without fixation”

My Dharma Speech is Already Finished

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 8:30 pm

A person’s head becomes whiter and whiter as he gets
older, but the color of the mountain remains green. In the
end, both the mountain and the person return to emptiness.
Today is the end of Kyol Che. That means don’t attach
to the world of name and form. If you don’t attach to
the world of name and form, there’s nothing left but our
moment-to-moment world. What am I doing in this moment?
That’s most important.
Actually my dharma speech is now finished. However,
many people don’t understand so I will explain a little more.
Usually we would say that my mind brought me here to
listen to this talk. But where is mind? From where does it
appear and where does it go? We don’t understand that.
That is human. You carry your mind around everywhere
but you don’t know what it is. We are always proclaiming,
“I, I, I,” but we don’t understand “I.” So the big question
is: What is human? A famous Zen poem says: “Coming
empty handed, going empty handed —that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from? When you
die, where do you go? Life is like a floating cloud which
appears. Death is like a floating cloud which disappears.
The floating cloud originally does not exist. Life and death,
coming and going are also like this. But there is one thing
which always remains clear. It’s pure and clear, not depending
on life and death. Then what is that one pure and clear
thing that pulls this body around?” What is the meaning of
all these people from foreign countries coming here to our
temple in Korea to practice Zen? Because of that one pure
and clear thing they come here.
Excerpt from Talk by Zen Master Seung Sahn at Mu Sang Sa temple-at the close of Winter Kyol Che 2001

August 7, 2009

Your True Self- by Zen Master Seung Sahn

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 9:38 pm

Thank you very much for coming today. But what is it that brought your body here? Is it your mind?
What is mind? Where is it? What is its shape? Mind is no mind. A mountain does not proclaim,
“I am a mountain!” A river does not say, “I am a river!”. All names and forms are made by thinking.
Thus, mind is no mind. All things have name and form. Names and forms come from emptiness.
Thus, form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

When you are thinking, your mind, my mind, all people’s minds are different. If you cut through all
thinking, your mind, my mind, and all people’s minds are the same. The mind that cuts through
all thinking is the true empty mind. The true empty mind is before thinking. Your substance
is before thinking. Your substance is universal substance. Before thinking, there is no speech
and no language. There is no God, no Buddha, no mountain, no river, nothing at all. Thus,
no form, no emptiness.

But, before thinking is truly just like this. No form, no emptiness is itself a clinging to emptiness.
Put it down! Then you will have no inside and no outside; you will attain the Absolute.
Everything that you see, hear, taste and smell is the truth. God is God, Buddha is Buddha,
mountains are mountains, rivers are rivers. The truth is like this.
form is form, emptiness is emptiness

If you cut through all thinking, your mind will become clear. Just that is your true self.
Thinking is desire. Desire is suffering. when the mind remains clear, there is no life and
no death. You will find true freedom that has no hindrance.

Your body has life and death, but your true self transcends both life and death. What, then,
is one’s true self? Does it exist or not? If you say that it exists, where is it? If you say that
it does not, what is hearing this speech? both these answers are not complete. Why? Put
it down, put it down! The Great Way is in front of the door.”

July 5, 2009

Meditation Techniques

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 10:46 am

There are various forms of meditation.  Each technique has a special effect on the mind.

Mind Practices:  These practices are the heart of meditation.  They have different effects on the mind when they are practiced. Also the speed of the effect can be different depending on the technique used. 

In all mediation techniques, the breath is important.  To calm you body down, it is helpful to take several long, deep breaths as the beginning of meditation.  Breathe using the diaphragm and centre it in the lower belly.  It should be relaxed, natural and quiet – the breath should breathe you.

Some of the various techniques are:

Technique 1:  Keeping a Question

Traditionally this is called “hwa tou.”  If you have a question, this question will help you practice.  If the question is big enough and intense enough, (the usual ones are “What am I?”, “What is life?”, etc) it will practice you and will give you don’t-know before-thinking mind.  Let go of all thinking, opinions and desires and continually return to the questioning mind.

Technique 2:  Mantra Practice

Using the mantra to calm the mind and stregthen the centre is one technique used by students of Zen.  The main difference between the mantras is the length of the mantra used and the mantra’s direction.  Generally the more incessant the thinking, the shorter the mantra.

The usual technique is to recite the mantra constantly, paying attention to it and allowing all other thinking to drop away.  This takes some practice since ti is very easy to let one part of the brain “chant” the mantra while the other part is thinking about dinner or going to the movies.  When this happens, gently bring the mind back to the mantra without any judgment.

The most common mantras used in our School are listed below:

Clear Mind, Clear Mind, Clear Mind — Don’t Know

This mantra is usually suggested to beginners in conjuction with a breathing exercise.  Breathe in to a count of 3, saying “clear mind” at each count and breathe out to a count of 7 saying “dooooooonnn’t knnnnoooooooow” just once for the whole 7 count.  The count may vary with the individual, but the exhalation should be more than twice as long as the inhalation.

This is  generally the first technique taught in our school.

Kwan Seum Bosal

This is the Korean name for the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara. This mantra is commonly suggested for people whose minds cannot be quiet one minute or who cannot concentrate for very long.  Because it is short it can be repeated over and over (usually with a set of beads for counting).  The usual recommendation is for 3000 to 10000 a day for someone who really wants to clear their mind of a particular problem.  It is also used on a daily basis by many people as part of their sitting meditation technique.


Technique 3: Kong-an Practice

Kong-an practice is an ancient form of question and answer.  The actual word means “public record”.   So these are the public records of past Zen Masters.  The answers are rooted in the reality that is beyond time and space, likes and dislikes, but is just-like-this.  One of their functions is to give you a Great Question if you don’t have one.  Another is to help you eliminate the “hooks” from your mind.  Each Kong-an has hooks (like mental fishhooks) and when you cannot solve it, it is because your mind has gotten caught on one of the hooks of the Kong-an.  Sitting with the Kong-an as a question is one of the trademarks of Zen Practice.


Technique 4:  Counting the Breathe

The breathe is counted either on the exhalation (best for beginners) or the inhalation (more difficult) from 1 to 10.  When you lose count or reach 10, start over.


Technique 5: Clear Mind Meditation

This form of meditation involves just sitting and being aware of what is going on at just this moment.  This is moment-to-moment mind.  It hears the birds in the trees, the cars going by, the planes overhead, and the children playing outside.  To the clear mind there is no such thing as “noisy”, it is just “is”.  This is not a beginning technique, but is an out-growth of the previous meditations.

October 10, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — Gold Coast Zen Meditation Group @ 4:20 pm

To appreciate  Buddhism and the practise of Zen Teachings, Compass of Zen  by Zen Master Seung Sahn, founder of “The Kwan Um School of Zen”, is the guiding book from which materials are extracted and posted on this site.

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