The Compass of Zen

The_Compass_of_Zen

The Compass of Zen by Zen Master Seung Sahn

After Alan Watts, if I have liked someone’s explanations on Zen, it has to be Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn. The Compass of Zen is one of my favorite books because it explains the whole thought process of all the major schools of Buddhism – Hinayana, Mahayana and Zen. Seung Sahn very succinctly explains the key points of some of the major sutras of Buddhism – the Lotus Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, the Lankavatara Sutra, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Heart Sutra and others.

The story of Kwan Seum Bosal is really funny and unforgettable and is the quintessence of a Zen teaching

Not depending on speech and words, a special transmission outside the Sutras: pointing directly to mind, see your true nature and become Buddha.

One of the most important teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn is the Zen Circle.

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Quotes from The Compass of Zen

I brought just one teaching to America: Don’t know mind. That’s all you need to know – Don’t know


Human beings suffer from speech and thinking sickness


Your karma makes your body and your body makes your karma


Everything in this universe that we experience arises, remains for some period, decays and disappears again. But there is one thing that never appears and never disappears. Can you find it?


That view. That view – the perception itself, the perceiving – is your true nature. What kind of view are we talking about? Seeing all appearance as non-appearance is itself your true nature. Perceiving is your true nature. You can see this world. You can hear this world. You can smell this world. Just seeing, just hearing, just smelling, just tasting, just touching is your true nature. That view is your true self. We sometimes call this “just seeing” or “just perceiving”. It has no subject or object. This is a very important point.


You must attain that there is actually nothing to attain. Everything is already truth, exactly as it is. You are already complete.


So if you want to take away suffering, you must take away mind, which means cutting your attachment to thinking. When you practice hard and keep a great don’t know, you see that you already have no mind. Already having no mind, why would you possibly need sutras? Why would you need Dharma speeches and explanations? If you are not sick, why eat medicine? If you have no mind, then sutras are not necessary, everything is not necessary. But human beings constantly delude themselves. Everybody thinks they have mind, and then they hold their mind, and get suffering. So then sutras are necessary, dharma speeches are necessary, Buddha’s teachings are necessary, and everything is necessary. This is already a big mistake!

 

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