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Meditation Note from Alaska



Su Cheo Jak Ju or Be the master of Your Life
편집장  2016-04-23 00:42:27, 조회 : 4,084, 추천 : 1516

There is a famous teaching from the Record of Linch, which goes Su Cheo Jak Ju or “Be the master no matter where you are.” Being one of the most famous phrases of Zen Buddhism, it is not only taught to Zen practitioners but also being cited widely beyond the Buddhist community.

Master Linji had hundreds of disciples studying under his guidance. Master Linji used to shout “Katz!” to awaken his students when he was giving koan teaching to show the truth beyond verbal expression. However, many of his students just mimicked the teacher’s “Katz” without knowing the meaning of it.

One day, Master Linji was upset and told his disciples:

“One monk came from east and another came from west. These monks came across and shout “Katz” at the same time. Then, who is the host and who is the guest? If you can’t answer this question, never shout ‘Katz’ again.”

In a sense, to be the master of your own life means not being misled by others. So, master Linji also taught that “if you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch.”  

It is a stern warning not to find Buddha and patriarch outside of our mind. Teachers always want their students to be better than teachers. Just following the teacher always leave the students behind the teacher. Therefore, there is a saying in Zen practice; “don’t even follow the Buddha’s path.” Even though somebody attained enlightenment through a certain method, that does not necessarily mean that the method is good for everybody. No matter what Buddha or any great patriarchs might have taught, you have to contemplate it deeply first before you accept it. If you depend on something other then yourself, you cannot be the master of yourself.

There is no fixed way to attain enlightenment, imitating other’s method does not guarantee your enlightenment.

A long time ago in Korea, Samyeong (1544-1610), a Zen master of the Joseon Dynasty, went to see the Zen master  Seosan to become a monk. When master Seosan met young Samyeong, he asked, “Which road did you take?”

Samyeong answered, “I followed the road made by people in the past.”

Then, master Seosan said loudly, “Never follow the road made by people in the past.”

If you are attached to stereotyped teachings or practices to pursue the way, they will surely misdirect you.

The ultimate practice of Buddhism is to apply Buddha’s teaching to our everyday life. Teaching is valuable only when you really understand and make it your own philosophy. That being said, a good practitioner of Buddhism should be able to find his/her own way how teachings can be turned into daily practice in order to be the master of yourself.

Of course, It is not an easy thing to do, and that is why we keep practicing. No matter where we are, and no matter what we do, let’s be masters of ourselves. Let’s practice to make this goal to be attained.


(by Daesong Yim)




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