So when we practice together, we learn from one another. Individual practice is important, but when we only practice individually, it is difficult to see our limitations and our karma, the karma of our mind.
The function of a kong-an is to spark a question, to give rise to that which in the Zen tradition has been called the Great Question. When the mind “questions,” it awakens and opens. This moment of questioning, however fleeting it is, is a manifestation of a pure and unconditioned mind.
Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Barbara Rhodes) is the School Zen Master and Guiding Dharma Teacher of the Kwan Um School of Zen. She received dharma transmission from Zen Master Seung Sahn on October 10, 1992.
This is our practice. It is not some great, expanded commitment to the universe. It's not some hope of how things can be in the future. It is not some longing for things to be as they were in the past.
When you are asked a kong-an and you hit the floor, at that moment you become one with the kong-an. You actually become one with the whole universe. That doesn't have correct or incorrect, like or dislike. It’s already complete. There is incredible power in that moment of complete not knowing.
Many students, colleagues and monks around the world mourn the passing of Wu Bong Dae Soen Sa Nim. This situation has occurred once before, in 1994, when Zen Master Su Bong passed away in similar circumstances while leading a retreat in Hong Kong.
So when your direction is clear, it is already beyond all the opposites. Life and death, possible or impossible, good or bad, right or wrong—it’s already beyond all the opposites. And what kind of direction you have is also important.
Any kind of formal practice is a simple situation in which it is easier to cut off thinking. As we do formal practice, it will start to affect our everyday life. Any moment in our life can be understood as a kong-an.