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Dharma Talk to Begin the Winter Retreat 2010
By Most Venerable Beopjeon, Supreme Patriarch of Jogye Order
Once again the winter retreat is upon us. After three months, the retreat will be over. However, we should understand the merit earned during the retreat has no beginning and no end. If we can unerringly consider the entire world like a chunk of metal, we could defy death and only look into the original inquiry. Then, we would only be left to face the hwadu. We should not even speak of whether it is possible to gain enlightenment or not. Then, what would be the point to talk about other things. Practice is not a step by step process. It is to burn up all of heaven and earth in a single moment.
Retreat is not about trying to remain in a peaceful state. If we cannot awaken the vibrant meditation energy, it is no different than being immersed in foul water. To be immersed in foul water without knowing the water to be foul and trying to abide peacefully is not a monk who seeks to correctly practice ganhwa-seon. If in pursuit of practice, we avoid loud places and go to a quiet place to close our eyes and sit still, we will be making our home in the cave of ghosts. This will not do at all. If we think this is practice, we are wrong. The masters of old said that this is a state of being immersed in foul water at the foot of a mountain of clay. If we practice like this, what good results could we expect?
Sometimes a step forward is worst than a step backward. However, it is possible to die if we take a step backward and if we take a step forward. However, if we don’t go forward and we don’t step back, we will not avoid drowning in foul water. During the three month winter retreat, we must erringly find a way out for our bodies that may become stuck in such predicaments.
If we can completely turn our bodies over in the ocean,
We will surely break free the chains of bondage.