Pages InformationWriter Jogye Date03 Jan 2017 Read9,053 Comment0
New Year's Greeting Message by the Supreme Patriarch
in the Buddhist Era 2561
As a golden rooster crows, the Year of Jungyu (丁酉年) is dawning bright. I wish all human beings could live happier lives filled with justice, equality, freedom and peace in 2017, with the magnificent light of the New Year driving out the darkness of stubbornness, self-righteousness, conflict and confrontation ubiquitous in the modern secular world.
Ironically enough, the advancement of science and material wealth has brought about an atmosphere of cut-throat competition and unbridled environmental change. Our modern society’s absence of self-reflection, due to selfish greed and the blind pursuit of wealth, has eroded our appreciation of spiritual values, leading to fierce competition and environmental pollution.
Let us open the eyes within our minds and regain the sense of our true nature in the New Year. If we keep this in mind, each and every being becomes a manifestation of the truth. The true nature of our mind has no limit: it is larger than the sky, deeper than the sea and brighter than the sun. Awakening to the truth through continuous spiritual practice enables us to understand that profound wisdom, compassion and happiness filled with freedom and peace can be found within our minds. If we hope to relish true happiness and bliss every time we are reborn, we should clearly see the true nature in our daily lives by relentlessly keeping the great question, “What is my true self before my parents gave birth to me?”
Su Shi, also known as Su Tungpo (1037-1101), a renowned writer of the Song Dynasty, came to realize one day that even the beautiful verses, good skills and useful knowledge admired in the secular realm are ultimately all for naught; he therefore immersed himself in Seon practice. Wishing to learn from Seon Master Sangchong at Heungryongsa on Mount Lao, he visited the master and politely asked, “I would be truly grateful if you could impart your insight through a Dharma speech”.
Master Sangchong asked, “Why are you seeking only for teachings of sentient beings, while making no effort to listen to the teachings of insentient beings?” Caught speechless and completely captured by the master’s poignant question, Su Shi found his mind and body fully absorbed in the great question, “Could insentient beings, like mountains, rocks and trees, also give teachings on the truth? If so, why can’t I hear them?”
Then, at the very moment when he turned the corner on a path, the sound of a waterfall enlightened Su Shi, allowing him to see his true nature. Inspired by this sudden enlightenment, Su Shi wrote the following verse:
While the sound of mountain valleys is infinite Dharma speeches,
The form of the mountain is nothing but the pure body of the Buddha;
As dusk falls, how could I demonstrate the immeasurable teachings to others?
Having awakened to his true nature, Su Shi could live a spiritually fulfilling life driven by wisdom and compassion. As the verse above implies, all sentient and insentient beings in this universe are interdependent, sharing the essence of existence.
All beings in this universe, from mountains, rivers, grasses to trees, are the manifestation of the truth in their own ways. Therefore, we should live harmoniously with nature and aspire to achieve mutual growth with all other beings by respecting each other. Win-win growth and coexistence can mature our society and bring us to genuine happiness. Peace and freedom can never be realized by discord and confrontation. That is why we should uphold the values of mutual respect, compassion and empathy. A truly empowered democracy can be achieved when we calmly reflect on ourselves, have a sincere aspiration for the prosperity of the nation and good fortune for the public, and serve every citizen with utmost respect.
Let us make society better with unity and harmony by tranquilly reflecting on ourselves and showing compassion to others.
As the bright sun rises, the entire world is the flower-adorned realm, each and every day is auspicious, and every moment is supreme bliss.
“What is my true self before my parents gave birth to me?”
§ Translation of the original article in Korean: