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What is Ganhwa Seon?

Why should one be careful about the calm realm?


If one tries to practice, and just as the body disappears, there are times when one is entirely at ease just like sitting on a cloud. If one thus forgets the body and mind and is simply at ease, it is none other than the malfunction of no thought at all.
If one resides in the condition of just being at ease and not being devoted to the hwadu, this is a realm in which the practitioner has fallen wherein they are surrounded by that which should not be. If one tries to reside in such a place even in the slightest, all the things held in the mind will be lost, and one will be like a person who has produced cleverness that says the Way is keeping the calm condition that is empty and vacant.
Seon Master Jin-gak Hyesim of the Goryeo indicated this condition when he said, “Waiting to be enlightened while sitting in meditation in the demon cave beneath the pitch-black mountains calmly and emptying the mind and shutting one’s eyes and only overing them with the eyelids” is “this realm of being surrounded.” He warned against this by quoting the words of earlier people.
The words “Be careful of the realms of being at ease and calm” means that one must continuously doubt it. Even if suddenly the body and mind become calm, and the fore and after realms are cut off, the mind must not be seduced by that calm condition. Even in that calm condition, one definitely must not stop taking up the hwadu.
Seon Master Jingak Hyesim instructed as follows:
Do not dislike the condition in which there is no path to seek out and no taste at all. Just do not put down the hwadu. Alertly take it up. Even though the body and mind suddenly become calm, and the realms of before and after are cut off, one must not dwell in that calm condition and one must not stop the work of looking at the hwadu even here. (Jingak Guksa Beobeo)
There is a point here that one must be careful of. The words said above, “One does not know even that there is a body,” when one is studying hwadu, that is different from the state in which one enters the hwadu-samādhi and forgets the body. If one is immersed in the hwadu-samādhi one cannot feel the movement of the body and one should continuously doubt the hwadu. Therefore Seon Master Taego said if one takes up the hwadu-samādhi one cannot be conscious of walking or sitting, and even when eating, one does not know whether the taste is salty or spicy hot, and one does not even feel the movement of the spoon at all.
Therefore when one says “it seems like the body is lost,” if that is not the state of samādhi in which one is immersed in hwadu, that condition is one in which one has fallen into the neutrality of no thought at all, and one falls into a realm of mind where one dwells in a calm place where the mind and body are at ease. According to the words of Seon Master Hyesim, if one dwells in that condition, that is like being in the pitch-black cave of the demons. One becomes a person like wood and stone that cannot be aware and there will be no progress in study. At such times, one should take up the hwadu again and use an earnest strength.
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