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What is Ganhwa Seon?

Methods of Removing Ten Malfunctions in the Investigation of Hwadu


Cleverness produces a mind that considers things are this way or that way. This is a function that understands, discriminates and judges with the head and knowledge. Our consciousness, in using the relativistic discriminative consciousness, while comparing, opposing and involving, not only injures others, it also lives on while injuring ourselves.
Cleverness is a style of mistaken knowing that summons up a thorough distortion of knowing. And so in studying hwadu, there are many cases of considering the hwadu with the mind but without producing doubt. Therefore, one cannot be awakened even if one takes up the hwadu. Cleverness functions as a malfunction and is an obstacle to enlightenment.
In the Shuzhuang, Seon Master Dahui said in taking up the hwadu of the character mu as an example, there are ten malfunctions related to cleverness. Practitioners of meditation enter into a doubt, for the Buddha said that all sentient beings have a Buddha-nature, so how could Seon Master Zhaozhou say they do not? That is the characteristic of the mu character hwadu.
Let us introduce the ten malfunctions of the hwadu one by one: 
  1. Do not consider that it has or has not.
    This is not considering whether a dog “has a Buddha-nature” or “does not” while taking up the mu character hwadu. The moment one considers it in this way it is impossible to advance any further.
  2. Do not consider it in terms of principle.
    This means do not think that in the hwadu there is any profound principle. When one takes up the hwadu it is a mistake to discriminate and interpret the hwadu as this or that on the basis of a special theoretical foundation.
  3. Do not try to conjecture or consider it via the discriminative consciousness.
    This is that while meditating, one must not seek for an answer by considering it through thought.
  4. Do not use cleverness by moving one’s eyebrows or winking.
    This means to not give it a meaning with cleverness in respect of the extraordinary actions shown by the patriarchs, such as the movement of the eyebrows or winking the eyes.
  5. Do not make a livelihood in the framework of language and writings.
    In saying one has to doubt the hwadu given by the teacher, one must not try to consider and discriminate this and that in the words and characters and be captivated by the phrases of the hwadu.
  6. Do not fall into doing nothing at all.
    It is a malfunction to empty the mind and in a solitary and quiet place to rest without doing anything, and not take up the hwadu, but just to vacantly sit. This means one must not fall into an entirely quiet realm, not doing anything at all and not taking up the hwadu.
  7. Do not inform about where one took it up and give rise to a hwadu.
    It is a malfunction to inform the hwadu just with consciousness, not giving rise earnestly to doubt about the hwadu.
  8. Do not make evidence or draw on characters.
    This is, do not try to prove this way or that about the hwadu by drawing on characters of the scriptures or recorded sayings.
  9. Do not think that there is a true mu that transcends existence and non-existence.
    This is a criticism of the concept that there is a mu that transcends the relativistic existence and non-existence.
  10. Do not wait for enlightenment with the mind.
    This means do not await enlightenment with the discriminative consciousness. One must not have a mind that seeks enlightenment consciously. The practice that waits for enlightenment consciously in this way is called waiting-for-enlightenment Seon.

If one consciously waits for enlightenment, this is akin to denying that one originally is Buddha. Moreover, because it is consciously waiting for enlightenment, it creates an obstacle to advancing on the Way by having a mind of such cleverness. If one is seen as a self-deluded existence, while considering enlightenment and waiting for it, this is like seeking enlightenment while deluded, so no matter that one has practiced for numberless eons, one definitely cannot be enlightened.

The Buddha also said, “The mind that wants to be awakened gives pain.”
Seon Master Dahui repeatedly stressed not to wait for enlightenment with an intentional mind. Seon Master Hyesim emphasized faith as a means to overcome waiting-for-enlightenment Seon. This is not something that is different for saints and commoners; it is a faith that stands in the place of the original share (of enlightenment) that is shared by all. It is not a half-hearted dubious faith, but a thoroughly decisive faith that can overcome the mind that waits for enlightenment. The world of enlightenment is not that distant, separate thing, but one must be aware that it is here in this place where we see, hear and act.
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