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What is Ganhwa Seon?

The Reasons one must possess the Mind of Great Faith, the Mind of Great Indignation, the Mind of Great Doubt


Seon Master Gaofeng Yuanmiao (1238-1295) in his Chanyao emphasized that a student of the hwadu must possess the three elements, “the mind of great faith, mind of great indignation, and mind of great doubt.”
What is the Mind of Great Faith
First, the meditator must have great faith (dae sinsim) in the hwadu. This faith means the attitude that proceeds with study that is definitely undisturbed and is the firm faith that if one studies the hwadu one is sure to waken to the one great matter. Seon Master Naong said:
If one is certain to be awakened to this one great matter, by all means give rise to great faith and establish a firm intention, and at one sweep of the broom, sweep away the views of the Buddha and Dharma that one has learnt previously, into the ocean and so one is not disturbed any more. (Naong eorok)
The great faith is the faith that one originally had become Buddha. There is no difference between me and the Buddha. Even though there are differences in the characteristics and the ability that is manifested, there is no difference with the original, pure Buddha-nature.
I myself am not at all different to the mind of the Buddha. The mind of the Buddha is as eternal as empty space, unchanging and is absolutely not damaged. It has no increase or decrease. It cannot be concealed by dirt or shaken by any oppression or temptation, or be captivated by it, or be divided by it. Even though one falls into a miserable state that is stigmatized by the world, or momentarily fall into foolishness in which there is no wisdom, one’s own original nature already is a pure and bright appearance that is not buried by dirt. I myself am the governor who perfectly possesses truth from the start.
Because one’s self is the true subject, one is full of endless wisdom, courage and moral nature. One possesses in abundance the ability and wisdom that can embody that which one intends. One is not discouraged by any difficulty and produces an indomitable fortitude that burns with hope in any situation.
Likewise, the production of a great faith can raise an indomitable power of zealous practice as soon as one is without shaking just like Mt Sumeru. And further, one must have a certainty that one can conquer the hwadu and be greatly enlightened.
What is the mind of great indignation?
The second is the mind of great indignation (dae bunsim). What is the mind of great indignation? The hwadu is the revelation in front of one’s eyes of one’s own original face by the Buddha and patriarch monks. Here the patriarchs of the past restore one’s original share (of enlightenment) and one becomes a person of great freedom.
But now how should I live? Compared to the patriarchs of the past, what do I lack and why can’t I directly see myself? Even so, since by myself I do not know the endless embarrassment of my own pride and foolishness, and am tied to the life of deluded thougths, isn’t it truly a sad and hard lot?
Even though one is originally Buddha, wouldn’t one regard oneself as a sentient being and resign oneself to the lot of a sentient being, and so live day by day? For endless eons we have lived in this way. That being so, at some time doesn’t that mean I can find my original face? Does not that mean that the brilliant sun in my mind is hidden and wanders around outside in the dark?
Until now I have done as I wanted with this body. If I wished to eat as my taste buds desired, I ate; and if I wanted to sleep I slept; and if I had a futile desire to satisfy, I would try to possess whatever that was. Furthermore, in order to gain fame and benefit for myself, I would discriminate between myself and others and engage in discrimination of right and wrong, and so wound myself and others. In this way we fall into the illusion that forgets our original face, and we live with desires and foolishness.
However, fortunately now, I have come into contact with the path of Seon practice and see directly the frustrations and stupidity, and have met with the greatest opportunity of life (ildaesa inyeon) that leads me to live as a person of great freedom. This very hwadu study is a razor-sharp sword that will cut off my past life of darkness and my current ignorance.
The practitioner of meditation in the investigation of the hwadu like this must suddenly well up in a mind of indignation that rages out of a guilty conscience.
What is the mind of great doubt?
The third is the mind of great doubt (dae uisim). The mind of great doubt is the exhaustive doubt about the hwadu. The hwadu cannot be fully grasped by any method and nor can it be described figuratively. It cannot be known by something non-existent, it cannot be known by something existent; it cannot be grasped, it cannot be put down. So the practitioner here reaches the point of doubt so as to devote his entire strength to it and can do nothing but play the game head on. This means that in hwadu practice that doubting is putting it in the state of mind at just such times.
The Buddha and all the patriarchs showed us the Dharma in the form of the hwadu clearly in front of our eyes. While the Buddha thus shows us the inner original thing clearly before our eyes, does that mean I cannot see it anyway? Although the distinct, internal principle is made lucidly clear as a hwadu for us, why is it that we do not know it? Why, how don’t I know it?
In this way, if the great doubt rushes forth, the whole body and all thought is converted into a mass of hwadu. If one lies down as hwadu and falls asleep as hwadu, the thought, “Ultimately what principle is this?” becomes continuous and a clear, calm and distinct doubt appears before one’s eyes. If one can gain strength in making it this way, at last the good times of practice will have been made to arrive. It is impossible for there to be hwadu study without doubt.
The greater the doubt, the greater the enlightenment. An earnestly held doubt is a huge doubt, called the great doubt. That is the place where the doubting I disappears in the explosive, fundamental doubt. This great doubt meets with opportune conditions and in the end when that great doubt is smashed, the practitioner in one fell swoop dies greatly, and heaven and earth are renewed.
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