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What is Ganhwa Seon?

If one examines one’s own study, what should one do?


It is a rule that one receives the examination of study from the teacher. However, when the circumstances are not suitable, there is also a method of examination by oneself following the criteria recorded in the collected sayings of the patriarchs. In such a case, one definitely must not deceive oneself, and one must be able to coldly judge one’s own study. If one is resolute in only this mental attitude, one can examine whether one’s own study is right or wrong, deep or shallow, in accordance with the patriarchal masters’ recorded sayings.
 The methods of examination of Seon Masters Taego and Seosan
Seon Master Seosan in his Seon-ga gwi-gam presented a method that enabled one to examine study in the midst of everyday life on the basis of the method of examination of study of Seon Master Taego. This is his excellent method of self-examination through which one can try to definitely see the extent of one’s own study in the everyday. Through it he set up criteria of examination that are for the improvement of the practitioner’s own practice. If one, on this basis, looks daily at one’s own study, it can be a great help. 
  1. Does one know the depth and warmth of the four favors?
    (Here the four favors are parents, country, master and donors.)
  2. Does one know if the filthy body of the four elements of earth, water, fire and wind is decaying moment by moment?
  3. Does one know whether the life of people is suspended between breathes?
  4. Having met people such as the Buddha and patriarchs already, has one not overtaken them?
  5. Having heard the eminent and holy Dharma, has one not completely forgotten those happy and fortunate thoughts?
  6. Without leaving the place of study, is one keeping to the regulations that are appropriate to a person cultivating the Way?
  7. Is one not spending time in useless gossip with those around one?
  8. Is one not engaging busily in right and wrong?
  9. Is one not shading the hwadu but rather making it clear at all times?
  10. Even when speaking with others, does the hwadu continue on uninterrupted?
  11. Even though one looks, hears and is aware of it, is one achieving the hwadu uninterruptedly in one piece?
  12. When looking back on study, is it sufficient to seize the Buddha and patriarchs?
  13. Will one be able to achieve the life of insight of the Buddha in this life?
  14. Is one thinking of the pain of hell while sitting, lying down and at ease?
  15. Can one escape from rebirth with this physical body?
  16. Is one’s mind not moved by any realms at all?
  17. If one cannot rescue this body in this life, in which life can one be rescued?
Besides the items of the examination introduced by Seon Master Seosan, Seon Master Taego presented the following extra items: 
  1. Regardless of the rank of upper, middle and lower, does one respect them?
  2. Does one not talk of the faults of others or look for them?
 And it is hoped one will try to examine the items below: 
  1. Is one establishing correct views properly and firmly?
  2. Are your practice and life in agreement?
  3. Is the conviction about the hwadu expanding daily?
  4. Is the desire for material things being disciplined?
  5. Has one established the power of a vow to save all sentient beings and to be definitively and greatly enlightened?
  6. Does one keep well the Vinaya at all times, whether in the retreat or not?
  7. Is the mind of right and wrong, or victory and defeat, lessening daily?
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