The crazier the world gets, all that much more you need to understand how to get your mind right. If we want to get our minds right, we need to get to the business of finding our own mind and cleansing it well. Even though people are so good at locking up their own homes, they have no clue how to attend to the much more important task of locking down their own minds.
A Buddhist is someone who searches for and cleanses their mind. Don’t search for this mind anywhere outside of your own mind.
The great Master Bojo Jinul practiced here in Korea some 800 years ago and spoke directly to this in his Secrets on Cultivating Mind (Susimgyeol):
If you want to escape the world of endless suffering, you need to find Buddha. Since Buddha is nothing more than your own mind, why are you searching for it so far away?
Modern people love to think of themselves as so much smarter than our ancient ancestors, but in reality, we’re the ones whose minds are so messed up, not having a clue that this mind itself is Buddha and our personalities are the Dharma. Wanting only to look for truth in some distant sage, even though we search for the Buddha, we never look deeply into our own minds.
If we get stuck thinking that the Buddha is outside of our mind, that the Dharma is outside our personalities, no matter how hard we search for the Buddhadharma, we could spend millions of years doing so and never catch even a glimpse of it, not even in a dream. As the saying goes, “what comes through the door won’t be a blessing to the family.” If we know our own minds, infinite dharma gates will open and the limitless truth will naturally become known.
Alright then. This mind, my mind – where and how will we find and cleanse it? We can find the mind and cleanse it through our moment-to-moment tasks and the people we meet each day. That’s why our elders had the saying, “the neighborhood is nothing other than my field of treasures.” Going to the market, talking on the phone, and all the appointments that make up your day – this is exactly the “field of blessings” where you grow your own fortune.
Bodhidharma’s On Perceiving Mind puts it this way, “the most essential method, the one that includes all methods, is beholding the mind.”
Mind is the foundation of everything, the root from which all appearances arise is entirely within mind. Heaven and hell, happiness and misfortune, good and evil all arise from this mind. That’s why every decision, every single thought is important.
These are words left to us in Linji Yixuan’s Records, “Those who seek the Buddha lose the Buddha. Those who seek the Way lose the Way. Those in search of patriarchs and masters lose the patriarchs.” Master Linji wants to know, why do we set our own minds off to the side when we’re trying to find the Buddha, the Way or a great master?
What do we have to do to find our mind straight-away and clean it well?
First of all, mind must be poor. To say the mind is “poor” means that it’s clear, not dull. It means not wanting more than your fair share. The less you have the lighter your mind. The more you come to possess, the more those things shade your shining mind. This is how our minds grow dark.
Second, all attachments must be discarded. You can’t enter the Way if you have attachments. Attachments are things that bind you to the target of your attraction. Ultimately, you’ve become shackled down. So whatever it is you have to do, just do it, but avoid attachments to the utmost. This is certainly never easy. That’s why determination is always so critical.
Third, you must have a vow. Think of Gwangmyeong bosal and the 1000 patients she bathed.
The daily life of a Buddhist, the moment-to-moment, day by day work, this is exactly the stuff of cleansing the mind, this is Buddhist housekeeping. Suffering beings save themselves, the Buddha can’t save us. If I’ve done wrong, the darkness comes on its own and when I am kind, everything brightens accordingly. Bright and dark are determined by me. There’s nothing outside of me that can cleanse or stain me. That’s why now is always the moment to start correcting our bad habits.
Master Bojo Jinul put it this way: “our essential mind, the mind’s foundation, is always unstained and has from the beginning come forth naturally on its own. Bereft of our messed up karma, a bright noble Buddha shines.”
Just as you need to prune a tree’s branches to grow it well, so too in our lives, we need to prune that which needs it and get our proper mind in order. Guarding this originally pure heart is our utmost devotion.
By Beopjeong Seunim