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Buddhadharma : Winter 2018
ASK THE TEACHERS 21 DOYEON PARK: There is a popular saying in Zen Buddhism: Before one studies Zen, mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after one gains insight through the teachings of a master, mountains are no longer mountains and waters are no longer waters; after enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and waters are waters. Before we begin dharma practice, we see everything as a fixed and separate entity, as it appears to be; we see mountains as mountains and waters as waters. In this stage, we often put things into one of two categories: good or bad, right or wrong, us or them. This is what we mean by dualistic thinking. Our society often views things the same way, with “my/our side” being good and right, and “your/ their” side being evil and wrong. In this dualistic mindset, when there are things we like, craving and attachment arise; when there are things we don’t like, fear and hatred arise. Many dharma teachers emphasize the need to break free of this black-and-white mentality. As we gain insight from our dharma practice, we begin to see that mountains are no longer mountains and waters are no longer waters. That is, we start to understand that nothing exists on its own; all things exist in relation to all other things. In addition, all things are changing and transient. Without proper reflection and guidance, we can easily fall REV.YOUNGBINKIM into the trap of thinking mountains and waters don’t even exist, a grave misun- derstanding that can lead us to a point where we don’t care about anything at all. This stage, then, is still an incomplete view. Buddhist practice is about bringing more wisdom and compassion into the world, not about denying or neglecting the world we are living in. It is during the third stage, when mountains are once again mountains and waters are once again waters, that we truly see things as they are. Though the words are the same, these mountains and waters are worlds apart from those of the first stage. The difference is in the way we see them. We can see the mountains from the first stage as a reference to conven- tional truth, while the mountains of the second are a reference to ultimate truth. The third mountains are a reference to the middle way, which means not getting caught in either conventional truth or ultimate truth. In everyday life, in order to take actions that bring love and compassion for the sake of all beings, we need to dis- tinguish between what is wholesome and beneficial, and what is not. It’s been my experience that when I see things through the eyes of the dharma, I find much deeper connection and understanding, and this usually enables me to be more patient, loving, and compassionate. Doyeon Park is a minister of Won Buddhism in Manhattan and a chaplain at New York University