No "I", No Fear

Zen Master Dae Kwan, at Kwan Yin Chan Lin Singapore, 2014


Question: Trying to let go of the “I want something” mind can actually raise up a lot of fear in me.

Zen Master Dae Kwan: Who is afraid?

Questioner: Me.

Zen Master Dae Kwan: That’s why you have fear. Anytime you have “I”, all anger, fear, jealousy appear, not just fear. So our practice is not about fear. It is about this “I”, and how this “I” appears. Anytime this “I” appears, emotions will appear.

So there is a Zen teaching, if somebody throw a bone to a dog, the dog will chase after the bone. But if you throw a bone to lion, the lion will not chase after the bone. The lion will catch the man and eat the man. So it’s the same in Zen. Those emotions like fear, anger and jealous are like a bone, that is not important. You have to understand how this I appears. When you see this “I” appearing. Just simply let go. We say let it appear, let it disappear.

So when this fear appears, return to “what is this?” or “What am I?” This “don't know” is like this lion catching the man who throw the bone, if you keep practicing this “don't’ know”, your mind will become clear, without “I”, without fear. Zen has a completely different approach in handling the emotions.

When Karma appears, you also practice “What is this?” You think its “I” but there is no “I”. Fear, anger and karma is not you. If you can find this “I”, you are free. If you still can’t find this “I”, you have a long way to go. These are all sufferings. So if you are afraid, don’t touch it, then you are free.