In The Face Of Death

Minh Ngan Tran
01/04/2013

(只有英文版)

When Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Barabra Rhodes) started giving koan interviews in America, she found that her students were more interested in asking her about their personal issues than answering the koans. She asked her teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn, what she should do. Zen Master Seung Sahn advised, "Put a gun to their heads."

When I first read these words – "Put a gun to their heads" – I was baffled. What does this mean? How does a Zen teacher put a gun to her students' heads? He can't mean it literally, but what Zen technique would engender the same effect? A gun to one's head would certainly stop all thinking, but fear would appear. Why is fear necessary?

In The Face Of DeathYesterday, at the conclusion of our temple's Ching Ming Festival ceremony, Zen Master Dae Kwan asked what is one thing that all of our ancestors have given us. I had no idea. What have my ancestors given me? Zen Master Dae Kwan helped: "They have shown us that we are all walking the same path. Where does this path lead?" Many of us got it…we are all going to die. A few people whispered "death," but the whispers didn't satisfy Zen Master Dae Kwan. Her voice became stern: Why are you so afraid to utter this word? What is wrong with "death" when we're all going to die? This is how a Zen Master puts a gun to her students' heads.

Zen Master Dae Kwan challenged us to examine our direction. If we're going to die anyway, why do we live? When a big question like this strikes us, all petty annoyances fall away. Big problems become small; small problems become nothing. We gain perspective, and only what should matter remains. If you look directly into the eyes of death, and honestly ask yourself why you live, what is your answer?

Minh Ngan Tran

In The Face Of Death

In The Face Of Death