Straight Line in the Circle

(extracted from "The Whole World is a Single Flower")

The great layman Hwa Ryon Gosa received inga from Zen Master Ko Bong.[ * ] One day, a student asked him, "What is Dharma?"

He answered by making a circle in the air.

The student said, "I still don't understand."

Hwa Ryon Gosa replied, "In the circle there is one place where there is a straight line, not curved. Where is that place?"

The student still could not understand, so Hwa Ryon Gosa told him, "You must sit more."

  1. Hwa Ryon Gosa made a circle in the air. What does this mean?
  2. In the circle, where is the straight line?


The earth goes around the sun; the moon goes around the earth. They never stop, and they never go straight. But these things originally have no name and no form, and they are unmoving. When mind appears, everything appears; when mind disappears, everything disappears. When mind does not appear or disappear, then what? Then everything is straight.

[ * ]Inga signifies a Zen Master's "seal" or approval of a student to teach kong-an practice.