Strong Eats Weak

In a letter to Zen Master Seung Sahn, a student asked:

Last night I watched a program on T.V. about slavery in America. Sometimes I put away the terrible parts of our history in the back of my mind, but this made me remember. Soen Sa Nim, how can people hurt other people so much? I just can’t understand, and it makes me very afraid. So I only do my mantra, but I still don’t understand.

Zen Master replied:

You said you watched a T.V. program about slavery in America. That is wonderful. You wonder how people can hurt other people so much. You have this question. I ask you: A tiger catches animals. Cats catch mice. Birds eat worms. People like meat and fish. Why is this? We say that is tigers’, cats’, birds’, mice’s karma.

In this world we say, “Yak Yuk Kang Shik.” This means “Strong eat weak.” Not only animals—countries, businesses, groups. That is the law of appearing and disappearing. If both appearing and disappearing disappear, that stillness is bliss. Then you have no problem.

This history is also karma. If you control karma, you are the king of the dharma. If you cannot control karma, you are the same as an animal. Only that. So which one do you like? What are you doing now? When you are doing something, you must do it! Don’t make something; don’t hold something; don’t attach to something. Put it all down. Then you are already complete. Then you can make your universe pure and free.

I hope you only go straight—don’t know, which is clear like space, soon finish the Great Work of life and death, get Enlightenment, and save all people from suffering.

Yours in the Dharma,


Source: Excerpt from Zen Master Seung Sahn’s Teaching Letters #951, Kwan Um School of Zen website,