For the Year of the Dragon

Su Bong Zen Monastery

For the Year of the Dragon
In 1976, the Year of the Dragon, Zen Master Seung Sahn had written a poem like this :

Here is Jin, which is Truth.
Jin Song means True Pine Tree-
True Pine Tree has no roots.
Jin Kwang means True Light-
True Light has no shadow.

Jin Um means True Sound-
That is the sound of the flute with no holes.
What does it mean?
If you find the dragon's tooth hair
Then show it to me;
Then I'll tell you that 1976
Is the year of the Dragon.

2012 is also a dragon year. How can the above poem help us in this year of 2012?

How does "true pine tree has no roots" help our life? This is Zen teaching. In Buddhism we say our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind are our six roots. These six roots constantly control us. Being naturally enslaved by them, we respond to our life with ignorance, greed and hatred. As a consequence, we create life and death and continue to cause suffering for ourselves and others. So the year of the dragon is for us to retrain our habit of using our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind so that wisdom and compassion naturally arises. These six roots are like a tree. A tree can only grow if there is a root. If the root is dead, the tree will die. The six roots are the source that will tie us to life and death. At the same time, these six roots are the foundation for enlightenment. It is up to us how we use them correctly.

Zen means to attain the moment. In experiencing the moment, there is no thinking. Thinking makes things pleasant or not pleasant. In the relative world, there is pleasant and not pleasant but it is really up to us how we use it and not to be enslaved by it. Let us use all our pleasant and unpleasant experiences and learn from them and let go. Letting go itself will bring us to True Light. True Light has no shadow. No shadow means no karma. Buddha taught us that karma is like a shadow always following us. Karma also means habit. If we don't repeat our mistakes and instead, learn from them and make correct life, then we will not make further karma. Instead we will build up a bodhisattva karma which has no shadow, action in only helping others without condition.

True Sound come from a flute with no hole. This is a very high class practice. There is a Zen saying : Silence is better than holiness. Nowadays we are all very busy talking and thinking. We cannot hear each other's need. We just want others to listen to us. When anybody tries to teach or pass a message to us, we can only hear our own thinking and opinion. That is a big problem! That is why we make many mistakes and blame others for our mistakes. We cannot connect with the present moment, relate to others or function accordingly. So let us together learn the art of keeping our mind silent and learn to listen and correctly use our encouraging speech to help each other.

Finally the poem says: "Dragon tooth has no hair." This means that we have to wake up. "Enlightenment is found in this world. If you search for Bodhi ( Wisdom ) outside of this world, it is like looking for a rabbit's horn." Not make rabbit horn and dragon tooth hair, come back to here and now. What is this?

Happy New Year of the Dragon, 2012!
May you have a clear and bright year, go anywhere with no hindrance and
get true happiness, wisdom and help each other!

Dae Kwan Hyang Um