The reason why enlightenment is necessary to us is that,
only enlightenment is the way to save us from danger,
and only enlightenment becomes a blessing that can bring our endless future to the bright side.
Date : May 31st, 1998
Place : Center of International Spirit and Culture
Interlocutor : President Sam-Han, Lee
Edit : Editorial Department
Way of Enlightenment
Humans can save themselves through enlightenment. Nonetheless, enlightenment is not properly known to people. It means that there is nobody that has enough understanding of enlightenment or nobody that is aware of the exact teaching about enlightenment. After all, enlightenment has not been the important objective of life. If life is not a precious thing to us we have no reason to live.
People have spent much time on enlightenment. However, there is a record that only a single person completed enlightenment thousands of years ago. This supports the fact that the way to enlightenment has not been conveyed exactly to the human world. Why can such a great teaching not be communicated to people? Consciousness takes control of people’s behavior. They cannot accept, properly see, and convey well enough what does not match their consciousness. This is the reason why they cannot take the path of enlightenment.
Why is so difficult for humans to give blessings to themselves? It is because the spiritual thinking of animals or plants is not as excellent as that of human beings when it is said that humans have spiritual thought. The word, a spiritual animal, means that, through consciousness, humans have the abilities to know, feel, accept, and reject. Planning, judging, thinking, moving, etc. are also conducted by the instructions of consciousness. Meantime, those who have no good karma in them reject the teachings about enlightenment. This fact is witnessed in the life of Four Great Teachers and a Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma.
No matter how much you want to attain enlightenment, if you do neither accept nor understand truths(真理) your enlightenment cannot be accomplished. That is, the achievement of enlightenment must start with accepting truths(真理) and understanding what exists in truths(真理). However, this is not easy to some people. It is because this, accepting truths(真理) and understanding what exists in truths(真理), is rejected by what has existed in them from the past to the present. Shakyamuni Buddha said that even Buddha cannot save people with no causality(因緣). However good teachings are, those who have no causality cannot accept the teachings. They have not made good causality in themselves so they cannot be connected with good causality.
When the enlightened being appeared in the past, there was no one beside him. The general public could not recognize him. So he was forced to awaken people through endless walking tours until he passed away on the road at the age of 82. The Buddha, who had to travel only on foot because there was no benefit of civilization, would not have received such a treat to teach people as he rode in a sedan chair.
Most of the others who tried to enlighten humans were persecuted by them. Socrates was sentenced to drink poison to death and Jesus was sentenced to be nailed to a cross to death. Lao-tzu had to wander for a lifetime and die. By the way, why do the posterity people call them a Great Teacher? It is because they did not compromise with injustice and there were truths(真理) in their teachings. But it was after a long period of time that they were treated as a Great Teacher. While they were alive, they were not a Great Teacher but were the ones who lived the most lonely life
The reason why the human world makes people feel awful loneliness and suffering because they want to convey enlightenment to the human world is that truths are not properly informed the human world of so people have poor understanding of truths(真理). We should pay much attention to this fact.
Let's see how we can solve the above-mentioned problem in order to save ourselves through enlightenment or to live a life aimed at enlightenment.
The reason why we try to get closer to enlightenment and the teaching of enlightenment is to open the eyes to truth(真实). Only those who try to know truth(真实) can come closer to enlightenment.
One of the things that the enlightened ones have in common is that they see the world of the origin. In the world of the origin, no one can enter in a state with karma. When karma is completely annihilated, it leads the ones to the world of the origin. The world of the origin is the place where everything dies and is born.
There have been only two people in the present world who saw the world of origin. One of them is Sakyamuni. The world that enlightened beings see commonly is the world of origin and the world of emancipation. Only those who accomplish emancipation can enter the world of origin so it means that the world where emancipation is accomplished is the very world of origin.
Attaining the perfect truth(真实) means freeing oneself from all the things fallen into falsehood. People who have karma cannot accomplish emancipation(涅磐) at all. Those who do not accomplish emancipation cannot attain enlightenment whatsoever. That is, they cannot achieve the final enlightenment. It is difficult to open an eye of the perfect truth(真实).
It is not true that enlightenment can be attained only when you leave home and lead a ascetic life in the mountains. While it can be acquired living with your family, leading a ascetic life in the mountains cannot guarantee you your enlightenment. Those who left their family and led ascetic lives in the mountains like the Himalayan Mountains for a long time, did the conduct of not attaining enlightenment but abandoning themselves. In other words, wanting enlightenment to be attained in the state of not removing karma, is the behavior of killing themselves. In this kind of state, it is absolutely impossible for an enlightened being to emerge.
When people insisted that they had attained enlightenment through leading ascetic lives in the mountains or through certain ways of asceticism which are not based on truths(真理), they turned out to have made much bigger karma. It can be said that they deceived, hurt, and did damages to others. These kinds of things can be seen anywhere in today’s society.
Enlightenment is attained not by a desire or a wish but through right teachings about enlightenment. The problem is that such teachings are not conveyed obviously.
Shakyamuni was the only person who accomplished enlightenment and knew the way to help people attain enlightenment. Such a great person, Sakyamuni just taught, ‘Look at what exists! Learn what exists! Know what exists!’ When he got questions about what exists, he explained just as he saw. What exists itself is the way to enlighten people. Hence he taught what exists.
His disciples asked on his deathbed.
“After you die, through who do we have to learn?”
“Learn through yourselves. I have never taught my own things about anything.”
What he said means that he just said what exists in the world and that what exists in the world itself is the way to see enlightenment. When I make a mistake, of course, I get the corresponding karma and when I do well I get the price for it, of course.
People were not satisfied with the results they get by what they had done. That is the very trap. A person who can be satisfied with what he or she did is a right person. People lived with wrong thinking so they rejected right things and wanted wrong things.
The present world is more so. For particular prayers in the mountains, people do not care about a long way journey or tough mountain climbing. They lavish several dollars, tens of dollars, or hundreds of dollars on a certain rock. Furthermore, they lavish hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars for a piece of charm written in red color. This is the phenomenon which happens not because they want to get something through their own efforts but because they want miracles to occur by certain existences. This kind of thing exists because there are lots of people with wrong thinking. That is why falsehood cannot help but exist. If people do not abandon falsehood, they cannot reach enlightenment. It can be said that people in this era lead lives, not blessing themselves but live with themselves abandoned. Shakyamuni, Jesus, and the other great teachers said the same thing. This period is around the end of the world. For that reason, people are doing harm to themselves as they should.
People expect what they have never done to happen so falsehood, trickery, and harassment become rampant. In this kind of situation, the world cannot be good. The fact that the world cannot be good means that the world cannot become better. The situation causes more and more problems and we have to live in them.
Then why are people bound to do these unusual things? It is because of their ignorance. Their ignorance makes them deceived by others and deceive others. Ignorance is the enemy of enlightenment.
Some ignorant people tell others that they believe in them and they gain enlightenment. Through their methods, however, it is difficult to preserve themselves, as well as to obtain enlightenment. If human consciousness is broken, a human can be born as an animal or as a plant. It can change into anything. If consciousness itself deteriorates, it can change into a different type of consciousness.
Achieving enlightenment is to gain truth(真实) as mentioned before. It is to make truth(真实) occur in yourself. This is not that easy. As a result of various observations on this matter, an analogy which can be the solution was found. If clean water is continuously poured into a bucket full of contaminated water, the degree of contamination of the water becomes lower continuously. In the same way, you should continue to accept teachings about what exists.
It is definitely impossible to accept teachings about what exists unless truth(真实) wakes up. Hence we have to enlighten our own truth(真实). We should awaken our truth(真实). A good teaching enlightens human beings. How does it enlighten people? It can be done with what exists. However, if we try to enlighten people with what exists these days, nobody wants to listen to it.
Those who are not enlightened move themselves in accordance with the action of their karma in them. However, an enlightened person sees what exists and live in accordance with it. In other words, those with large enlightenment are not driven by the instructions of their karma but rather see what exists and act in accordance with it so the karma in them cannot be active.
All wills of the world come into being by activity. If there is no activity, nothing appears. If there is no activity in the world, nothing exists, and it exists in a dead state. Because there are all kinds of activities in the world, everything exists. Karma itself also dies if it is not active.
If your enlightenment is great, you will not be moved by the action of your karma but see what exists and act in accordance with it and so your karma loses things to do. In this way, karma becomes weak and truth(真实) about what exists grows. If there is no enlightenment, you will ruin yourself, and if there is enlightenment, you will make yourself better and better. If truth(真实) continues to grow and so karma becomes small enough, emancipation becomes possible, whether through asceticism, through penance, or through love.
Things of the world are either simple or complex, depending on whether you know them or not. In fact, everything in the world is determined simply. It is decided by a simple will. When we do not know this simple thing, we will find it too difficult. Today, humans are using highly advanced science and technology to figure out all sorts of things. But there is what advanced science and technology cannot figure out. It is, ‘How should we enlighten people?’
A tragedy in which a society is in ruins and many people in it have to live unhappily does not happen overnight. It is consciousness that is spoiled before society is ruined. If consciousness is not spoiled, society is never in ruins. It is because consciousness which drives us is making the world. If there are lots of difficulties and they are making our life gloomy, it is the proof that there have been lots of wrong things in our society.
As for those who succeeded in enlightening themselves, no matter how much they are forced to do bad things, they find it difficult to do bad things. It is because of what exists in consciousness. If we did not succeed in enlightening people, no matter how much we pray for them to do good, they cannot do good. This is also the will that consciousness is made to exist. If we do not understand the world of consciousness, society will ruin people and people will ruin society. Society is based on human beings and human beings are based on society. Hence, society and human beings are like the front and back of a coin. So, if bad people gain ground in a society, the society will be destroyed, and if good people gain ground in a society, the society will be better. This is the eternal truth(真理).
Let’s find out how we can achieve enlightenment. It is true that Gautama Buddha in the past achieved complete enlightenment. It is because he accomplished the emancipation and saw the world of origin. In explaining what exists, however, he could not explain how people can come to enlightenment. The way to enlightenment is as follows.
First, in order to gain enlightenment, falsehood must disappear first. It means that truth(真实) must appear. In other words, the fact that falsehood need to be removed in order to gain enlightenment means that we must open our eyes to truth(真实).
Second, we must be able to see what exists. Where is right and wrong? Right and wrong does not exist in words, but appears through what exists. If something creates a right result, it is a right thing, and if it produces a bad result, it is a bad thing. No matter how much we want to do good things, if we do not know what exists, it is difficult to make good results. We must see what exists. We need to know how what exists comes into being. We have to know the law of cause and effect of how what exists gets better or worse. We have to know the will in it.
Third, conscience and courage are necessary. There is nothing as hard and lonely as revealing things of the world in the world. So was the life of Great Teachers and So was that of many people in our history who tried to make the world better with their right thinking. To make the world better, what exists must be taught. However, for that reason, they were forsaken from the world. Hence, without conscience and courage, even if you open your eyes to what exists, you cannot do it.
Fourth, you must have endless love in you. The very endless love makes it possible to go to others and teach.
Gautama Buddha had endless enlightenment in his past lives and through all the enlightenment, he saw what exists and learned through what exists. His endless activity had made his karma very small. He decided to do asceticism in order to burn the small karma. In the process, the persistence of his hope to achieve the enlightenment caused a fire in him and he could extinguish his karma with the fire. But that kind of thing is too difficult to happen. The teaching concerning asceticism can make people crocks. A man like Gautama could remove his bad karma because he had built up good karma through a great number of lives, but when people with much bad karma make efforts with the teaching, they become crocks by the problems in themselves. It means that their body organs are damaged.
When air is introduced into a tire, if the air pressure exceeds a certain level, the tire blows. When we deal with a substance, it is destroyed when pressure is applied that exceeds its tolerable force. If the organs of the body are constantly subjected to mental pressure, or if they are subjected to the pressure that they cannot sustain, they are damaged. It is indeed difficult to obtain enlightenment through asceticism.
No one knows either how much he or she did good in the past world or whether he or she lived in ignorance. That is, no one knows the things that exist in himself or herself. Before the enlightened one got enlightened, he did not know that he would become enlightened, nor did he ever think that he would gain enlightenment. He did not know how much virtue(德) he built up in his past lives and what kind of existence he was in his past life. Everyone is alike. Gautama Buddha did not fully explain the way of enlightenment because he had reached enlightenment through his asceticism. He said he could achieve enlightenment through virtue(德) he had built up, but people misunderstand about the virtue(德) he mentioned.
For example, even though you were deceived by giving money to an impostor, when the imposter said, “You have made great virtue(德)”, people like the blind who are ignorant believe that they had built up virtue. But the results are different. These ignorant people do not know what kinds of effects this will bring to them.
Why is enlightenment so important? If we gain enlightenment, does anyone give us rice? Give us money? Is it possible to succeed? There are many people who question this. It is actually more than people think. The important point is not that others bring things to us, but that we ourselves acquire them.
If you need money, you make money through work. You make money not by shoveling others’ safe but through work. In this way, you can become a king or president. Shakyamuni said, ‘if one whose origin can attain enlightenment is born, he or she will become a good and wise king or a great leader.’ They are born with a path that can already be a big success or a way that can be greatly wealthy. By enlightenment, people fill up their shortcomings.
No matter how much you know, there is no use if you do not do that. You must burn yourself. You have to find what exists and burn yourself with it. If you know what exists and work hard, your inside will burn. Hatred is not formed but your inside burns. Burn your inside, and you will get good results through it. Burning your inside for your family makes the same result. So does burning your inside for others.
Burning the inside and boiling the inside look similar. When the inside boils, it hurts. Hatred arises. But people do not know whether the inside is burning or boiling. When you truly understand things in the world and feel sorry about what happens to your family or to people in the world, your heart burns. Only your mind burns and hatred does not arise. In a state where hatred does not occur, the phenomenon that fire burns in your inside and warms it means your inside is burning. The phenomenon that hatred arises or you feel painful or sore means that your inside boils.
The formation of hatred from the inside boiling means that karma is accumulated and the inside burning without hatred leads to burning your karma. If you can love everything properly, you will come to feel sorry about what an object possesses in itself and what appears in the inside of the object. Your feeling sorry can burn you.
It is not a way of building up virtue(德) to go to church, Buddhist temple, or certain organizations. It is important how much enlightenment you contained in yourself, how many opponents you could obtain to love through the enlightenment, and how much you tried to practice your love. At that time, the very behavior occurs. Fire can arise in the behavior and the fire can burn your karma. In order to make this thing possible, you need teachings in truths(真理). Through the teachings, you can burn yourself and finally reach the complete enlightenment.
Those who do not know truths(真理) speak as if truths are great. However, those who know truths do not speak so. Truths are what exists, itself, and everything you can see is truths.
Our ultimate goal is how we can attain enlightenment and how we can bless our life. That enlightenment blesses us does not exist anywhere else but exists in us. It must arise inside us.
Most parents in Korea would like to send their children to college. But sending them to college is not a big deal because education in Korea is not creative but memorization. The education in Korea should not be regarded the same as that in other foreign countries. The education in Korea focuses on the ability of memorization. In other words, it injects numerous problems in the books into students’ brains. Then, what happens to the students? When they take exams, they can get a hundred points, but if they work in the field, they cannot get the jobs done. That is, the education rather ruins human consciousness.
The education that does give enlightenment cannot be true education. Such education can, in some cases, ruin students. Because the students are lacking in their own creativity, they do not think about doing their own work for themselves and hand it over to someone else or somewhere else.
When we know what exists, we can live by our own will. We can live not by the influence of society but by our own will. We will be able to do what we think is right.
In our society, people had to abandon their own will and live by the will of others. As a result, there are many difficulties in our society today. Most people have been ruined and the world where such people live is just before the fall. It is a fact that nobody can deny. By the way, in order for those who were already ruined to be born as good people, they have to abandon all previous consciousness and acquire new consciousness. This is the very enlightenment.
We need enlightenment because enlightenment is the only thing that gets rid of ourselves from danger, and enlightenment is a blessing which will bring our endless afterlife to the bright side.
Enlightenment makes you better. If people enlighten themselves about things of the world, they cannot help becoming diligent, frugal, and honest. If they can live diligently, frugally, and honestly, they can live greatly for themselves. Such people can never be destroyed. To gain themselves that do not perish and are eternal, they need enlightenment about things. Love is the best way to obtain enlightenment. So love is great.
How do people see love today? It is said that love is what is done in a secret place by a couple who have affection for each other. The word, love, exists but true love is not being taught. What is love? It is for you to bless your opponent. If what I do becomes a blessing to my opponent, it means I bless my opponent and the world as well. If I work in the field for my children, it can be love for my children. It becomes love for my family. When I work hard, I become a person who can love someone. Being enlightened is for loving and knowing love is for blessing the world where we live.
There is no need to think that enlightenment is difficult. When people enlighten themselves, enlightenment exists at an easy and simple place. If there is a thing that interrupts enlightenment, it is the continuous activity of wrong things in you.
The matter of how important a foundation what exists becomes in enlightening ourselves, can be understood from the fact that there is no way to understand about enlightenment in the state of not understanding what exists and that no one can enlighten oneself.
We can convey the best teaching to the world through what exists in us. Through this teaching, we can produce good people and only this teaching will be the origin which can make the world good.