Reflections on Chinul – Pointing to your Original Mind
Some reflections on a dialogue between Chinul (also known as Bojo, and Jinul), a 12th century Korean master and one of his students:
Question: In our case, what is this mind of void and calm, numinous awareness?
Chinul: What has just asked me this question is precisely your mind of void and calm, numinous awareness. Why not trace back its radiance rather than search for it outside? For your benefit I will now point straight to your original mind so that you can awaken to it. Clear your mind and listen to my words.
From morning to evening, throughout the twelve periods of the day, during all your actions and activities … ultimately who is it that is able to perform all these actions? Speak! … You should know that what is capable of seeing, hearing, moving and acting has to be your original mind: it is not your physical body. Furthermore, the four elements which make up the physical body are by nature void; they are like images in a mirror, or the moon’s reflection in water. How can they be clear and constantly aware, always bright and never obscured – and, upon activation, be able to put into operation sublime functions as numerous as the sands of the Ganges? For this reason it is said, ‘Drawing water and carrying firewood are spiritual powers and sublime functions.’
There are many points at which to enter the noumenon. I will indicate one approach which will allow you to return to the source … Do you hear the sounds of that crow cawing and that magpie calling?
Chinul: Trace them back and listen to your hearing-nature. Do you hear any sounds?
Student: At that place, sounds and discriminations do not obtain.
Chinul: Marvellous! Marvellous! This is Avalokiteshvara’s method for entering the noumenon. Let me ask you again. You said that sound and discriminations do not obtain at that place. But since they do not obtain, isn’t the hearing-nature just empty space at such a time?
Student: Originally it is not empty. It is always bright and never obscured.
Chinul: What is this essence which is not empty?
Student: As it has no form or shape, words cannot describe it.