Don’t Know is Not Don’t Know
March 11, 1976
Dear Soen Sa Nim,
How strange it is to be writing to you, instead of just talking face-to-face. Oh wellâ€”this isÂ something!
Iâ€™ve set a place for myself to sit, and put your smiling pictures there, too. And yesterday I metÂ Samu Su Nim. He was very kind and generous with his time. We talked for about an hourÂ and he told me some jokes. I was delightedâ€”I was expecting a very stern guy from Lincâ€™sÂ description. He wanted me to tell him all about our Yong Maeng Jong Jin and the LosÂ Angeles center. He ask many times, with great affection I think, for Linc.
I sat at his house last night. Heâ€™s not a no-hindrance monk, of course; e..g, he told me thatÂ there is no place for sloppy dishwater people who donâ€™t place their mats correctly (like me). IÂ donâ€™t mind though. It feels really good to be sitting with other people.
I donâ€™t think I can go to Korea with you in October. I wish I could, but Iâ€™d have to quit myÂ job to go with you right now and I donâ€™t want to.
I enjoy reading the newsletters immensely, and I chant with the tapes in the mornings. InÂ both ways, I feel that youâ€™re not so far away.
Iâ€™m sending a little bit of money to help out with the Los Angeles center. Love to Linc andÂ many good wishes for the L.A. center.
Love and a big hug,
March 30, 1976
How are you? Thank you for your letter. I am pleased to hear from you. It is good that youÂ visited with the Korean monk Samu Su Nim. He understands both Korean and JapaneseÂ Buddhism. Perhaps Samu Su Nim is a good teacher for you, but it is most important toÂ believe in yourself. Good and bad are all you true teachers. But, if you check good and bad,Â they will become your demons. Not only good and bad, but Buddha, God, Zen masters, andÂ teachers will all become demons if you check them. So, if you check your mind and feelings,Â you will have problems. Only go straight ahead; donâ€™t check anything.
Donâ€™t know. Donâ€™t know is not donâ€™t know. Donâ€™t know is before thinking. Before thinkingÂ is your substance and the universal substance; its name is primary point. So, donâ€™t know isÂ the absolute, the correct way, and true life.
If you lose donâ€™t know mind, you lose your true way, and you will soon get suffering. AlwaysÂ keep donâ€™t-know mind; go straight ahead.
You said this monk told you there is no place for sloppy dishwater people like you. What isÂ correct and incorrect action? Before, I told you action is not good or bad. Why do you doÂ something? How do you keep a just-now mind? Action is important, but most important isÂ how do you keep a just-now mind?
Going to Korea, not going to Korea, keeping a job, not keeping a job: everything is O.K. IÂ ask you, what is your original job? If you find it, you will get freedom from life and death.
Before, I gave you homework. Someone comes to the Zen Center, blows smoke and dropsÂ ashes on the Buddha. What can you do? He is is very attached to emptiness. You are aÂ doctor, so you must fix his mind and correct his action.
I hope you always keep donâ€™t know mind, soon getÂ Enlightenment, and save all people fromÂ suffering.
Yours in the Dharma,