Mirror of Zen Blog

The Mirror of Zen

Some wisdom-jewel insights by Master So Sahn (1520–1604), from his classic, The Mirror of Zen. This is the first text from Korean Buddhism that my Teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn, attempted to have published in the West, immediately after he first arrived in 1974. He wanted this text published even before publishing any of his own teachings. That project never happened, for various reasons. But The Mirror of Zen is the direct spiritual godfather of Zen Master Seung Sahn’s The Compass of Zen — in both texts, condensed seed-teachings from ancient texts, commented on and explained by the master.

It was a singular life-honor to have been able to bring both classic texts into English, and to guide them through publication in the West.

I share here these quotes from The Mirror of Zen because they are among my favorite teachings in this whole text. Hopefully, their pithy pointing, right-to-the-heart of-the-matter, might inspire something in your practice today:

Elsewhere in the text, he writes:

The sacred radiance of our original nature never darkens.
It has shined forth since beginningless time.
Do you wish to enter the gate that leads to this?
Simply do not give rise to conceptual thinking.

[ Full disclosure: I translated The Mirror of Zen into English — the first English translation of this text ever published in the West, though it has been revered in Zen halls from Korea to China and Japan for hundreds of years. I do not receive any financial compensation whatsoever for this work — it was offered up to a temple in Korea. ]

The real mirror in action:

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