The following are questions and answers between Mr. Kim Tae-Young and his student Mr. Woo Chang-Seock (referred to below as K and W respectively).
W: I nearly understand the meaning of Quan Chi (concentrating
on Chi) and Quan Nian, (observing conceptions) but Quan Yin is a bit
unfamiliar to me. Can you tell me about the Quan Yin Method?
K: Quan Yin signifies the practice of observing sound in the literal sense. It is not the crude vibratory sound of matter we hear from the outside, but the deepest inner sound heard from the real self and the Truth.
W: What is the benefit of contemplating the inner sound?
K: Shakyamuni Buddha said in the Surangama sutra that the Quan Yin Method is the highest method, and that we can be liberated from life and death by practicing it. In this way, contemplating the inner sound leads us to an even higher state of consciousness and, at last, attainment of enlightenment.
W: What do you think is the essence of the Quan Yin Method
taught by Supreme Master Ching Hai?
K: She allows anyone who promises to keep the five precepts and to meditate two and half an hours a day for the rest of their lives to receive initiation. The five precepts are "Not to take the life of sentient beings, 'No Stealing', 'No Adultery', 'No Lying' and 'No use of intoxicants'." A special thing is that She provides spiritual transmission. So, it is likely that the books are named The Key of Immediate Enlightenment because of this fact.
W: Do you believe it?
K: At first, I didn't believe it, but I do now.
W: I can't possibly believe that She can give spiritual
transmission. What made you say that so confidently?
K: Because when I read Her books, I continuously felt a unique atmosphere and strong vibrations from Her. I knew that it was the 'sound currents' She described. Actually, I heard the sound currents before I knew about Supreme Master Ching Hai and the Quan Yin Method.
W: You mean the inner sound?
K: It was 12 years ago that I began to practice Xian Tao. At that time, I was deeply absorbed in Xian Tao, and didn't even want to know why the sound was heard. Sometimes, it sounded like a cricket singing or the shrill chirp of a locust. Also, it was like the sound of waves, wind and huge waterfalls. The sounds got louder and louder.
I was afraid I had some problem in my ears, so I consulted a famous doctor at an ear, eye, nose and throat hospital near the newspaper that I worked for. But the otolaryngologist said I was okay and had no problem inside. "How could there be nothing wrong?" I complained to him, when such a loud noise kept ringing in my ears. Including his father and grandfather, three generations of his family had become otolaryngologists, and he was very famous. He kept poking in my ears with medical instruments as if he had lost his face and gotten embarrassed. The only thing that came out was earwax.
No matter how many times I cleaned my ears, the strange sounds would not go away. I went to the hospital the next day and the day afterward. But I only had inflammation due to irritating the ears from trying to clean them and the sound would not lessen in the least. So, I gave up going to the hospital. Since then, I have not been able to find anyone who knows about the strange sounds.
I continued to observe the sound. It seemed like it was not from in my ears but from a deeper part of the brain. At first it was strange to me. But, after I got used to it, I didn't care anymore.
In the meantime, I read a story about the Quan Yin Method in the book, "Message," by Park Sang-Cheon. I've already cited the part, but it was just knowledge. Since he didn't present any systematic method like Supreme Master Ching Hai, my interest was not aroused. I involved myself more with the three ways of practicing: Zhi Gan (practice mind), Tiao Xi (practice Chi Kung) and Jin Chu (practice body).
Meanwhile, one of my close disciples brought me five books of "The Key of Immediate Enlightenment". He had borrowed them from a friend of his who worked in the Supreme Master Ching Hai Center. The title was very unusual to me.
I could not agree with the title, The Key of Immediate Enlightenment. I thought our realization of the Truth would start to sprout only after we have let go of selfishness and worldly desire. So I wondered how The Key of Immediate Enlightenment could exist. Besides, I had too many books to read already. Not until a month after my disciple brought the books did I open the pages because of an attraction by a strange force. I became absorbed in the books immediately.
Reading Her book, I came to realize that the strange sounds were the sound currents She had described. That assured me that the very sounds I heard were the sound of Brahman, the sound of sea waves and the sounds of the extraordinary worlds mentioned in the chapter on the Quan Yin Bodhisattva! I found an answer in Her book that no one else could give!
W: I don't know what to say, because I haven't heard
it. What in the world makes you think the sound is so precious?
K: Just as it is very important for us in practicing Chi Kung to feel the Chi, success in the Quan Yin Method depends on the experience of sound currents. I mean it is the basic condition for the Quan Yin practitioner to experience the sound currents.
Supreme Master Ching Hai explains repeatedly what the sound currents are in Her books. All things in nature are made up of sound waves, including the milky way, the solar system and the Earth. The essence of minerals, animals and plants is all sound wave. This sound is the very essence that composes all of nature.
Actually, the beginning of the Book of John in the Bible says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Hirm; and without Hirm was not any thing made that was made. In Hirm was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
'Word' in the above sentence means the sound that the Quan Yin Method refers to, because the Word originated from sound. Therefore, the source of all things is the 'sound'. We can find a similar saying in the Tao Teh King:
The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The Name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name. Conceived as having no Name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; conceived of as having a Name, it is the Mother of all things. Always without desire we must be found, if its deep mystery we would sound; but if desire always within us be, its outer fringe is all that we shall see. Considering these two aspects, they are really the same; but in the course of development, they receives different names. Together we call them the Mystery. Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that is subtle and wonderful.
In this quotation, 'Name' means the sound because phonemes are necessary to pronounce the 'Name'. Only when sound exists do 'Word', 'Name', and light come into being. Such original sound, which created the Universe, is the sound of the Truth, God and the Buddha nature.
Since the Buddha nature/God is within us, it's a natural principle that the sound of the Truth flows all throughout our body. The Quan Yin Method is a practice that focuses on the Truth within us by the constant contemplation of the sound. By the way, the sound currents are written of not only in the Bible and Tao Teh Jing, but also in the ancient Korean sutra, San Yi Shen Gao.
W: In which part of the sutra?
K: They appear in the second chapter, 'Shen Xun' (God's Teachings) Here is the translation:
God is in the highest position in the Universe. With Hiers great virtue, wisdom, and power, Hes created heaven, ruled every place, and made all things in nature. But, Hes didn't pass over anything in the slightest degree. Hes is so full of light, so sacred that we dare not name Hirm. If we pray with sound-Chi, Hes will appear without fail. We should search for Hirm only through the real self, because Hes descends to the wisdom center.
The sentence in question is "If we pray with the sound-Chi, Hes will appear without fail." Praying with the sound-Chi means practicing Quan Yin meditation. We know that all things in nature consist of energy, that is, Chi.
The essence of matter is small particles. Modern physics concludes that it is neither matter nor non-matter; it's just energy waves. This energy transforms itself into sound, heat, light, word and any other phenomena according to necessity. With this, we know that our ancestors practiced the Quan Yin Method 10,000 years ago. They practiced a method for liberation even before the Shakyamuni Buddha's age. It seems that Chi Kung was developed into the Quan Yin Method later. Shakyamuni Buddha had a good reason to say in the Surangama sutra that the Quan Yin Method is the highest method, and we can attain liberation from life and death by practicing it.
W: I understand the Quan Yin Method to some extent. But,
I have had no actual experience yet, because I have neither heard the
sound currents like you, nor received spiritual transmission from Supreme
Master Ching Hai.
K: It may be because you are either not ready to hear, or to receive it from Her.
W: How does one become ready to receive the experience
K: After having the desire to practice, you should keep the five precepts.
W: Five precepts?
K: To keep the precepts is a must for practitioners. The five precepts are as follows. The first is 'No killing'. Second, 'No Stealing'. Third, 'No Adultery'. Fourth, 'No Lying'. Fifth, 'No use of intoxicants'. You may think that whoever wants to be liberated from life and death can keep the five precepts easily, but it's not the case.
K: It is said that it's the most difficult thing for young monks and priests to endure sexual desire. A still more difficult thing is 'No killing'.
W: What? Killing?
K:Right. Killing doesn't meanonly direct killing, hunting and fishing?
W: What is it then?
K: If you eat the meat other people killed, it is also a kind of killing. Of course, you didn't kill the animal with a gun or knife, but you definitely became an indirect killer. If no one buys meat to eat, butchers will not take the lives of animals, and if no one eats fish, fisherman will not catch fish. Therefore, as long as meat-eaters exist, killing will go on forever. Do you know what is the heaviest karma for human beings?
W: It is murder?
K: Murder is the worst crime, so the law gives the criminal the supreme punishment. Murder is not limited to the ordinary person only. Leaders of nations who kill people also receives the judgment from the law. The former president who was involved in the massacre in Kwang Ju went to jail.
As you see, though this society imposes severe punishments on murderers, it doesn't regard animal killers as major offenders according to the existing law. So, butchers and fisherman carry on their jobs, and also hunters and anglers freely enjoy their hobbies. But true aspirants who want to be liberated must not kill.
W: What is the range of killing?
K: Don't you know the range of killing?
W: Killing means taking the lives of any living things,
W: If so, plants and grains are also living things, right?
K: Of course.
W: Then, if we eat plants and grains, is it also a kind
K: That's right. As you continue to argue in that way, you know that it is a premise that people kill other living things. We can live without food for a few days, but without air we can live only for a few minutes.
Every human being relies on air to live. A number of microorganisms are living in the air. They are killed when we inhale air into our bodies. Besides, they get stuck on our clothes. When we use various detergents to wash clothes, it's unavoidable that they die. Microorganisms are living on our body, too. They die when we wash our hands or take a shower. Sometimes, microorganisms, bacteria and germs are killed while living in our organs.
However, these microorganisms and the plants we eat have very low consciousness, unlike animals. Especially, plants and grains hardly feel a sense of being killed when we pick them. Therefore, they bear no grudge against us. On the contrary, plants and grains want people to eat them.
W: Why is that?
K: By doing that, their species can be spread. How can a tree full of apples disperse its seeds, if people don't pick and eat the apples but instead just leave them there on the tree? The apples will fall on the ground and go bad. Even if the seeds on the ground sprout, there is no possibility of surviving, being overwhelmed by the much bigger, grown apple tree. But, if people eat them, the seeds will be dispersed to more distant places. Then, the seeds can fall and sprout on fertile soil where apple trees can grow. Because of this, they can be grateful to people rather than bear revenge.
Animals are different than they are. Not only ferocious animals such as monkeys, tigers, bears and foxes, but also domestic animals such as cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats and dogs, run away as soon as people approach in order to slaughter them. Above all, a cow cries very sadly on the way to a slaughterhouse. I'm sure that it protests that people repay its lifetime of service in such a way. So do dogs, fowl and pigs. They are all filled with fear when they face death. Then, they bear a grudge against the human beings who kills them.
W: Nevertheless, human beings give food to groups of
domestic animals like cows, horses, pigs and fowl. Don't you think,
then, that they have every good reason to die for human beings?
K: That is a very selfish way of thinking. Originally, domestic animals lived in fields and on mountains with freedom as wild animals. It's not that they voluntarily became domestic animals but that people forced them to be after catching them. It had nothing do with their free will. They cannot help bearing a grudge, because they feel mortified not only to be tamed by force, but also killed by human beings.
At the time of death, the grudge returns to the people directly according to the law of cause and effect. Since you take another's life, you bear the karma of being killed by others someday. In this way, transmigration continues forever. That's why killing is prohibited by all of the high-level religions on Earth. Especially, practitioners must not kill! As long as we like to kill, we cannot be liberated from life and death. Moreover, there is every probability of being born as fierce animals that like to eat meat. In addition, we can understand how a meat diet does us harm if we do spiritual practice.
W: How can I know?
K: Try to meditate after you have killed an animal. You will never be able to do it.
W: Why is that?
K: The spirit of the animal killed by force won't forgive you. Actually, practitioners do not kill animals themselves. However, many practitioners still eat meat. You will know if you try to meditate or do the breathing method right after you have eaten a lot of beef or pork. You will not be able to breathe well because of the low vibrations and the impure energy given off by animal's meat.
In addition, a sensitive practitioner can feel that he is possessed by its spirit. He will feel like the middle Tan Tian (heart charkra) is clogged up by low energy, or the Bai Hui (crown chakra) is being suppressed as if something is covering it, or the spine gets stiff or physical discomfort overwhelms him. Anyway, his body and soul will be exhausted.
A practitioner, if his wisdom eye is opened, can see clearly that he is possessed by the animal's spirit, because he ate its meat. As you see, we know how much a meat diet obstructs our spiritual practice. If a practitioner wants to be liberated in this life, he should not eat meat.
K: If you take another's life, how can you expect your life not to be taken? Since the law of karma dominates this world, it is really a dream with no probability of being fulfilled. If you wish to be liberated on a meat diet, it is like wanting to go to London sitting in a plane bound for New York. It is as foolish as wanting to go to heaven sitting on a train to hell.
W: Now I know why the Supreme Master Ching Hai emphasizes
strict vegetarianism to initiates.
K: Right. Among the five precepts, 'No killing' is the most difficult for practitioners to keep. Strict vegetarianism is the most obvious requirement of the Quan Yin Method.
W: What is the next requirement?
K: Two and half an hours a day of meditation after initiation, whatever may happen.
W: It may be quite difficult to spare two and half an
hours a day.
K: It's probably difficult for laymen to meditate two and half an hours a day, but not very difficult for those who have practiced Chi Kung for a long time.
K: When a Chi Kung practitioner gets accustomed to the practice, the solar plexus works spontaneously without concentration, even while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. Similarly, after you get used to the Quan Yin Method, you can practice all day long.
W: Is that true?
K: Certainly, it is.
W: On the other hand, I know for a fact that the inner sound the Supreme Master Ching Hai describes is the same as the 'Word' in the Bible, and the 'Name' in the Tao Teh Jing. What does She say about the inner sound?
K: In the last part of The key of Immediate Enlightenment,
'Initiation', Supreme Master Ching Hai explains it as follows:
It vibrates within all life and sustains the whole universe. This inner melody can heal all wounds, fulfill all desires, and quench all worldly thirst. It is all-powerful and all love. It is because we are made of this sound, that contact with it brings peace and contentment to our hearts. After listening to this sound, our whole being changes, our entire outlook on life is greatly altered for the better.
People don't know what that means because they have had no experience
of the inner sound, that is, sound currents; but it is the case. (To
be continued in the next issue.)