For Zen Master Seung Sahn’s enlightenment story, see

Wrote to someone,

“Recently been reading Zen Master Seung Sahn. He is also very clear. The teachers in his lineage teaching in the Singapore dharma center Kwan Yin Chan Lin are also consistently clear in terms of realisation of anatta.

As I wrote:

What’s important is that the insight must be clear. The teachings must be clear. It’s impossible to overcome the propensities of dualism without the correct insights. I’m not bothered about the terms, words they use or even whether he or she is unconventional or traditional.

For example, recently I started reading Zen Master Seung Sahn writings. I noticed that although he uses the term true self a lot, his insights are clearly anatta. He is not talking about a background or ultimate self behind everything.

Seung Sahn said “your true self has no outside, no inside. Sound is clear mind, clear mind is sound. Sound and hearing are not separate, there is only sound.”

Thusness also said, “Seung Sahn is anatta. Self/self is not important to him at all””

(Update by Soh: we are mistaken about this. See

Nowadays OCR softwares are very powerful. I took a photo of a page from a book using my phone, used the free app Office Lens to convert the image into text in word document. It is fast and accurate.

Here’s a teaching by Zen Master Seung Sahn which is converted using OCR, it’s from the book  “Only Don’t Know: The Teaching Letters of Zen Master Seung Sahn”, also it’s somewhat relevant to my previous encounter with a Zen Master from this lineage (See Total Exertion):


Toronto, Canada
January 29, 1977

Dear Soen Sa Nim,

I miss you very much and wish that I did not live so far away from you. Every day I sit Zen and bow 108 times— Lawlor and I do this together. But often when I'm bowing and sitting, I am thinking:

"What will I make for dinner? What shall I wear to work? Thinking is no good." All thinking!

You say—"Put it all down. Only go straight." But isn't there some balance about practice? Maybe I should do more sitting. You talk about strong sitting. What is this?

What am I? I ask this more and more through my day. But there is so much thinking!

I hope you are well, and I send you my great love.


February 22, 1977

Dear Sherry,

How are you? Thank you for your letter.

You told me that you and Lawlor have been practicing  gether every day—that is wonderful. A lot of thinking, no thinking, a little thinking—it doesn't matter. You say, "thinking is no good." This is no good. This is being attached to your thinking. Only try, try, try, and your thinking will rest. Then finally, at bowing time, only bow; at sitting time, only sit; at chanting time, only chant. This is possible. If you keep practicing, this will happen.

In your letter you asked me about balance in your practice and about strong sitting. If you are attached to something, your mind and your body will be unbalanced. If you don't make anything, your mind and your body become one, and will be perfectly balanced, and everything will be complete and clear.

Strong sitting means not checking your mind and feelings. At times everyone has many thoughts and feelings while sitting. This is correct. Don't worry. But many people check themselves. "I am no good. What do other people think of me? I am always thinking. How can I cut off all thinking? How do you only go straight? How do you put it all down?" This is being attached to thinking. Thinking itself is not bad or good Just don't be attached to thinking. Don't worry about every. thing. Thinking is thinking; feeling is feeling. Don't touch. Only go straight—don't know. That is strong sitting.

If you keep this strong-sitting mind, your mind will be clear moment to moment. Clear mind means keeping your correct situation. When you drive, just drive. Then when you come to a red light, stop. When it turns green, go. That is the correct situation. Correct situation means just-like-this.

I understand your mind. Your mind constantly checks your mind. But if you practice and try every day, your checking mind will rest, and you will be able to keep a just-like-this mind. Then when you see the sky, only blue; when you see a tree, only green. Your mind is still. Then saving all beings is possible.

I hope you only go straight— don't know, keep a mind which is clear like space, attain Enlightenment, and save all beings from suffering.

Yours in the Dharma,

S. S.

You can find many similar teachings by him in
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