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 well—this is something!

I’ve set a place for myself to sit, and put your smiling pictures there, too. And yesterday I met Samu Su Nim. He was very kind and generous with his time. We talked for about an hour and he told me some jokes. I was delighted—I was expecting a very stern guy from Linc’s description. He wanted me to tell him all about our Yong Maeng Jong Jin and the Los Angeles center. He ask many times, with great affection I think, for Linc.

I sat at his house last night. He’s not a no-hindrance monk, of course; e..g, he told me that there is no place for sloppy dishwater people who don’t place their mats correctly (like me). I don’t mind though. It feels really good to be sitting with other people.

I don’t think I can go to Korea with you in October. I wish I could, but I’d have to quit my job to go with you right now and I don’t want to.

I enjoy reading the newsletters immensely, and I chant with the tapes in the mornings. In both ways, I feel that you’re not so far away.

I’m sending a little bit of money to help out with the Los Angeles center. Love to Linc and many good wishes for the L.A. center.

Love and a big hug,



March 30, 1976

Dear Sherry,

How are you? Thank you for your letter. I am pleased to hear from you. It is good that you visited with the Korean monk Samu Su Nim. He understands both Korean and Japanese Buddhism. Perhaps Samu Su Nim is a good teacher for you, but it is most important to believe in yourself. Good and bad are all you true teachers. But, if you check good and bad, they will become your demons. Not only good and bad, but Buddha, God, Zen masters, and teachers will all become demons if you check them. So, if you check your mind and feelings, you will have problems. Only go straight ahead; don’t check anything.

Don’t know. Don’t know is not don’t know. Don’t know is before thinking. Before thinking is your substance and the universal substance; its name is primary point. So, don’t know is the absolute, the correct way, and true life.

If you lose don’t know mind, you lose your true way, and you will soon get suffering. Always keep don’t-know mind; go straight ahead.

You said this monk told you there is no place for sloppy dishwater people like you. What is correct and incorrect action? Before, I told you action is not good or bad. Why do you do something? How do you keep a just-now mind? Action is important, but most important is 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. I 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 drops ashes on the Buddha. What can you do? He is is very attached to emptiness. You are a doctor, so you must fix his mind and correct his action.

I hope you always keep don’t know mind, soon get Enlightenment, and save all people from suffering.

Yours in the Dharma,



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