What is this?

During the question and answer session at Princeton University in October 1, 2014, a young man, looking unsure about how to phrase his question, raised his hand. He said, "There are riddle-like questions in Seon (Zen) Buddhism. For example, what sound is produced when we clap with one hand?" (Audience laughs)

The essence of Seon is to transcend thought, be free of predictions, and move beyond reason in order to view things as they really are. Generally, our conscious minds cannot comprehend Seon dialogues, and it is not good for us to consciously create Seon dialogues. Although language is the best way to express what is on one's mind, language cannot convey everything that is on one's mind.

Therefore, using language that transcends thought should be attempted only after your Seon practice has deepened. Otherwise, it becomes a strange behavior.

The essence of Seon is to be curious, to ask "What is this?" It is ridding yourself of preconceived notions and exploring the truth. When you become free of notions, you will be able to see new things. However, what you see is not new but things as they actually are. The world we see today is an imaginary world projected by our subjective view. For instance, when we study Buddhism, we view things in a distorted way, through the lens of Buddhism. That is why we say, "Take the glasses off." We need to endlessly explore, asking "What is this" or "What is that?" We should not create answers to this type of question. We should not even answer it as nothing or does not exist. We should simply keep exploring.