Oneness, sometimes called interbeing, is another one of those Buddhist terms that gets a lot of press. The term in Seon is 一如, Ilyeo, which is probably better translated as "as one", or "same as". There is a famous story in Korean Buddhism of Master Wonhyo, back when was still new in his studies of Buddhism. He was travelling through the mountains from Korea to China and ended up caught in a storm. He was forced to take shelter in what he perceived to be a cave on the mountain side as darkness descended. He awoke that night dying of thirst. In the storm-covered darkness, his hands reached out and found what felt like to him to be a gourd-bowl, full of water. He drank it down, and once his thirst was slaked and he was refreshed, he fell back asleep. When he woke up, he realized the cave he had sheltered in was actually a macabre mausoleum full of human skulls. The bowl he had thought he had drank out of was actually the dome of a skull that had been drying and aging as it caught water dripping from the ceiling of the cave and off the other bones. Wonhyo did what most of us would do in that situation, and puked. But in puking, there came enlightenment. At night, he had perceived refreshment and a quenching of his thirst. The skull and the water had been the same in light and darkness. His mind had determined the difference. This realization would carry forward into all of his teachings and the founding of what would become the Hwaom sect of Korean Buddhism.
Wonhyo never continued on to China. He returned to Korea, gave up being a monk, and taught royalty and the common folk as Buddhist layman. To this day, his writings are studied and he is probably one of the most famous figures in Korean Buddhism. His effect is felt even within the Korean martial arts, where multiple systems draw inspiration from his teachings. When I was studying Cheolryun Gwonbeop, we had a mantra that was a sort of martial equivalent of his cave experience, "心身一如, 拳禪一如". Body and Mind as one, Fist and meditation as one."
It's easy to read the story of Wonhyo and think to ourselves that we get it, but have we actually looked deeply into this? What is "oneness"?
Bodhidharma said in the Bloodstream Sutra,
People who don't see their nature and imagine they can practice thoughtlessness all the time are liars and fools. They fall into endless space. They are like drunkards. They can't tell good from evil. If you intend to cultivate such a practice, you have to see your nature before you can put an end to rational thought. To attain enlightenment without seeing your nature is impossible.
Through Jeet Kune Do, we're not looking to just talk about oneness, because the minute we say "I am one", we have already separated ourselves. Through daily practice, we look to continually climb the mountain, and find a skull to drink from. We cannot merely say "Body and Mind as one, Fist and Meditation as one." We must drink deeply, in every moment, if those notions of a false self are to be annihilated.
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