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For several years, we’ve had book of questions and answers available for free. Taken from the Dharma talks of Daehaeng Kun Sunim, the questions range from basic issues such as “why does life feels empty” to “is there such a thing as previous lives,” and “how can I become a more spiritual person.”

It’s a nice little book, about 75 pages, and available in ten different languages, but until now it’s only been available in print editions, and is probably somewhat hard to find. But now, we’ve started to make ebook editions. (Yay!)  The English and Italian versions are finished, (Russian is waiting for one last “okay,”) and Korean, German, and Vietnamese will follow in July/August. Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and French are also lined up, and will go into production when the corrections arrive. I hope you find this book helpful, and please feel free to share it with anyone you’d like.

[For epub devices, you can use the direct download link, and of the file hosts, Smashwords is the best one because they don't make you log in to download the epub.]

[For Amazon devices, we have a direct link to a mobi format. If you don't know how to "sideload" it onto your device, there is another way to transfer the file to your device. Amazon gives you a unique email address for your device or app,(look under your account and "manage your content and devices") and if you email the mobi file to that address as an attachment, it will show up on your device. Note that epub files can't be sent this way.]

 

1-English English

Smashwords
Google Play store  (or read it on Google Books)
Kobo Books
(direct download - Amazon’s mobi format, and epub)

 

 

1-Italy Italian
Smashwords
Google Play store  (or read it on Google Books)
Kobo Books

(email me for Amazon’s mobi format- direct download is coming soon)

 

 

1-Russian-001

Russian

(Coming Soon!)

 

Well, I’m not sure that “lanterns” is the right word, given how big these are.(The main Buddha is about 10 feet, or 3 meters, tall.) But they are all actually lanterns, lit from the inside, and made of paper glued onto a wire framework. Here are the main lanterns our center has made this year for Buddha’s Birthday(May 6th, this year. Tomorrow, April 29th will also be the second anniversary of Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s passing.)

I hope these photos give some idea of how incredible they are. When I first saw the finished lanterns, I could only stare at them. No words would come out. (Click on the images to see the full size, about 250kb.)

float


The main float

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A close up of the back of the float. Notice the 3D Buddhas manifesting from the cosmic Buddha into this world.

A close up of the back of the float. Notice the 3D Buddhas manifesting from the cosmic Buddha into this world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A practitioner, but notice how even on a barren peak, a pine tree is fully alive, as the crane on the other peak.

A practitioner, but notice how even on a barren peak, a pine tree is fully alive, as the crane on the other peak.

 

 

A close up of the pratitioner

A close up of the practitioner

and now the full float

and now the full float

 

 

 

2float 2

 

 

 

 

 

details from a tree that forms the third float

details from a tree that forms the third float

 

 

 

 

each leaf is hand made

each leaf is hand-made, and I love the butterflies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wake Up and Laugh: Everyday spiritual practice

Wake Up_Small   We have a new book that’s just come out through Wisdom Publications in the US. It’s an awesome collection of Dharma talks by Daehaeng Kun Sunim.  These talks are mainly about the basics of spiritual practice, but they also have a lot about what we have to do once we start having experiences and begin to shed the shell of “I.” The first talk is one of my favorites, because she is very clear about what letting go of “I” and “me” looks like, and shows us how to avoid getting led astray after we’ve had some experience at practice. In its essence, practice is the same for the beginner as well as for the long-time practitioner, and all the materials of your daily life are the fuel of your practice.

You should entrust everything that comes up in your life—solitude, poverty, loneliness, anxiety, illness—entrust this all to your foundation and live freely. Entrusting everything is letting go of attachments; it is the path of dying. “First, you must die!” means unconditionally letting go of everything, including what you understand and what you don’t understand. It means letting go without clinging to reasons or excuses.

(I want to paste everything up here! It really is that good.)

 

Dharma Talks in Chicago

I’ll be in the Chicago area (Skokie) in May, and will be giving Dharma talks at the Hanmaum Zen Center there. Two talks are scheduled, one for May 10, the other for May 13, so if you are interested, by all means stop by.  I’ll also be at the center for several days afterwards, so feel free to stop by. (Just call ahead to coordinate schedules.) Here’s an excerpt from the flyer they printed up:

 


 

Born in the U.S., he was ordained as a Buddhist monk in Korea in 1993, and has practiced there for the last twenty years. He is a Dharma student of the outstanding Seon Master, Daehaeng, and also works to help translate her Dharma talks into English.

Chong Go Sunim will talk about how to apply spiritual practice in our daily life, and how we can overcome the fixed ideas and habits that hold us back.

Spiritual practice is an odd thing. On the one hand we’re already endowed with everything we need. We’re connected to all the energy and wisdom in the Universe, and it’s always flowing through us, there for us to use. Yet, often we can’t use this, and go through life feeling like something’s missing. Like somehow we are deeply incomplete.

So although we are complete as we are, we have to learn to put this into practice; we have to learn to let go of the fixed ideas and habits that keep us going in circles. In a sense, learning what to do isn’t that hard. It’s applying it where things get tricky. But that’s also where we can experience true freedom and open up our potential as human beings.

We hope you can join us for this rare opportunity to learn about spiritual practice and the Dharma.


1st talk : 7:00 pm Saturday, May 10
2nd talk: 7:30 pm Tuesday, May 13
place : Hanmaum Zen Center
7852 N. Lincoln Ave. Skokie, IL 60077
(Tel: 847-674-0811)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This is the poem that the wonderful Korean poet Ko Un wrote for the forward of the Korean/English edition of Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s translation of the Thousand Hands Sutra, titled “A Thousand Hands of Compassion.”)

087Look at that! A thousand hands dancing!
Dancing hands of compassion.
Behold Master Daehaeng’s dance of compassion,
going far and wide.
So radiant!

Who is a bodhisattva, what is a bodhisattva?
If a bodhisattva can’t help the beings that are here
right now,
is such a person really a bodhisattva?
A thousand times No!
A true Bodhisattva
calls forth unconditional incomparable compassion
holds nothing back,
and saves the lives in front of her.

Behold,
like a thousand moons shining in a thousand streams
all flowing flowing,
Bodhisattvas shine forth pure light upon all.
And seeing so many still unable to free themselves
from a thousand kinds of suffering and pain,
how sad,
how sad,
the tender compassion of a thousand Bodhisattvas rushes forward.

Such far-reaching compassion,
the compassion of a thousand eyes,
not the two eyes tainted with desire,
but a thousand eyes overflowing with every aspect of compassion.
And not just two hands,
a thousand outstretched hands dancing far and wide.
And in the palm of each hand,
an utterly pure eye shining light on all before it.

So sincere,
so utterly sincere.
For over a thousand years in Korea
have people recited The Thousand Hands Sutra
with such perfect devotion and sincerity
as each new day dawns
and as each day draws to a close.
And yet, for so long have people gone
without understanding this sutra’s Sanskrit heart,
The Great Compassion Dharani.
“It’s already a mantra, what need of explanations?”
But now is the time throughout the world
for every house and every person
to open doors and open minds
and for this sutra to be understood by all.

Now is the time for this ocean of life and all its waves to join together
and carry this sutra’s meaning far and wide.
Oh waves and troughs
and you empty spaces and spray above them:
Master Daehaeng is a Buddha of this world,
present in this world, manifesting miracles throughout this world.

One with all beings, one with their suffering
and one with their ability to understand,
she illuminates the deep meaning of The Sutra of the Thousand Hands and
Thousand Eyes of the Bodhisattva of Perfect Compassion,
revealing compassion like mother’s milk
and love as tender as a mother’s tears.
Now begins the feast of a thousand eyes and a thousand hands!
This great virtue and grace,
more than anything else,
it’s easy
it’s comfortable
it’s warm,
this world that Daehaeng has opened for us.

In due course, the tide surges in,
and then goes out again, carrying everything to all directions.
Now this tide has returned,
a thousand hands of compassion
dancing far and wide.

- Ko Un

Rest Deeply

Here’s a letter from Michael, a very nice practitioner from Australia.

Greetings to you all
I have noticed a bit of a gap in recent postings, the last being Feb13. I have been a student of Chong Go Sunim for about two or so years (I think) and have thoroughly enjoyed and learnt from the many postings for longer. I have been a traveller along the Way for several decades, sometimes looking for the path while standing on it. I will be taking precepts in Korea in Sep 13, I have previously taken them through Vietnamese Thien (Zen) tradition.  I normally do not post online due to not thinking I have anything to add, and to avoiding arguments over perceptions, opinions, mental formation etc. which I have in abundance but now try to see as puffs of smoke, and try to relinquish my attachments to an I, Me, Mine world view – changing a personal mantra of “be reasonable see it my way’ to “don’t know/none of my business”.   Back to the point – gladly taking and enjoying the offerings of your web site while never giving, might be a tad selfish. So here goes:

When last visiting South Korea with my wife Elze, we had the pleasure of spending a morning with my teacher. On a later visit I was lucky to be given some calligraphy (from him not drawn by him).
rest deeply
I was told it meant rest deeply (I can’t remember the Korean), I have it on the wall in our bedroom and regularly think about it and what a wonderful gift to my practice it would be if I could incorporate into my being.
Chong Go Sunim recently advised me that I’m glad to hear that you’ve been practicing with everything that comes up, and handling it as well as can be expected. As I’m sure you know, it’s all about facing things while completely emptying yourself of everything you think you know.

And

I’ve been thinking a lot about emptiness and something Daehaeng Kun Sunim said, that if you think about your foundation in the morning, and again in the evening, it’s as if all the time in between is seamlessly connected to both.

My perfectionist mind kind of went, “well, okay, I guess.” but these days I’m thinking it really is true. I’m not sure what this means for you, but it’s what came to mind as I was reading your letter.”

To me it means my peacefulness can be measured by the amount of the I, Me , Mine I can relinquish – at least I have something to occupy myself with for next few centuries :)

Cheers and with Metta

Daegu Hanmaum

On Saturday, I finally decided to pay a visit to the Hanmaum centre in Daegu.

Standing along one of Daegu’s main streams, in the southern part of the city, I’d passed it dozens of times, going from one place to another, but never finding away to stop by. As I mentioned in a post a few months ago, the building had intrigued me since I first moved to Korea. I remember being fascinated by the seven-balled golden pagoda on the roof. I’d never seen a temple before and it looked so exotic.

We looped our way through the tightly woven alleys, looking for the parking lot. The navigation directed me the wrong way down a one way street on the opposite side of the temple, so I switched it off and followed my senses to the gate. Entering the small (for a temple) courtyard, there was an immediate feeling of a welcoming comfort, with an overall sense of sophistication. We entered and a couple of pleasant women directed us up to the second floor.

The Dharma Hall in the Annyang Hanmaum centre has to be one of the most remarkable shrines anywhere and this one was also spectacular. The large Buddha was slightly most generic then the Annyang one, but after doing three bows, I spent a long while studying the elaborate wood carvings on either side of the Buddha, depicting stories of Karma, the prism of Heavenly to Hell realms, and probably other things beyond my awareness, I’m sure. There was one ‘Halmoni’ (Korean grandmother) doing bows int he middle of the hall, so I didn’t want to disturb her with the clicking of my camera, but I would have loved to have captured a few of the details in the carvings.

In the lobby, we met a nun who seemed as though she may have been the Juji Sunim, though I’m really not sure, and I’m not sure that describing her would help; short, shaved head, gray robes…  ^_^  She knew Chong Go Sunim, anyway, and pointed out his photo in the children’s magazine she’d given us for Fina.

Part of the reason for the visit was that I really wanted to send some thoughts to my mother’s cousin, who was in the last hours of his life after developing ALS a couple of years ago. The temple sold lovely pale green candles, made of bee’s wax and mugwort. I left a package on a wooden tray beside the shrine that would be burned once the current candles were finished. He ended up passing away later that day, at peace, surrounded by family and loved ones. He used his last few months of life to help those in his life who needed and was ready for his time to come. One of the last things he told his family was that he wanted to see his mother.

The temple had an entirely peaceful atmosphere. Eunbong commented that it was the nicest feeling of any temple we’d visited in the area since moving here ast year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon is a regular at my Saturday Dharma talk at the Buddhist English library of Seoul. Here’s his experience with trying to sit everyday for a year.

While I enjoy sitting meditation, and feel that it is of benefit to me, I have found that making time in my daily life for sitting One of the cool things about the street fair are the activities, here passersby participate in making a Buddhist paintingpractice is not something that comes naturally. Sometimes I’m not “in the mood,” and often I don’t think I can put aside enough time to “do it right.” Weeks can go by until it all comes together and I actually engage in sitting meditation. In an effort to make this practice a part of my daily life, my New Year’s resolution for 2011 was to practice sitting mediation every day for the year. I was quite successful, missing only one day: the day before I got married.

In order to give myself the best chance of succeeding with my resolution, “sitting meditation” was defined quite broadly. This definition did not include how long each day’s meditation should be. The result was that while some sessions lasted about an hour, the vast majority were only ten or fifteen minutes, or even shorter. (Which was not even enough time to allow my thoughts to settle.) While some meditation was done on park benches and in airport lounges, the vast majority was done at home, just before bed. Because I was not waiting to have lots of free time or to be in a “meditative mood,” I feel that the “quality” of my meditation actually decreased.

One (the only?) result that I was hoping for from this year of meditation was that daily sitting practice would become a habit, and that the habit would continue through 2012 (when it was not part of a resolution) and beyond. This did not happen. In 2012 I sat only a handful of times. Again, I sat only when I was in the mood and felt that I could spare enough time to have a productive session. The following is a reflection on a few of the differences in my overall experiences of 2011 (sitting every day) and 2012 (virtually no sitting meditation).

I did not notice a difference in my overall stress level between the two years. However, looking back, 2011 was unquestionably a more stressful year (getting engaged, getting married in Korea (with family and friends all visiting Korea for the first time), an incredibly hostile work environment, much longer work hours, writing three papers towards a Master’s degree). Perhaps the fact that I felt equally stress-free in both years was due to the daily sitting practice in 2011.

I did notice a difference in my relationships with people, especially at work. (Though certainly not limited to work: this effect was also clear when communicating with my family.) As I mentioned before, work in 2011 was pretty tough. Yet, I found that most of the time that I engaged with co-workers I was doing so without “baggage” from the previous encounter. I approached each meeting with fewer expectations (of any kind) and with an openness which was not there in 2012. In 2011 it was really clear that some people came into work each day with a fresh outlook, and others just picked up exactly where they had left off the day before. I doubt all of the “fresh people” were practicing sitting meditation each evening, but do I have to tell you which group of people were happier at work?

Related to the difference in my relationships with people, I think, was a change in my relationship with my daily life. In 2011, for the first time, there seemed to be both time and space between myself and the events in my life. This is not easy to explain. I would not say that I was distant, or disengaged, just that there was usually room to breathe and observe and reflect on what was happening at each moment. This disappeared in 2012, when everything just seemed to be right on top of me. Again, I’m not saying that 2012 was more stressful. I’m saying that in 2012 I was my daily life, while in 2011 my daily life was a part of me. I suppose one could interpret this as positive or negative (or neither), but for me the space was a positive thing.

Related to the change in the relationship between myself and my daily life, I think, was something even more difficult to explain. Despite approaching people free(er) of expectations, and having more space between myself and my daily life, I actually felt more connected. To what? Well, I’m way out of my depth here. Part (but not all) of what makes it so difficult to explain is that it was so subtle. I’m not talking about a specific experience. More about something constantly in the background, that you don’t even notice until your year of meditation is over and it gradually fades away and is gone. Maybe it was just the sense of well-being that sitting meditation has been reported to develop.

I imagine I experienced many benefits (and possibly some negative effects??) during my year of sitting meditation of which I was not conscious. I did learn that whatever little time I can spare is long enough to experience positive effects from sitting meditation. (Five minutes of sitting meditation is worth more than an extra five minutes of sleep.) Also, because of this “resolution approach,” I feel that rarely, if ever, did I go to meditate with any expectations or goals either than that I would be engaging in sitting practice. I think that for me this was a fairly healthy approach to sitting meditation. The idea of a New Year’s resolution to meditate every day seemed to me like a bit of a gimmick at first, but hey, whatever works.

Hope everyone has a great 2013!

Simon.

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