the world, our sangha

I take refuge in the place for learning the truth, which is every place.
A Thousand Hands of Compassion

“You must realize that, your husband, your wife, or your children who give you hard time are Buddha who is trying to teach you. Don’t have preconception of Buddha. Buddha is not just a golden statue set high in the Dharma hall whom you always lit a candle or offer incense to. Buddha is very close to us. Try to think that our family, neighbor, friends and parents are Buddha.”
Seon Master Beopjung

“The trees, water, air, birds, and so on can all be members of our sangha. A beautiful walking path may be part of our sangha. A good cushion can be also. We can make many things into supportive elements of our sangha.”
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

“What is this? How can spring rooster’s crow be the answer to the question of truth? If you hear the rooster crow in spring correctly, then you will know the meaning of life clearly.”
Seon Master Seung Sahn

“Which one is my True nature in Three Worlds? There is one single pure object, which is my Original Self. Flowers blossom and leaves fall but it has one root. The sun and moon rise and fall but leaves no traces.”
Seon Master Haeam

“There is teaching that, “The leaf returns to the root.” It means the fallen leaf will return to the root of that tree. The nature of returning to the essence is the teaching that Nature gives. The work and effort to return to one’s essence is the purpose of Buddhism.”
Seon Master Wolha

Bul, refers to the fundamental source of every single life, including even a blade of grass, and the second syllable, gyo, refers to learning from each other; we communicate with each other through speech, mind, and actions. So the word ‘Buddhism’ means communicating with each other through the foundation, the fundamental source of life, and through that, listening to each other and learning from each other.”
Seon Master Daehaeng Sunim, ‘No River to Cross’

“Say only the Truth and convey only the Teaching. That is the work of brightening the world with Buddha’s teaching. You need to be the leader and guide to a brighter world. All of you have reason for being in this world.”
Seon Master Gosan

“If you completely understand how mind works and are able to combine your mind with others’ minds, and if you are able to deepen your wisdom and continue to practice, then you can combine your mind with even the great stars of the heavenly realm. When you can do this, the heavenly realm becomes peaceful and comfortable, and in turn this world also becomes peaceful and comfortable.”
Seon Master Daehaeng Sunim 


Link: Most quotes from here
Images: This pagoda is at Hwaeom Temple, in the Jiri Mountains.

Secret practitioners, and a bit of silliness

Daehaeng Kun Sunim has often said that we need to keep what we experience a secret, for if we start talking about it, competition and comparisons often arise. In the end, our experiences become just another foothold for “I.” Instead we need to embrace those experiences and completely entrust them, let go of them, and move forward.

On a bit of a silly note, as I thought about this, I realized there have been secret practitioners showing us the way. ^-^


[I’d planned on posting this, and chuckled when I opened my email this morning and saw that Carl’s post beat me to it! A good example of working together, on some level!^^. I thought twice about posting again on the same topic, but figured it’s such a nice theme, it’s worthy of investigating together… Maybe others will be inspired to add more!]

In August, on the Ox Herding blog, Barry posted about the Responsible Life, where he quickly discussed intention and the Great Vows:

The Four Great Vows

Sentient beings are numberless, we vow to save them all.

Delusions are endless, we vow to cut through them all.

The teachings are infinite, we vow to learn them all.

The Buddha way is inconceivable, we vow to attain it.

In the ensuing conversation, someone asked if the original text used the word “I” or “we”.

Chong Go Sunim responded,

In the Korean and Chinese versions, there’s no personal pronoun of I or we. Statements like this depend upon the context, and in this case, the most natural choice would be “I.”

However, I can easily imagine Seung Sahn Sunim putting a spin on it with a “we,” and no one here would complain at all. They would see that as a teaching in itself, one that compliment and enrich the usual emphasis on individual effort.

From there, Barry added,

This brings to mind two Korean phrases that I’ve heard (in translation), sometimes said in greeting or parting:

– May you become Buddha!
– May we together become Buddha!

I hadn’t really thought much about the translation before, but at the end of Ye’bul (ceremony) people turn to each other and with palms together say, “Seong Bul ha’ship’shi’yo.” In this context “Seong” is to accomplish, achieve, attain, complete, fulfill, or succeed in, “Bul” is Buddha, or Buddha-nature, and “ha’ship’shi’yo” is a very polite way of saying, “do it”. There is, indeed, no I, me, or you, but in a Dharma Hall full of people, simultaneously wishing each other to become Buddhas, the feeling of, “Let’s become Buddhas together,” emerges.

On my blog Somewhere in Dhamma, I wrote of an afternoon trip I took to YongJu Temple, with my family and friend, Carl. But one part I saved to share here. We stayed for the beginning of Ye’bul, just long enough to recite the Heart Sutra, then followed the monks as they left the hall. One monk who I’d spoken with before the ceremony waited for us by the door to say good-by. Our parting wish to him was, “Seong Bul ha’ship’shi’yo,” But he answered with palms together, a bow, and large, “Ahhh’ni’yo! Gaaaat’chi, seong Bul ha’ship’shi’yo!”

Noooo! Together, may we become Buddha!

For more on YongJuSa, you can visit my blog:


“I take refuge in the sangha”
This weekend, I did

My Dharma Brother Joseph, “Gil Do”,  and his kind and caring wife, Eunbong,
Their wisely-countenanced and
Jolly Daughter, Fina

My patient and erudite teacher and friend, Chong Go Sunim
And my Dharma Brother Marcus, “Seokjong” with his gift of mindfulness

All in kind and compassionate listening, counseling, sharing and generosity
Brought me to this place

To all I say,
Come to the temples
Be you Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Agnostic, or Atheist
There is serenity and the tone of peace here

Penetrating and cleansing

A Holy Spirit,  a Buddha Nature, a Juingong
And you find it in yourself
And it takes you home

To freedom

Thank you,

Brothers and Sisters of the Sangha

This is Yongju Sa, in Suwon…
Where the monk said:
“Katchi Sungbulhaseyo”
Let us become enlightened ones,

How beautiful
How necessary

Sunday Photo; Zen Cloud Temple’s Main Hall

Although there are many things that bring me back to SeonUnSa, the Zen Cloud Temple, its Dharma Hall is among my favorites in the country. Its long, thin Buddhas are friendly, welcoming, and smile down compassionately. The old, faded and beams and walls radiate wisdom. I haven’t found my way back to this temple in a couple of years, but I often find myself traveling here in my thoughts…

Being drawn to outward things

Although everything is part of our practice, we still have to make an effort to rein in our ADD, ordinary consciousness. Until we do this, it’s difficult to connect with our fundamental nature. Here are some words of gold by Daehaeng Kun Sunim about this. Although the idea seems simple, it contains deapths that are unimaginable. In this same Dharma talk, she pleaded with listeners, “Please, please don’t mistake intellectual understanding for the ability to do this.” Like developing good handwriting, we need to keep trying to apply the following until it becomes second nature.

A tree has its root, and is alive because of that root. Our every movement happens because of our root. So no matter what you confront, if you focus everything on one place, your fundamental mind, this becomes true samadhi, precepts, and wisdom. This is what’s called the “fragrance of precepts, samadhi, and wisdom.”
      Take care of everything in this way. Sunims practice by entrusting everything to their fundamental mind. Then they don’t end up causing problems for themselves, for their teacher, the temple, or their fellow practitioners. Of course, laypeople as well need to practice like this.

However, when problems occur, many people just react to those, and run around looking for solutions in the material realm. Unless we first entrust things to our foundation, nothing will go right. Accidents will happen, big disagreements will arise, you’ll meet people determined to hinder you, and leading a normal life becomes impossible. Do you think you can solve all of these through your intellect and sweat? When you’re able to truly return and entrust everything you encounter to this foundation, such that what you input changes and manifests back into the world, then your life will become very relaxed and so many problems will cease to be.


 A few days ago, The Zennist included the following quote by Szu-hsin Wu-shin. It’s definitely worth repeating:
While still alive, be therefore assiduous in practicing Dhyana (contemplation).  The practice consists in abandonments.  ‘The abandonment of what?’ you may ask. Abandon your four elements (bhuta), abandon your five aggregates (skandha), abandon all the workings of your relative consciousness (karma-vijnana), which you have been cherishing since eternity; retire within your inner being and see into the reason of it.  As your self-reflections grows deeper and deeper, the moment will surely come upon you when the spiritual flower will suddenly burst into bloom, illuminating the entire universe.  The experience is incommunicable, though you yourselves know perfectly well what it is (Szu-hsin Wu-shin of Huang-lung [1044–1115]).  
 Quotes by Daehaeng Kun Sunim copyright 2010 The Hanmaum Seonwon Foundation

Guest Post: Colin on reading the Tao Te Ching

Introduction: I first met Colin back in Istanbul in 1998. He’d already lived in the city for five years, I was there for just one. In 2000 we both came to Bangkok, and while I’ve been coming and going, Colin has been here the whole time since.

I’ve not yet seen Colin at a single Dharma talk of any tradition, but I know few people who live the teachings more fully in every moment of his life and art. He paints, draws, takes great photos, and lives a life of compassion and appreciation.

I asked him if he’d like to contribute a post on this blog, and he said he’d write something on the Tao Te Ching. Which, by the way, he reads, a single verse a day, from the most battered-looking book you’ve ever seen in your life!

Guest Post: Colin on reading the Tao Te Ching

Now all you need for this exercise is… a piece of paper and a pen !

Now get down and draw a vendiagram , yup one of those ( if you can’t recall what it looks like feel free to ask marcus )

now place an X in the diagram to express where you currently stand in your life related to groups of interest or disinterest

eg. mother-inlaws or religion… excellent !

Now if this current place appears to be a tiny bit fractious or indeed you simply fancy a change in perspective without being noticed,

then you need L’s hat shop.

” Ma ! Bobbie’s wearing his grimy awful baseball cap but he’s walkin’ like he’s wearin’ a Trilby !”

” Come on J.R. you’re just jealous. ”

( Bobbie always did have a hard time… I mean even when J.R. was shot he came out dancin’. )

” Hon’ you’re got to learn to shoot straight… like I do . ”

Now at L’s hat shop he has as you all know, 82 different hats in all shapes and sizes to fit anyone, and that’s not all you can change them

anytime you want unbeknown to your fellow groups . hat no 18…. is what I’m sporting today.

Imagine there you are in that bunker again… before hole no 18 you can just about see the flickering flag. yes you have to get your

shoes mucky again, muttering to yourself because quite frankly your parnter has had enough you take your first swing at the ball.

No ! it hits the bunker edge and gently laughingly rolls back down…

Now comes that job of finding your swing, the one that suits your body and mind…. you read chapter eighteen again. looking between

the lines gritting your teeth you let go ! You feel the sand beneath your soles, the wind ruffles your hair and you begin to listen

to the rustling of the leaves ( why are leaves always rustling in zen accounts you mutter…. )

flowing you swing your club and VOILA the ball sails cleanly over the edge and I’ll be damned right into hole no 18.

and once again connecting with yourself you fin d your walk and mind seem to just float along… man that L really knew his stuff

good job he was around.


He’s not updated it for a while, but here’s Colin’s excellent blog: Spaces and Lines


Picture: The lovely image here is also by Colin. His partner’s father, a wonderful man, passed away last year and after the five days of ceremonies at the local temple, Colin presented this magnificent work to the head monk, where it was very warmly received.