The German publisher, Diederichs, had just published a German/Korean translation of Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s version of the Thousand Hands Sutra, called Umarmt von Mitgefühl, and everyone thought this was a good time to tell people more about the history of the Thousand Hands Sutra, and the significance of Kun Sunim’s edition.
The forum was held in Hall 6, and was in four parts; first I discussed the history of the sutra, together with how the recitation version formed. Next Dr. Sunhee Suh discussed the characteristics of the recitation version and the significance of Kun Sunim’s edition. Dr. phil. Ralf Päsler discussed the cultural aspects of the translation and the problems associated with transferring concepts and ideas across cultures. Finally, Hyo Rim(임효), the artist whose work illustrated Umarmt von Mitgefühl and A Thousand Hands of Compassion, discussed the significance of the details in the paintings, and what had inspired them. As Hyo Rim talked about each painting, his descriptions felt like Dharma talks.
When we first decided to undertake the forum, I was somewhat concerned that it would be too detailed for the stressed and busy audiences at the book fair. But this is what our team members here in Korea and in Germany wanted to do, so I just threw my whole heart into it while relying on Juingong, and went forward. Actually, this is what we all were doing. And because we were all doing our best to practice like this, the forum touched many people.
It opened when Hye Jin Sunim, Hye Bek Sunim, Hye Jong Sunim, and Hye Bo Sunim began chanting the opening section of The Thousand Hands Sutra from the back of the forum center. Wearing their formal robes while hitting a moktak, they were very impressive and the entire area fell silent while people looked to see what was going on.
For the next 40 minutes we discussed the sutra and tried to give people a sense of this fundamental mind, or Juingong, that we all possess. A few people wandered off, but remarkably most stayed for the entire time. I say “remarkably” because during the first three days of the book fair, publishers are very busy, with different appointments every 15 or even 10 minutes. So they don’t have time to do other things. And yet here they were, ignoring their schedule, to hear more about practice and the Thousand Hands Sutra. The head of one German publisher even expressed his gratitude to us for presenting teachings of such depth at the book fair.
The rest of our time was spent talking with different publishers about Kun Sunim’s books and important aspects of publishing them in other countries. Several publishers from France and Germany were interested in Kun Sunim’s books, particularly translations of her Dharma talks. There was also much interest from other countries that will hopefully lead to Kun Sunim’s teachings be published in still other languages.
In addition, we had several reading sessions at our booth where Hye Jin Sunim and Dr. Ralf read from The Thousand Hands Sutra as well as a collection of Kun Sunim’s stories, called My Heart is a Golden Buddha. Hyo Rim was there talking with visitors, and visitors from years past came to the booth, often carrying well-read editions of Kun Sunim’s books.