Seon club notes – part one

There were only five people at Seon Club last week; me, Young, Arthur, MJ, and, of course, Hyedaeng Sunim, and yet the discussion was incredibly rich and covered a whole range of topics of concern to all in the group. I wish I’d taken notes, but some things stood out for me very clearly, and this month I’ll try to relate a little of it here on this blog.

The first was Sunim’s response to a question from me. I’ve asked this before, but it still bothers me. I understand, and can see in my own life, how everything we suffer is a manifestation of the Buddha-nature and necessary in order to learn and make progress, and in fact, last time I raised this, Sunim talked about how suffering is itself the compassion of the Buddha.

It’s like a father, she explained again to me on Saturday night, who cares for his child. Sometimes the father will reward the child, sometimes the father will need to use discipline. But the child, far from seeing the love, might see only the suffering and not the bigger picture and the opportunity to learn.

“Yes”, I argued, “Yes, I understand that, I see that, but look at the awful suffering in the world, the poverty, the hunger, the concentration camps. Rape, murder, torture. Surely there are better ways of disciplining, ways that don’t involve flaying the child alive. I mean, it’s just not fair.”

“This world” Sunim replied with gravity as well as a smile, “is perfectly fair. Everything you create eventually comes back to you.”

Link: Wake up and Laugh!: Suffering

10 thoughts on “Seon club notes – part one”

  1. Thank you Marcus.
    Perhaps it presents itself this way so that we may be more inclined to react compassionately to those suffering rather than with a, “They had it coming!”

  2. Thank you Joseph. Ah, yes, compassion – well anticipated! And thank you for the great photo for this post too! And thank you Barry. It’s a teaching I struggle with, but yes, true, great answer. Thank you! _/\_

  3. It’s an interesting paradox(?), because I can often see that what I’m experiencing is the result of my own actions/thoughts. Yet, for me to tell someone else who is in the middle of that suffering that it’s their own fault seems, I don’t know what- cruel/ not-in-the-moment/ arrogant?

    If I’m in the moment, then I experience their pain. Perhaps the “It’s your fault,” is a way of avoiding that?

    (To say this also presumes that I have the ability to truly see the causes of other’s suffering. I have to guess that those people who say “it’s your own fault,” are speaking from only theory.)

    To paraphrase something Kun Sunim said about Hanam Sunim, it seems the answer is to give wisdom to those who seek it, to give compassion and caring to those who are hurting, and to give food to those who are hungry.

  4. Wonderful post!

    I don’t get Sunim’s words to mean the suffering of others is their fault. I take it to mean it is mine and my responsibility. After all, everything is created by mind alone. And Sunim seems to be pointing at the things we have made in the past coming back to us. Tough teaching!

    You make, you get.

    Good luck and thanks for practicing,

  5. “I take it to mean it is mine and my responsibility.”

    Nice one, thank you Keith – I hadn’t thought of it quite like that. And thank you Chong Go Sunim and Joseph too. Like I say, this is a tricky one for me and your comments really help. I think Sunim was very much concerned not with telling other people they are to blame for their suffering (!) but seeing perhaps how we are each responsible for our own. I learnt a lot at the last meeting, and I’m learning a lot through this discussion too. Thank you.

    (Plus – more Seon Club notes to follow!)


    1. Hi again, Marcus. I realize that i didn’t exactly touch on the point of this post in my responses, which is that suffering is the compassion of the Buddha. I usually don’t think in these terms because I feel that it makes the Buddha out to be a God like being, when, as far as I know, he stressed the opposite. But to alter the vocabulary slightly, (true nature, juingong, etc,…) I can see how the suffering could arise from ourselves.

      Anyway, what I was wondering, if you think about the suffering in your life (and I realize you’ve suffered far greater experiences than myself), have these sufferings taught you? Have they helped you in someway? Have they been at all compassionate?

      You don’t really need to answer this, either.. ^^

  6. I have sufferred much much much less than others! But what little suffering I have experienced (emotional suffering I’m talking about, not physical) has taught me one thing mainly – it taught me that the best thing to do is sit and feel the pain.

    And somewhere, out there or deep down or both (I basically don’t care anymore about the distinction) are the arms of love holding me and all the world.

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