Ko Un – “A Thousand Hands Dancing”

(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

5 thoughts on “Ko Un – “A Thousand Hands Dancing””

  1. Outside the main building at the CERN super-collider complex is a statue of Shiva. It is there in recognition that the Kosmos is an inter-dimensional, holonic structuring. Quantum teleportation is now a technological reality. The stargate of the Bodhisattva’s is opening. “Dying into a dance/An agony of trance/” as Yeats wrote.

  2. Dear Chong Go Sunim,
    I’ve only recently came across Daehaeng Keun Sunim’s teachings. I’m very fascinated and I enjoy them very much. I’ve also started to go to the local Hanmaum Centre in my city and I love that, too.
    I speak some Korean, but it’s much easier for me to read Keun Sunim’s teachings in English. So thank you VERY much for translating. I hope that in the not so far future I have the time to go to Anyang and visit the main Hanmaum centre. Maybe I can say thank you offline then.
    Judith

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