You need the sustenance of spiritual experiences

I was just reminded of this post, and although it’s from a while ago, it’s just as relevant today. Perhaps even more so.

Start your study with experiences, with applying and experimenting with what you know. Don’t think that you can wait until after enlightenment before you have experiences. If you want to know your true self, experiences are the fastest way to go.  

The Abbess, Hye Won Sunim

When I first became a monk, the abbess at the main Hanmaum Seon Center in Anyang said to me, “Without the experiences (that come from trying to rely upon one’s inherent Buddha-nature), it’s really hard to live as a monk or nun for very long. You need the sustenance of these experiences.”   

Here is a bit more that she has said about spiritual experiences.  

The more effort you make, the more results and experiences you will get.  And the more effort you make, the harder your true nature will push you. The harder you study, the harder your true self, Juingong, pushes you.   If you are determined to study very hard, and try to do so, you will have some obstacles from other people, monks and nuns, laypeople, and various people around you. If you stop studying because of obstacles from other people, you won’t make any further progress.  So don’t be bound or tied down by these.

The first thing you have to pass through is learning to ignore the obstacles from other people.  To me, I’m focused on taking care of my practice, regardless of what other people are doing to me.  I have seen many people, including sunims and laypeople who drop out because of obstacles from laypeople and hardships from their teacher.  Don’t try to have the same experience several times.  Once you have an experience, try to let it go so that you can have other experiences. 

The Rule of Fish

There’s an odd thing I’ve discovered about spiritual experiences – they have a lot in common with fish: They’re alive and vibrant at first, but unless we release them, within a day or two, they really begin to stink.  

Unless we let go of them, nothing new comes, so it’s very hard to keep growing. In addition, if we don’t release them, they will become a foothold for “I” and the all the opinions and fixed views that go along with this sense of “me.” Without even being aware of it, a subtle thought begins to pervade our consciousness, “Look what I know.” From the moment this stink of I starts to pervade our outlook, things begin to fall apart.  I can’t claim to know all the details about why this is, but my feeling is that the dualistic thought, of what I know, begins to cut us off from the whole and our source of energy and wisdom.   

However, when we release what we’ve experienced and become one with it, even though we seem to lose sight of it, it’s still there, transforming us. And when we need it, it will return.  

Trusting our root, our true nature, means that we entrust it with not just the bad things, but also the good things. We release them all to this root, remembering that is what’s really taking care of our lives and everything we encounter.

The Early History of Hanmaum Seon Center, as told by Park Jae Won


Mr Park could often be seen around the main office at the Anyang Hanmaum Seon Center. He was quite a tall, big-boned man, probably close to 190cm tall (6’2~3″), and yet radiated warmth and friendliness. It seemed like he had always been at the center, and had, in fact, been helping Daehaeng Kun Sunim since the mid 1970s. He passed away in January, 2018, and his wife passed away only a few weeks later. This  interview appeared in the May/June 2006 issue (#27) of Hanmaum Journal.

If you visit the Anyang Hanmaum Seon Center, there is a chance you’ll see Mr. Jae Won Park(박재원). He has known Kun Sunim for many decades, and been a member of the Seon Center from it’s early years. In addition to taking care of all kinds of large and small jobs for the Seon Center, he also used to have many important roles in the Buddhist community and larger society of Korea. Here is his story.

Hanmaum Journal: How did you come to meet Daehaeng Kun Sunim?

I first met her through my association with Tanho Sunim [Tanho Sunim was also a disciple of Hanam Sunim, and was considered one of the foremost scholars of modern Korea -translator]. I’d met Tanho Sunim in the mid-1960’s and later had formed a group to help support his teaching and vision. He and Kun Sunim were very good friends, so on one of his visits, I went along and met Kun Sunim. That’s how I first met her, and eventually, in April of 1976, I had been appointed as senior adviser to Hanmaum Seon Center.

Tanho Sunim

For many years I’ve wondered about that karmic affinity that led me to meet Daehaeng Kun Sunim. Her path has been so different from that of a worldly person like me. In my heart she’s closer to me than my own parents were; what kind of connection must there be to cause this? How much strength and hope must I have gotten from her in my past lives that I would neglect everything else to help take care of the Seon Center? I’ve thought often about how meeting her gave me such strength and why it was such a turning point in my life.

Continue reading “The Early History of Hanmaum Seon Center, as told by Park Jae Won”

Day 84 – The wisdom of the eye that’s not an eye

Are you remembering to recite these? 🙂 The thing I love about reciting these is that it gives us a perspective and an idea for a level of practice that we may not have achieved on our own yet, but as we recite and listen to these, some deep within responds and goes “Yes!”

With the wisdom of the eye that’s not an eye,
please look after me and guide me to the one mind of all Buddhas.

부처님의 마음과 내 마음이 둘 아니게 인도하여
눈 아닌 눈의 지혜로 두루 이루어 살피고 살피소서.

Vietnamese Edition of “No River to Cross” – Không có sông nào để vượt qua (Gumroad – an online storage site that sells ebooks and audiobooks for us) (links to some of the major online bookstores, including the Apple store and Kobo.)

So, some fun news for 2021 — we’ve published the Vietnamese ebook edition of “No River to Cross”!

A wonderful translator did this Vietnamese edition of “No River to Cross,” and we’ve been eager to get this out. The paper edition is out in Korea, but due to a number of factors (see below) it’s not easy to get it to other countries. Also, some of the major online bookstores don’t currently support Vietnamese, but there are some major sites that do (Kobo, Apple, etc), and we’ve put the ebook on sale on a website we use called Gumroad. (They also sell other ebook versions of Kun Sunim’s books, as well as the audiobook edition of “My Heart is a Golden Buddha.”)

We have a nice paper edition (with this same cover) for sale in Korea, but it’s hard to get this to people outside of Korea. Covid has ended regular parcel mail and airmail leaving Korea, so books have to be sent by express, registered mail (EMS, FEDEX, DHL) with is quite expensive, or by sea, which is only an option for a few countries and can take 1-3 months.