Alright! We’ve reached the first stage of publishing a new collection of Kun Sunim’s Dharma talks outside of Korea!
These were previously published in Korea as bilingual editions, titled “Turning Dirt into Gold” and “Dancing on the Whirlwind.” What I really like about this edition is that it’s easily available outside of Korea. (Well, okay, I think the title is kind of cool too!)
This edition of the English text is titled “Like Lions Learning to Roar,” and is available as an ebook through most online stores. I thought I’d just copied a plain link, but if you click on the image, you can also preview the book. Kind of neat!
We’re working on the paper edition, but it will take another month or two, because we are still waiting on some cataloguing info from the National Library of Korea, and because it will take a while to get sample copies from overseas to ensure the quality of the paper edition. So please be patient if you want a paper copy. It’s coming!
Figuring out how to use our mind in new ways really is like stepping out into the dark. We haven’t been there many times, so the way isn’t clear or especially intuitive. What is clear, easy, intuitive, are the ways we’ve done things in the past. As we evolved from lower states. The thing I love about this poem is that it clearly tells us how to go forward when we can’t see the path, when we’re trying to take a direction we haven’t traveled before. Read this one a few times and think about it carefully. And have a happy Lunar New Year! with palms together, Chong Go
Smooth the Rough Edges, Become a Free Person
When you are able to use your mind harmoniously and generously, you’ll be able to use it freely, manifesting according to needs of others. This harmonious mind can become smaller than the smallest dot, and larger than the vastest universe.
Returning things inwardly makes your mind harmonious; having harmonious thoughts strengthens your ability to return things inwardly. Returning things inwardly gives rise to compassion, and if you truly have compassion everything can be melted down, anything can be achieved.
If you can return things inwardly you can communicate with everything. You can become one with Buddhas, one with a bug or a blade of grass. Everything is also yourself! With equanimity, with an empty mind, observe your inner foundation without any thought of trying to see it: This is what it means to return things inwardly and observe.
Seeing everything as one, embracing everything without leaning to one side or the other, this is equanimity.
When everything has been put down when there’s nothing left to hold onto, not even the thought that you have to put something down, this is empty mind.
When you have such a complete and harmonious mind, you can become one with all life, one with the whole universe.
This mind can make even rough things harmonious and generous, and can find a use for them.
Not a single thing is rejected! This mind becomes one with all life. Not a single one is thrown away! This is true compassion!
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all have a great 2020! We’ve just finished the subtitles for a new video by Daehaeng Kun Sunim, and as these go, this is a pretty important one, because it’s the very basics of how we can free ourselves from karma and habits, and take a new direction in life. (There’s also another video we found, that, to be honest, I don’t remember what it was used for, lol.)
It’s not particularly complicated, but as most simple things, it takes effort over time for it to really pay off. The parallels with weight lifting and school always leave me shaking my head. It’s always effort x time. Once you start doing that, then big lumps of gunk will sometimes all dissolve in a flash, but we still have to keep working at it. And once you’ve been at it for a while, you’ll wonder what took you so long to get moving!
I’m trying to write a foreword for our latest English collection of Dharma talks, and happened to take a look at one of our earlier books. (Okay, I couldn’t think of anything good to say, so I looked at an older book for inspiration! Lol.) It turns out that the foreword was actually quite nice just on its own, so I decided to post it here. The book it’s from is advertised as Dharma talks about children, but that’s only a portion of the contents. The overall talks are a great teaching for anyone, regardless of age or whether or not you have children.
(from the Foreword) One day I happened to meet Daehaeng Kun Sunim as she walked out into the main courtyard of the Seon Center. There were two or three young children playing there, chasing each other and yelling with abandon. They probably lived in the neighborhood, and had found a wide-open space for their games. But they were being kind of noisy in the heart of the temple, and one of the sunims with us grumbled about it.
But Kun Sunim spoke up, saying, “I think it’s beautiful.”
Even now, twenty years later, I still remember this.
It showed me an aspect beyond the surface, the noisy kids, beyond the temporary disruption, and nudged me towards a more complete picture. For play is a sign of healthy kids. It’s good for them, and it’s a pretty good world where kids have the time and energy, and safety, to run and shout.
There’s an expression in Korean, that when the headwaters of a stream are clean, the water downstream will be as well. It flows from the top. If the parents are working diligently at entrusting everything to the fundamental, awakened true nature within us, which is also the connection we all share, then as they get a sense of this, their connection with their children opens up and becomes more vibrant. The children in turn respond to this, and as this energy flows back and forth, parents have a better sense of what they need to be doing.
Thus, while Daehaeng Kun Sunim often encourages parents to teach their children about this practice of relying upon our foundation, she spends most of her time talking with the parents, encouraging them to work on their half of things.
To be honest, there’s only so much parents can do. Children come into this world with their own personality, history, and karma. As any parent can testify, beyond a certain point, you can’t really make children do much. Yelling and threatening are always temptations, but even when they yield results, everyone involved is often left feeling a little terrible.
Instead, as we begin to discover the light within us, our own inherent teacher, then we begin to get a better sense of the situation, and how to respond effectively. We begin to see what we can do to help bring forth this light in others. And as our own light begins to shine forth, children too begin to sense this. They learn from how we respond to them, but they also learn from how we treat others and how we respond to the things that come up in our life.
In addition to the need for parents to work on their own spiritual practice, Daehaeng Kun Sunim also answers questions in these Dharma talks about prenatal care and education, and specific issues between parents and children. Because fetuses and young children are changing so rapidly, the positive influences they receive at this time are magnified throughout their life, so to her, this was an excellent opportunity to help deepen a child’s potential for spiritual growth.
When the energy of our own fundamental Buddha nature shines bright, then it can automatically connect with and support the people in our lives. And as children experience the taste of this energy, that becomes a standard, an idea of what’s possible, and so they don’t easily fall into dark paths. And while the topic of this book is children and parents, this is also true for the people around us.
When our hearts and spirits are bright, that light shines on everyone we encounter. And while we’ll likely never know the effects of this, just by being in the world, we can be a source of hope and compassion for others, whether they be our children, parents, or just passing by on the sidewalk.
Here’s a short Dharma talk from volume 82 of Hanmaum Journal.
The Path to Nirvana
When others do something wrong, it’s easy to feel resentment and even hatred towards them. Yet everything you experience happens because you are present in the world; if you weren’t here, how could you have met those people? So just set aside who did what, and reflect upon the fact that you too contributed to that situation. This is the way to discover yourself, and the wonderful path to Nirvana. Here on this path there is no need for worrying about cutting off delusions or flaws. For there is no place for reasons and judgments to stick to. So why do we need to cling to those? If you are caught up in “that is right,” “this is best,” then your practice has already gone astray.
Woohoo! We’ve finally got a new subtitled video Dharma talk up! This one addresses the issue of memorial ceremonies, and ceremonies to help the dead move forward (Cheondo jae). In this video, that got translated as “spirit-guiding ceremony”. Part of me thinks I must have been tired to let it go as that (it sounds a bit clunky), but, on the other hand, that’s a very accurate description. The more I think about this, the more I wonder if the topic doesn’t need a larger introduction. Anyway, as is, there’s a lot of good stuff here, but be sure to ask questions in the comments if you have them.