Who judges? Who saves?

from the “beam raising” ceremony, celebrating the midpoint of construction of the Tong Yeong Hanmaum Seon Center. The completion ceremony/celebration will be held this Saturday (Oct 13) from around 10am, so if you’re in the 통영 area, stop by!

I suppose for the sake of making things easy to understand, “judgement” has almost always been described as someone else looming over us, checking our deeds and misdeeds in a ledger or book. That works well enough, I guess, to get the point across that our actions will have consequences we’ll have to account for, but it also has the effect of making those effects seem utterly fixed and unchangeable on the one hand, and the whole effect being easily discredited for it’s implausibility on the other hand. In the excerpt that follows, Daehaeng Sunim describes the situation a bit differently.

It is not the Buddha who awakens you and raises your spiritual level. Buddha doesn’t bring you happiness, nor does he take it away from you. Nor is it the case that someone comes to take away your happiness because of the bad karma you’ve made. Nor will making lots of good karma cause someone to bring you happiness. Everything comes to you according to your own thoughts and actions. It comes according to the decisions you have made.

Further, everything is flowing by so quickly that there’s no moment for someone else to step in and try to change or affect something. Everything you see, hear, and do just flies past in that instant. It’s already long gone by the time you could say, “That’s what I’ve done,” or “I couldn’t do that.”

You, yourself, can’t even reach in and grab hold of it, so how could anyone else find a place they could step in and do something for you? Or something to harm you? It’s all flowing and changing every instant in response to what you are doing and thinking.

— Daehaeng Sunim



“The Doctor is In” (new book)


Just in time for Korean Thanksgiving (Chuseok), we have a new Dharma talk out! This is a Korean-English edition of a Dharma talk by Daehaeng Kun Sunim, in which she talks at length about health and spiritual practice. Currently this book is only widely available in Korea, but we’re publishing this talk in an English collection called “Standing Again,” which will be out in the next month or so. “Standing Again” will be in print and ebook formats, and available through Amazon.com and other worldwide book stores.

Here’s an excerpt: 

Regardless of who you are, regardless of your position in society, education, gender, or age, every one of you has this incredible fundamental mind within you. If you just have faith in this essential Buddha and rely upon it, you can move mountains, penetrate the secrets of the universe, and stop army tanks in their tracks. But if you don’t have faith in it, if you try to ignore it, then life is like trying to walk through an endless field of mud. Or flailing through the air, unable to get your feet under you. Please work on firmly trusting this inherent foundation of yours, so that you will be able to step beyond the boundaries of this middle world and become forever free.

Know that this inherent mind can take care of whatever you are going through! Believe in your inherent essence! [Thrusting her fist in the air.] This is where you can find courage! And vision and determination! Here is the power to turn the world upside down or to set it right! Right now we are lame in one leg, blind in one eye, and deaf in one ear. Even the most advanced technology in the world can’t compare to this ability of your inherent essence. Why? Because those are limited to the material world, to only one side of things. But this light within you is connected to both sides, as well as all the energy of the universe.

So leave behind thoughts of social status or judgments about others, and work together as brothers and sisters in the Dharma. The Buddha awakened to the reality that everyone else was also himself, so even cleaning someone else’s bottom after a bowel movement was no more than cleaning his own. Should even a dog, sick with disease, raise from its foundation a deep desire for help, Buddha transforms into a dog and helps cure the disease, or frees the dog from its ignorance. Here, “Buddha” does not refer to an individual, but rather to the great pillar of energy that is the whole.

Every single one of us has this incredible, formless mind, this one great pillar that encompasses everything, which the ancients called the “Highest Heaven of Mt. Sumeru.” Take this pillar as your center, and strengthen your ability to let go. Develop your ability to entrust it with everything. In this way, let’s take all suffering, all illness, every kind of karmic state of consciousness, and burn it all up!

Repaying the Many Kindnesses We Have Received – Daehaeng Kun Sunim Dharma talk


In Korean Buddhist temples, we bow a lot. So much so, that at times we can lose sight of the way, the reason for all that bowing. In one sense, it’s propriety, but it also serves to make us humble.

I suspect that, in some language, “arrogance” means “above the rest,” “better than the rest,” but in losing this, we begin to move in tune with reality, the truth. We are all connected to every other.

While we have different physical shapes, we are all part of one undivided whole. Sharing the same live, the same mind, the same body, working together as one, and freely giving and receiving whatever is needed. Awareness of this, being able to truly live in accord with this, and to help manifest this so that others may find their way, is (I suspect) the essence of enlightenment.

Bek-jung, or Umlambala, was last weekend, and is a time for repaying our debts to those who have passed on. With that in mind, this Dharma talk from issue #100 of Hanmaum Journal seems appropriate: 

Repaying the Many Kindnesses We Have Received

Everything we do to help our ancestors also helps us.
We have to keep raising and entrusting the intention that
our ancestors and parents will reside together with the Buddha’s,
so that they may awaken to the truth of nonduality.

In this way, we can repay them for all their help.
When we bow during a memorial service,
we are not bowing to the physical shell they used to wear,
rather we are bowing to our foundation,
which is already one with all our parents and ancestors.

You have to bow like this,
then you and they will be connected as one,
along with everything else,
and true virtue and merit can arise.

– Daehaeng Kun Sunim

New Subtitled Videos of Daehaeng Sunim’s Dharma talks

Wow! It’s been a long, hot summer! I hope everyone has been well! Baek-jung, which is the ceremony(ies) to help those who have passed on has just finished here in Korea. There was a nice short Dharma talk by Kun Sunim for Baek-jung, and I’ll try to post a translation sometime in the next week.

In the meantime, there are two new subtitled videos of Kun Sunim’s Dharma talks up on YouTube.  They aren’t long. We have a couple more of these that we’re working on right now, and expect that they’ll be finished before the end of September.



Buddha’s Birthday!

보리수나무등-신도회Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Buddha’s Birthday here in Korea! It’s a lot of fun, so if you happen to be near a temple, be sure to stop by. Here are some of the lanterns and floats from our temple this year. They’re pretty amazing! (These photos were taken at the lantern lighting ceremony we had here in Anyang on the 6th.)












How to dissolve karma -Week 3




This week, I talk more about the specifics of how we can change the direction we’re headed, and why karma, as the idea as a fixed destiny, doesn’t really exist. 

Reading of text: 

Dharma talk: 



Dissolving our Karma: Week 2 – A Wise Man Asks for the Dharma


Here’s the readings and Dharma talk for the second week of this series of talks about what our karma is and how we can overcome it.

Audio file: Chapter 2 of the Diamond Sutra 

Audio file: Dharma talk by Chong Go Sunim



2) A Wise Man Asks for the Dharma

At that time,
the elder Bhikkhu, Subhuti,
arose from his place among those gathered near the Buddha.
He swept his robe over his right shoulder,
placed his right knee on the ground,
and kneeling thus with his palms together,

“How rare, oh World-honored One!
nondually does Tathagata guide and manage
the innumerable transformation bodhisattvas arising from one mind,
nondually does Tathagata direct and make use of all
the response bodhisattvas of one mind!

“World-honored One,
if I have understood correctly,
you have taught us that
when men and women awaken to the highest truth,
they are able to respond
positively, wisely, proactively,
to the impermanence of every place and thing,
of every life and creation.

As they become one with the unenlightened beings within their body,
all of those beings naturally surrender and follow one mind.
When nothing is not themselves
this nondual mind
is able to instantly manifest and send forth whatever is needed.”

“Excellent, Subhuti! Excellent!” replied the Buddha.
“It is as you have said.
‘Tathagata’ means the mind where
inside and outside are already one,
and so the Tathagata guides and controls
the transformation, response, and manifestation
of all the innumerable bodhisattvas existing within.

Now, listen carefully, and I’ll tell you something special:
Wise women and men
who want to awaken to the highest truth,
have to manage the lives within themselves
by becoming one with them.
They have to take these consciousnesses,
these inner lives of one mind,
which aren’t yet moving in accord with one mind,
and cause these lives to surrender
and follow one mind.”

“Thank you, World-honored One!
Your words fill me with joy!
Can you please speak more about this?