"Keeping precepts is practicing."
"After cleaning mind then we can see our true natures."
"Precepts are not a yoke. When we return to children`s minds we can get into the concentration."
- He was born in Kae Sung in 1901
- He became a monk under the instruction of Hae Ahm sunim in Sang Won-sa temple on O-Dae san mountain in 1927
- He practiced in Maha yeon in Kum Kang san
- He built the Chun Wang-sa temple on Halla mountain in 1955
- He is the residential Master of Wol Jung-sa and Chun Wang-sa
- He is a member of the Elder Committee of the Chogye Order
I became a monk under the instruction of Han Ahm sunim. When I was 22 years old I had a chance to hear his Dharma Talk one time, so I wrote him a letter. After that I received an answer from him. He advised me to learn from him in O-Dae san mountain. I ran to him. At that time I was deeply interested in Taoism. I showed him a book on Taoism, but he refused to tell about it and taught me the six syllabus om-ma-ni-ban-me-hum, instead.
As I came from a Yang Ban(scholar) family, I had an interest in Taoism, Chundoism and Christianity. First I was a Christian but I couldn`t believe their theory, that everyone can get into the paradise if one only believes it. So I converted to Taoism. I travelled to Kang Hwa island, Ku wol mountain and the Sullak mountain. I had a chance to meet with Han Ahm sunim. He said to me that "There is no other way to reach the truth except through Buddha`s teaching."
The purpose of Taoism is to live without dying but the purpose of Buddhism is to be free from life and death.
Not only was I interested in the truth of Buddhism, but also I wanted to get the magic power to get rid of Japanese colonization from our country. So I served causes to fight for our independence many times, that`s why I became a monk.
Few years after I had met Han Ahm sunim, I decided to be a monk.
But life of monk and social prejudices of the times prevented me from being a monk so I wanted to study buddhism as a lay man. I served in the temple as a woodman or a cook.
One day I heard a lecture of Diamond Sutra by Tan Heo sunim. In the sutra " Everything is empty. So if you can see that everything is empty then you can see the true nature." With this saying I wanted to see what true nature really was.
Han Ahm sunim used to say " Study with one mind, keeping with the precepts. Concentration comes after not breaking the precepts. wisdom comes from the concentration. And the deliverance of life and death comes from the wisdom. " He always emphasized us to be away from money and women.
He also let us study and practice just like this: " Monks should not eat without studding and practicing. Don`t betray the gratitude of having been offered."
Once Chung yang sunim delivered the offered food from Mokpo within two days. The food was almost spoiled by that time, most of the students rejected the food. But he insisted to boil it again for the effort that was taken. But no one was sick from the food. This was the case and that`s why I have kept eating uncooked food until now. Eating cone pine tree powder is good for making the body too strong and too light to have greed or lust.
He has been a mirror of my monastic life. So I had never made any mistakes cooking for 80 monks when I was a hangja. I hid 2000 wares from the Japanese soldiers eyes when they gathered the brass ware during the war.
His teaching kept me strong when I practiced at Maha yeon at Kum kang san-mountain for 3 years. At that time there were a lot of students to practice at Maha yeon, among them was Dong Shan sunim. After 3 years had passed, I wanted to go to back to Sang Won-sa temple but there were other monks so I could not do so. I wandered O Dae-san mountain, Jung dae, Tai Baik-san mountain, Jung Ahm-sa temple and Bul young-sa temple.
After that I built Chun Wang-sa temple in Che Ju-do island, I was at Chin do island during the Korean War, so I didn`t know about the war.
I heard about the Han Ahm sunim`s death. Looking back, he always insisted the importance of the precepts. As Buddha said "Make the precepts as your teacher." Among the basis ideas of Buddhism precepts, concentration and wisdom, he thought precepts as the basis for the three. So if we do good and keep with the precepts, concentrate correctly then we can get wisdom clearly and can be free from all attachment, greed, anger and ignorance. Every evil comes from ignorance concerning true nature, so if we know the true nature then we can get deliverance of the mind.
Precept is not a restriction or a yoke. With the precepts we can be as pure as a child. With only pureness we can concentrate with one mind.
Not live only for the enlightenment but also we should live effectively, that is we should live well. How can we live well. Living well means to keep with the precepts. The one who lives well can get the true nature through concentration. It`s true. Even disasters dare not come to those who are good. Do not follow evil and do good things. This is Buddha`s teaching.
When only our minds are clear then our sitting-practice, mantra-practicing and recite-practicing are effective. Eighty four thousands ways of practice and eighty thousand mantras and one thousand and seven hundred kong-ans and 20 ways of concentration are not different. All of them are different ways to the same room-the enlightenment.
Also the attitude of mind is important. Even the science and philosophy are same. Little discoveries can be found by the knowledge but big discoveries can be found only by clear minds.
After enlightenment, then everything is one. Before the enlightenment, there are lots of different roads and steps, but after enlightenment there is no difference.
I used to do "Mu" Kong An practicing. Kong an, itself, has no meaning except to question. My dharma brother Bomun sunim (1906-1956) enlightened within 7 days. He had a mind as clear as a child. With a clean mind we can cut through greed and lust easily. Then we can meditate without eating or sleeping.
After a long time practicing we can measure our practice. For example, in the moon light, our shadows are dark, we know our practice is not going well. If our shadows are pale then our practice is going well.
2 years ago, the followers of our temple and I prayed for 100 days for the unification of our nation and for world peace. I think we should rid the world of hunger. Now we are in a dilemma.
If we know the cause and effect then we, not only buddhists but also other religious people, should live well and follow the good.
translated by Y. J. Choi