- Born in Wol Sung, Kyung Sang buk Province, in 1927
- Ordained as Bhikku at Pum U Temple in 1946
- Member of 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th Committees of the Chogye Order
- Abbot of Tong Do Temple, 1967-1977
- Vice-master in residence of Young Chuk Monastery, 1986-present
The presidential election day is coming soon. The candidates are visiting our temple every day. They`re busy. According to the old saying, troubled times need wise ministers and poor families need wise wives.
This is a chaotic time, so we should choose wisely. We need a wise minister. In these days, we have a lack of responsible leaders in national affairs, and in homes and temples, too. It is important to take responsibility, and not just try to satisfy one`s own desires.
Living in these days there seems to be more material abundance than before, but inside, things are harsh. A young girl named Bitnari, kidnapped a few years ago, has recently been found dead. People carelessly deprive others of their lives to satisfy their own desire and greed. Why has this happened?
When we think of what we "need" but not have, then we become too attached to it. Then craving makes us think incorrectly and unclearly. We should strive to keep the Buddha`s teaching as our guide, and to follow it. Whether we are practitioners or not we should try to be like the Buddha.
Who was the Buddha? He was a man who threw away material abundance and power, and chose a way of practicing asceticism, so that at last he could become a Buddha.
Next, we should keep the 10 precepts. What does this mean? It means we should bear responsibility for our actions in any situation. People usually think a precept is a yoke of action, restraining freedom, but really it is a way of freeing a society or a country to function correctly. Generally speaking, if I don`t kill others none will kill me, and if I don`t tell lies then nobody will tell a lie to me, and if I don`t deprive others of their properties, no one will take anything from me.
Let us not blame others. Let us instead find the fault with ourselves. Show a model to others and do good to others. This is indeed an important precept.
These days, even the monks do not keep the precepts completely. It is selfish to follow worldly fashions away from responsibility, but some monks want to give up their monastic lives because of its many difficulties. Homes are just the same. Divorce and arguments are common now.
I came into the temple when I was 14 years old, and attained Bhikku ordination at 16 years of age. At that time, there were no cars, no rubber shoes, so we wore only grass shoes. There was bus service between Pusan and Unyang only twice a day. We made grass shoes ourselves, carried parcels ourselves, and planted rice fields. We did a lot of hard work, but our minds were comfortable. I respected every monk and thanked them for learning from everybody. I obeyed their teaching and followed. I gained knowledge by an accepting mind.
The Korean war was remarkable. At that time Tong Do Temple was changed into an Army hospital, so most of the monks had to leave, and I left to look for a suitable place to study. Pum U Temple was not much different from Ton Do. I stayed and practiced at a store house near by. Looking back on those days, we should have made a vow to get rid of war forever in the world.
Compared to those days, living today is very comfortable. But it is a pity that the number of students is smaller than before. Among the monks who studied with me there were Kyung Shan sunim, Hye Ahm sunim, Suck ju sunim, In Ok sunim, Mu Bul sunim and U bong sunim. They were very sincere and never gave up their ways. My teacher, Wol Ha sunim was very sincere to his own teacher, Ku Ha sunim. He didn`t leave his teacher during the 7 days just before he died.
Young monks are apt to look for new things these days, but we should all remember to "Know the new by understanding the old." We should learn from the teachers of the old days.
Next, it is important to make a stand for Buddhism in the world. It is the way to know our culture, the soul of our tribe. It is also the way to spread Buddhism throughout the world. The time we live in is full of greed. The work of making temples is going on well, but the work of cleaning the mind isn`t. Accomplishments in the outside world are useless.
I want everyone in the world, whether they are Buddhist or not, to have peace and paradise in this world. I think it is possible for us to be one, without greed or faction. The first step to unification is getting rid of the greed inside. The next step is concentration of the mind. By this kind of concentration, the Buddha determined that he would not stand up until he was enlightened, and Bodhi Dharma sat facing a wall for 9 years. With this mind, we should do mantra practice, or read sutras. All of the different ways accomplish the same goal. Every day, recite the Thousand Hands Sutra. That is a good way to empty the mind. With a clear mind, everyone is a Buddha and a Bodhisatva. We must respect whoever we meet everyday, and keep in mind that our discomfort and suffering can mean others` happiness and comfort. Let us not make any trouble for our neighbors during our lives, and let us enlighten our clean true selves.