"Not attaching to the form is the beginning and the end of Buddhism"
I have never looked after myself. I came here 50 years ago and have worked for the temple days and nights during those 50 years.
I am 88 years old now. Some people wondered why I have always worked so hard. Some call me " the Working Tae Ko sunim."
I have worked for half of a century without starting nor ending nor planing the work. The thought in my mind was a blue print and working progress sheet. I have constructed with my mind. Whenever I gained money I purchased the building materials, so I could continue the construction without stopping for any reason.
Why have I constructed the temples without stopping?
Because I wanted to prepare a suitable school for the next generation.
I trusted that great enlightened persons should come through this school and would. That`s why I have been building this school for such a long time.
I`ve never regretted my role as a construction worker. And I planted big cone pine trees, as many as almost 5000 around the temple.
I became a monk when I was 13 years old. I wanted to see a great man since I was young. That`s why I became a monk.
First I wanted to go to the Pack-Du-san mountains, but when I arrived at the Kum Kang-san mountains, I was determined to stay at the Maha yeon for the beautiful sight. Above all, there was the great master Su Wol sunim. But unfortunately, I didn`t have a chance to see Su Wol sunim, and I became a disciple of Muk un sunim. Muck un sunim and Su Wol sunim worked hard when they were alive.
This is a story about Su Wol.
Once when Kum-Oh sunim went to see Su Wol, there were many visitors crowded in the room, but Su Wol sunim was working outside.
My teacher reserved himself from speaking. He taught me by showing his action directly. I sometimes wandered through some temples when I was in the Kum Kang Mountains. Sometimes I stayed for several months in the You Jum-sa temple or the Pub Wang-sa temple in the Myo Hang-san mountains. After the Independence of our nation I came to Seoul.
After a few months I went back to the Maha yeon, but I decided not to live there because of the communists. So I went to the South. First I visited the Tae go-sa. I was surprised by the scene of the Tae go-sa, because it looked just like the Kum Kang-san. And when the Korean war happened, the Northern soldiers burnt the temple of Tae go.
I became the abbot of this temple at the same time. So I started to build the temples to pay back the gratitude for Buddha.
If we are determine in our mind with good reason, and keep on going, then we can reach good results.
Praying while keeping a strong mind is necessary.
The wise cook with rice. But the stupid cook with sand. The most important thing is working with wisdom.
The good cause brings good results and the bad cause brings bad results. The bad cause came from greed, anger and ignorance. When we work hard we can remove the defilement and evil thoughts. The thinking which says I exist is ignorance. From attaching this thinking makes three evil thoughts and defilement.
Do not think that putting us down is meanness. As Buddhist followers we should respect Buddha and let ourselves down.
Don`t neglect others. Keep in mind that we should let ourselves down. If we attach to ourselves we can not help others, nor be generous. Awake from the illusion and look at ourselves directly.
Study through all our lives and help the poor. It is very difficult to be born as a human. Carry on everything that you say and reserve yourself from speaking. My teacher`s name was Muk un (Silence). He sat silently and watched the wall in the Maha yeon. I assisted him for 15 years.
Working hard is practicing zen, so I worked hard. Whenever I gained some money I planted a cone pine tree or prepared the materials. Building temples takes sincerity. But these days do not take as long as before to build the temples. Big temples are built in only short times. Looking good outside is not so important.
When I go out I never ride taxies, or spend money for lunch out. I`ve never been to hospitals. I`ve never avoided the hard jobs. I`ve never chased convenience and easiness. Difficulty itself is practicing.
translated by Y.J. Choi 3 November