- 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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