- "Do not find faults with others" -|
- "Harmonize with those who are against to me" -
*Born in Hap chon, Kyung Sang Nam-do province in 1928
*Obtained the Ordination of Sanimi 41 under the teaching of Tan Ong sunim
*Graduated the Master Course Sangha School
*Ordained Bhikku by the teaching of Han Ahm sunim
*The abbot of Jik Ji-sa Temple
*A committee member of Chogye Order
*The chairman of the Committee of Choegye Order84-86
*Present, One of the elder Committee member of Chogye Order
and the chief director of Dong Kuk Academy
Spring has come but I can`t feel the spring.
Spring has come but it is still cold so I can`t feel that spring has come.
Nature`s law is sound. Coming and going continues automatically. Once a man
wandered seeking the spring around the mountains and rivers. When exhausted he
came home and found a cherry bloom coming from over the fence. He thought
himself to be stupid for looking so far for spring. Always we are close to the truth.
60 years have passed since I started to find the truth near to me. I might have been
in deep relation to Buddhism since my past life. Whenever I went to the temples I
felt good and whenever I saw sunims tears came from my eyes.
I became a monk when I was 14 years old. At that time in the country, there
were a lot of young boys who wanted to be monks to study. My brother, he was a
monk, advised me, so I accepted. My teacher, Tan Ong, was a person who was
consistent in speech and in action. He taught us to be humble and silent. I learned
to have the right attitude to practice, to live a simple way of life, and punctuality from
him. He never found faults with others only in himself, and did not attach himself to
anything. Everyday of his life was zen. One winter he was in concentration and
sitting by the fire. He did not know his hands were burnt . His life was mirrored by
his students always. And he was also concerned about propagating Buddhism, so he
made a drama of Buddha`s biography and performed it in Tae gu. Actually, this form
of art is a very effective way to portray Buddhism to human minds in emotional way.
Everybody thinks his/her Hang ja training was the best time for practicing.
Those days were really different from now. We had much harder training back then
compared to what we have now. In those days monks were not supported by
followers the same as now. So we did all kinds of work: cleaning, cooking , sawing
and etc. So when we finished Hang ja training , we could do every kind of temple
business, well. Compared to those times, it is much easier to be monk now. But that
hard training helped us much more later.
Buddhism is not far from worldy life, actually. Buddhism is a humanist
religion. The further modern science has been developed, the further people have
distanced. This has brought about a big question. There has risen a criticism about
modern science and a realization that we should not depend on it as much as before.
And the movement to seek one`s true human self has been more vivacious. So it is
called the beginning of the Cultural Age.
Sakyamuni declared the human right when he was born. He said "There is
nothing more important than humans in heaven and on earth." It means that the
source of life is the most marvelous, mysterious and permanent. In the 'Diamond sutra`
it neither appears nor disappears. It cannot be made artificially nor be demolished. It
had started before the earth`s appearance. Buddha told that there had been many
changes of appearance, maintenance, demolishing and emptiness in the universe from a
long time ago. It is just the same as with living things, they were born, aged, became
sick and died.
Everybody has a driver inside his/her body but no one knows it, never tries to
know it and only looks on the outside. That is common people`s life. But Buddha
told us to return to our true natures which does not depend on appearance, nor
disappearance, nor past, nor present, and it transcends over time and the space. We
call it the true self , Buddha, Mind, real "I"...
If you cut off your attachments you should rid yourself of all your defilements.
Defilements do not exist originally. They come and go just like the clouds in the sky
constantly. But Buddha`s teaching lead us to cross the river to the other side of the
world of peace without suffering. He is a ferry-rower. We cannot cross the river by
ourselves so we use Bodhisattva`s power.
By looking at our present, we can infer how we lived before. We call it
Karma or action or moral causation.
How should we drive our lives? If we do good, we are blessed and can be
happy. Fortune does not come by chance. It comes after what we have done before.
How can we be blessed? We should not do harm to others at all. Do not think of bad
things, nor do harm to others at all. Do good and try to do good always. It is so
easy that a 3 year old child can say so.
There is a famous story between Back Nack Chon and Do rim Zen Master.
Back Nack Chon was a famous writer in the Dang Dynasty. He was very proud of
his knowledge and was arrogant. One day he went to meet Do Rim Zen Master to put
him to test. "What is the Buddha`s supreme teaching ." The Zen Master answered.
" Prevent to do all evil things and try to do all good things." Back laughed. "It is so
easy that even a 3 year old child can understand it." But the Zen Master said again.
"But it is also too hard for an 80 year old man to do so." Hearing his words Back felt
overwhelmed and was ashamed of his arrogance. He knelt in front of Do Rim Zen
Master and begged his pardon. After that, he became his disciple and dedicated to
writing a lot of songs to praise Buddha`s greatness later. Back was so smart that he
realized his fault through Do Rim`s single teaching. We should be earnest just like
him . He was different from other common people. Sakyamuni wanted to be an
honest Buddha and save all beings even though he was a prince of one kingdom. We
follow him not because he was a prince, but because he showed the way to
enlightenment. Truth goes last. Let`s be honest. Let`s reduce sleep. I sleep only
3-4 hours a day.
I have rarely gone out of the Jick Ji-sa Temple since I was ordained Bhikku
70 years ago except once when I practiced at Sang Won-sa Temple at a summer
retreat (when Han Ahm sunim was alive). Jick Ji-sa was a famous zen center a long
time ago. Usually zen students gathered there to study in Kum Kang san-mountain in
the summer and Whang Ak-san zen center in the winter. It is nice to look at the zen
students practicing hard. Practitioners should have the mind to study.
It is necessary for zen students to maintain their attitudes toward studying. They are
practicing to do their own duty.
As monks, it is necessary to be humble. All of us need generosity, modesty and
conciliation. Also, we need forbearance. What is forbearance? Forbearance means
acception and forgiveness to those who are against me. Not only in sangha but also
in this society, harmony and forbearance is the most important thing to us.
Translated Yoon Jung Choi
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