We’re a group of friends interested in spiritual practice, and especially Seon Master Daehaeng’s teachings about one mind, non-duality, and relying upon one’s inherent Buddha-nature. We met in Korea in 2007, although we’re now spread around the world.
Chong Go Sunim: I’ve been a Buddhist monk in Korea for the last 17 years. I actually came to Korea to ordain because I’d met Daehaeng Kun Sunim in the US. I’d been practicing on my own and at other centers for many years, but didn’t seem to be making much progress. It was as if I’d been looking at a dirty painting, with only a small clean spot in the middle. When I began listening to Daehaeng Kun Sunim, it was as if the clean spot had suddenly became much larger and I could see what had been hidden. What she showed me seemed exactly what should be there, but had been unable to see for myself.
Joe: Buddhism began intellectually as part of my undergrad major. The real thing came about in 2000, when I actually began sitting at the San Diego Zen Center. I’ve cycled through the various traditions, finding the most resonance with the Theravada school, albeit influenced by Zen. I took the five precepts under Daehaeng Sunim in 2008, and since that time have failed daily to put them into practice. Once an ardent nondualist, I now find comfort, utility, and truth in dualism and free-will.
Joseph: I came to Korea with a fascination in shamanism but soon got over taken by the stark truth of the Dharma. While I was in India, Joe told me of a really great Zen book he’d found, back in Korea, by a nun who he thought must be enlightened. My first Saturday back in Korea, I followed Joe to Seoul, where we met Marcus for lunch, then made our way to the library where Chong Go Sunim was facilitating the group discussions of No River to Cross. Like many of the great teachings I’ve come across, Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s message is so simple you don’t realize how profound it is until you start practicing it!
Marcus: Difficult to sum up in just a few words, you could say I enjoy a mixed bag of practices. I have a devotion to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, but also call the name of Amida Buddha. I’m a huge fan of Thich Nhat Hanh, but also draw from the Anglican and Quaker Christianity of my background. Given this, what Seon Master Daehaeng Sunim does is cut through all the names to show the real essence of spiritual practice: believe in your fundamental nature of wisdom and compassion, entrust everything to it, and observe. This blog explores that wonderful teaching.
Carl: I met Chong Go Sunim in 2007 and liked what he’d said about just about everything we spoke of. I never met Dae Heng Kun Sunim, but I read her books and saw her, and bowed to her in respect, several times. As with anything, I don’t accept all aspects of this form of Zen, which in Korea is called ”Seon”, but Han Maum, or One Mind Zen has at its center of understanding a beautiful way of looking at reality, namely saying that our inherent nature is interconnected with all things and that if we let go our worries, concerns, and desires to this foundation, they will find themselves through our conscious effort of letting go of them, solved, in the interconnectedness of all things, working together. This is called Juingong. What I love about it is, it doesn’t conflict with science, or any faiths, if you truly understand it. In a funny way, it’s like The Force, in Star Wars. All life is bound and penetrated with this oneness, and its energy emanates from all things as well. To me, Zen meditation can be utilized by anyone at any time, regardless of his or her religious practice. It is a tool for peace, harmony, and relieving oneself of useless worry, greed, and harmful states of mind that give rise to our misfortunes. It brings enlightenment. The main practice in any form of Buddhism, or Zen, is to meditate; to live mindfully. I think Christians and Muslims should do it. But people sometimes ask me why I cannot just follow God, and they say, ‘if you did that’, you wouldn’t’ need meditation’. I love people for caring about me this much, but these people who say things like this are betraying a fear of other solutions that can be added to our spiritual kit-bag, and they are basically saying something tantamount to, ‘hey, I got God; who needs penicillin, or stretching before running, or hammers?’
Jabu: I began a formal Buddhist practice 6 years ago and later took refuge vows in the tradition of the Kagyu lineage. Like many first-gen Buddhists I have sampled the various traditions and maintained aspects of them I found most beneficial. I am attracted to the practical Buddhist approach to understanding the mind process as a prerequisite to self-realization and find inspiration in the compassion expressed through the forms of the bodhisattvas.
My practice has been “intuitive” in that I’ve let myself be guided along a path to self-discovery, trusting my connection to Higher Wisdom. Reading Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s book, No River to Cross, was like coming home. She beautifully articulates the simplicity of (Buddhist) practice, stripped of what can at times seem like cumbersome dogma and ritualism. Spiritual practice should be simple and accessible, because in essence all we’re doing is “letting go”.