Commentary on Hyang Eom’s “Up a Tree”

Posted on Nov 28 , 2011 in Blog

Commentary on Hyang Eom’s “Up a Tree”  

Empty Mirror cannot hold on
to Blue Sky or Green Pine Trees’ Sound
Mystic Energy without Time and Space
Has no coming, Has no going.

Before Hyang Eom
Already clean in front of you.
Why then did Bodhidharma
Come to China?

Open your mouth you’re already dead.
Close your mouth already too late.
Even Yaaaaahaa is not enough.

Ha Ha Ha Ha
(Ask Man Gong)
Chicken Crowing at 3 a.m.
Moon Setting at 7 a.m.
Wake up! Wake up!
Spring Sun Shining on Complete World


by Zen Master Su Bong (1943-1994)


Plum Flowers Fly In The Snow

Posted on Nov 22 , 2011 in Blog

How many people stay in a worrying dream?
The great one’s original home is everywhere.
One KATZ! sound breaks the whole world.
Plum flowers fly in the snow.

By Master Hahn Yong Un
From the Whole World Is A Single Flower


My Pain Is Very Expensive

Posted on Nov 15 , 2011 in Blog

In those last days of his life, Zen Master Seung Sahn was in the hospital and in a great deal of pain. Dae Kwan Sunim was with him, and asked if ZMSS would give his pain to her.

“No, no, no, no! It’s enough only I experience this. Never give to you……only I keep!”

Dae Kwan Sunim insisted, but Zen Master Seung Sahn said, “My pain is very expensive!”

“How much, sir?” she asked him. “We will buy it from you.”

“My pain is so expensive, you cannot buy it!” Zen master Seung Sahn replied.

Dae Kwan Sunim leaned into his ear and said, “Then maybe I will sell the Su Bon Zen Monastery, get lots of money and give it to you. Then you give us your pain!”

There was a moment of silence.

Dae Kwan Sunim continued, “If we give you all this money, then what will you do with it?”

Zen Master Seung Sahn replied “I take your money, then rent another Zen center, save all beings from suffering!”

At these words, everyone burst out laughing. Then he said, “That’s not a bad business deal, yah?”


7 Day Yong Maeng Jong Jin With Zen Master Soeng Hyang

Posted on Nov 09 , 2011 in Blog & Upcoming Events

7 Day Yong Maeng Jong Jin Retreat December 5 – 11 with Zen Master Soeng Hyang

Download and print the PDF here: Zen Master Soeng Hyang December YMJJ

Yong Maeng Jong Jin retreats are two, three or seven days long and are held in silence. The schedule each day consists of ten hours of Zen practice (bowing, chanting, sitting and walking), work and rest periods, and vegetarian meals eaten in traditional temple style. Includes talks and kong-an teaching interviews with a zen teacher. Minimum participation is 24 hours. For more detailed information, read the Yong Maeng Jong Jin Orientation Guide (pdf format). Prior meditation experience or attendance at a meditation instruction class is recommended.

Prices per day: non members $65, members $45, Dharma teachers and Dharma teachers in training $35

Dharma Teachers please bring your own bowl set.

To register for your retreat online – fill out the retreat registration form.




In Memory of Myo Ji Sunim JDPS

Posted on Nov 08 , 2011 in Blog

Inka speech by Myo Ji Sunim JDPS

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

Empty is full. Full is empty.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

No empty, no full.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

Is that empty or full?

Korean sky is blue, American sky is also blue.

Even as a young child, I always felt an emptiness in whatever I did. When other kids joined a dancing class, I thought, “Maybe that is what I want”. So, I took the dancing class. But it was not what I wanted. Some others tried piano, so I thought, “Maybe that is the way I have to go”. But that was not for me either. Whatever others were interested in, those activities were not my way.

Both my father and grandfather were Christian ministers. The house I grew up in was like a church. But I was never 100 percent into that because everything felt empty. I was always searching for something, nothing seemed to complete me. My question was this: If what people say is true, why do I feel so much doubt? Why do I always feel this emptiness? When I moved to North America, however, I did have a belief system. I joined the Catholic Church. I fell in love. But I still asked myself, “If these things are true for me, why is there still this emptiness?”

Later I met a Buddhist nun and asked her, “What is Buddhism?” She said, “Mind creates everything.” When I heard that, I hit myself and cried, “That’s it!” That nun was the one who taught me how to practice, to bow. Then one day she called my house and said, “There is a great Zen Master visiting our temple. You must come and meet him.” I dropped everything I was doing and rushed right over; that was when I first met Zen Master Seung Sahn.

At that time I was very busy, working long hours every day, so he told me to do midnight kidos. If I just sat, I would fall asleep, so I bowed from 12:00 to 2:00 every night. I was getting by on very little sleep but still I had a lot of energy, I don’t know where it all came from. Today I am not empty any more because of this practice. The emptiness was filled in and things have become clear. This practice is our teacher.

These days I don’t have money, a car, a house or even hair! But I am no longer empty, it’s fulfilled.

[Raises Zen stick over head, then hits table with stick.]

Myo Ji Sunim passed away Friday afternoon on November 4th. She had been a student of Zen Master Seung Sahn since 1976. A longtime resident of Canada, Myo Ji Sunim was ordained a nun in 1990, then trained at Seoul International Zen Center. Since 1995, she was the abbot of New York Chogye Sa temple.


This Trivial Tail

Posted on Nov 01 , 2011 in Blog

By Nancy Hedgpeth JDPSN

Oh Jo said, “It’s like a water buffalo passing through a window. Its head, horns, and four legs have already passed through. Why is it that its tail cannot?”

If it passes through, it falls into a ditch;
If it turns back, it is destroyed.
This trivial tail,
Just this is very weird.

This water buffalo is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It is at a slaughter house which is surrounded by a ditch. If it escapes it falls into the ditch and will be caught. If it stays it will be slaughtered. So here it finds itself-all but through the window. Why is it that its tail cannot pass through?

Zen Master Seung Sahn gave us many succinct teaching phrases. One is “A good situation is a bad situation; a bad situation is a good situation.” When our situation is always smooth and with good feeling then we can grow complacent. Keeping an alert and awake mind, fresh with inquiry, isn’t always so easy then. When we find ourselves stuck, suffering, wishing things to be other than they are, then this difficult situation often has us looking for some way to resolve it. Questioning arises. And what a gift this is! As we keep asking — going past the complaints and protests of how unfair life can be, seeing that we’re not completely satisfied by intellectual understanding — then we can address the root of suffering. We can address the questions that we all share as human beings: What is this life and death business? What is my job in this life? What is suffering, and what is this that suffers? What is this I? What is other than I?

What we call practice is exactly this act of questioning and of doing it again and again moment to moment — returning to our “Don’t Know” mind that is before assumptions and preconceptions. So every situation — bad, good or neutral — offers an opportunity to see clearly, without attachment, and act with the compassion that is a natural result.

“This trivial tail, just this is very weird” — and very wonderful. Why is it that its tail cannot pass through?


Original Face

Posted on Oct 25 , 2011 in Blog

Poem by Zen Master Seung Sahn

Your true self is always shining and free.
Human beings make something
and enter the ocean of suffering.
Only without thinking can you return to your true self.
The high mountain is always blue,
white clouds coming and going.


The Life Of The Buddha, BBC Documentary

Posted on Oct 22 , 2011 in Blog



What is Zen?

Posted on Oct 11 , 2011 in Blog

In this whole world everyone searches for happiness outside, but nobody understands their true self inside.

Everybody says, “I” – “I want this, I am like that…” But nobody understands this “I.” Before you were born, where did your I come from? When you die, where will your I go? If you sincerely ask, “what am I?” sooner or later you will run into a wall where all thinking is cut off. We call this “don’t know.”

Zen is keeping this “don’t know” mind always and everywhere.


When walking, standing, sitting,
lying down, speaking, being
silent, moving, being still.
At all times, in all places, without
interruption – what is this?
One mind is infinite kalpas.

Meditation in Zen means keeping don’t-know mind when bowing, chanting and sitting Zen. This is formal Zen practice. And when doing something, just do it. When driving, just drive; when eating, just eat; when working, just work.

Finally, your don’t-know mind will become clear. Then you can see the sky, only blue. You can see the tree, only green. Your mind is like a clear mirror. Red comes, the mirror is red; white comes the mirror is white. A hungry person comes, you can give him food; a thirsty person comes, you can give her something to drink. There is no desire for myself, only for all beings. That mind is already enlightenment, what we call Great Love, Great Compassion, the Great Bodhisattva Way. It’s very simple, not difficult!

So Buddha said that all beings have Buddha-nature (enlightenment nature). But Zen Master Joju said that a dog has no Buddha-nature. Which one is right? Which one is wrong? If you find that, you find the true way.


Chinese Calligraphy Class

Posted on Oct 05 , 2011 in Blog & Upcoming Events

Chinese Calligraphy Class

Sunday August 26, 12-1PM – Our kitchen master Chong Yew, has been teaching a series of calligraphy classes here at the Zen Center. Below are some examples of his work which are available to purchase through the Pagoda Gift Shop.

What is Chinese Calligraphy?

Chinese Calligraphy is one of the oldest Oriental arts. Calligraphy is not only a practical technique for writing Chinese characters, but is also a unique way to develop spiritual values, clarity, discipline, strength and flexibility. It is a very good way to reflect ourselves in that very moment, just like Zen meditation. We will begin a series of six Chinese Calligraphy classes which will be offered every other Sunday after the scheduled long sitting or Dharma talk. The one hour long classes will be a suggested donation of $10 -$15 each. Paper, brush, old rag, newspaper, saucer plate, and ink can be provided for an additional $15 but feel free to bring your own. For more information and to register please email director@providencezen.org or call 401-658-1464.