Vesak 2011

Posted on Apr 21 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter & Upcoming Events

Please join us Saturday May, 14th 2011 for Vesak Celebration! Here is a link to the flyer so you can print it out / save an e-copy that you can share with all your friends, family or other Buddhists you might know. Vesak_Poster_2011 We invited as many Buddhist groups as we could find in Rhode Island and we encourage you to do the same. If you are not familiar with Vesak, it is considered one of the most important days in all Buddhist traditions and is the day we celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of the historical Buddha who lived over 2500 years ago.



Try Mind

Posted on Apr 20 , 2011 in Blog

Some years ago in Korea, there lived a very devout Buddhist family. In his home, the father had a small room set up for meditation. He also had two teenage daughters. The older one was very responsible and always did the right thing. However, the younger one was quite wild. Perhaps today that would not seem so odd, but back then it was unheard of. She’d sneak out at night, go dancing, drinking, sleeping around—the whole nine yards. The older sister was always on her case about it, but the father was very kind to the younger daughter. Finally the older daughter went to the father and complained, “She’s no good, she does all these bad things. Why are you so nice to her? Why don’t you correct her?”

“No, no, no, you don’t understand,” said the father. “I used to check her room and see that she was gone and then stay up and yell at her when she got home. But one day when I was waiting for her to come back, I fell asleep. When I awoke she had already come back and she was in our dharma room bowing and later sitting. So afterwards I asked her, ‘What were you doing?’ And she said, ‘I know I have this bad karma, I just can’t control it. But I try to bow to Buddha every day 108 times and sit and hope that I can change this karma.’ So then I said, ‘Oh, very good. You just continue that way’.”


Still the older daughter was angry, “That doesn’t matter! She still does all these bad things!” But the father remained very kind towards the younger daughter. Over time, the girl’s desire started to calm down. Before she would run out every chance she got, then only a couple times a week and then only once a week. Finally, going out wasn’t that interesting to her any more. She even enjoyed bowing, sitting, and doing things to help others.

At the same time, the older daughter started to think, “Our father’s always nice to my sister even though she’s so bad… I’m going to do that, too.” So she started to go out at night and dance, drink, and sleep with guys. Then the father started to talk to her. But she would always say, “No! I’ll do what I want! I like it!” The sister, too, couldn’t get anywhere with her. Finally, the sister had to go with some relatives, grab her, tie her up, and bring her home.

That’s a funny story about karma. Everybody has karma. Some of it we consider good, and some bad. But if we have a practicing mind, then we can change our karma. But if we have an “I like it!” mind and don’t develop a practicing mind, then we will really have a problem. Zen Master Seung Sahn has always been a good teacher because he understands that people have karma. If you want to, you can change even the strongest karma. However, you can’t always do that immediately. But if you keep trying, if you keep developing a practicing mind, then finally you can become stronger than your karma. Then your karma will follow your direction, rather than you following your karma.

Zen Master Seung Sahn said that our karma is like a dog. If you take a dog for a walk, sometimes you walk straight, but the dog runs all over the place. He smells something, then runs over there; he pees and looks for food—round and round. But if you are the master and you keep going straight, eventually the dog will end up at the same place you do. The dog’s not going to run off completely; it will always come back to where you are. So our practicing mind is like that. If we make our practicing mind strong, then our karma will run this way and that way, but eventually it will come back to where we are; it will follow us. Then we can use our karma to help other people.

By Zen Master Dae Bong



ZMSS Memorial

Posted on Apr 19 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

ZMSS Memorial

While on retreat this weekend, it was a lovely day and we were able to do our walking meditation outside on the porch of the Diamond Hill Monastery. The wind was brisk at times, but with the Willow tree starting to bloom and all the flowers popping out, it was fun to be outside. As I was walking, I noticed the hillside behind Zen Master Seung Sahn’s Memorial Stupa. We had weeded the hillside when installing the area in 2009, but Sunday I noticed it seemed very barren with only a few lone daffodils at the base of the hill.

Now, there is a house in Providence near Rhode Island College that I pass by quite frequently. Suddenly, last week, I noticed their entire front lawn is covered in flowers – quite a display of hyacinth, daffodils, tulips and crocus … so that is what I envisioned this Sunday … a wall of flowers for our Founding Teacher. Could we remember to plant more bulbs this Fall to see if we could get that to happen? Then, each Spring would come and not only the grass, but the whole hillside would grow and spring to life, all by itself!

What do you think?


Precepts Ceremony Talk

Posted on Apr 14 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

Zen Master Dae Kwangby Zen Master Dae Kwang on Apr 3, 2011


Big Suffering

Posted on Apr 13 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

Often Zen Master Seung Sahn used to say, “If the direction of your life is clear, then your whole life is clear. If your direction is not clear, then your life will always be a problem.” The reason we practice Zen is to understand ourselves completely, attain our original nature, and save all beings from suffering. This is our direction – the original job of all human beings. In this there is no “I, my, me.” If we have “I, my, me” then we will get suffering, guaranteed.

Several years ago at the end of the long winter retreat in Korea, Byoek Am Sunim, our precepts teacher, gave each of the participants a calligraphy It read: “You make, you get.” This is a very simple equation! At that time, someone asked him why it was that people suffer. He said, “Human beings continue to suffer because they do not see cause and effect clearly.” So, the question “Why do I suffer?” has a simple answer: “What do you want?”

Achaan Chah, a now-deceased meditation teacher in Thailand, would often walk around the monastery grounds and ask every monk that he met, “Are you suffering today?” If the monk answered “yes,” Achaan Chah would say, “Oh, then you must have a lot of desires today.” If we can clearly see the nature of desire and anger, then it is possible to let them go. This means seeing cause and effect clearly. However, one more step is necessary.

One time a monk came to Zen Master Seung Sahn and said that he wanted to stop being a monk because the monk’s life for him was a living hell. Zen Master Seung Sahn replied, “If your direction is clear, then even living in hell is not a problem.” This means if you want to help this world, then even suffering should not be a hindrance. Most important is direction. If your direction is clear, then the suffering you experience becomes “Big Suffering” and helps this whole world. So, what do you want?

(By Zen Master Dae Kwang)


Dharma Heritage

Posted on Apr 09 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

If you’ve ever been to or practiced in a Kwan Um Zen Center, chances are you’ve seen these portraits hanging on a wall or over a doorway. They are our Korean Zen Masters and represent our Dharma Heritage. Just like we have parents, grand parents, and great grand parents, the same concept can be applied to the teaching we receive from the Dharma Masters and Zen Masters of our school. Each one successively passed down or gave transmission to the next so that an authentic clear Zen teaching could be preserved through the passage of time.

Korean Zen Masters & Dharma Heritage – Left to right: Kyeong Ho Sunim, Man Gong Sunim, Ko Bong Sunim, and Seung Sahn Sunim.

Kwan Um School Lineage

The Kwan Um School of Zen’s teaching lineage is part of the Korean Soen tradition. The founding teacher of our School, Zen Master Seung Sahn, is the 78th teacher in his line of Dharma Transmission. All students of Zen Master Seung Sahn to whom he has given Dharma Transmission are thus the 79th teachers in their personal lineages.

The Korean Soen lineage comes from the Chinese Rinzai lines and became separate around the year 1200. Famous Zen Masters in our lineage include the six Zen Patriarchs, Ma-tsu, Pai-chang, Lin-chi and Nan-chuan. Zen Master Seung Sahn received Dharma Transmission from Zen Master Ko Bong at the age of 22. His lineage also includes the noted Korean Zen Masters Man Gong and Kyong Ho.


April newsletter

Posted on Apr 08 , 2011 in Blog

Here is the April newsletter for you, enjoy! April 2011


Peach Flowers Turn Pink

Posted on Apr 06 , 2011 in Blog


The Buddha and eminent teachers originally don’t understand.
I also don’t understand.
Only spring comes and peach flowers turn pink.
Clear wind blowing from the mountain.

(Poem by Zen Master Yong Sahn)


Photo Contest

Posted on Apr 05 , 2011 in Blog

Photo Contest


  Congratulations to all our Providence Zen Center members who took Precepts this Sunday!!

Didn’t we have fun this past weekend? The Hae Jae party Friday night marked the end of the long 90 day Winter Kyol Che retreat and even with a little snow on the ground, you could tell that “Spring has Sprung”! All our friends were back at the Zen Center from around the world for the Buddha’s Birthday Celebration on Saturday with quite a few new friends as well. There was the first bonfire of the season Saturday night, with the stars being covered and uncovered by the clouds … followed by the Sunday morning Precept Ceremony. There was a large contingent of new Dharma Brothers and Sisters who took their five precepts. It is so fun to see them in their brown kasa the first time they walk into practice!

We also have some new Dharma-Teachers-In-Training (DTIT), a few new Senior Dharma Teachers and Several DTITs that received their long robes and bowls as their training period has ended. Now they are full Dharma Teachers. Congratulations to everyone!

… so here an idea for a quick photo contest … how many pictures do you think we took all weekend? The attached photo is of our PZC family with several teachers and friends, but more photos will be posted to the photo gallery very soon …. if you couldn’t make it this April, maybe you can join us for the next Sangha Weekend! We’d love to have a photo of all our PZC members …


Buddha’s Birthday!

Posted on Apr 01 , 2011 in Blog


Almost time for dinner at Providence Zen Center.  Our three month long winter Kyol Che is finishing up today and so begins three months of Hae Jae. Kyol Che is the intensive meditation retreat period. Hae Jae is the looser, less formally scheduled period in the spring and autumn.

The Hae Jae period provides more of an opportunity to practice in everyday life situations. During this time, monks and nuns traditionally travel from temple to temple to visit other great masters at or meet with their Doban (Dharma friends).


5:00 pm dinner
6:00 pm chanting to 7:00 pm
7:15 pm Kyol Che closing ceremony
7:45 pm Hae Jae party

While on the Kwan Um website, I came across this mp3 of a closing talk at the end of Kyol Che from over 25 years ago . Enjoy!

Diamond Hill Zen Monastery Hae Jae

by Zen Master Seung Sahn on Mar 29, 1985