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.
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.