Zen Master Wu Bong: Direction always means for others, for others, for others…
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Question: I have trouble deciding things.
Zen Master Wu Bong: I have a secret technique which I’ve been teaching for several years now. Take a coin and throw it up in the air. By the time you catch it, you usually know what way you want it to come up. You don’t even have to look. Just do it!
The first time I met Zen Master Wu Bong was almost 20 years ago, in Berlin. I was attending a presentation at the Freie Universität by the Kwan Um School – with, among others, Roland (Zen Master Ji Kwang), Namhee (Muchak JDPSN) and Arne (Schaefer JDPSN). At that time I was interested in Buddhism already, in Zen in particular: I had read many books trying to get as much information as possible on this fascinating philosophy. So as soon as I had seen the flyer announcing this Zen Master’s visit to the college, I had decided to go, also because, despite all my theoretical studies, I personally had never met a Zen Master before. The only thing which bothered me a bit was the fact that Zen Master Wu Bong was representing a Korean School, not a Japanese one, which used to be and still is much more famous here in Europe. Like many others, I even didn’t know that Korean Zen actually existed.
That evening Zen Master Wu Bong (who was from Poland, as I eventually understood!) gave me the impression of a warm and hearty person. He didn’t appear as a charismatic or a distant guru, what he said was simple and reasonable. A women from the audience asked him if he had any super power. He answered yes, and said: I can fly, in my dreams, while I am sleeping. Weiterlesen
Zen Master Wu Bong: We talk often about compassion. Many of us want to become more compassionate, but we do not always understand what compassion is. Compassion is not some kind of a feeling. Compassion is not just feeling bad for someone or feeling pity for someone. Feeling bad for someone who is hungry will not fill that person’s stomach. Compassion means moment to moment, what do you do? When somebody is hungry, what can you do?
Zen Master Wu Bong: Then what is freedom? In one gulp swallow all oceans and rivers. That’s absolute freedom. That means you can be anything, but if you are attached to this freedom, then this freedom itself becomes your prison.
After some experiences with Japanese Soto Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, in 1972 Jacob Perl meets Zen Master Seung Sahn in Providence. The latter just migrated to the US, and is working in a laundromat for his living. This encounter is the initial seed for the establishment of the Kwan Um School of Zen, which will grow constantly in the following years as an international institution rooted into the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
A Dharma-transmission from teacher to student is based on a long term and intense relationship, with many years of common practice and common living. Jacob Perl became a Ji Do Poep Sa Nim (JDPSN, Dharma teacher) in 1984, and a Zen Master in 1993. From that point in time he is the 79th patriarch in the lineage of Zen Master Seung Sahn, a lineage started with the historical Buddha, developed through India and China, eventually being introduced in Korea in the first centuries a.C. where it continues to exist until our days. Flowering schools and great teachers , a story through the centuries and through various realities. When young Seung Sahn experienced enlightenment in the Korean mountains, he searched for somebody who could confirm his attainment. Here we arrive to Ko Bong Soen Sa Nim, who made Seung Sahn as his only successor. Who stands behind him? Let’s make further steps back: before Kobong we find Mangong (1871-1946), and before Mangong there is Kyongho (1849-1912). So before reaching Seung Sahn and finally Jacob Perl, let’s have a look at the earlier generations and their style of Zen in the 19th Century. A glimpse of the development of forms and teachings – a legacy still vivid today, also representative of other schools in nearby cultures. Weiterlesen
Zen Master Wu Bong: An eminent teacher said “Enlightenment and unenlightenment are merely empty name.” / The Buddha saw a star, got enlightenment. / What did he get? / Did you see a star? / What did you get? / Where is your enlightenment star? / In the sky? / In Hollywood? / On top of a Christmas tree? / Up, down; north, south; east, west? / Always in front of you? / Do you see it? / Tell me, tell me!!! / KATZ!!! / Bright stars lighten up the night sky. / Bright faces lighten up the dharma room
Zen Master Wu Bong: There are these four kinds of teaching from Zen Master Seung Sahn, the four don’ts. He said don’t make, don’t attach, don’t check and don’t want. If you follow these four teachings very well, your practice can grow up, because our usual habit is to always make something, then we attach to what we make, then we keep on checking that and then of course desire appears, so we want, then because of this desire we continue to make and attach and check and make more desire.