When I was practicing strong austerities in the temples of Korea in the ’90s and early 2000s, we monks and nuns were supported by the temple, by faithful Buddhist believers, even by giving public talks and leading retreats. A country like Korea with such an ancient Buddhist tradition really knows how to provide the day-to-day infrastructure which is fundamental and essential for carrying out this work and this efforts. We have monthly insurance costs, medical costs (especially as this compounded body ages and declines). In an age of greater digital ubiquity, there comes the unending tsunami of requests for replies to correspondence, to requests for video consulting, to the need to provide usable means for folks in far-flung places to connect with a practicing spirit, even to the myriad apps that are always needed to produce teaching-methodologies which help newer generations connect with the Dharma off the printed page that generations like my own depended on to get the seeds and juices of the original masters. A local member urged me, recently, that for our Zen Center Regensburg teaching-posts, I must install this-app and that-app. But they are all requiring monthly charges, adding up to 30 EUR per month, in addition to my monthly phone and data charges to stay in touch with students and practitioners. Where can this come from?
People often ask how they can support this work. It is painfully difficult to answer this question in our Covid Era, and causes me great guilt. And yet the requests for assistance pour in, and the torrent seems more to increase than to show any sign of moderating.
So, after consulting with my humble base of advisors, it seems apt now to list the methods and means (if only to avoid having to answer so many incoming questions):
1. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and turn on notifications:
This is a general method for moving this work forward. Very very simple.
Recently, YouTube has notified the Zen Center Regensburg and me that I could qualify for monetization. This is due to the algorithm-determined appeal of my talks and teachings, and our twice-daily livestream. Naturally, such a relationship would enable me to continue to receive some compensatory support for the years and years of bitter practice endured in freezing mountains temples, shared as talks and advisors free on the Internet. But it is only an idea — our community, they say, needs to show more “online enthusiasm” in order for them to make this worthwhile and helpful for us.
In the southern Buddhist countries, nuns and monks beg on the street for their food and sustenance. In the ancient traditions of northeastern Asia of China, Korea, and Japan, where I trained, nuns and monks are supported commensurate with their generally recognised efforts at purification and teaching. In the Internet age, that is done by algorithm. I am sorry.
Subscribing to our YouTube channel will be helpful. If we gather enough interest, the algorithm will spread these teachings to other people not yet in our loop, and there will be an amplified effect which will increase exposure to these teachings on a much much greater scale: more people, in different lands, can have contact with the Dharma. That effect is urged even further when our channel membership is perceived — by the algorithm-Buddha — to have reached a threshold relative to other similar sites.
So, please SUBSCRIBE, and if you subscribe, please hit the “NOTIFICATION” bell, so that you get notices about my newest releases and events. If you have comments to share, please make comments. My Team (which means, a sometimes-volunteer or me) will catch that, and I will try to make a response.
This page was set up by some of my students who were worrying about my health and basis. It seems to be a very helpful method for me to cover health expenses and general operational demands. I do not receive or earn much through this method, but it might grow. People say that it is the equivalent of a “group shout-out”.
Actually, I tried this method for the last year or so,. There is not a great accrual from this. And I “get” that, especially in the Age of Covid. But our Team here really really pushed me to set it up, because they claim that “crowdfunding” is something which practicing monks like me should pursue. Someone said that this is “the digital begging bowl for what Buddhist monks did in the Buddha’s time.” I am agnostic about it, but I am giving it a try. Everything else that we share on the Internet is completely free, so why shouldn’t we share some method where some further investment could be given where I could be equipped to something more?
The location is:
One of our former Zen Center Regensburg directors was shocked to learn that a monk with my experience does not have any consistent or predictable support. (She is German — predictabli. She said, at one meeting, “Sunim, you have 25 years of experience of intensive meditation experience. And you function in our little city here in Bavaria, for nothing. Anyone can ask you questions. Do you know what a German cardiologist with 30 years would charge?” She died the next year from breast cancer.
The very last post she made on social media — literally, the very last post she ever made in this life — was her joy at setting up a donation button for our Zen Center Regensburg.
I share it with you now: