Mirror of Zen Blog

Flower Ornament Sutra Intro with Bob Thurman | Saturday Night Live

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The practice is always brightened and clarified and fired up while listening to anything that Robert Thurman says. It’s a lot of what Dae Soen Sa Nim called “dry cognition”, but he is definitely not only that — it’s not even most of his presentation. He has clearly attained something. Didn’t Bodhidharma himself that there are “two” gates for entering the Way — by Reason and by Practice? Chan (Zen) monks in Tang Dynasty China would often say, “For philosophy, study the Flower Ornament Sutra; for attainment, practice meditation [Chan/Zen].”

Prof. Thurman has the both wings of the bird, in ways that few mere intellectuals do with Dharma when they open their mouths to express it. (In my humble opinion.)

This is the first in a series of talks on this sutra, one of my favorites. I’ll need to use some donation funds to pay for the tuition.

One year ago, I purchased the course he gave on the Vimalakirti Sutra — a package of 12 talks — and the Zen Center family gathered around the computer once a week to hear his broadcast. It inspired us all. Most importantly, it caused some members of our community, who had never really “touched” the sutras, to become more deeply inspired, seeing this vast borderless and inconceivable expression of Dharma.

Flower Ornament Sutra Intro with Bob Thurman | Saturday Night Live
The Man.

불교의 목적 | 현각스님

불교란 무엇일까요? 좌선을 하는 이유가 뭘까요? 답은 아주 간단합니다. “매트릭스”에서 깨어나서 모든 존재를 돕기. 숭산 대선사님의 걸작 《선의 나침반》의 도입부에 해당합니다. 어렵지 않고 아주 단순해요! 수행의 목적은 스트레스를 줄이는데 있지 않으며 (다행히 행복해지고 스트레스가 줄어들긴 하지만, 목적은 아니에요), 생산성과 창의력이 좋아지라고 하는 것도 아닙니다 (물론 이것도 수행하면서 얻기는 합니다). 다른 공간, 현실의 차원/계로 들어가려고 수행하는 것도 아닙니다. 참선을 하는 목적은 깨어나서, 모든 존재를 윤회와 고통에서 벗어나게 도와주는 데에 있습니다. 이러한 불교의 목적은 굳이 동방의 전통만은 아닙니다. 모든 철학과 종교의 근간은 이와 같습니다.이번 영상을 끝까지 보시면 보너스를 얻게 됩니다. 보너스 영상이 나올 때까지 법문을 잘 소화해보세요!!!!!

불교의 목적  |  현각스님  |  2020.04.


Mahler’s Eating


Alfred Roller relates that an operation in 1901 had left Mahler with extensive internal lesions: “These obliged him to be especially vigilant about what he ate and to follow a strict diet. Nonetheless, he ate readily and with gusto: much fruit, especially apples and oranges, plenty of butter, light vegetables and desserts, little meat and then only from farm animals. He refused to eat game or the meat of wild animals. Since every dietetic error might make him unfit for work, he was exceedingly cautious, even uneasy at table, especially if he was on the point of finishing a work and had only a few days of vacation left.”

Source: Alfred Roller, Die Bildnisse von Gustav Mahler (Tal, Leipzig, 1922).

H/T: Image: “Family Album.” Mahler Foundation. ©Marina Mahler

Ten Years of the Work in Norway

Our first retreat in Norway, 2011.

I’m heading up to Norway next week, to lead a silent retreat and give some talks and consultations, from October 11-23. It will be my 15th visit to teach in Norway.

While preparing some materials tonight for the visit, I came across this: a photo from the very first teaching-visit there, in 2011. Homa and Yogi (behind my left shoulder) are still organizing the events, and working hard to not only organize the schedule but also to give me so many endless inspirations for teaching. Yogi, a professional musician of many instruments, is responsible for producing all of the great chants we have been able to birth over the last ten years. Eternal gratitude to the both of them, who are as close to family as anyone I was born and raised with.

Thanks to their hard work, our retreats are always completely full, sometimes with a waiting list. (And sometimes, even Homa gives up her own cherished spot of silence to someone on the waiting list, to make sure all who wish can do this great work.) The talks are always full, and there have been requests to teach in other parts of Norway. So, there is certainly great enthusiasm there for the Dharma.

Dae Soen Sa Nim had established quite a large Zen sangha in Norway in the 1980s — I was told that it was the largest sangha in Europe, at one point. But as the years passed, and as his body inevitably declined and he could make less frequent trips there, the energy of the sangha declined. Eventually, it disappeared completely: there were no appointed successors to carry things forward in his absence, and there was no Zen center which could be a basis for continuous practice. The sangha completely disappeared. Only one Polish man kept a regular practice in his home, but no Norwegians ever attended on a regular basis.

Tomorrow, I will post a very professionally-edited video of Dae Soen Sa Nim and Dae Bong Sunim (that time, called Do Mun Sunim) leading a retreat there during what would be his final visit to the country. This short video is among the best film records of his teaching in the West, just in terms of clean sound that captures his English and his energy and his compassion. A true gem-treasure, which I have only encountered today for the first time in many years. I feel such gratitude for the folks back then who arranged to have this visit recorded!

Zen Master Seung Sahn (Dae Soen Sa Nim), Norway, 1987

ZEN: Softness Means Happyness [sic]


My Teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn, once said, “A Zen master is toilet paper: most people come and merely wish to wipe off their problems on him.”

Sometimes, when people hear that expression of his, they say it’s too harsh, too graphic.

But oh, how right he was!

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged


George Harrison reflects on the phenomenal world (the appearance of “time” changing, body changing) and the absolutes-world (never-changing true nature).

"It doesn’t take long from being 17 to 57. Forty years just goes like that. Now I understand about 90 year-old people who feel like teenagers. ‘Cause nothing changes. It’s just the body that changes. The soul in the body is there at birth and is there at death."
~ George Harrison
George Harrison, Rishikesh (1968)

H/T: @carlosgvizcaino