Some weeks ago I was staying at the Munich Zen Center which is led by my good friend and teacher Hyon Gak Sunim. We were having a one week Yoga retreat with our beloved Yoga Teacher Kristina Karitinou-Irleand from Greece and many people from three different countries. Unfortunately I caught a flew and could not attend the whole thing that I helped to organize and run. When sick just be sick. Doing Yoga while having a flew was very interesting but finaly my body needed to rest and I completly gave myself to this: just resting and being sick for some days. Great practice anyway. We had a intense time with many insights and teachings. One teaching I want to share with you. It came from Beop Ung Sunim, a Korean Zen monk and Dharma brother of Hyon Gak Sunim, who was also visiting the Munich Zen Center during the time of the Yoga Retreat.
Boep Ung Sunim has been a monk in the Korean Chogye Order for over 30 years now. Sunim dedicated his life entirely to Zen practice. 30 years of sitting Zen in the Zen rooms of Korea. Right before coming to Munich he finshed another Kyol Che (3-month intensive retreat) that he spent in the hermitage of Mang Gong Sunim, the great Zen Master and Grand-Teacher of Zen Master Seung Sahn. The hermitage belongs to Su Dok Sah temple.
Sunim is a silent man, but he is feared by many monks and respect by the Korean Zen community, that chose him over and over again to be the Head Monk (the leader of the Zen hall during retreat) in various Kyol Ches. Several seasons he was the Head Monk in such elite places such as Bong Am Sah. Many of these 3-month retreats, where he functioned as a Head Monk, he would remain seated in an upright position, not lying down to sleep. I was told that on his monks kasa one can read the Chinese letters "Teacher of the Chogye Order", the highest rank for a monk (according to monk age) and when I asked him about these chinese letters on his kasa, he humbly commented: "What does that actually mean "Teacher of the Chogye Order"? A dog is a teacher of the Chogye Order too!" ... Hahaha!
This time is the 3rd time that I met and spent time with him – a rare and precious meeting with a Dharma gem. On the first evening he told us a story, that really hit me deeply and thats what I want to share that with you:
During the New Years Festival (one of the holiest events in Korea) in the temple, a young monk approached Boep Ung Sunim with a question. The young monk was very smart and the question was very sophisticated and intellectual. He asked something about Buddhas teaching, sentient beings, suffering and so on.
Boep Ung Sunim listened carefully and when the young monk finally finished, he answered as follows, "I don't understand your intellectual question at all. But anyway… Don't you get it? … WE ARE ALL FUCKED!!!" Than he turned around and walked away.
The young monk stood there with his moth wide open and couldn't say anything.
When I heard that, I laughed out loud and could not stop for the rest of the evening, everytime I remembered this story. I could only bow to him and thank him for that teaching. What could possibly be added to this? I deeply thank my friend Hyon Gak Sunim for bringing such Dharma Gems like Boep Ung Sunim to us in the West, so we can get a taste of this precious, direct and raw expression of the GREAT QUESTION:
What am I?