Discussions of Korean 선종 / Sŏn / Seon / Soen Buddhism.
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Although I practice primarily within the Theravada tradition I have recently become involved with the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom due to the opportunities they provide for outreach and chaplaincy work which are sadly lacking for Theravada practicioners here in NYC at present. I have met Samu Sunim ad will be taking a bus to Toronto shortly to take precepts with him. I suppose I'm just looking for any one's opinions or thoughts on the master and his work. Mettaya.
I will hopefully see my teacher soon and can ask her about him. From what I've heard Samu Sunim has done some good work and it may be a good place for practice. There are some incongruities however, one obvious one is that he seems to have fathered several children while keeping the robes and title "sunim". Korean Jogye Order is celibate and he should have returned his vows and robes, as far as I can tell. The other more complicated one is the matter of his dharma transmission.
There is some info here: http://zenmastermayhem.blogspot.com.au/2010/06/curious-case-of-zen-master-samu-sunim_05.html
I think before taking the Vows, it is good to air your doubts directly with the teacher and consider the answers. Politely of course.
My wife and I took the precepts with Samu Sunim in 97 in Chicago, but we live in Toronto. I turned to focus on the Forest Sangha tradition after that, but have recently begun to practice Zen again with the local Kwan Um Group here... So it has been a long time since seeing Sunim.
He was my first experience with a Zen teacher... and I projected all kinds of Zen romanticism onto him... the glamour of the traditional in a western kids eyes.
He was very direct... by turns gentle, and sharp.. I remember one time him saying that a Zen master is like a tiger not a dog. If you throw a stick... a dog will chase the stick... but a tiger will not chase the stick.. he will keep looking straight at you. I learned a lot. He is the real deal. All the best.
I have met Samu Sunim, and one of his transmitted disciples, Haju Sunim, is a good friend of mine and a fellow AZTA member, one of the founding members of that group. She is the Head Teacher at the Zen Buddhist Temple -- Ann Arbor. I have practiced and taught at the Ann Arbor Temple and Haju has practiced and taught at our Soto Zen Buddhist temple in Omaha. I've also visited the temple in Chicago where Samu Sunim teaches and resides. In fact, I attended Haju Sunim's final dharma transmission ceremony in Chicago some years ago.
The notion that Samu Sunim never received true dharma transmission is false. He received it from Weolha Sunum in 1983. This is a matter of public record.
I have found both Samu and Haju to be excellent teachers and the practice at both of their temples to be authentic and rigorous. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend their groups to anyone.
Soto Zen Buddhist Priest. Transmitted Dharma Heir of Dainin Katagiri Roshi.
Abbot and Head Teacher, Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Thank you everyone for your replies. I am encouraged by what you have had to say and have followed-up on any of the alleged misbehaviors to my satisfaction. Thank you and be well. Mettaya.
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