Discussions of Korean 선종 / Sŏn / Seon / Soen Buddhism.
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The Kwan Um Zen school is a branch of Son Buddhism established in the West by the noted master Seung Sahn. It is an offshoot of the Chogye Order, which is the main Seon (or Son) school in Korea. The Kwan Um school and its teachers are highly respected in Zen Buddhist circles. I encourage you to go to their services.
Soto Zen Buddhist Priest. Transmitted Dharma Heir of Dainin Katagiri Roshi.
Abbot and Head Teacher, Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
As to what to expect, if you were invited to the weekly or bi-weekly group practice, it is not really all that different from a soto group weekly practice. There will be some zazen practice. Some chanting afterwards usually. Perhaps a teacher will give a short talk. If there is a dharma transmitted teacher there, you may have a chance to attend a Kong-an interview with them, which is like the korean version of dokusan. Overall, not really all that different from the soto groups I have seen.
Kill a cat, with a dried shit stick, under a cypress tree in the courtyard, while eating three pounds of flax! Only a cow goes Moooo!
I don't know if you ended up going to the Kwan Um practice, or not. But, to answer your question, Kwan Um Zen is western Zen with Korean roots. Much of our formal practice is based on traditional Korean practice, but there are some pretty major differences as well. This tradition was developed over time by ZM Seung Sahn's interactions with American students. He borrowed the method of regular interviews with the Teacher from the Japanese and incorporated much more sitting meditation into the practice. Often, when native Koreans visit our Temples, they come away dissapointed because it isn't what they expected. That's been my experience, anyway. Kwan Um is in the Lin Chi line of Zen Buddhism and Hwadu and Kong An (koan) practice is it's primary practice, although other techniques are used as well. I hope you will let us know how it went!
Good luck and thanks for practicing,
You make, you get
New Haven Zen Center
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