Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hye Tong Ji Do Beop Sa Nim's Dharma talk, September 2nd, 2012

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The day I met Barry at Musangsa, there was a rare Inca ceremony, sort of a Dharma "promotion" in the monk world, For Hye Tong Seunim, who received the title, "Ji Do Beop Sa Nim", Dharma Teacher, instead of "Seunim", Venerable or monk.

After a few delays getting from the train station to the temple, I arrived just as the ceremony was beginning and was too timid to disturb them, though Barry told me it wouldn't have been a problem. I walked up to the Buddha Hall, bowed three times, admired the paintings around the outside walls of the hall, then sat across from the hall where the Inca ceremony was taking place. I was actually missing a very interesting practice inside, where the people attending took turns asking Hye Tong Seunim questions, testing his the belief in himself. Sitting by the wall across from the hall, I couldn't make out much of what was said, but I heard lots of laughter loud and clear, which was a pleasant experience despite my seat.

Eventually, there was a break and I walked down and found Barry, then joined the group for the second part of the ceremony. Hye Tong Seunim received his certificate, was presented with a Dharma stick, then gave a Dharma talk. (I might add, after a touching congratulatory speech from a Korean monk who spoke English with an absolutely beautiful British sounding tone, which stuck me because his English was better than the Philly Zen Master who'd just spoken before him!)

His talk centred around the experience of an another seunim named Hye Tong, that he'd looked up. He was an old, Shilla Dynasty monk, who, before becoming a monk, was walking by a river and noticed an otter swimming. At the sight of the otter, thoughts of hunger arose, so he caught the otter, carved the meat, and cooked it over a fire, and tossed the carcass aside.

A couple of days later, he became curious what had become of the bones and returned to the river bank to look. He found the remains of the fire, but where the carcass had been there was now a bloody track dragging into the woods. He followed the trail until it came to a hole and when he crouched down to peer into the whole, he saw the otter's carcass hugging six tiny baby otters, who's eyes hadn't even opened yet. A short time later he became a monk.

Hye Tong Seunim tied this story together with an experience of his own with Zen Master Seung Sahn. He'd once questioned him about a story that he'd heard about ZM Seung Sahn's teacher saying to him, "We will meet again in five hundred years."

He'd asked the Zen Master, "What does this mean, that you will meet again in five hundred years?" The Zen Master looked him in the eye for a second then spoke, "It means... we will meet again... in five hundred years!"

After a short pause, he concluded, "Never have any doubt!"

Hye Tong Ji Do Beop Sa Nim finished his talk with this thought;

Is it possible that the bones of the mother otter crawled to hug her babies? Is it possible that Zen Master Seung Sahn and Zen Master Ko Bong will meet again in five hundred years? Never have any doubt.

Hye Tong Ji Do Beop Sa Nim, about to begin his Dharma talk, shared from Hwa Gye Sa's Facebook page.

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