Zen Master Seung Sahn
Founding Teacher of Dharma Zen Center and Kwan Um School of Zen
Zen Master Seung Sahn (Dae Soen Sa Nim) was the first Korean Zen Master to teach
in the West. He was born in Korea in 1927 during the Japanese occupation, which
he resisted during his youth. After World War II, disillusioned with politics
and academic studies as a way to attain truth, he went to the mountains with
the goal of finding his true self. At that time he did an arduous 100-day
chanting retreat, during which he attained enlightenment. Afterwards his
attainment was recognized by several Korean Masters, and he received Dharma
transmission from Zen Master Ko Bong, the most famous Zen Master of his time.
Ko Bong Sunim told him, "Your Dharma mission is the whole world." In subsequent
years, Dae Soen Sa Nim worked to reorganize Korean Buddhism, then he left Korea
for Japan, where he spent several years, founding temples and teaching Zen.
Dae Soen Sa Nim came to the United States in 1972 with the idea of seeing
whether it was possible to teach Zen to Westerners. He had little money and no
English. After spending a short time with the Korean community in Los Angeles,
he went to Providence, Rhode Island, where he took a job in a laundromat,
carrying laundry and repairing the machines. He met a professor of Buddhism
from Brown University who introduced Dae Soen Sa Nim to some of his students.
They would come by Dae Soen Sa Nim's small, slum apartment, Dae Soen Sa Nim
would cook for them, teach them meditation, and answer their questions about
Zen practice and life. With his new students' help, Dae Soen Sa Nim
subsequently founded the Providence Zen Center, a large, residential Zen Center
which has become the head temple to more than three dozen Zen Centers around
the world, including Dharma Zen Center in Los Angeles.
Dae Soen Sa Nim has given Dharma Transmission to seven of his Western students
and inka to some 14 others.
Dae Soen Sa Nim has published a number of books, notably the Zen classic,
Dropping Ashes on the Buddha (Grove Press); a collection of Zen, Christian and
Taoist kong-ans, The Whole World is a Single Flower (Tuttle), treasured by
advanced Zen students; and the monumental, but very readable, guide to
Hinayana, Mahayana and Zen Buddhism, The Compass of Zen (Shambhala).
Dae Soen Sa Nim encouraged people of all faiths to realize their true nature
together. For many years, he led Zen retreats at the Abbey of Gethsemani and
taught at several Ecumenical gatherings. He died peacefully, surrounded by his
students, on November 30, 2004, at Hwa Gye Sah temple in Seoul, Korea. He was
Paul Park, Ji Do Poep Sa Nim
Guiding Teacher, Dharma Zen Center
Paul Park, JDPSN, received inka at Providence Zen Center from Zen Master Seung
Sahn in April 1998. He is a restauranteur and teaches out of the Dharma Zen
Center in Los Angeles. Paul Park, JDPSN, practiced with Zen Master Seung Sahn
for over 18 years. Paul has a straightforward approach to life and is a
dedicated father and son. Park, JDPSN, leads retreats at Dharma Zen Center as
well as other centers in the affiliated Southwest Zen Centers. He is an avid
mountain biker and is active with his own restaurant which he runs in Diamond