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 77.


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. 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 yoga practitioner, and is active with his own restaurant.