This book is for beginners and adepts alike, and not just for Zen students, either. The following is borrowed from The Kwan Um School of Zen's webpage: "Zen Master Seung Sahn was born in 1927 in Seun Choen, North Korea. His parents were both Christian, and later he was forced to do mandatory military service. In 1944, Seung Sahn joined the underground Korean independence movement. In no time he was caught by the Japanese police and barely, just barely escaped a deaths sentence. After his release from prison, he and two friends stole several thousand dollars from their parents and crossed the heavily-patrolled Manchurian border in an unsuccessful attempt to join the Free Korean Army. He later studied philosophy at Dong Guk Universoty-meanwhile the situation in Korea was getting worse by the day. He realized at once acedemics were not going to help him help people-nor would politics.
He decided to become a Buddhist monk and was ordained in October, 1948. Seung Sahn had already understood the sutras. The only thing left now would be practice, hard training. So ten days after his ordination as a monk, he went further up into the mountains and began a one-hundred-day retreat on Won Gak Mountain. He lived up there off of pine needles and rain water, and many times a day he took ice cold baths. For nearly 24 hours a day he would chant the Great Dharani of Original Mind Energy. Then the great doubts began to formulate-why is this needed? What use is going to all of these extremes? Why could he not, like a Japanese monk-go back to the town and maybe get married, and gradually come toward enlightenment? One night all the doubts became so vast he packed up and decided he would leave. The next day his mind was a bit clearer and so he stayed. In the following weeks he would repeat that process NINE times, pack/unpacj-pack/unpack. He was hallucinating a lot by now, about 50 days had passed. Every night he had terrifying visions. Demons would appear out of the dark and make obscene gestures at him.
After a month of this, the visions turned into visions of delight. Sometimes Buddha would come and teach him a sutra. Sometimes Bodhisattvas would appear in gorgeous clothing and tell him that he would go to heaven. Sometimes he would keel over from exhaustion and Kwan Se Um Bosal would gently wake him up. By the end of eighty days, his body was strong. His flesh had turned green from the pine needles. One day, a week before the retreat was to finish, Soen-sa was walking outside, chanting and keeping rhythm with his moktak. Suddenly, two boys, eleven or twelve years old, appeared on either side of him and bowed. They were wearing many-colored robes, and their faces were of an unearthly beauty. Seung Sahn was very surprised. His mind felt powerful and perfectly clear, so how could these demons have materialized? He walked ahead on the narrow mountain path, and the two boys followed him, walking right through the boulders on either side of the path. They walked together in silence for a half-hour, then, back at the altar, when Soen-sa got up from his bow, they were gone. This happened every day for a week. Finally it was the hundredth day.
Seung Sahn was was outside chanting and hitting the moktak. All at once his body disappeared, and he was in infinite space. From far away he could hear the moktak beating, and the sound of his own voice. He remained in this state for some time. When he returned to his body, he understood. The rocks, the river, everything he could see, everything he could hear, all this was his true self. All things are exactly as they are. The truth is just like this. Soen-sa slept very well that night."
This brief story gives you an idea of how intense this modern Zen Master's aspiration towards enlightenment had been. Following that retreat he studied with various Masters, all whom later confirmed his enlightenment. And so I believe in 1972, Seung Sahn brought the Dharma to the USA. He got a 2 bedroom apartment, worked at a laundromat-and had zazen in the apartment daily. people would be running about cooking up food, meditating, giving talks. This book is this man's legacy-just look into the matter more. Zen Master Seung Sahn started what is known as The Kwan Um School of Zen-with 160 + Zen Centers/temples worldwide. But I have given you a biographical take of the man, this book goes into the very marrow of practice-from Theoretical Zen, to Tathagata Zen-to patriarchal Zen-and yet they all are on the same cirlce! Enjoy this book, it's a must have for any practitioner-or even any spiritual voyager.
So much has been said and written about buddhism one sometimes feel unsure about where to go next along the path. Smaller Vehicle (Hinayana), Greater Vehicle (Mahayana), Zen Vehicle (Chan), which one to take to the other shore? Why buddhism? What is Karma? What is true Practice? What is Buddha Nature? What are Theoritical Zen, Tathagatha Zen and Patriarchal Zen? What is our Original Face? What can I do? So many questions...
This book will explain in a clear and comprehensive manner the three main buddhist traditions and the points they lead to. The writing style is sometimes quite scholarly, sometimes humourous, never boring. Get correct answers about buddhism today; GET THIS COMPASS, FIND YOUR WAY HOME!