203 Chestnut Hill Ave., Boston, MA 02135
The American Buddhist Shim Gum Do Association was founded in 1978 by Korean Zen master Chang Sik Kim (b. 1944). At age 13, Kim began studying under Zen master Seung Sahn Lee (1927–2004) at Hwa Gye Sa in Seoul, Korea. At age 21, Kim went on a retreat, during which the forms of shim gum do (mind sword path) were revealed to him. Shim gum do concerns the attainment of clear mind, thought, action, and enlightenment through martial art training. Students undergo bimonthly tests, marking their progress through 33 black belt levels. Daily, weekly, and monthly classes are offered, with separate classes available for children starting at age 5. Kim hosts a free public meditation class and dharma talk on the first Friday of each month.
Kim followed Sahn to Rhode Island where he established the Kwan Um School of Zen in Cumberland. Kim established his own school in 1976. Only the Brighton center in Massachusetts houses students. The American center is also the international headquarters of the World Shim Gum Do Association.
In August 2007, there were about 150 active members, including 10 live-in residents. Daily classes usually have between five and 15 students, and workshops will have about 50. Schools have opened in Providence, Rhode Island, and Ottsville, Pennsylvania, as well as Italy, Japan, Korea, and Poland.
Universal Light Newsletter
Shim Gum Do—Mind Sword Path. www.shimgumdo.org/
Center Profile: Shim Gum Do Association. www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=74829
Diaz, Johnny. “They Live by the Sword: Students of Shim Gum Do Seek Enlightenment through Martial Art in Brighton,” Boston Globe, September 16, 2006.
16815 Germantown Rd. (Rte. 18), Germantown, MD 20767
Zen Master Gosung Shin, Ph.D, founded the American Zen College in 1976 for the purpose of studying and practicing religion and philosophy. Gosung Shin was ordained a priest of the Chogye Sect of Korean Buddhism by Zen Master Sul-Bong in 1956. He arrived in the United States in May 1969 from South Korea, where he had been the abbot of three Zen Buddhist temples. Since his arrival, he has established Zen schools and centers in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and the District of Columbia.
In 1976, Gosung Shin settled on the 12-acre farm near Germantown, Maryland. There, a 7,000 square foot zendo and dharma hall has been erected. The building houses a library, kitchen, dining room, offices, and guest quarters. Other buildings on the farm have been renovated for dorm and resident space and an art gallery. An azalea garden surrounds a 30-foot pagoda of carved Indian limestone that houses Buddha Sakyamuni’s Saria, pearl-like remains of the historic Buddha Sakyamuni. The Saria were donated to the college by the national treasury of South Korea and are the only Saria in the United States.
Not reported. In 1984 the American Zen College reported 2,500 members in three centers.
American Zen College. www.americanzencollege.org.
Shin, Gosung. Zen Teachings of Emptiness. Washington, DC: American Zen College Press, 1982.
297 College St., Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 1S2
c/o Zen Buddhist Temple, 1710 W Cornelia Ave., Chicago, IL 60657-1219; 1214 Packard Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.
The Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom, formerly known as the Zen Lotus Society, was officially founded in 1975 in Toronto, Ontario, but its roots date from the arrival in the United States in 1967 of an independent Korean Zen monk, Samu Sunim (b. 1941). Orphaned as a child, Sunim entered the monastery at the age of 17. After completing his three-year novice training and ordination, he began Zen meditation training under the guidance of Zen Master Solbong (1890–1969). While in training, he was drafted into the army (as required of all Korean youth) and, after serving in the military for one year, deserted it to honor his pacifist beliefs. Sunim then resumed his Zen training under Master Solbong while hiding out from the army in the Pomosa monastery in the mountains near Pusan, Korea. In the winter of 1966, he fled to Japan. In 1967, with the aid of friends, he immigrated to New York City and began to conduct meditation for the public.
In 1968, circumstances forced Sunim to move to Montreal, Canada, where he taught meditation while perfecting English and learning French. He was married for a short time and became a Canadian citizen. In 1972, he moved to Toronto, Canada, where a Korean community existed, but his plans to pursue an academic career or form a temple were frustrated by a serious illness. After a three-year solo retreat in his basement apartment, he resumed his religious duties in 1975.
By 1979, support had grown to the point where a building could be purchased, and the society was formally incorporated. The name was subsequently changed to the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom. A sister temple was founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1981 and incorporated as the Zen Buddhist Temple— Ann Arbor. The temple conducts a peace camp for children aged 3 to 15; the camp emphasizes peace, cooperation, mindfulness, and fun. Inspired by children attending the camp, composer and camp teacher Nathaniel Needle has written and produced two audio tapes, “Dharma Moon”and “Bottom of the Ocean,”collections of American Buddhist songs. Since 1983, the society has also maintained a growing community of members in Mexico City, Mexico.
A third temple of the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom opened in Chicago, Illinois, in June 1992. The society purchased a building formerly used by a Pentecostal church on the north side of Chicago and renovated it as a Buddhist temple. The top floor has been transformed into a year-round urban meditation retreat center. Sunim had the idea for this center years before, when he was spending a weekend in the society’s Ann Arbor temple. A woman asked to stay the night. It turned out she lived a short distance away but needed to get away from the chaos of her family and household, with all its telephones and televisions and computers. She stayed two nights. Sunim resolved to have space for such a center if he ever started another temple. The urban meditation retreat center is designed for people who are effectively trapped by their living circumstances and need a place for peace and contemplation.
The temples conduct daily Buddhist religious services and meditation sessions, instruct beginners in basic and advanced meditation, and hold regular weekend meditation retreats. The Chicago and Ann Arbor temples hold children’s services every Sunday. The children do simple yoga, a little meditation, and (if they are old enough) light candles and incense on the altar.
The society also holds quarterly three- to five-day Yongmaeng Chongjin (intensive retreats) and a biennial precept-taking ceremony in which more than 100 people participated in 2001. Temple members are active in promoting social affairs, environmental awareness, and right livelihood, that is, earning one’s living in a way that does not harm other beings.
In 1986, the society organized and hosted the first Second Generation Zen Teachers Conference at the Ann Arbor temple. The following year, the society hosted an eight-day Conference on World Buddhism in North America. This conference was also the first of its kind and provided a special opportunity for encounters between ethnic and Western Buddhist teachers in both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions. Teachers from the United States, Canada, and England were represented. On that occasion, Sunim began the Buddhist Movement for Justice and Peace, an initiative to express a committed Buddhist concern for social injustice and human rights abuses.
The first national Conference on World Buddhism in Canada was held in Toronto in 1990 with monks, nuns, priests, and lay teachers from ethnic and Western Buddhist organizations across Canada. In July 1995, the society hosted an inaugural Conference for Academics Drawn to Buddhism in Toronto. These conferences represent a strong and ongoing commitment to the cause of Pan-Buddhism and are seen as the first of many such activities.
In 1993, in Chicago, Sunim attended the Centennial Parliament of the World’s Religions as a member of the assembly of religious and spiritual leaders. Since then, he has served as a member of the board of trustees on the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Through the 1980s, the society published a journal, Spring Wind: A Buddhist Cultural Forum. It began a new series in 2002, with an issue on war and peace inspired by the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and resulting war in Afghanistan. In 1985, Sunim inaugurated a priest training program that has now evolved into the Maitreya Buddhist Seminary run by the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom. The program offers a three- to five-year training for dharma teachers, junior priests, and monks. In 2002, a total of 24 students were enrolled. There is also a dharma guardian program for professionals wishing to improve the quality of their life and the life of their clientele.
The Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom has four mission operations: Zen Buddhist temples are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Chicago; Toronto; and Mexico City. These temples serve as mission centers to advance the meditation movement and to train dharma workers to promote a culture of enlightenment and green spirituality. The society is starting a new temple in New York City. In 2002, the society reported approximately 500 members in the United States, 250 in Canada, and 50 in Mexico.
Maitreya Buddhist Seminary, Toronto, Ontario.
Spring Wind: A Buddhist Cultural Forum. Available from Zen Buddhist Temple, 1710 W Cornelia Ave., Chicago, IL 60657. • Temple News. Available from Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple, 1214 Packard Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.
Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom. www.zenbuddhisttemple.org/
7852 N Lincoln Ave., Skokie, IL 60077
Hanmaum Zen Center: 101-60, Seosku-dong, An Yang-si, Gyunggido, 430-040, Korea.
The Hanmaum Zen Center was founded in 1972 by Dae Haeng Sunim (b. 1927), an ordained Buddhist woman, in a small town south of Seoul, South Korea, on the side of Kwanak-san Mountain. Dae Haeng spent much of her childhood wandering alone in the mountains south of Seoul. She was ordained in 1950, and in the late 1950s she settled in a small hut near Sangwon Temple on Mount Chiak. Many people called on her to assist them in their sufferings. Eventually, Sunim became determined to teach others how to solve their problems for themselves. In 1972, Sunim moved to Anyang, just south of Seoul, and established the first Hanmaum Zen Center. There she began to teach people about their own true nature and how to rely on that nature. She drew inspiration from the Chogye sect, the main group of Korean Buddhism, to which she has added material drawn from the Zen teachings of Hui-neng (638–713 c.e.), the sixth patriarch of Chinese Zen, and her own original insights.
From the center in Korea, Dae Haeng leads the residents into the practice of Zen meditation in a schedule that begins at 4:00 a.m. each morning with chanting and meditation before breakfast. The goal of the meditation is enlightenment, which includes the attainment of hanmaum, or “one mind,”a realization of the interrelatedness of all things. Residents at the center are also vegetarians.
In 1989, a first text containing teachings by Dae Haeng was translated into English. In 1991, the Hanmaum Zen Center in the Chicago region was established. As of 2004, 15 branches have been established within Korea, and nine Hanmaum Zen centers have been established in other countries. Dae Haeng Sunim is also the teacher of more than 150 sunims, many of whom help maintain the centers and assist people who come to the centers.
Hanmaum Journal. • Hyundae Bulkyo (newspaper).
Hanmaum Zen Center. www.hanmaum.org/
Haeng, Dae. In Search of the Genuine “I,” ed. Haewon. Seoul, Korea: Lotus Flower Publishing Company, 1989.
Hanmaum Zen Center of Chicago. www.buddhapia.com/hmu/chi/index.html
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Bo Moon Order is one of the 18 registered Buddhist Orders in Korea. It came to the United States in 1979 when the Bul Sil Sa Temple was organized in Chicago. A second temple was organized in the Los Angeles suburb of Garden Grove in 1980.
c/o Kwan Um Sa Temple, 4265 W 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90020
Not until the 1970s did significant numbers of Korean Buddhists migrate to the United States. Most of these were affiliated with the Chogye Order, the largest in Korea. In February 1973 the Thalmahsa Buddhist Monastery and temple was established in Los Angeles. It was soon followed by a second Los Angeles temple and by others established in various California locations and in Chicago; New York City; Tacoma, Washington; Detroit, Michigan; and Honolulu. During the 1980s the number of new temples continued to grow. These temples are to be distinguished from those of the Kwan Um Zen School (from which they are organizationally separate) as they primarily serve first-generation Korean Americans.
Not reported. In 1984 there were 23 Chogye Order temples in the United States and 3 in Canada.
Buddhist Times & Society. Available from 4267 W 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90020.
Kwan Um Sa Temple. www.kwanumsa.com/. (In Korean.)
Har, Baba Moo, ed. Brief Introduction to Korean Buddhism. Los Angeles: Korean Buddhist Sangha Association of Western Territories in U.S.A., 1984.
Korea Buddhism. Seoul: Korea Buddhist Chogye Order, 1986.
99 Pound Rd., Cumberland, RI 02864-2726
The Kwan Um Zen School was founded in 1983 to connect the various temples and centers previously founded by Seung Sahn (1927–2004). Sahn is the 78th patriarch in his line of succession in the Chogye order. As a young man in Korea, he became deeply involved in radical politics but turned to Buddhism during World War II (1939–1945). He became a student of Zen Master Ko Bong (1890–1962) and eventually abbot of two temples. After the war, he became a leader in the effort to revive the Chogye sect, which had suffered much damage in the final years of Japanese occupation. In 1965 he traveled to Japan and founded three temples during his stay. In 1972 he came to the United States and began a small temple in Providence, Rhode Island. This temple became the headquarters from which he traveled around New England and across the United States. Early branch centers were established in New Haven, Connecticut; Cambridge, Massachusetts; New York City, New York; and Los Angeles and Berkeley, California.
Master Seung Sahn came to the United States with a missionary zeal to plant a new Buddhist tradition in the West. He emphasizes that the purposes of Zen are, first, to understand the true self (i.e., attain truth), and, then, to assist other people to attain the same heightened awareness. Most people have a significant amount of karma that forms an obstacle to enlightenment—hence the necessity of masters and centers. Like the Japanese Rinzai masters, Seung Sahn used the koan as a major teaching device. (A koan is a subject for meditation that is used to force people to abandon their dependence on reason and force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.) Besides the main practice of daily sitting meditation, each center associated with the school sponsors a silent three- or seven-day meditation retreat called Yong Maeng Jong Jin (to leap like a tiger while sitting), equivalent to the sesshin or extended meditation sessions at Japanese Zen centers.
The growth of the center in Providence led to its purchase of a tract of land in rural Rhode Island upon which it developed a residential community and to which it eventually moved its headquarters. Throughout the early 1980s, Sahn extended his travels and developed centers in South America and Europe, with special success in Poland and Germany. By the early 1990s, major centers had been established in Spain, Russia, and most of the newly opened countries of eastern Europe.
Primary Point Press offers books, videos, and audio on the teaching of Zen master Sahn and the Kwan Um School of Zen.
In 2008, the Kwan Um School of Zen has more than 100 centers and groups in the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
Primary Point. • Providence Zen Center Newsletter.
Kwan Um School of Zen. www.kwanumzen.com
Kwang, Dae, ed. Ten Gates: The Kong-an Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn. New York: Random House, 2007.
Mitchell, Stephen, ed. Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn. New York: Grove Press, 1976.
———. Only Don’t Know. San Francisco, CA: Four Seasons Foundation, 1982.
Prebish, Charles S. Luminous Passage: The Practice and Study of Buddhism in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.
Sahn, Seung. Bone of Space: Zen Poems. San Francisco, CA: Four Seasons Foundation, 1982.
Seager, Richard. Buddhism in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.
Soeng, Mu. “Korean Buddhism in America: A New Style of Zen.”In The Faces of Buddhism in America, eds. Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth A. Tanaka. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
Sunim, Mu Soeng. Thousand Peaks, Korean Zen: Tradition and Teachers. Berkeley, CA: Parallex Press, 1987.
133 Halsey Ct., Hercules, CA 94547
The Sixth Patriarch Zen Center is an independent Korean center in the Chogye tradition founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1986 by the Ven. Hyunoong Sunim, a Buddhist monk and herbalist. Sunim trained for 10 years under Taoist Master Chong San. In 1982 Sunim was given sanction as a Taoist master.
The Sixth Patriarch Zen Center moved to Berkeley, California, in 1991. It has a dual emphasis on traditional Zen practice and health care through the use of correct diet, herbs, and a form of Korean Taoist breath meditation called Sun-do. The center is unique in that it offers both a regular schedule of sittings and retreats and a full program of health counseling and classes.
Not reported. There is one center in Berkeley and one in Seattle, Washington.
Sixth Patriarch Zen Center. www.zenhall.org/
Morreale, Don, ed. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1998.
Won-Buddhism of New York, 143-42 Cherry Ave., Flushing, NY 11355
International headquarters: 344-2 Singyong-Dong, Iksan City, Chollabuk-do, South Korea; Canadian headquarters: 123 Lanyard Rd., Toronto, Ontario, M9M 1Z1, Canada.
Won Buddhism (Won Pulgyo) is a form of Korean Mahayana Buddhism founded by Pak Chungbin (1891–1943) in 1916. Best known by his pen name Sot’aesan, Pak sought a way to transcend the three traditional religions of East Asia (that is, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism), which he found in his enlightenment experience. At a later date, however, after reading the Diamond Sutra, he concluded that Buddhism was the best vehicle for communicating his understanding of truth. Sot’aesan represented his enlightened vision of ultimate reality in a perfect circle, known as the “one-circle figure”(Irwonsang), which he equated to the concept of Dharmakaya (the body of the law or teaching) of conventional Buddhism. No images of Buddha are found in Won Buddhist temples.
According to Sot’aesan, the Dharmakaya Buddha finds embodiment in the “four graces”: heaven and earth, parents, brethren (fellow creatures), and the law (religious, moral, and civil). Rejecting traditional concepts of deliverance or liberation, he pointed to a path of realization of a paradise on earth achieved by helping others to develop their own abilities, wisdom, education, and altruism. The path to enlightenment (represented in the one-circle figure) is the threefold learning through samadhi (meditation), prajna (wisdom), and sila (morality). Sot’aesan saw these traditional ways as the cultivation of spirit, the study of facts and principles, and choice of conduct. Thus, the adherent to Won Buddhism centers his life on worship of the one-circle figure (rather than any images of Buddha), by calling out the name of the Buddha Amitabha, seated meditation, repentance and prayer, and the study of scripture. Won Buddhism seeks to bring ancient Buddhist truth into contemporary society, revitalized and modernized, so Buddhist teachings can be used for practical purposes. Practitioners seek a balance between the spiritual and the material life.
Sources for Won Buddhist teachings are found in The Canon of Won Buddhism (Wonbulygo Kyojon). The canon has two parts, the principle book (Chongjon), written by Sot’aesan, and the records (Daejonggung), which chronicle his sayings and actions. Of slightly lesser importance is the Religious Discourses of Master Chongsan (Chongsan Chongsa Pobo), that record the words of Song Kyu (1900–1962), who succeeded Sot’aesan as head of the group in 1943. The current head of the order is Ven. Chwasan (b. 1936).
Won Buddhism came to the United States in the years following the Korean War (1950–1953), especially after the change of immigration laws in 1965 allowed more Asian residents to move into the country.
In 2008, there were 15 branch temples in the United States and two in Canada. Worldwide, there were 20 dioceses, about 600 temples, and 189 organizations reaching 1.4 million followers.
WON Institute, Glenside, Pennsylvania; Wonkwang University, Chollabuk-do, South Korea.
Living Buddha The Won-Buddhism Review
Won Buddhism: Buddhism, Meditation. www.wonbuddhism.info
Chung, Bongkil. The Sacred Books of Won Buddhism. vol. 6. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001.
Park, Kwangsoo. The Won Buddhism (Wonbulgyo) of Sot’aesan: A Twentieth-Century Religious Movement in Korea. San Francisco, CA: International Scholars Publications, 1997.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
Zen Wind is a radical lay Buddhist movement initiated by Tundra Wind, a former student of Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn, the head of the Kwan Um Zen School. Under his given name, Jim Wilson, he was given permission to teach by Seung Sahn, but was having problems with his sexuality. According to his account, when questioning his Master about his problems with remaining celibate, Seung Sahn said that he should simply satisfy his sexual desire and forget about it. Wilson rejected the idea, which seemed to imply that sex was merely physical.
He broke with Seung Sahn and, following a dream in which his new name— Tundra Wind—was bestowed on him, he began to teach and to reformulate what he had been taught in a manner he believed more culturally suitable for the West. Included in his reformulation was a transformation of the precept not to misuse sex to a more positive admonition, “Express the sacredness of sexuality.”His reformulation also made provision for Tundra Wind’s own gay sexuality.
Among his students he has eschewed temples, monasteries, professional clergy, and even centers. Meetings are held in members’homes. He regularly offers introductory lectures, invites those who respond into ongoing meditation groups, and provides individual instruction for any who wish it. He leads two retreats annually.
Discordian Zen. www.spiralnature.com/spirituality/discordianism/disczen.html.
Morreale, Don. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.