Sujata Linda Klevnick,
(former general secretary of BSCW and editor of Spring Wind)

In August of 1967, Samu Sunim arrived in New York City and founded the Son-Zen Lotus Society in a small apartment near Broadway. In early 1968 his karma brought him to Montreal, Canada, where I first met him when I was a student at McGill University. In 1972 he moved to Toronto. Right from the beginning Sunim wished to establish a Buddhist meditation community. Sunim attracted a few students and they worked hard. Those early years were difficult ones for Sunim marked by hardship, poverty and illness. Sunim lived in a shabby basement apartment in Toronto where he did personal retreat. When a few Korean Buddhist ladies discovered him, the basement became a temple where he conducted services and taught meditation. By1976 artists, musicians, students and dropouts came for meditation instruction in an unorganized way. Sunim encouraged community living and a series of houses were rented, first on St. Clarens, then Osler and Westminster. In 1979 with the combined effort of the Korean ladies and dedicated Canadian meditation students, a decrepit rooming house was purchased in Parkdale. In 1980 the Zen Lotus Society was incorporated as a non-profit religious organization. Over several years, the crumbling Victorian house at 46 Gwynne Avenue was completely renovated by the intense efforts of a lay monastic community of men, women and children living communally under a vow of poverty. Much support was received from the faithful Korean ladies. A regular schedule of services and meditations and retreats was held year round and a full-time training program for priests and dharma teachers was established. In 1981 an offshoot temple was founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, organized on the same lines. The Ann Arbor temple has gradually developed into a thriving community of practitioners.

In 1983, Sunim made his first trip to Mexico and planted the seeds of a meditation group. It was then that he met some dedicated Mexican students, two of whom came for sustained training in Toronto.

The 1980s were busy years for Sunim. Under Sunim’s vision, the Society began to publish Spring Wind: Buddhist Cultural Forum, a non-sectarian publication for all Buddhists regardless of persuasion. Spring Wind sought articles from distinguished Buddhist teachers, scholars and artists, as well as lay practitioners. Sunim’s emphasis on Buddhist ecumenism was ahead of its time.

Another aspect of Sunim’s conviction of the vital need for Buddhists to know each other better, was his organizing of the first North American Zen Teachers Conference. In 1986, he invited the first generation of western Zen teachers to meet for six days at the Ann Arbor temple. The conference has been held annually at different centres since then.

In 1987 Sunim organized the Conference on World Buddhism in North America, bringing together Theravada, Pure Land, Zen and Tibetan monks, nuns and teachers, both eastern and western trained, to dialogue and learn about each other over eight fully scheduled days. A two-hour documentary video recorded the event.

By 1988, the Toronto temple had outgrown its premises on Gwynne Avenue and relocated to 86 Vaughan Road, another crumbling but much larger building. In November 1989, under a leaky roof and with the temple still under renovation, Sunim organized a Day of Celebration in Honour of the Dalai Lama upon the occasion of his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. The events included an inter-religious service, a forum on non-violent social action and an evening of literary and musical celebrations. The following year, a historic weeklong Conference on Buddhism in Canada was held at the Toronto temple, another first for Sunim who is firmly convinced that Buddhism benefits when Buddhist groups communicate with each other. The Toronto community continued to grow; new members replaced those who had moved on. In an organic process of renewal, the Vaughan Road temple was renovated.

In the early 1990s, Samu Sunim became interested in establishing a temple in Chicago. In 1992, on March 3rd, Sunim’s birthday, we set out from Ann Arbor to look for a temple building in Chicago. After several visits, a large run-down building was purchased and renovations begun. The following year, the centenary Parliament of the World’s Religions was held in Chicago. Samu Sunim organized a panel discussion on New Dharma for the West. While still undergoing renovations, the Chicago temple held several successful exhibitions of Korean Buddhist art, including Kwanjo Sunim’s memorable photographs of Korean Buddhist nuns’ life. Samu Sunim’s considerable energy and wide ranging efforts attracted some dedicated and wonderful helpers and, over the years the Chicago temple has been completely transformed into a beautiful venue for a thriving Buddhist community. Unique to the Chicago temple, the members hold an annual street parade for world peace during the Buddha’s Birthday celebrations in May.

More than anything else, however, Samu Sunim is a meditation master. He firmly believes that meditation and Buddhist wisdom are the right prescription for the salvation of humanity. He teaches that meditation practice based on the threefold discipline of ethical awakening, spiritual awakening and social awakening and the pursuit of the Bodhisattva path, are a self-sufficient regimen for all beings with a view to world peace and happiness for all. To this purpose he urges people to do chanting and prostrations for purification and empowerment along with regular meditation. Sunim sometimes gets impatient with Buddhist indulgence in long retreats and individualism. He points out,” The calm and peace from five years in a mountain retreat can shatter in one day spent in the marketplace. But a mind cultivated in the market place will shine bright in short retreats in quiet and solitude.” Therefore, he recommends retreats in the midst of activities and everyday life. He reminds his students with a chuckle, “It’s easier to become a buddha, than to become a good bodhisattva.” To people who doubt the doctrine of the Wheel of Life and rebirth, Sunim would say, “Life will continue with or without you after you check out. It would be better to include yourself and enjoy voluntary rebirth as a bodhisattva. Stand with Life and support all lives! Above all, just be a good bodhisattva life after life.”

Forty years have passed since Samu Sunim came to North America. During that time, Sunim has carried out dharma work with modest resources but with enormous dedication and determination. In forty years, he has founded remarkable temple communities in Toronto, Ann Arbor, Chicago and Mexico City, Mexico. He single-handedly published a groundbreaking non-sectarian Buddhist journal and organized a series of significant pan-Buddhist conferences both in Ann Arbor, Michigan and in Toronto, Canada. The Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom salutes Samu Sunim for these remarkable achievements.

On July 4th, 2007 at 1 pm, the Buddhist Society and Spring Wind Sangha members of all four temples will celebrate 40 years of Sunim’s dharma work with appreciations, recollections, photo exhibition of the Society’s history, and a musical performance. We invite you all to the Celebration in Toronto.

Sunim feels that he is still young. Let’s give him a big cheer and encourage another forty years of excitement!

ⓒ 2007 Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom

Korean Buddhist Cultural Center is Officially Open

Center for the education and training of Korean Buddhism and Practice

The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism held the official opening ceremony for the Korean Buddhist Cultural Center near Gongju City on June 11 with over 300 in attendance including Jogye Order head Ven. Jikwan, Chairperson of the Jogye Order Central Council Ven. Boseon, and Yu In-chon, the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. Ven. Jikwan said, Members of the Jogye Order have worked with one heart to dig the earth, erect the pillar, and raised the crossbeam. Now, we have this wonderful cultural center. This center will provide a place for experiencing Korean culture and individual practice. This center will be place to recharge, rest, and self reflect. This center will help promote the relationship between man and nature, and society and organization.

Ven. Boseon said, I hope that this center would provide a place to figure out the critical needs of humanity. I hope that this center will become a gateway for promulgating Korean Buddhist culture.


The land for the center was selected in August of 2004. The cultural center began construction in July 2007 with a budget of approximately 20 million dollars on 2.5 acres. Located 15 minute walking distance  from Magoksa Temple , the center is deep in the forest. The training area of the cultural center provides diverse halls for various functions. There are classrooms, a large lecture hall, meditation hall, discussion hall, office, lounge, and so forth. These halls can facilitate meditation, chanting, lectures, ceremonies, among other diverse activities. The meditation hall is especially impressive as the walls are made of red clay. It lends to a serene and gentle atmosphere.

The living area has a large dining hall, which is all glass on one side with a view of the stream. The sleeping quarters are modern rooms for one, two, four, six, and twelve persons. Over 300 can sleep at the center. The Jogye Order will use the center for employee training, templestay training, cultural programs, meditation programs, among other functions.


Established in March 2000, Mu Sang Sa is an international Seon temple where anyone from around the world who is interested in meditation can easily learn about and practice Seon in Korea, a country that has maintained a deep-rooted legacy of Seon practice and a strong Buddhist tradition since the 4th century.

At Mu Sang Sa, we support a community of foreign monks, nuns, and laypeople who want to practice Seon following the teachings of Korean Seon Master Seung Sahn. Many students come to practice or train here and later return to help the Seon Centers in their own countries.

Like all Korean Seon temples, Mu Sang Sa hosts two three-month intensive meditation retreats (Kyol Che) a year, in summer and winter. Koyl Che is a time when one can completely devote oneself to meditation practice away from worldly distractions. At other times of the year, we organize short weekend retreats and hold weekly ZEN MEDITATION CLASSES on every Sunday.

Our temple is located on Kye Ryong Sahn, a mountain famed for its strong mystical energy in Korea. Other great temples are also located on this mountain, such as Dong Hak Sa, Kap Sa and Shin Won Sa. Many great Korean Seon Masters, such as Gyeong-Heo Sunim and Mangong Sunim have also practiced on Kye Ryong Sahn. Seon Master Seung Sahn carefully viewed many sites over a period of five years before finally choosing the present location at the end of 1998.

Mu Sang Sa sits directly beneath Kuk Sa Bong (National Teacher’s Peak), where long ago an eminent master predicted that 800 Great Dharma Teachers would appear to help this world.

The temple consists of three buildings, the Main Buddha Hall, a Seon Hall and the Residence building. The Seon building has two floors, the first containing eight residential rooms, and the second a large Seon room in which everyone practices together. The Dormitory building has three stories, the first housing a kitchen and dining room, and the other floors, residents’ rooms.

The Main BUDDHA HALL, or Dae Ung Jon in Korean, sits on a small rise above the Seon building. It is has an inspiring view of the valley of rice fields below and the mountains in the far distance. The Buddha Hall is clearly visible from the valley and bids an impressive welcome to visitors as they approach Mu Sang Sa.

There is the American Zen Master Dae-Bong Sunim, who has stayed at Mu Sang Sa since the very beginning of the construction, practicing and teaching in a run-down prefab house in order to uphold his teacher’s wishes, and who was the pioneer in the history of Mu Sang Sa. Also the American abbot Mu Shim Sunim, who made the most of his more than twenty year’s experience living in Korea, constructing the Main Buddha Hall and meticulously carrying on various projects around the temple. These two monks, who received Dharma transmission from their teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn, are absorbed in teaching the students who visit Mu Sang Sa.

Founding Date : 2000Address : Chungnam, Kyeryong-shi, Eomsa-myon, Hyangjeoksangil 115, South Korea 321-935Tel : 82-42-841-6084Fax : 82-42-841-1202URL : http://www.musangsa.orgE-Mail :

Gangwha International Lotus Lantern Meditation Center

Founded in 1995 by the late Ven. Wonmyong (Director of Lotus Lantern Int’l Buddhist Center in Seoul, founded in 1987), Lotus Lantern Meditation Center on Ganghwa Island is a training and practice site for foreign monks.

Through his activities and studies in numerous nations, Ven. Wonmyong, who passed on in 2003, developed a following of disciples from several nations and established the center for their training and practice.

Lotus Lantern is open to nonmonastics as well, and the center offers plenty of fresh air, and quiet and wooded areas as a great escape from urban life. The center has a number of facilities for all activities and grows many of its own organic food as part of its program forthe health of residents and participants. Foreign monks direct the program and make it as rewarding as possible for participants.

[ Direction ]
* By Bus

  • From Seoul to Ganghwa Bus Terminal: from Shinchon Suburban Bus Terminal, every 20 min. from 06:00-22:00; take taxi from Terminal
  •  From Seoul to Ganghwa Onsuri: from Shinchon Suburban Bus Terminal, every 1 hr. from 06:40-22:40; take taxi from Onsuri

* By Car

  • From Seoul: Take Chayuro or Olympic River Expressway towards Gimpo, then Jaebang Road across Choji Bridge and take left; head towards Ganghwa for 10 min. to Church of Eden and take left for 600 m
  •  From Seoul: Take Olympic River Expressway towards Gimpo, across Ganghwa Bridge, past Ganghwa Terminal, towards Jeondeungsa Temple, Baegabon Motel, and take left at road in front of Church of Eden
Founding Date : 1995Tel : 82-32-937-7033URL : :

The Seoul International Zen Center

The Seoul International Zen Center was founded by Seon Master Seung Sahn as a place where people from all over the world can practice and find their true nature. The Center is located at beautiful Hwa Gye Sa Temple on Sam Gak Mountain in the North of Seoul.

Residents at the Zen Center practice together mornings and evenings and have various jobs at the temple during the day.

Visitors are welcome to join us for practice during the spring and fall Hae Jae seasons, which is free. It is also possible to participate in the group retreats that take place in the winter and summer Kyol Che seasons.

The Center together with Mu Sang Sa located in the Kye Ryong Mountain near by Daejon is a part of the Kwan Um School of Zen in Korea.

The head temple of the school is the Providence Zen Center, located in Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA. The School sponsors 90-day winter meditation retreats (Kyol Che) at two temples in South Korea, as well as at the Providence Zen Center in the USA and at the Warsaw Zen Center in Poland. A 90-day summer retreat is held at the Seoul International Zen Center, as well as three-week summer retreats at the Providence Zen Center and the Warsaw Zen Center. The School also publishes a quarterly journal, Primary Point.

Founding Date : 1522Address : Seoul International Zen Center, Hwa Gye Sa Temple, 487 Su Yu 1 Dong, Kang Buk Gu, 142-071 Seoul, South KoreaTel : 82-2-900-4326Fax : 82-2-903-5770URL : http://www.seoulzen.orgE-Mail :

Seoul Ahnkook Seon Center

Since 1989, the Ahnkook Seon Center Foundation has opened Seon centers in Busan and Seoul in Korea as well as in Manhattan, New York in the U.S.A. to help as many people as possible realize the true Mind and lead a bright life in daily living.

The Ahnkook Seon Center Statement of Purpose

Everyone desires stable peace and prosperity. However, peace and prosperity are not won only through national wealth, power or an individual’s pursuit of gain. True peace and growth can be possible only if both the nation and its citizens together have insight into the world of Truth and lead their daily lives in accord with a personal realization of such Truth. It is in that way a firm and unshakable world is assured even if it is confronted with disaster and adversity.

Thus, the Ahnkook Seon Center Foundation of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism strives to liberate people of all countries in the world through the practice of Zen(pronounced Seon in the Korean language) which was discovered by Shakyamuni Buddha. Seon helps those who have gone astray due to confusion caused by delusion to find their true selves.

Seon is an inner light that can shatter an ordinary person’s false delusions. Seon offers a power of supreme wisdom with which the full recovery of mankind can be completed. Because Seon was discovered by the Sage’s spiritual insight as a direct method to recover our true human nature, it allows one to sweep away the world of delusion and recover instantaneously the true appearance of great original brightness.

Thus, throughout the East and the West and from ancient times to the present, Seon has always been recognized as an eternal and correct path to the purification and enhancement of mankind’s inner world and a means to follow the Righteous and Noble path. Seon helps one transform his or her internal egoistic separation, reach the original inner reality, and open one’s eyes wide to the Great Vehicle, which enfolds the universe and each of the Karmic circumstances of everyone’s life. Thus, Seon ultimately opens an absolute non-dual world where oneself and others are not considered as two. Seon opens the gate to the world of compassion and brings everyone’s lives into harmony.
Accordingly, the Ahnkook Seon Center Foundation, in conformity with and under the direction and teachings of the Jogye Order of Korean Seon Buddhism, hopes that the sound of this Truth will be heard in the minds of all mankind. It is the wish of Ahnkook Zen Center that a world of universal equality will flourish into oneness through the spreading of Seon throughout the world that will enlighten everyone’s eyes of wisdom.

Address : Ga-hoi Dong 10-3, Jongro Gu, Seoul, KoreaTel : 82-2-3673-0772 (English)Fax : 82-2-744-0779URL : :

Mountain Spirit Center

Mountain Spirit Center is affiliated with the Kwan Um School of Zen, founded in America by Seon Master Seungsahn. The temple also has a strong connection with the Korean American community in Southern California as well as adjacent regions.

The Abbot of Mountain Spirit Center is Muryang Sunim, a student of Seon Master Seungsahn since 1979. After becoming a monk, Muryang spent four years living and practicing in Korea. Upon returning to the United States, he spent several years searching for a suitable site for a mountain temple. He completed the purchase of this property in 1994, and has been living and practicing here since.

The temple is located on a wonderful energy point according to oriental principles of geomancy. The land itself has long been a place where the native people of this area came to conduct their vision quests, and it is the center’s hope to honor and continue this tradition of spiritual practice.

Mountain Spirit center is being built with a deep concern for the environment. The temple is off the electrical power grid – electricity is generated on site by the power of sun and wind. Well water is reused for irrigation of native plants and trees; therefore, care is taken to not use toxic chemicals, soaps, or detergents. It is our goal to develop the temple in a sustainable and environmentally beneficial manner.

Founding Date : 1994Address : 8400 Juniper Way. Tehachapi California, 93561-9315Tel : 661-822-7776URL : :

Providence Zen Center

Providence Zen Center is the international head temple of the Kwan Um School of Zen, a Seon Buddhist school with more than a hundred affiliated groups worldwide. The Zen Center was founded in 1972 in Providence, Rhode Island and moved to its wooded fifty-acre home in Cumberland in 1979.

Founding Date : 1972Address : 99 Pound Road, Cumberland, RI 02864Tel : 1-401-658-1464Fax : 1-401-658-1188URL : :


Founding Date : 2 Feb, 1992Address : 231 Salem Street, Wakefield, MA 01880Tel : 781-224-0670Fax : 781-224-1087URL :
A. History

Mun Su Sa Temple was founded on February 2, 1992 by the current abbot, Ven. Pohae Dobum Sunim, Ven. Gi Kwang Sunim and regional lay Buddhists. The major contributors included Mr. Kang C. Yu, who designed and built the main Dharma Hall and the Manjusri (Mun Su) Pavilion, the first President of Mun Su Sa, Mr. Won Taek Oh, Mr. Un Gun Kim and his wife (Kwaneumseong Bosal), Mr. Kun Jin Kim and his wife, and Dr. Gil Soo Chang and his wife.
The purposes of founding Mun Su Sa Temple were three-fold: First, there was a need for a Korean Buddhist temple due to a significant number of lay Korean and Korean-American Buddhists in Boston area. Some Korean Buddhists were converted to other religions in early 1990s simply because there was no Korean temple to go. The second purpose was to propagate the Korean Buddhism in New England area since the local Americans showed their interests in Buddhism and other Buddhist countries had made significant contributions in propagating Buddhism in this area. The third was to propagate Korean Buddhism to Korean students in Boston area since New England area attracts many bright Korean students, who will become leaders of Korea in many professional areas after graduation. These students are expected to make a great contribution to Korean society with the Buddhist spirits and ideals, and to play important roles in propagating Korean Buddhism as international missionaries.
Ven. Dobum Sunim designated the name of temple as “Mun Su Sa” following Manjusri Bodhisattva, who is symbolic of the perfection of wisdom, and is noble and gentle. It is not surprising to observe that the current and former lay Buddhists at Mun Su Sa Temple have consisted of many students, postdoctoral students, visiting professors, scholars and their families in addition to immigrated Korean-Americans. Therefore, Mun Su Sa congregation has been composed of more young lay Buddhists compared to other Korean Buddhist temples in America.
Mun Su Sa has maintained a long history of Dharma assemblies every Sunday. The Dharma preachers include not only the abbot and other monks of Mun Su Sa, but also many visiting and local Buddhist monks and scholars. The abbot has made extra efforts to bring well known monks and scholars as the Dharma preachers. The speakers covered diverse topics such as Buddhist arts and history as well as Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, humanity and natural sciences related to well beings, landscaping, medicine, metaphysics, nanotechnology and nutrition.
Ven. Dobum Sunim, one of disciples of Ilta Zen master (日陀 대화상), taught and participated in Seon (particularly Gunhwa Seon) practice on Saturday for more than ten years mainly for American people. He began Seon Practice at Haein Meditation Hall and continued Zen Meditations at Tongdo-sa Geukluck-am, Songgwang-sa, Bongam-sa, Mungwol-sa, and Eunhae-sa Gigi-am. He served as the General Secretary of Haein-sa and the abbot of Bongam-sa (The first Abbot of Special Seon monastery) before founding Mun Su Sa here in Wakefield, MA.

The Great Dharma Hall of Mun Su Sa is dedicated to the young Sakyamuni Buddha and its small Buddha image indicates that Mun Su Sa is a Zen temple. The Guardian Painting with 29 guardians (a master piece of Seok Jung Sunim) is located to the Buddha’s right and the Memorial Painting (a great piece of Mr. Brian Barry: a Wakefield MA native and a disciple of late Manbong Sunim, a Korean Living National Treasure) is located to his left like Haeinsa Temple’s Great Tranquility Light Hall in Korea. The Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha (Jijang Bosal), King of Harmless Ghosts, Do Myung and ten Kings of Hell are found in the Memorial Painting.
Manjusri Pavilion is located behind the Great Dharma Hall on the right. Bodhisattva Manjusri statue sitting as a young majestic, royal prince is located on the second floor of the Pavilion. It was carved with wood and has gilt bronze. The building also has a spacious library, a computer room, and six rooms for the abbot and other monks. The library has many Buddhism books, sutras and scriptures written in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese.
The members of Mun Su Sa Temple have made a steady growth from 70 families in 1992 to 220 families in 2000 and to 300 families in 2006.

B. Activities

Mun Su Sa Temple has regular offering ceremonies every Sunday at 11 AM. The ceremony usually begin by chanting “One thousand Hand Sutra”
and Ocean Seal verse by Ui-Sang Master. Then the recitation of the name of Buddha or Bodhisattva and chanting heart Sutra follow. The ceremony ends with a Dharma talk of the day.
Ven. Dobum Sunim has also maintained Seon practices (Gun Hwa Seon) on Saturday 4 PM for the Zen practitioners, who directly strive to point to their minds and try to attain sudden enlightenment.
From year 2005, Mun Su Sa Temple has been offering yoga training followed by meditation free of charge on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (begin at 7:40 PM) and Sunday (begin at 2:30 PM). The current director of the program is Michael Lee. He can be reached by phone: 978-884-9914 or by E-mail:
From April 2006, Mun Su Sa Temple has been offering International Dharma Instructor (IDI) Training program in its library to train English-speaking Dharma instructors. The director of the IDI Training program is Dr. Ernest Do. He is an IDI certified by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and his Dharma name is True Enlightenment. He can be reached by phone: 781-729-3695 or by E-mail:
Mun Su Sa Temple has maintained web site: The registration at the web site is free and members have significant tangible benefits.
Mun Su Sa Temple publishes Mun Su Sa newsletter, Poong Kyoung Sori, to propagate Dharma, and to publish essays and various practice news of sunims and lay Buddhists among Korean congregations.
Mun Su Sa lay Buddhists operated the Sunday school for children to teach Korean language and Buddhist arts on Sunday at 11 AM. Currently the Sunday school is not in operation due to the lack of students.
Mun Su Sa Temple has an adult choir that practices Buddhist songs every Sunday at 2 PM, and recently won the first place in singing competitions among various Korean religious choirs in Boston area. In addition, the temple also maintains a children choir, which practices regularly on Friday at 4 PM.
Mun Su Sa Temple observes the four Buddhist holidays: the Buddha’s birthday, Renunciation day, Enlightenment day and Nirvana day. Mun Su Sa Temple offers Ullanbana (the 15th day of seventh month by the lunar calendar) and Jijang memorial services for the deceased and their family members and wedding ceremonies upon request.
Mun Su Sa Temple participates in the annual Independence Day parade in the town of Wakefield MA as a community activity.
Mun Su Sa lay Buddhists also participate in local Korean and Asian society’s sport activities such as golf, soccer and softball competitions and have won many prizes in these competitions.
The abbot of the temple, Ven. Dobum Sunim, is currently the President of the Sangha Association of Korean American Sangha in East Coast and has been working hard toward the peace and harmony of Korean-American temples, sunims and lay Buddhists from Florida State to New England.

September 4, 2006
Submitted by True Enlightenment, Ernest Unhoi Do