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.
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: email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mun Su Sa Temple has maintained web site: www.munsusa.org. 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