The following is a letter from the Housemaster of the Providence Zen Center (now Zen Master Seong Hyang) to Soen Sa Nim, and his reply to her, written in May, 1976.
Dear Soen Sa Nim,
I hope your body is strong and you are feeling well. Everyone in Providence is fine. We are all working very hard. I think everyone is trying to understand his job. This is a big job.
This Sunday George (Bowman – now Zen Master Bo Mun) and Mu Bul Sunim gave very good Dharma talks. We only had three guests and the Providence Zen Center family. Although Mu Bul and George talked very clearly and simply, I felt like our guests did not understand their speech. Sometimes this discourages me very much. People come here, listen to our teaching, and leave. Very few people come a second time. I often feel like the Center is making some mistakes, but I don’t understand what they are.
So I will take your famous advice and only go straight – don’t check myself, don’t check other people, don’t check the Providence Zen Center. Correct?
Good things come in small packages.
How are you? Thank you for your letter and for sending me my letters. Also, thank you for your big KATZ. Everybody understanding their jobs is very good, but I ask you, what is your big job? Big job is your original job, and original job is the great Bodhisattva way.
Nowadays things are very busy here, but it is wonderful that our family is growing. We had a high school class come here one day, and next week a class from UCLA is coming. Also, I will talk at the Center for the Healing Arts in Los Angeles next week. In June we will also have a three-day Kido on a mountaintop near Big Sur for about fifteen people.
I am a little tired these days, but I am resting now, and Mrs. Kanda is here from Japan. She is a wonderful oriental medicine doctor, and she is making me strong. Nowadays Linc is a very good Dharma teacher, and he also helps me.
Don’t worry if people do not come back to the Zen Center. Many people like honey better than water. I think water is better than honey. Honey tastes good, but if you only eat honey, it is not good for you. It is possible to take much water, but only a little honey.
Zen is very clear, simple, and necessary like water. Every day you need water, and every day you need Zen, but most people prefer honey. Zen is clear, but not interesting to them. Most people have many desires, and Zen is cutting off desire, so people don’t like this. Their whole lives are only desire. If you practice Zen, then your life is only clear like water, with no taste, like water. If you have no money, then water is very good.
If people don’t come back, this is not because of a Zen Center mistake; it is because they don’t want to fix their minds. So don’t worry. Many people are not necessary. Only a few keen-eyed students are necessary.
You said, “Don’t check myself,” and you said “KATZ!” and you said, “Good things come in small packages.” Wonderful! But, how many pounds is this KATZ?
Yours in the Dharma,