January 13, 1977
Dear Soen Sa Nim,
I have heard you say that the house we will buy in the mountains near Woodstock, New York is in a very good location, a place of special energy. Why is it a special energy place? And why, in the practice of Zen as everyday mind is special energy important?
Would you explain the mountain and water configuration around the house as you described it to us: the mountain to the right as the white tiger, the mountain to the left as the blue dragon, the mountain behind as the turtle, etc.?
Several of us will go visit the house next weekend to look at the inside more closely. Then we can start planning how and when to use it.
It’s very cold here, lots of snow and ice. I hope you are taking it easy in Los Angeles.
January 20, 1977
How are you? Thank you for your letter. You ask me why the house near Woodstock is in a good location and why it’s a place of special energy. In Korea there is a metaphysics of wind-water geography. This was brought to Korea from China by a monk about fifteen hundred years ago, and since that time all temples have been built with this in mind.
A good location is necessary for the temple to grow, to save all people, and to prosper for a long time in the future. The wind-water geography determines a place as a special energy spot, where a temple can be built.
In Korea, all temples and cemeteries are placed with these ideas strongly adhered to. It is felt that the temple will grow and produce great teachers, and that the cemetery will help the descendents of those who are buried there to become prominent in society.
Why do these special places exist? This is very important. Mountains and rivers are like the earth’s physical body. On our bodies the most important part is the head. On the head the most important parts are the eyes, the nose, and the mouth. They are also among the most sensitive parts on our bodies. If you touch them then you have a strong feeling. Strong feeling means that they use strong energy. In the same way, mountains are like our bodies, and these special places are like our eyes, nose, or mouth -they are very sensitive. As in our bodies, the energy circulates in the mountain and is very sensitive in these special places. These places enable us to become one with this universal energy.
So, we check a mountain in five ways: first we check the form of the mountain; then where the mountain begins and ends; next we check it in terms of the composition of the five elements — wood, water, earth, fire, and metal; next we check the high and low points; and finally the Yin-Yang balance, the direction the mountain faces — north, south, east or west.
The basic form of the wind-water geography is a tall mountain, original turtle, which has two mountains extending in front of it like two protecting arms, white tiger to the right and blue dragon to the left. The house or temple is located at the very base of the tall mountain. In front of the house is a body of water, and just beyond that is a smaller mountain, which is called the red bird.
We check this basic form with the five characteristics that I’ve already explained. Which of the extending arms goes out further? This makes a difference, as does the direction of the flow of the water in front of the house. If the white tiger extends out further, then this place will be stronger for men. If the blue dragon extends out further, then this place will be stronger for women. Our place is very good because the two streams come together at the base of the tall mountain in front of the house.
In Korea there are professionals who also check the flow of the water in and around the temple area. They also check the mountain in terms of its importance in the whole mountain range. They check the ground for the elemental composition, that is, whether the ground has been used or moved in the past, to see if the temple will be located on land that has not been touched. They check to see whether the individual characteristics of the location will help or hinder the others, for example, if the blue dragon balances with the white tiger. Also very important is the direction that the front of the house will be facing. The balance of the characteristics is the single most important factor, just like a big nose would look funny on a small face.
So, I think that our place is wonderful.
Now there is a white house, but in the future we must build a new house. This is very necessary.
You ask why special energy is important. All people have different karma. Karma appears, and people lose their true selves. Karma appears — this means that our minds are easily moved. At a special energy place, your energy and the universal energy come together, and it is very easy to make our bad karma disappear. Sometimes people cannot control themselves, so we need this place very much.
An eminent teacher said, “Our minds change from moment to moment, but the blue mountain is always high and the clear river is always low.”
I hope that our family will use this place, get special energy, finish the Great Work of life and death, save all people from suffering, and attain world peace.
Yours in the Dharma,