One day, one of Zen Master Seung Sahn’s female American students asked him, “Sir, are there any women Zen masters in Korea?”
“No, no, no!” he quickly replied. “Of course not!”
The student was completely shocked, even angered by this, more so because
Zen Master Seung Sahn himself had always treated his female students with complete
equality, and even formally authorized several of them to teach. “How could he think like
this?” She thought. “This is completely outrageous.” After a few moments, she stammered
out. “But how is this possible?”
Eyeing her and half-smiling, he replied, “Because women cannot get
This was unbelievable! Half-expecting that he was joking she looked up, but by
then he had already marched into another room. She followed him, where he had busied himself with some things, almost as if the conversation had never occurred.
“I have been practicing with you for several years now,” she continued. “You
have always just taught us to believe in our true self 100 percent. How can you
possibly now say that women cannot get enlightenment?”
Wheeling around sharply, Zen Master Seung Sahn pointed his finger at her and,
looking into her eyes strongly, said, “So, you’re a woman?”
The student was silent as his teaching sank in.