Seon Master Beopjeong

“Now I live in a place with no signboard and no address. Of course, it’s nothing I can be proud, given that this living environment is in fact quite primitive and destitute. But the fact that it allows me to put precedence on allowing my pure self to exist is something good indeed. I’m only just here for a little bit, anyways. Where could the eternal dwelling place of a monk be? We’re like vagabonds, only residing for a brief spell.”

                                                     -from Flowers Blossom in the Mountains

Following the path of honest poverty, as he resides in an empty cabin left vacant by slash and burn farmers, searching for firewood and cultivating a patch of land in a Gangwon-do Province mountain valley, Beopjeong Sunim distinguishes himself as among the most genuine spirits of the age, through the exhaustiveness of his over 30 years of silence and freedom from possessions and his putting into practice a life both fragrant and pure.

Ordained in 1954 under the tutelage of one of the greatest monks of his age, Master Hyobong, Beopjeong spent his time as a junior disciple with the senior disciple, Master Kusan. He went on to serve on the committee translating the Buddhist canon into Korean script, as well as the editor-in-chief of a Buddhist newspaper publishing company, and the Director of Training at Songgwang-sa Temple. In the latter half of the 1970s, he cast all these things aside and by his own hands established and lived alone at Bul-il-am, a hermitage set on the mountainside behind Songgwang-sa. However, with many people knowing his fame and searching him out, in April of 1992 he left to reside in a remote Gangwon-do mountain valley, the exact whereabouts of which remain unknown still today.

Yet at the same time, under the explanation that this was to “earn our keep as practitioners,” he inaugurated a movement of citizens called “Clean and Fragrant,” a group he leads to this day. In December 1997, Kilsang-sa was founded and he took over the leadership of the temple organization and all religious services. In December of 2003, he voluntarily conceded this role, and though he now comes down from the mountains only periodically to give dharma sermons each spring and fall, or to have Buddhist services or for other events, his voice maintains its vigor and clarity to this day.

Original works by Beopjeong Sunim
The Sound of the Soul (Samtoh, 1973; revised, 2002)
Freedom from Possessions (Bumwoosa, 1976; revised, 1985 and 1999)
Standing People (Samtoh, 1978; revised, 2001)
Mountain Room Chat (Samtoh, 1983; revised, 2001)
Sound of Water, Sound of Wind (Samtoh, 1986; revised, 2000)
Hollow Abundance (Samtoh, 1989; revised, 2000)
India Travel Journal (Samtoh, 1991; revised, 2003)
Throwing it Away, Leaving it all Behind (Samtoh, 1993; revised, 2001)
The Forest the Birds Left is Desolate (Samtoh, 1996; revised, 2000)
Flowers Blossom in the Mountains, edited by Ryu Shiva (Dongjjok nara, 1998)
Letter from a Wood Hut (Ire, 1999)
Spring Summer Fall Winter (Ire, 2001)
The Joy of Living Alone (Samtoh, 2004)

Compilations and Translations by Beopjeong Sunim
Words and Silence – quotations of the Buddha and the Patriarchs – (Samtoh,
1982; revised, 2002)
Like the Wind that Doesn’t Get Caught in a Net – discussion on the Sutta Nipata
(Samtoh, 1991; revised, 2002)
Sutta Nipata (Revised edition, Ire, 1999)
Words of Truth – The Dharmapada (Revised edition, Namusaram, 2000)
Buddha Shakyamuni (Revised edition, Dongjjok Nara, 2002)
Karma Stories (Revised edition, Dongjjok Nara, 2002)
Searching for a Master (Revised edition, Dongjjok Nara, 2002)
The Avatamsaka Sutra (Revised edition, Dongjjok Nara, 2002)
Mirror of Awakening – Seonga guigam [Paragons of the Seon School] (Bulil
Publishing 1990; revised, Dongjjok Nara, 2003)

Children’s books by Beopjeong Sunim
Really Good Stories Told by Beopjeong Sunim (Dongjjok Nara, 2002)
Really Refreshing Stories Told by Beopjeong Sunim (Dongjjok Nara, 2002)
Beopjeong Sunim’s Witty World of Children’s Stories, vol. 1, 2, 3 (Dongjjok Nara, 2003)