Home Master Jinje Biography Ordination

Ordination :

There is a way to become a Great Buddha.
The Seon Master Jinje Sunim was born in 1934, on the 12th day of the first lunar month in the village of KumSongRi in Namhae country of KyungNam province. When he was conceived his mother had an auspicious dream that she caught the sun in her skirt. He was one of 3 sons and 4 daughters. On his 19th birthday he decided to leave the secular life and enter into the mountains, becoming a monk. There was a small temple, HaeKwanAm (海觀庵), a few kilometers from his home where the Master Seogu(石友) resided. Master Seogu was respected by both practitioners and the laity and would later become the 1st Head Priest of the newly reformed Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Master Seogu called out to the young Jinje:
“The worldly life is OK, but there is a better one here.”
“How is it better?” the young Jinje asked.
“There is a way in which an ordinary man can become a great Buddha,” Master Seogu replied, “do you want to give it a try?”
Young jinje was impressed with the pure and simple way the monks lived, decided to become one. He got permission from his parents and then began his duties as an apprentice: taking care of his teacher, cooking, gathering firewood, and keeping the vegetable garden.
I choose “Mu”
Six or seven months passed quickly and at the end of the summer meditation retreat 4 or 5 meditation monks came to pay their respects to Master Seogu. The Master asked,
“There was a time, during the Han Dynasty, that people were selected for government positions depending on how they inserted a character in the phrase ‘日出東方大笑’ which means, ‘The sun rises in the east smiling.’ One scholar put in the character ‘I’ so that the phrase read, ‘The sun rises in the east smiling and I smile’ and was appointed Prime Minister. How would you respond?”
None of the monks responded so the young Jinje replied,
“I choose ‘mu(無),’ meaning ‘no’ or ‘nothing’ so the phrase will read ‘The sun rises in the east with no smile' because the sun rises and lights up the world without any thoughts of pride.”
Master Seogu laughed with satisfaction, “This apprentice will become a great Master of the Dharma.”
“Before you were born, what is your True Self?”
Soon after the Master Seogu was requested to be the residing master at Haeinsa monastery and so his apprentice followed. In the winter of that year the young Jinje received his novice precepts, becoming a monk, and began to study the scriptures.
On New Year's Eve all of the monks gathered in the main hall and for entertainment each one was required to tell a story. At that time the Abbot of the temple Ja-un sunim and the Dharma Master Un-heo sunim were the elders at the gathering. When it was time for the young Jinje to tell a story he spoke of an incident that happened in the Tang Dynasty,
“There once was a wise layman and one day a monk visited his house. After the monk was served lunch the layman asked, “So, is there something else I can do for you?”
The monk replied, “I came here to receive offerings.”
At this the layman made a deal with the monk, “If you can answer my question I will make an offering, but if you cannot you must leave.” The layman then wrote the character “shim”(心) and asked, “Do you know this character?”
“Of course,” said the monk, “that is the character for heart, or mind.”
The man then called his wife and asked her the same thing. “Of course”, she said, “that is the character for heart, or mind.”
The layman said to his wife, “You too can be a mendicant.” and then as he kicked the monk out of the house he shouted, “You do not deserve to receive offerings!”
After telling this story the young Jinje sunim asked the assembly if they could have responded to this wise layperson. No one answered so Jinje sunim said, “Nobody can say a thing.” The abbot of the temple, Ja-un sunim then joked and said, “We will need to make Jinje sunim the master of this Temple.
That next year Master Seogu was requested to lead the newly reformed Jogye Order, they moved to Donghwasa temple near Daegu. This time the young man was determined to begin meditation practice and he joined a few of the other monks for a weeklong retreat without sleep at a deserted hermitage.
When he returned, Master Seogu was angry at him disappearing,
“You don’t listen to your master and you just do what you want!” But at the same time he was happy with his disciple’s earnest desire to practice so he gave him the Hwadu: “What is your original face before your parents were born?” His student took this hwadu and left the temple for the life of a wandering meditation monk, he was 23 years old.