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Dharma Lecture

Title Dharma Talk "World Peace and the Ecological Crisis; Buddhist Wisdom"
Place UN Plaza (Date : 2012.10.04 / Click : 1876)




World Peace and the Ecological Crisis:
Buddhist Wisdom
Master Jinje Sunim
October 4, 2012


I am very delighted to meet you all. It is with great openness of my heart and spirit that I greet you.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all of you who have invited me and prepared such a precious event. I am very honored to be among you.


This inter-religious dialogue, for which all of you work hard, has been providing a spiritual foundation for peace and prosperity, as well as the hope that is leading the future. In spite of all the world problems of famine, disease, discrimination, oppression, fighting, and environmental pollution, with the help of inter-religious conversation, as well as sharing our wisdom and merit together, we still inspire people to dream about peace.


In short, our raison d’etre as religious leaders, our responsibility and duty, is to help those suffering and heal the world’s ills. We are not truly religious if we do not address these issues. Without the belief and trust of neighbors, who are suffering in anxiety and pain, we, religious leaders cannot be true to our calling.


We, religious leaders, must awaken people, show them a model. We must give first, we must reach out our hands first, we must take care of others first, to relieve hunger and sickness. We must awaken people to cease to fight and hate, awaken people to recover the environment and ecosystem.


I deeply believe that this is the reason we — all religions — exist, trust, and practice. These tasks are the religious leaders’ obligations and also responsibilities. In order to fulfill these duties, this mountain monk will also try to teach Ganhwa Seon practice while also starting to work with relief organizations and environmental groups.


Now in addition to the age-old problems of hunger, sickness and war, there are new challenges because we have not been good caretakers to the earth. As we know, the global changes observed in the last 200 years are far greater than those that have occurred over the previous thousands of years. We do not know whether our earth, our mankind can survive through this new crisis or not. We almost forget that this earth, this nature has been handed down to us from our ancestors, with their special wish for us to keep it healthy and clean.


We must realize how interconnected and how interrelated we are with the earth and one another, with the earth that houses us and the very human beings that provide communities for life. Are we even imaginable without the world and our fellow human beings?


Consider, where do we as individuals begin and end? Where do our lungs end and the air we breathe begin? How can we walk without the earth beneath our feet? I join you with my life-long wish to work harder for the coming generations. Now, some of these changes, these challenges, are extremely detrimental may even be irreversible. But in these challenges are great opportunities as well. This mountain monk believes we can meet these challenges and responsibilities.


By practicing Ganhwa Seon, which is a way to transcend the false self, we discover the way to the true self. This is what must be explained; a way of meditation that uncovers the true self, which provides a proper preparation and orientation for action.


“How can Buddhist teachings of Ganhwa Seon meditation help?” you may ask. Buddhist teaching is ancient, going back more than 2,500 years and contributing to human spiritual and cultural development. Korean Buddhism, since its inception 1,600 years ago, has followed the authentic Dharma lineage; it aims at establishing eternal world peace through a new paradigm, a fresh direction for our materialistic culture. This mountain monk thinks the time has come; Now is the right time.


As you well know, the UNESCO charter starts with this phrase, "That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." So if war begins in men’s minds, therefore solutions for peace begin there as well. Seon meditation teaches that global peace, harmony and equality, as well as a healthy ecological environment, can be achieved by keeping our minds right and understanding that You and I are not Two, but One. We must also understand that the same “Oneness” exists between the global habitat and the individual, because human beings and nature are mutually inter-dependent.


When you find your True Self and reach the home of your mind, we understand the mutual relationship between nature and human beings; there will be no environmental destruction and ecological damage inflicted only to satisfy the greed of human beings.


When we find our true selves through meditation, “I” becomes “We,” and there is no selfishness, or arrogance, but, instead, a willingness to help others and this planet, our home.


When you find your True Self and reach the home of your mind, then there will be no “I’m right, you’re wrong; ignorance will disappear and we will be filled with great wisdom. Confrontation, conflict and war will disappear and a peaceful world will naturally follow.


So how can we find our True Selves then? I believe the answer lies in Ganhwa Seon practice, which I would like to share with you. It can be done by anyone who tastes sea water and says it is salty; or by anyone who tastes honey and says it is sweet. Because this practice is not restricted by an individual character, time, or place; the practice is performed during the normal daily life and spiritual life.


Everyone was born from their parents and lives with a concept of ‘This is me' and ‘This is not me’. But since this body dies, decays and returns to nature in less than 100 years, the physical body cannot be the “True Self.”


So how can you find your True Self? Ask this question, "What was my True Self before I was born, before my physical body was born?” We have to ask that question again and again; this question is called “hwadu.”


You have to question it sincerely, over and over again, putting great effort into questioning continuously. In this state, you will forget how much time passes, what you see or hear, even your own body. This single hwadu question will flow in an intense spiritual concentration, called Samadhi, with only the hwadu. You will be absorbed in hwadu samadhi for several days, or even months. Then one moment when you suddenly see an object or hear a sound, your hwadu will shatter and you will find complete your True Self, and arrive to the home of your mind.


Let me illustrate this process as well as our innate ties with nature, with a story:


In ancient China, there was a very famous writer named Su Dongpo. One day he realized the emptiness of all of his fame, talent, and thoughts and so he decided to dedicate himself to Seon Practice. One day, he heard about the brilliant Master Changcong who taught at Xinglong Temple in Mt. Lushan and went to visit him.

After three formal bows, he said, “Master, I came to listen to your Dharma talk.”

But Master Changcong asked him, “How is it that you can only hear the Dharma taught by people, yet you cannot hear the Dharma taught by nature.”

Su Dongpo was astonished by the master’s question. Not only sentient beings with thoughts and emotions, but also non-sentient objects like mountains, rocks, or trees can teach us the Truth of Dharma? The degree of his astonishment was the degree of question. As Su Dongpo left the temple and headed to his house, his mind went back to the master’s word. “Nature teaches the Dharma?” This questioning filled his whole body as well as his whole mind.

While sitting on his horse’s back, Su Dongpo entered the questioning Samadhi, the state of absolute and intense focus, “How can insentient objects teach the Truth? Why can’t I hear it?”

As his horse went around a corner he heard the loud sound of the waterfall, and he was enlightened; he saw the Home of his Mind! He wrote this Gatha, the song of enlightenment:


The roaring of the waterfall expounds 84,000 Buddha’s teachings

How is this green mountain anything but the body of Buddha?

In the dark night, the 84,000 teachings,

How can I show them to everyone the next day?


After that, Su Dongpo enjoyed a blissful life with wisdom at the Home of Mind.


So we must realize that not only the sacred scriptures like the Bible, Koran, and Sutras, but also nature, stones, and streams teach us Truth and Wisdom. Once we can hear the non-sentient, we will answer the problems of our ecological crisis and environmental problems that threaten our earth. Genuine world peace will be right there too.


Brothers and Sisters all over the world, The world cries out for healing from radical individualism, which pits one individual against the other, ideology against ideology and nation and religions against each other – all have threatened the integrity of our planetary environment.


Mountains nurture all kinds of animals and birds, they produce fresh air for people. Water cultivates all kinds of fish and shellfish while providing life for plants and human beings. We must emulate the virtue of mountains, and air, and water by nurturing and protecting our home.


The whole world is just one.


We must not be seduced by the delusion, because ten thousand different things are not separate from me – not separate from you.

For the end of the speech, I would like to recite my poem. This is my prayer for eternal peace, happiness, and prosperity in our future.


It is difficult to distinguish between
The Supreme Truth and Mundane Truth.
You must gain the meaning,
Yet forget all words,
To come close to the Truth.
This one phase of Truth,
Is bright – so bright – it is one with all phenomena.
Chrysanthemums bloom anew in autumn.


Thank you so much for taking your precious time to listen to my words.