Thursday, April 05, 2012

congratulations, sunim!

I had just finished a rereading of Mark Salzman's Lying Awake, a novella about a Carmelite nun, when I saw the news that Seon Joon sunim has been ordained, along with many (107?) of her fellow nuns. It's a moment at least six years in the making, but in a real sense it's only the start of her journey, just as every new day is a new start for each of us. Click over to her photoblog and congratulate her.

In the blog post that accompanies her photos, Seon Joon discusses why she chose Korean Buddhism over other kinds of Buddhism as the framework for her growth and practice. Six years ago, I attended a dharma talk by Hyeon Gak sunim, in which he was asked a question on that very topic:

When asked why he had chosen to follow the path of Korean Buddhism as opposed to other Buddhisms, Hyeon-gak said, "Why do I drink coffee and not something else? Why do you have the friends you have? Why are you Korean?" (laughter)

Before ending her post on a note of gratitude, Seon Joon writes:

I’ve always been aware that even though we say, “I took precepts,” this is not precise or accurate language. We don’t take precepts, they cannot be lifted like a stereo or claimed like a prize. We receive them; they are given. We don’t keep precepts, either, like a casserole in the freezer or cash in an account. We hold them, like a living thing, and we care for them, and they care for us. We may break precepts, like a heart, or a bone; but they don’t break like something inanimate. They break like we break, because they live as we live, and they die as we fail to respect and love them, to see them as that which will shape us into beings capable of helping other beings and guide us toward wisdom and skillfulness, for the greatest benefit and joy of all.

I congratulate Seon Joon on her attainment, but I also know that this is "no attainment, nothing to attain." Be happy, sunim!


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