Suffering and Taking Away Suffering

Good morning everybody! I’d like to welcome you to Korea and the Whole World Is a Single Flower conference. Every three years, since 1987, the Kwan Um School of Zen has hosted an international conference. This year our conference memorializes the tenth anniversary of the passing of Zen Master Seung Sahn. The theme of this year’s conference is “Great Vow, Life after Life.” When Zen Master Seung Sahn first came to the United States, one thing he impressed upon us is the importance of the great vow to save all beings from suffering. One of his great contributions to the Zen teaching style from the time of the Sixth Patriarch is his emphasis on great vow in Zen practice. He said if you look at the history of the Zen teaching style, you notice that sometimes the great vow is almost lost. In fact, one of the most famous Zen books in the United States doesn’t even mention bodhisattva action. Because of this, Zen Master Seung Sahn named our international organization the Kwan Um School of Zen. This name was to emphasize what Zen is really about.Actually, Buddhism is very simple. The Buddha only taught about one thing: suffering and taking away suffering. Zen Master Seung Sahn said there are two central questions for every human being. Number one: What are you doing right now? Number two: Why do that? These two questions point to how we live our life, moment to moment, and our great vow. The meaning behind “life after life” is “What are you doing right now?” This is not an abstract, philosophical concept. It’s not anything you have to believe. It’s something you have to wake up to, moment to moment. That’s our human beings’ job. That’s Buddha’s job; that’s my job; that’s your job. Dae Bong Sunim already said you don’t have to worry about being unemployed. We’re born into an ocean of suffering. So our vow is without bounds. I want to thank you all again for coming. Zen Master Seung Sahn always ended his talks and letters with, “I hope you only go straight don’t know, soon get enlightenment, and save all beings from suffering.” Nobody could say it better. Thank you very much.