True Practitioner

During a dharma talk at the New York Zen Center, one Korean monk shared that now Vipassana is getting more and more popular in Korea. And at the same time, Zen Buddhism is receiving lots of criticism. 

Monk: Zen Master Dae Kwan, you’ve practiced in Thailand before. How do you see this?

Zen Master Dae Kwan: True practitioners never criticize other traditions that are different from their own. People who do not practice in their mind only see the differences. Methods are like finger-pointing to our original mind, that’s all.

Monk: So why are they fighting?

Zen Master: Because they are not practicing!

The assembly all laughed.


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After I joined the Zen tradition, Zen Master Seung Sahn wanted to visit my teacher, Phra Ajahn Pongsak in Chiangmai, Thailand. When they met, they bowed to each other as if they were meeting good friends. Phra Ajahn told Zen Master: “If I were younger I would also like to learn and practice Zen. I am very happy that Sudharma* is studying with you.” When we were moving into the bungalow, Zen Master Seung Sahn asked, “This place is very beautiful, but why no electricity?” Then I told him this forest was far from the village and was in a jungle, so we wanted to keep it in its natural state, without electricity. Zen Master seemed unhappy with my answer. When we all settled down, Zen Master Seung Sahn went to see Phra Ajahn again; they met outside Phra Ajahn’s hut. Zen Master asked, “Can I see your hut?” Then he went inside. After a few seconds, he came out and said, “Your hut has nothing inside. You are a true monk. Your dharma is high, my dharma is low! No electricity is very good!” Everybody laughed.

These two great teachers are practitioners of the Buddha Way. They only see the nice things about each other and respect each other. This is a real-life example for us!

Buddha used different skillful means only to help free us from suffering and help us wake up to our great love and wisdom, so that we would help each other rather than argue or fight with each other.

*Pali name of Zen Master Dae Kwan when she was a maechi in Thailand.