One Experience, One Commitment

Francis Lau — IT Team Member at Su Bong

The year 2020: Myong Hae Sunim passed away.

On the morning of August 2 last year, the IT team helped out as usual with the live stream at Gaksu Temple. When it was time for Myong Hae Sunim to deliver her Dharma speech, she did not appear on the computer screen as expected. Other Sunims tried to contact her several times but there was no answer, so they had to put the mobile phone down. Halfway down the mountain after the ceremony was over, an unreal message came through my phone: Myong Hae Sunim has passed away in a car accident in Lithuania...

Zen students around the world decided to hold special chanting every night during the first 49 days of Myong Hae Sunim’s death. Given Gaksu’s remote location and other constraints, we encountered many technical difficulties and challenges, but compared with losing a life mentor and close friend, all that was nothing!

On the first few nights of the special chanting, most of us did not say much, and we felt that we just had to give our best to whatever we were doing. One thing was certain: you, he, she and I were all experiencing this pain. How to liven up and elevate that? This was the real challenge!

Then one night Zen Master Dae Kwan gave a Dharma talk for everyone. Sifu pointed out a key point: a sudden “HIT!!!” at the moment of the car accident, isn’t it a “primary point” with which Myong Hae Sunim practiced every day? Using the last moment of life like that is just like using Kong-an teachings in everyday life; was not Myong Hae Sunim’s example exactly like that? Yes, yes! After listening to Sifu’s talk, everyone seemed to rally again. Sifu was to Myong Hae Sunim what a “skilled craftsman” was to “fine wood”, adept at interpreting Myong Hae Sunim’s example and teachings for everyone.

As Sifu delivered the talk I could see Zen students from all over the world through the live broadcast cameras; long-lost smiles and streaks of comfort began to appear on their faces. That moment was a turning point!

Zen students from all over the world indeed extended all over the globe, encouraging and supporting each other through practice. This unity of karma was not hindered by geography. Look, the Spanish students are adjusting the livestream cameras; the Korean novice monk are trying out the lights in the Dharma room; the American practitioners are sitting solemnly still in robes; the Lithuanian family members of Myong Hae Sunim and interpreters are getting ready; the European Dharma teachers and students are setting up their microphones... From what I saw, although it was the first time that a global live stream was held, every participant worked together to make this special chanting possible. Even if there was little verbal communication, we still cooperated smoothly.

The live broadcast from Lithuania is still fresh in my memory: the funeral celebrant and family and friends led the ashes of Myong Hae Sunim to the burial ground in the heavy rain. In front of a monument, the rain let up for a while, and the mourners present and the global Sangha chanted and practiced simultaneously. It was like everyone was pouring all the energy, love and compassion of their lives to escort the ashes of Myong Hae Sunim into the earth of peace. This awe-inspiring scene was transmitted live and clear from Lithuania to the heart of fellow practitioners all overthe world, which was moving and incredible! In the most beautiful scene of the forty-ninth day, everyone opened the window of their mind and opened their heart, smiling and waving their hands brightly like flowers. Whether pain or joy, one by one,we experienced and bore it together. Life was thus sublimated; this experience was really precious.

To be honest, this journey had not been an easy one. From the beginning when we had to hold back tears of sadness, we gradually digested the news with humble practice, walking step by step... Myong Hae Sunim has bequeathed us unimaginable grace and enlightenment. I am grateful for the privilege of taking part in and learning from this special chanting. I did not just experience the “Borderless, Together Action”. I also came face to face with the “Whole World Is a Single Flower” spirit of Zen Master Man Gong.

Here I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Sifu Zen Master Dae Kwan for her guidance during the journey, Myong Hae Sunim’s example, teachings and dedication to life, and her parents.

We are proud of Myong Hae Sunim!

Francis Lau
IT Team Member at Su Bong