The Whole World Is A Single Flower

Su Bong Zen Monastery

The Whole World Is A Single Flower

After 1912 the Japanese were trying to crush Korean culture, language, religion. Part of that strategy was to control Korean Buddhism since it was seen as a force of resistance. One way they did that was to call the abbots of all the governing temples to Seoul to have meeting together.

Man Gong Sunim ( Zen Master Seung Sahn grand teacher ) was the head of one of those temples so he was also called to this meeting. At this meeting, the Japanese governor general said, "I want to help Korean Buddhism. So for Korean Buddhism to become strong, Korean Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism must become one school." What that meant of course, is that they would follow the rules of Japanese Buddhism. The Japanese authorities also wanted all the major temples headed by married monks. The penalty for not following the rules set forth by the Japanese government meant imprisonment or execution.

After the governor general had finished speaking, Man Gong Sunim stood up, walked to the front of the room, then he pointed at the governor general saying, "Do you know where the mountains, the rivers, and the great earth come from?" Clearly this was a challenge, but the governor general didn't say anything. He could have just had him executed on the spot for talking like that. Suddenly Man Gong Sunim shouted, "Katz!" He then pointed to thegovernor general's mouth and said, "Then that mouth is the gate to hell. Your predecessor didn't want to help Korean Buddhism, he wanted to destroy it. If you want to help Korean Buddhism, don't touch it." Then he left and went back to Dok Seung Mountain. Six hundred meditation monks and nuns refused to follow the Japanese style and the Japanese didn't touch them. The occupation continued until World War Two ended when the Japanese were finally forced to leave.

Then, Man Gong Sunim took a petal from the national flower, he dipped it in some ink and wrote, "Whole World Is a Single Flower." There's no bitterness, no anger in that calligraphy. There's no exclusion. Everybody, everything, is part of this single flower. That mind is already the end of all differences. Whether he had attained nirvana or not, the moment he wrote with that mind, that is the end of all differences. You don't have to wait until your practice becomes ripe. One moment of truly open, wide, accepting, compassionate, inclusive mind is it. That moment is Buddha.

Zen Master Dae Kwan Remarks: Let us learn from the eminent teachers and start this year with this spirit of Whole World is a Single Flower. We just do what needs to be done. And then we can attain the Sixth Patriarch's teaching: being able to distinguish between all Dharmas and yet the idea of distinction does not arise. When our is not moving, the idea of not moving does not arise. You will then attain:

Holding up a Flower, with a Smile, Spring Comes.
In Harmony with Everyone, Accomplish Everything!