Venerable Mushim Opening International Zen Center In Busan

Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, Jan 26, 2005

"I have lived in Korea for 18 years, but I always have been dependant on others' temples and others' efforts. Now it's time to change that situation."

Busan, South Korea -- American monk Venerable Mushim (45, pictured), who has been a Guiding Dharma Teacher in Seoul International Zen Center, is going to open Namsan International Zen Center in Namsan-dong near BeomEu-sa Temple, Busan, next month.

The fact that Venerable Mushim, who belongs to the first generation of foreign monks, is going to open his own zen center, can be a new leap for the internationalization of Korean Buddhism.

"When Venerable Sungsan told me the hard time he had gone through when he went to America the first time, because of his poor English and insufficient money, he told me, "Mushim seumin, why don't you experience those hardships?" It was like a mother tiger pushing her baby from the top of the hill to the bottom. Now, somehow, I have to climb up the hill by myself."

Why Busan?

"First I thought about opening a zen center in Washington DC, in America, but Venerable Sungsan advised me that considering the social atmosphere in America it's not the right time to open it. So I chose Busan. Busan is a city of profound Buddhism, and many foreigners live there, but there is no zen center. Also, my living only in Seoul for so many years is reflected in the reason why I chose Busan."

Venerable Mushim, who was born into a Jewish educator's family, read many books from an early age, and he was especially interested in science. From his personal habits, he accumulated a lot of knowledge. However, as he got older, especially when he was attending Boston University, he was very skeptical that he could find his true nature with that kind of knowledge.

"There are countless creatures on this earth, but humans acted like they were the only creature. They lived based on three poisons: greed, hatred, and ignorance. They had excessive attachment to their own profit and their opinions were too strong. With the development of scientific civilization, those ways of perception couldn't be corrected."

Therefore, with the advice of a Hindu priest who said to him 'Go find the living Buddha instead of studying Buddhism', he went to Cambridge Zen Center in America. As soon as he met venerable Sungsan, he felt great joy and decided to become a monk.

"When I said I want to become a monk to achieve enlightenment, he said my motivation was too weak. Even lay Buddhists can achieve enlightenment through meditation. He advised that I should only want to live for other people."

It took another four years to realize the true meaning of saving other people, and establish a new reason to become a monk. He received the precepts to be a novice in 1984 and came to Korea right away. He became fully ordained, with venerable Jaun as a precept teacher, in Beomeu-sa Temple three years later. In Namsan International Zen Center, he is going to hold dharma meetings in English, as well as meditation sessions.

A Brief History of Venerable Mushim

1958: born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

1980: graduated from the Chemistry Department at Boston University, Massachusetts, USA

1984: became a monk, with Venerable Sungsan as a Master, and received his Buddhist name, Mushim. Established Seoul International Zen Center at Hwagye-sa Temple, with Vens. Muryang and Musang.

1987: received full ordination from the Jogye Order

1999: became Chief Guiding Dharma Teacher of Seoul International Zen Center at Hwagye-sa Temple