Friday, January 20, 2012
Hyon Gak Sunim on World Peace
Zen Master Seung Sahn (1927-2004) was one of the greatest Zen teachers of the 20th-century. And he always taught about world peace. But one day, a student of his, who was deeply involved in peace-work and social justice issues, said to the Master, "I think that working for social justice should precede my work in meditation. So, I won't meditate until we have become closer to world peace." Zen Master Seung Sahn replied, "World peace is not possible." After a pause of a few moments, he continued, "Also it's not necessary."
Hyon Gak Sunim is an American-born Zen monk who received inga, or "formal authorization to teach," by Zen Master Seung Sahn in a public ceremony in August 2001. In this talk, Hyon Gak Sunim "riffs" on his Teacher's startling insight to the real meaning of meditation and world peace. He improvises, as a commentary, on his Teacher's view that "world peace" and the struggle for social justice -- the most important social and political issues of our time, and things of great and searing urgency in these times of oligarchs and international financial control by the few -- should not be "required" or "expected" by one who sets insight into the nature of self as their goal.
If "world peace" and the struggle for social justice are predicated on thinking and philosophy alone -- on conceptual critiques and analyses with no interior looking, or meditation -- then they can be just another form of opposites' thinking. To truly bring world peace, as Zen Master Seung Sahn emphasized, we must all look deeply inside, find our original "root," our True Nature, which all beings share, and then act from THAT to bring acts of love and compassion to this world. THAT is the true meaning of "think globally, act locally." There is nothing more local than our own original nature, which connects us to the infinite web of all life.