Buddhist Seminaries in Korea (Kangwŏn) offer students both basic and advanced education in the Dharma as well as in the Sutras (Kyo), Kangwŏn students must also work their Kyo Teacher to resolve any misunderstanding that may appear in their understanding of the doctrine.
Likewise, meditation practice is done in the meditation hall as well as the work in the fields and the temple, all in conjunction with face-to-face meetings with their Sŏn Teacher (K. Sŏnwŏn).
One is not to be perceived as superior to the other; they are merely similar paths leading to the same aspiration of discovering the great “I” (Daea) that is earned through awakening to liberate the small “I” (Soa) outside of our thinking life.
Some in Korea practice Kānhuà Chán, others keep a single Huàtóu, while some follow the scholarly path of Sutra or Huáyán study, while those with a bent towards service lean towards the Pure Land practices of engaged community practice. Why should we place any of these above the other? I don’t know. Therefore we do not do this in our order.
There is obviously a lot of cross-fertilization going on in Korean Buddhism, which has been guided by the brilliance and insight of Sŏn Master Jinul who founded the Jogye Order over nine hundred years ago. The diversity of Korean practice transcends many other forms of Buddhist Practice by allowing Pure Land, Sutra Study, Huáyán Study, and Zen to co-exist in each and every temple.
Diversity lies at the heart and soul of the Five Mountain Zen Order, and we aspire to follow in the path of those great innovators who have gone before us. As my teacher always said, “soft is always better, as water wears away granite even though it is the most yielding substance in the universe.” It does not mean there is no commitment to a path or direction; it simply means that we do not have to all try to wake up in the same way.
We will get shit from the puritans out there, as we have continued to all along. However, I have practiced long enough to realize that I do not have to pay attention to the flies that buzz about sometimes during practice. They too can be great teachers of how not to act in the world. Seung Sahn often quoted Bojo Jinul, “Your evil tongue will lead you to ruin, keep the stopper in the bottle.” As Laozi said, “if you seek for the approval of others, you become their prisoner.” The test is how clear are those in the organization, and I stand by my students and their wisdom and insight.