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Personal Experiences with Zen Practice
My Life with Zen Practice
Ji San

As often as my tight working schedule as a medical doctor allows me I participate in the events that take place at International Zen-Temple. At this place of Buddhist practice I have found the necessary environment to remind me of what is essential in life.

All furnishings, the spatial arrangements, and the rules of conduct are solely established in order to support all those who come here to practice together to enlighten their own minds.
When I listen to the Ven. Zen master while he exposes the Buddha dharma in authentic and powerful speeches I am able to fathom and to experience what the so called Buddha nature, which is inherent to everyone, is about. In doing so all alleged difficulties and problems of my life dissolve into what they actually are: thoughts and opinions to which I am most often unconsciously attached. Then my mind calms down, becomes clear and free.
Unfortunately the most difficult thing is to always be aware of this fact.

Through practice with the Koan, in the way the Ven. Zen master tirelessly teaches, as well as through the atmosphere at International Zen-Temple – with a devotedly practicing Sangha – I am enabled to refresh my attitude time and again and to give it a clear direction. What needs to be done becomes, once again, clearly visible and then it can simply be done, just the way it is and just like this. This kind of clarity and silence, becoming one with everything, which I experience through intensive effort during Koan practice, is the true and pure life to me.

Eleven years ago I visited International Zen-Temple for the first time. At that time I lived in Cologne where I was working as a nurse. I was happy with my work place, having flexible hours and a sufficient salary, and I also had a circle of good friends over there. Yet I was not happy.
The questions about the meaning of life: What is life and why do we live? Who am I and what am I supposed to do with my life? – All these questions made me wander around without orientation.
A few years earlier I had read a couple of books about Zen practice and I was fascinated about the theory that all suffering in life originates in our selves because we do not know and see our own mind. I soon understood that only to know the theory would not be of much help but that I would have to realize its meaning through my own experience. But all on my own I never found the time to meditate regularly.

Finally I got to know Koan Zen practice in a course called ‘Korean Zen Buddhism’ at Volkshochschule zu Köln (adult education centre of Cologne). The teacher, Seong Wol, was a disciple of the Ven. Zen master. Through him I learned about International Zen-Temple and one year later I took part for the first time in its monthly Intensive Zen Retreat.
I was much impressed by the clarity, sincerity, and discipline that characterized the practice in the Zen temple as well as the clear guidance of the Ven. Zen master, his pure presence, and I realized soon how lucky I was to find something that exceptional, something that I had been looking for unconsciously all over the years.

From then on I travelled every month from Cologne to Berlin to participate in the Intensive Zen Retreat.
While doing so I became aware of the positive changes in my life and I became assured that I was able to design my life myself and that anything was possible. The decision to give up my life in Cologne and move to Berlin to be able to listen to the Dharma speeches of the Ven. Zen master as a member of the Sangha also during the week seemed perfectly clear to me and was not difficult for me to take.

Through the help of continuous practice with the Koan I acquired the necessary energy and perseverance to start and successfully finish my studies in medicine.

Without the many years of indefatigable guidance of the Ven. Zen master, who always points one to one’s own Buddha nature, I would not have had been able to find a suitable way for me to go and to change my life accordingly.

I am endlessly grateful to the Ven. Zen master Young San Seong Do for his efforts as a teacher and as an abbot through which he has, in the course of many years, given the great opportunity for common people to live a fulfilling life with the help of Buddhist practice.

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