Subul Sunim hadn't even found Buddhism until he was 21. His family had always followed the Korean religion Ch'ondogyo. It was later that he started spreading this form of Zen Buddhism from to China, Mongolia and Korea.
“It was by chance that I happened to enter a Buddhist temple. It felt as if it was my own home and I was asked if I wanted to shave my head and became a monk. It was my karma, I think," says the abbot, “Now, I feel I was a monk even in my previous life.”
The abbot met Venu Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Motor Company, at the Biennale in Busan, Korea, and was in turn invited to inaugurate the Chennai Photo Biennale. “Srinivasan felt that I was his teacher in his previous birth when he entered the temple. From that moment, we have been in touch and enjoy a good relationship,” he says.
He refers to his people as the descendants of Master Bodhidharma, a prince of Kanchipuram and the founder of Zen Buddhism. Bodhidharma moved to China in the sixth century to spread the spiritual teachings of Zen because, says Sunim, “It was his karma”.
“There is nothing called religion, it is only a way of life. We had no religion before 5000 years, everything depends on how we live”, says the abbot addressing the diversity of religion in India.
When asked about his teachings on mindfulness and meditation, the monk explains, “Can you look at yourself in your eyes? You cannot. I can see myself without using a mirror through meditation. Zen Buddhism is completely different form Buddhism; it touches your soul inside rather than your appearance outside”.
Zen Buddhism teaches one about the enlightened mind of the Buddha, by making one look inward and see one's true nature.
“Zen Buddhism is something beyond religion — it is enlightenment. And enlightenment is not something you can teach people. It’s something you experience directly. Anyone can follow Zen Buddhism”, he says signing off....