or those who are worn out and stressed with their hectic, mundane lives in the city, developing a peaceful mind is of the utmost importance in living a healthy, quality life. Many get fed up with their typical daily routines and question who they are and their purpose in life. They might feel like getting away, but believe it isn¡¯t easy to leave their everyday lives and go deep into the mountains in pursuit of peace. However, with the Anguk Zen Center, you don¡¯t need to go far away for your spiritual and physical getaway. At the Anguk Zen Center, located in northern Seoul, ordinary people can find mental composure and solace through practicing Zen.
The Anguk Zen Center, founded by Zen Master SooBool Sunim, is a place solely dedicated to Zen meditation. SooBool says religion is a means, not the end, and defines Zen as that which enables the end, the realization of Buddha¡¯s enlightenment. He emphasizes that Buddhism without its ascetic practices is counter to Buddha¡¯s teaching and the practice of austerities throughout life is foremost in reaching the truth.
The Anguk Zen Center provides the Gwanhwa Seon program to ordinary people. Anyone regardless of age, gender, educational background, or occupation, can participate in the program. SooBool teaches participants in the program by asking ultimate questions to open the eye of wisdom and to reach enlightenment. A Hwadu given to an individual triggers a number of doubts related to the question. Each individual¡¯s process of seeking fundamental answers to the question, with SooBool¡¯s special attention, leads to the path to realizing truth and ultimately brings tranquility of mind. The degree of participants¡¯ Gwanhwa Seon experience and their learning pace vary depending on individual differences. However, SooBool says the program helps participants resolve an ultimate question and live a better life by teaching how to wisely solve problems. Once each individual solves the problem, he/she becomes altruistic and tolerant towards others, free from being self-oriented. As a righteous person, the individual comes to have a spiritual power to view society with upright values, according to SooBool. Participants, such as Song Soo-kyoung, head of the center¡¯s international section, say their minds became rich after sessions. They feel free, happy and comfortable. They also become more positive and tolerant towards the society and others.
Bringing Zen to the World
The center is also committed to following the mission of Zen Buddhism in opening the world of absolute equality through the internalization of Zen. It has striven to publicize Korean Buddhism and its ascetic methods to foreigners. The center offeres foreigners classes (in English) every Saturday from 2:30 to 4pm. The classes are taught by foreign lecturers who majored in Korean Buddhism with the focus on the scriptures of Korean Buddhism and Korean Buddhism culture. This year the center plans to offer the Gwanhwa Seon program also to foreigners. ¡°Through interchanges and sympathizing between the Western and Eastern spirits, the world can become one and grow spiritually through Zen practices. This will help people around the world open their eyes to the truth and will ultimately result in enlightenment and happiness of humankind,¡± SooBool says. SooBool visits overseas every year and preaches Zen Buddhism to internationalize Zen and publicize the Buddha¡¯s teaching and spirit and Korean Buddhism worldwide.
Easy to Find
The Anguk Zen Center in Seoul is situated in Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu in an easy-to-access location. The center is a four-story modern building with a pleasant and serene atmosphere that helps Zen practitioners absorb Zen practices and gain peaceful tranquility in themselves. Inside are spacious, immaculate wooden floors and many wall paintings with lotus flowers. Quiet Zen practice rooms and dharma rooms with beautiful and magnificent Buddha statues are on the third and fourth floors of the building. The building is also connected with a Korean hanok-style structure that provides relaxation space with a beautiful garden with various plants and shrubs.
Written by Kang Kyung-ah