Spending fifteen years as the first Patriarch of the Jogye-san Monastic Compound (Jogye Chongnim) headquartered in Songgwang-sa, Master Kusan devoted much his life’s energy to propagating Buddhism, through such activities as the founding of the Bulil International Seon Center. Directly and indirectly, some fifty of his disciples from both Korea and abroad are spreading the teachings of Korean Seon Buddhism around the world.
Master Kusan was born December 17, 1909, in a small village in Mt. Jirisan in Namwon, Jeollabuk-do province, Korea. At the age of 14, after his father’s sudden death, he took over management of his father’s barber shop and family affairs. At 25, after coming down with an unknown illness, his moans of agony were interrupted by the words of a wandering Buddhist ascetic. “The body is the mind’s reflection. Since the seat of one’s original nature is pure, where can disease take root?” Hearing these words gave Kusan a sudden awakening. At that moment he decided to head to Yeongwonsa Monastery on Mt. Jirisan, to take part in a 100-day practice of devotion to the Bodhisattva Gwaneum (Kuan Yin).
With his disease cured during the 100 days of prayer, Kusan decided to be ordained into the sangha. In 1937 at the age of 28, he received the precepts to become a novice monk at Songgwangsa Monastery from Master Hyobong.
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Categories: Biography, Buddhist, Chan / Seon / Zen, Kusan Sunim, Martine Batchelor