Where did Sunim go?

Last Saturday, my Zen teacher passed away. The night is thick with sadness.

Calling Sunim my teacher is, perhaps, imprecise. I never spent long periods under his guidance, as I've done with my training teacher. Sunim was more like a grandfather I visited once a year. A wise elder and great storyteller that I met when his strong character had already softened. Within the Sangha, however, Sunim was everyone's teacher, directly or indirectly, to our fortune and/or disgrace, intentionally or otherwise.

Reading about his passing was like a thunder crushing my bones. Sometimes, you wait until someone is gone to understand how important that someone was. That's human stupidity, I guess.

I'm not attending the ceremonies that follow for the same reason I have not been welcome in Canada for the last many months. Even some Canadians aren't allowed to get in/out their own country the last time I checked, but maybe that has changed. Anyway, I'm not Canadian.

How pathetic is to attend your teacher's funeral ceremony over ZOOM. That's the world we're all in now.

That Summer we bowed at each other on the temple's entrance will be our farewell. Sunim's face was always neutral. Even outside a retreat or any other formal setting, his face remained serious, solemn. However, he always smiled after the farewell formalities. The smile made those slanted eyes close as his slim lips uncover an imperfect denture. His smile was spontaneous, like the one of a child.

The last time I heard Sunim's voice was over the phone. The conversation was short as the Parkinson had heavily affected his ability to talk. The last thing he asked me was: When are you coming back?

As I'm jotting down some thoughts, my view through the small, rounded window is a horizon is full of white clouds. Nothing but clouds and sunlight.

In the introductory meditation course, the first thing that you learn is that our thoughts and feelings are like clouds, coming and going, incessantly. When we sit in meditation, our posture is like a mountain. Sometimes the peak of the mountain is covered by clouds. Have you seen a mountain being perturbed by the surrounding clouds?

#Personal #ZenBuddhism