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Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way

There is an old saying that eagerness
is the most important thing for spiritual practitioners.
I think this is truly so.

By brother-initiate Kim, Youngdong Center, Korea
(originally in Korean)

When I decided to become a Buddhist monk many years ago, I was filled with great aspirations, hopes, and delight. I completed my training as a monk and began practicing Zen. After many years of effort, I attained peace of mind and moved along the path of spiritual practice. However, I felt no inner satisfaction and wondered if my master had been liberated from life and death or was able to guide us along the path to liberation. These thoughts made me confused in my practice, and after the master passed away, I became totally lost. A spiritual practitioner suffers the most when he does not have a firm belief in his practice.

To free myself from these empty feelings, I went to stay in a temple and worshipped sincerely and earnestly three times a day, and continued this practice for twenty years. It became a habit, and I felt no boredom or dislike for it. After expressing my heartfelt wish for the Truth through sincere worship, I found it was easier to practice spiritually.

However, after leading a normal life in the monastic order, I thought that as a practitioner, I was too weak. I felt that I was a shame to the Buddhist monks who seek the highest Truth. Throughout history, great practitioners have attained the Truth through sincere practice, while ignoring physical and other desires. I thought that I could not afford to waste a single second, and went to a temple that was suitable for devoted worship. I decided to chant and bow to the Buddhas in the ten directions for seven days, and practiced four times a day. Each bow was full of my deep wishes. My eagerness for the Truth increased day after day.

On the fourth day, after finishing practice at 10 PM, I felt listless and could hardly stand, but managed to get back to my room. In a half-awakened state, I saw the room shine with a brilliant light, and an old monk appeared and told me, "Recite the holy name of the Quan Yin Bodhisattva. Then you will get the Buddha's blessings." When I became fully awakened, I noticed that I was lying on my back and staring up at the ceiling. My extreme fatigue had vanished, and I felt light, comfortable, and fully recharged. All my drowsiness had gone. Thanks to the inner delight and appreciation I was experiencing, I practiced very sincerely for the remaining three days. I felt very light and happy on the way down from the mountain.

Twenty years passed and there was no change as I continued to lead an ordinary life. I decided to go on another retreat, perhaps the last in my spiritual life. I was determined to spend forty-nine days in retreat. Since I was over sixty, my physical condition was poor and my enthusiasm had also weakened; therefore, I dared not expect much progress. Nevertheless, I resolutely completed the seven-week retreat and decided to continue to practice all my life until I made some attainments.

Several days later, some monks and followers living nearby came for a visit. We talked about spiritual practice late into the night. When my guests were about to leave, I asked a follower, "What do you practice?" "The Quan Yin Method," he answered. I asked again, "Do you recite the name of the Quan Yin Bodhisattva?" His answer was unexpected: "I contemplate the inner Light and Sound." I then heard a brief introduction to Supreme Master Ching Hai. But not completely satisfied, I asked for details about the Method, and was told that I would know more only after initiation.

Although it was the first time that I had heard about the Quan Yin Method, my interest was greatly aroused, and I went to the Seoul Center to request initiation the very next day. I was encouraged by reading Master's books, and acquired twelve of them. While only halfway through the first volume of "The Key of Immediate Enlightenment," I heard inner Sound coming from all directions. I had never heard that kind of Sound before, but it was comfortable and pleasing to the heart. The more I read the book, the more I wanted to read. The book discussed the Light and Sound in detail. A person like me who had spent the greater part of his life practicing Zen and being brainwashed by Zen ideas tends to have little faith in teachings such as those of Master. But, after reading Her books for a couple of days, I felt that practicing this method was both right and feasible.

Finally, I received initiation, which was completed after midnight. When the new initiates were sharing their experiences, I felt impatient because I had had no experiences at all. I even wondered if something had not gone right at the initiation. At that time, everything was strange and I was nervous, so I did not even know if I had had an experience or not.

During group meditation the next day, Master came to see us. When She walked past me, I unconsciously stood up and bowed to Her. Master stopped and greeted me, looking at me for a while, compassionately and solemnly.

She joined us for the evening group meditation, and asked the South American initiates to come near Her. She touched their foreheads and heads, and I envied them very much and decided I could not miss the chance. I ran to the stage and waited for Her touch. As Master was leaving the stage, She patted my back three times and asked me to follow Her. It was very moving and touching. Through a translator, I said that I had not had any experiences during initiation. Master then touched my ears and forehead several times. She also taught me how to meditate on the Light. At that time, I felt that the old monk who had appeared to me 20 years ago was Master. I told Her about this experience and She responded with a smile and said "Thank you" in Korean.

After that, an enormous change occurred in my practice. I threw out my forty-year-long Zen practice and concentrated on the Quan Yin Method. It has been only two years since my initiation; however, great changes have come about for me both inwardly and outwardly. I feel satisfied and happy inside, and am more tolerant. I notice that I have improved greatly in dealing with the obstacles in my daily life, whether big or small. Each time I notice this, I thank Master very much for Her great Love. I am determined to attain the supreme Wisdom and help sentient beings. I think this is how I can reciprocate Her Love.


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