ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our esteemed teacher, colleague, friend, and family member The Most Ven. Dr. Wonji Dharma - Thích Đức Hiền- (Paul Lynch).

Please honor Ven. Wonji by adding stories, photos, and memories to this memorial page. Click around the site and don't hesitate to contribute. It would bless us all to remember the small moments and the big moments together.


A video of the Forty-Nine Day Memorial Service can be viewed in Stories (tab above).
To download the program for the memorial service please visit this web page: https://www.lotusheartzen.org/wonjimemorial.html
Posted by Mike Ford on February 6, 2022
Sometimes we were like two ole guys sitting on the dock with our lines in the water with no bait on the hook. And still and still-- there was something to be caught—like dropping my crap and opening my heart, and not knowing and being called out on my bullshit and occasionally calling it out the other way.  Great Teacher. Great Friend. Great Brother. Sure--there is no life or death and I miss you. Love you man.
Posted by Douglas Gentile on February 6, 2022
There is a story that essentially goes this way:

As a young monk, Linji was trained by the Chan master Huangbo Xiyun (Huángbò Xīyùn; 黃蘗希運; Huang-Po Hsi-Yun). During his first three years at the temple, Linji was unnoticed by the master as he worked in the fields and the kitchen, meditated, and served the older monks. The head monk, Mu Chou, was impressed by Linji’s kindness and sincerity and wanted to bring him to the attention of the Master. Linji was so humble and sincere that he never asked questions or did anything to attract notice. The head monk advised Linji to go have an interview with the master directly. Linji said, “But I don’t know what I should say or ask him.” The head monk said, “You should ask him ‘Why did Bodhidharma come from the West?’” 

Linji went to the one-on-one interview and asked the question. Huang-Po picked up his Zen stick and whacked Linji hard. Linji ran from the room. He sought out Mu Chou, the head monk, asking what he had done wrong. Mu Chou said, “You should go ask him again.” 

Linji went again, bowing low out of respect for the Master, and asked again, “Why did Bodhidharma come from the West.” Huang-Po again struck him hard, sending Linji out crying. 

Linji went to the head monk and said, “I did exactly what you said. I was respectful and asked him just like you said and he hit me again! What the hell?!” Mu Chou nodded thoughtfully and said, “You should go ask him a third time.”

Linji went for a third interview and once again ran from the room in pain. He said, “That’s it! This place sucks – I’m leaving.” LInji packed up and left to find another temple. He ended up at Dàyú’s (大愚) monastery. Dayu asked to meet the new arrival, and when they met, Dayu asked, “Why did you leave your previous temple to come here?” Linji told him the story – after years of study and work, he finally asked the Master for instruction, but the Master just hit him! Three times!

Dayu looked at Linji. “What a kind old grandmother he was to you!”

---

When I first heard this story many years ago, I did not understand it in the least. I understand it now. Wonji was such a kind old grandmother to me from the first day I met him in 2015.

I had been studying Buddhism for decades, and it had brought many benefits, but no one had really been able to show it to me directly. Wonji was bombastic. He was iconoclastic. He was insulting to me. I’ve never been sworn at so much in my life by anyone (not even my ex-wife!). He was exactly what I needed.

In the six years I met with him weekly, we shared a loving friendship punctuated by him whacking me every time I needed it. In fact, there was only once where I felt he missed the mark. All other times, even if I couldn’t see it clearly at the time of the whacking, I saw how it was helpful shortly after. None of his outbursts were to make him feel better. They were always for my benefit. I will miss this, and do not know how I will ever find another teacher with such keen vision and clear understanding of me.

He missed our last scheduled meeting, which he never had previously. When I checked in again the next day to see how he was, his response was simply “All is good.” I have been puzzling over this response, given that in retrospect, it seems that it wasn’t. 

I once asked him why ZM Seung Sahn retreated from everyone for several days when one of his friends died, when he could have shared his grief with others at the center. Wonji said, “Because he knew he was always teaching.” 

I don’t know that Wonji felt he was always teaching, as many of our interactions were very personal or mundane. But I think the manner in which he died was a teaching. It feels personal to me. It also feels like a direct teaching from our tradition. The Buddha had many painful situations during his life. His cousin tried to murder him on three recorded occasions. He apparently died of food poisoning, a very painful death. Yet, details of how he handled many of these situations have come down to us. The Saklika Sutta, for example, says, “Excruciating were the bodily feelings that developed within him — painful, fierce, sharp, wracking, repellent, disagreeable — but he endured them mindful, alert, & unperturbed.”

The Buddha endured excruciating feelings mindful, alert, and unperturbed. Ven. Mazu said, “Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha.” Ven. Wonji said, “It’s all good.” 

These teachings can be misunderstood as a form of spiritual bypassing, of using sunyata as an excuse to try to not care. This is never what Wonji meant. It’s a profound and multi-layered (yet simple) teaching, especially in light of the excruciating pain that he was in for the last couple weeks of his life.

May we all awaken to our lives already in progress and serve all beings, as our Great Teacher did.

---

Ven. Minshim and I are planning to gather stories about Ven. Wonji and publish them as a book for the year anniversary of his death this December. Please contact me cheolsoengprajna (at) gmail.com if you would like to contribute.
Posted by Kevin Sheridan on February 6, 2022
This existence of ours is as transient as Autumn clouds.
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky.
Rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountain.
-- Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism

We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment, but it is transient. It is a little parenthesis in eternity. If we share with caring, lightheartedness and love, we will create abundance and joy for each other. And then the moment would have been worthwhile…
--Deepak Chopra

Thank you Wonji for all of the wonderful literature and helping me to a deeper understanding. May you continue on the path that is no path.

Ji Jang Bosal, Ji Jang Bosal, Ji Jang Bosal...

-Kevin (Hae Soeng)
Posted by Greg LeBlanc on February 6, 2022
Paul once told me that no one really dies if someone remembers them. He will be with us always, in our hearts and our memories. Dharma brother, teacher and friend. I will miss his friendship most of all, I still catch myself forgetting he is gone. I cannot encapsulate over 20 years of knowing you in so few words. Gone too soon, may you find rest and peace. Ji Jang Bosal.
Posted by Sam Bird on February 5, 2022
I cry today because my friend is gone. And I was not ready for him to go. I am sad today. Goodbye Wonji Dharma. Thank you for your ness. Never Give Up! Never Surrender! It's All Good! I am crying and laughing now. I love your being and not being. But I love your being more. So much love.
Posted by Valerie Grigg Devis on February 5, 2022
Thank you, Venerable Wonji, for your passionate scholarship & teaching. When I was the only one enrolled in your "Bodhidharma: The Man, The Myth" course, you gave me some memorable one-to-one lessons about the deeper meaning of the teachings. I think that we both connected over the depth of wisdom, as well as the humor, that we found in the lectures of Bodhidharma. I will think of you when I open those pages.  - Neaka Kaizen, Doctorate of Divinity Student, BDU
Posted by Dawn Burgess on February 2, 2022
I am grateful that Ven. Wonjii was there when I took my householder and oblate precepts. I am so glad that he supported and taught my own teacher, Laura Bonyon Neal. His work continues with her, and with me.
Posted by Miyo Wratten on February 2, 2022
I wish I had gotten the opportunity to have more conversations with Ven. Wonji. The one I did get to have when he visited our area of Central NY for the national retreat has left its mark - which I know is just a small taste of the mark he left on the lives of all his students, among whom is my guiding teacher.

In processing the news of Ven. Wonji’s passing, this quote from The Little Prince is something that came to mind as I reflected on one particular interaction with him that I was fortunate to have:

“When you look up at the night sky, because I will be living on one of them, because I will be laughing on one of them, that means that for you, it will be as though all the stars are laughing. You - you will have stars that know how to laugh!

And he (the little prince) laughed again.

And when you will be consoled (we are always consoled) you will be happy to have known me. You will always be my friend. You will feel like laughing with me.”

During a dinner at Red Samurai in New Hartford a little over two years ago, he related to me an experience of his from childhood. It was a story about riding a bike with his friends to a little store in California, run by a Japanese-American family at which he would buy this candy - Botan Candy - that he and his friends would then sit and eat. This candy is something that is of special significance in my childhood as well. My grandmother in Japan would include them in care packages she would lovingly send us from halfway around the world. We could buy them in Asian stores in Montreal where we lived until my late teens, but the ones that came from Japan were special - they were from Obaachan (grandma).

Perhaps what made Ven. Wonji’s story so significant to me, was this common thread of the candy. Or, perhaps it was his sharing of a significant childhood memory of his that touched me. Either way, Botan Candy, which I will now sometimes buy for my own children, has had a whole new layer of meaning for me. Each time I buy it, I now not only think of my obaachan, but also of Ven. Wonji.

I am grateful for all that Ven. Wonji’s corporeal manifestation has brought to all of us - whether we knew him well in person, or not. It is thanks to him that I have the Sangha in Oneida, NY that is my family. What an amazing gift!

For those who knew him well and love him, I hope the stars will laugh for you.

Deep bows,
Wanpung Devadipa

Posted by Joshua Paszkiewicz on January 30, 2022
My dear Seonsanim,
Thank you for everything. Words really can’t express the grief at your passing, and still, as you know, it’s all good. This is freedom. I’d wish you many happy returns, but for some reason, I suspect you don’t need them. So instead, simply beholding- ah yes! There “you” are, still teaching.

With the tears I know you too appreciate,
~Sunya
Posted by Laura Neal on January 30, 2022
Of course I would have to find a Rolling Stones tribute for my dear teacher--I think he would be disappointed if I did not. And this one resonates so strongly. I linked an audio version below, but for those who don't care to listen, maybe the words will resonate with you as well.

"No Expectations"

Take me to the station
And put me on a train
I've got no expectations
To pass through here again

Once I was a rich man
Now I am so poor
But never in my sweet short life
Have I felt like this before

Your heart is like a diamond
You throw your pearls at swine
And as I watch you leaving me
You pack my peace of mind

Our love was like the water
That splashes on a stone
Our love is like our music
It's here, and then it's gone

So take me to the airport
And put me on a plane
I got no expectations
To pass through here again

Posted by Laura Neal on January 30, 2022
https://youtu.be/URyqGD99Owg
For my dear teacher, who would surely understand.
Posted by Thomas Pastor on January 27, 2022
Wonji Dharma,
Life long friend, giftedly articulate, exquisite zen teacher,
personal confidant to many, generous with all his resources, music lover, plain spoken at every level of exchange, unassuming nature, unique sense of humor, exceedingly mature intellect, sensitive to all suffering beings. My dear friend was a living example for all of us of the profound Buddhist aspiration:
Great Love, Great Compassion, Great Bodhissatva Way.
I will miss you Paul for the rest of my days. 
Posted by Sharon Esters on January 25, 2022
I miss you and I especially miss the times of being together that will never happen now. I am grateful for the many, many hours that we got to talk and discuss and share even though they weren't face to face. You are gone too soon. I love you Paul...and I know that you know that. 
Posted by Mary Ann Marston on January 25, 2022
You will always have a special place in my heart and memory. In the short time  I knew you there were many laughs we shared along with your teachings. To this very day I cannot look at a candlestick without seeing and hearing you laugh. I wish you well on your journey, till we meet again...Rev Anwal Devadipa
Posted by Ven. Myogyeong Prajna on January 25, 2022
I met Ven. Wonji in 2011 after an acquaintance, who studied with him at the time, referred me to him. I had no idea then that in the decade, this man was going to literally change my life in the most profound way possible with his wisdom and his uncompromising honesty, with the way in which he fully enjoyed the things in life that he truly loved, with his trust that I could be of service to others… but more than anything, with the loving friendship that he blessed me with for ten years.

Ven. Wonji helped me awaken not only by introducing me to the formal dharma of sutras and koans, but also the Dharma in music (he was the only other Joni Mitchell devotee bigger than me, hehe,) in literature and in every other form of art, the Dharma in nature, and so much more. Through the countless hours that we spent meeting each week (mostly on Zoom) for ten years, he expanded my view of the world and of life like a rising sun over a dark horizon. I feel so fortunate that our life paths crossed.

I am in mourning not only of my Dharma teacher, but even more, of my best friend in life. Every week, when I come across something new online that fills me with joy or wonder, I still catch myself thinking how I can’t wait until I share it with Ven. Wonji next Friday afternoon… and then I remember. Nevertheless, I carry with me the lesson he taught me: to allow myself to love life intensely. This is how, deep in my heart, I get to feel that I’m still sharing with him every new thing I discover that keeps my heart open, curious, and tender.

To the memory of my teacher, and dearest friend, Ven. Wonji Dharma, with all my love and infinite gratitude. I will miss him terribly everyday of my life.

—Ven. Myogyeong Prajna
Posted by Jinsim Hyoenjin on January 25, 2022
Great Teacher, we are so grateful for all your teachings of Dharma, life, and love. You helped us see the beauty of every leaf, every flower, and every moment that surrounds us. Your legacy will live on in us as we pass along to others the Truth you have revealed. "It's all good!"
Posted by Olias Lynch on January 23, 2022
I love you Pops and forever will remember you!!!

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Mike Ford on February 6, 2022
Sometimes we were like two ole guys sitting on the dock with our lines in the water with no bait on the hook. And still and still-- there was something to be caught—like dropping my crap and opening my heart, and not knowing and being called out on my bullshit and occasionally calling it out the other way.  Great Teacher. Great Friend. Great Brother. Sure--there is no life or death and I miss you. Love you man.
Posted by Douglas Gentile on February 6, 2022
There is a story that essentially goes this way:

As a young monk, Linji was trained by the Chan master Huangbo Xiyun (Huángbò Xīyùn; 黃蘗希運; Huang-Po Hsi-Yun). During his first three years at the temple, Linji was unnoticed by the master as he worked in the fields and the kitchen, meditated, and served the older monks. The head monk, Mu Chou, was impressed by Linji’s kindness and sincerity and wanted to bring him to the attention of the Master. Linji was so humble and sincere that he never asked questions or did anything to attract notice. The head monk advised Linji to go have an interview with the master directly. Linji said, “But I don’t know what I should say or ask him.” The head monk said, “You should ask him ‘Why did Bodhidharma come from the West?’” 

Linji went to the one-on-one interview and asked the question. Huang-Po picked up his Zen stick and whacked Linji hard. Linji ran from the room. He sought out Mu Chou, the head monk, asking what he had done wrong. Mu Chou said, “You should go ask him again.” 

Linji went again, bowing low out of respect for the Master, and asked again, “Why did Bodhidharma come from the West.” Huang-Po again struck him hard, sending Linji out crying. 

Linji went to the head monk and said, “I did exactly what you said. I was respectful and asked him just like you said and he hit me again! What the hell?!” Mu Chou nodded thoughtfully and said, “You should go ask him a third time.”

Linji went for a third interview and once again ran from the room in pain. He said, “That’s it! This place sucks – I’m leaving.” LInji packed up and left to find another temple. He ended up at Dàyú’s (大愚) monastery. Dayu asked to meet the new arrival, and when they met, Dayu asked, “Why did you leave your previous temple to come here?” Linji told him the story – after years of study and work, he finally asked the Master for instruction, but the Master just hit him! Three times!

Dayu looked at Linji. “What a kind old grandmother he was to you!”

---

When I first heard this story many years ago, I did not understand it in the least. I understand it now. Wonji was such a kind old grandmother to me from the first day I met him in 2015.

I had been studying Buddhism for decades, and it had brought many benefits, but no one had really been able to show it to me directly. Wonji was bombastic. He was iconoclastic. He was insulting to me. I’ve never been sworn at so much in my life by anyone (not even my ex-wife!). He was exactly what I needed.

In the six years I met with him weekly, we shared a loving friendship punctuated by him whacking me every time I needed it. In fact, there was only once where I felt he missed the mark. All other times, even if I couldn’t see it clearly at the time of the whacking, I saw how it was helpful shortly after. None of his outbursts were to make him feel better. They were always for my benefit. I will miss this, and do not know how I will ever find another teacher with such keen vision and clear understanding of me.

He missed our last scheduled meeting, which he never had previously. When I checked in again the next day to see how he was, his response was simply “All is good.” I have been puzzling over this response, given that in retrospect, it seems that it wasn’t. 

I once asked him why ZM Seung Sahn retreated from everyone for several days when one of his friends died, when he could have shared his grief with others at the center. Wonji said, “Because he knew he was always teaching.” 

I don’t know that Wonji felt he was always teaching, as many of our interactions were very personal or mundane. But I think the manner in which he died was a teaching. It feels personal to me. It also feels like a direct teaching from our tradition. The Buddha had many painful situations during his life. His cousin tried to murder him on three recorded occasions. He apparently died of food poisoning, a very painful death. Yet, details of how he handled many of these situations have come down to us. The Saklika Sutta, for example, says, “Excruciating were the bodily feelings that developed within him — painful, fierce, sharp, wracking, repellent, disagreeable — but he endured them mindful, alert, & unperturbed.”

The Buddha endured excruciating feelings mindful, alert, and unperturbed. Ven. Mazu said, “Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha.” Ven. Wonji said, “It’s all good.” 

These teachings can be misunderstood as a form of spiritual bypassing, of using sunyata as an excuse to try to not care. This is never what Wonji meant. It’s a profound and multi-layered (yet simple) teaching, especially in light of the excruciating pain that he was in for the last couple weeks of his life.

May we all awaken to our lives already in progress and serve all beings, as our Great Teacher did.

---

Ven. Minshim and I are planning to gather stories about Ven. Wonji and publish them as a book for the year anniversary of his death this December. Please contact me cheolsoengprajna (at) gmail.com if you would like to contribute.
Posted by Kevin Sheridan on February 6, 2022
This existence of ours is as transient as Autumn clouds.
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky.
Rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountain.
-- Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism

We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment, but it is transient. It is a little parenthesis in eternity. If we share with caring, lightheartedness and love, we will create abundance and joy for each other. And then the moment would have been worthwhile…
--Deepak Chopra

Thank you Wonji for all of the wonderful literature and helping me to a deeper understanding. May you continue on the path that is no path.

Ji Jang Bosal, Ji Jang Bosal, Ji Jang Bosal...

-Kevin (Hae Soeng)
his Life

Hwangap Speech - July 16th 2017

Hwangap Speech
July 16th 2017
by Most Ven. Dr. Wonji Dharma
to say my life
is a great mistake,
What is life and what is death? What is young and what is old? An Ancient Master once said, “I was never born, so I will never die!” What is the meaning of this?
HIT the Zen Stick!
HÈ!
to think this is mine
is pure delusion,
We come into this world empty-handed, we go out of this world empty-handed. We delude ourselves into thinking that the things of this world are permanent, we want so much to keep our stuff. What is the source of our desire?
HÈ!
to want something
is only a thought,
Our thinking is non-stop, it bounces around like monkeys playing in the trees. We believe something, and then we stop believing it and replace it with another inadequate thought. What is thinking then?
HIT the Zen Stick!
Shouting into a gale-force wind!
to believe in an ideology
is a human’s folly,
We join a group and change our opinions, then we jump on Facebook to expound the way to all our friends. After this, we rigidly argue with those who even slightly oppose us. Why do we do this?
HIT the Zen Stick!
We are like amoebas dreaming we are Gods.
to make something
is what we do for entertainment,
Face it, we aren’t content with who and what we are; so we attempt to change ourselves or the world to adapt to our views. What would we do if we just stayed to ourselves?
HIT the Zen Stick!
Start on the path towards realizing ourselves.
So, Hwangap means roughly, Beginning Again or Returning to the Source. It is traditionally our opportunity to set the slate clean or go off in a new direction if we like. I have found from my 32 years of attempting to discover the source of my dissatisfaction, that it always ended up coming from me, even when I so much wanted it to come from others.
During these 60 years, here on this planet, the one constant throughout my time has been change. Nothing remains static for very long, one door closes and others open, always seemingly at the right time. Also, I have noticed there have been seemingly strange interconnections between the people who have entered and exited my life.
Mostly what I have learned over the years, is what not to do. This may sound too simplistic, yet our lives are one continuous mistake. We make mistake, after mistake, after mistake. We take the Bodhisattva Vows to always correct any wrong that we may do in life, this vow is continuous, just like our mistakes. So, instead of rambling on about my life, which is now just a vague memory, I thought I’d talk about what it means to be alive. In my ongoing research, I came across an article on the regrets of dying people which I’d like to share with you now.
1. We wish we hadn’t made decisions based on what other people think
When we make our decisions based on other people’s opinions, two things tend to happen. We make unexamined choices. There are many of us out there who studied for a degree we regret or even spend our lives pursuing a career we regret. Whether we are seeking parental approval or pursuing pay and prestige over passion, making poor life choices are decisions that will live with us until we wake up.
We also may fail to uphold our mores. When we get too caught up in what our boss thinks of us, how much money we think our spouse needs to be happy, or how inept we will look if we fail, we are at risk of violating our own mores. Our intense desire to make ourselves look good compromises our ability to stay true to our aspirations and, ultimately, to realize equanimity.
Lǎozi said, “If we seek for the approval of others, we become their prisoner.” The best way to avoid falling victim to the opinions of others is to realize that other people’s opinions are just that — opinions, and also that our own opinions are just that — opinions. Regardless of how great or terrible we think we are, that is only our opinion. Our true self-worth comes from realizing our true selves.
2. We wish we hadn’t worked so rigidly
Working rigidly maybe is a prodigious way to impact the world, to learn, to grow, to feel accomplished, and sometimes even to find happiness, yet this becomes a problem when we do so at the expense of the people closest to us. Ironically, we often work hard to make money for the people we care about without realizing that they value our company more than money.
The key is to find a balance between doing what we love and being with the people we love. Otherwise, we will look back one day and wish we had focused more on the latter.
3. We wish we had expressed their feelings openly
We are taught as children that emotions are dangerous and that they must be bottled up and controlled. This usually works at first, and boxing up our feelings causes them to grow until they erupt. The best thing we can do is to put our feelings directly on the table. Though it’s painful to initiate, this forces us to be honest and transparent with ourselves and others.
4. We wish we had stayed in touch with our friends
When we get caught up in our weekly routine, it is easy to lose sight of how important people are to us, especially those we have to make time for. Relationships with old friends are among the first things to fall off the table when we’re busy. This is unfortunate because spending time with friends is a major stress buster. Close friends bring us energy, fresh perspectives, and a sense of belonging, in a way that no one else can.
5. We wish we had allowed ourselves to be content
When our life is about to end, all the difficulties we have faced will suddenly become trivial compared to the good times. This is because we realize that, more often than not, dissatisfaction is a choice. Unfortunately, most of us realize this far too late.
Although we all inevitably experience pain, how we react to our pain is completely under our control, as is our ability to experience joy. Learning to laugh, smile, and be content (especially when stressed) is a challenge at times, but it’s one that’s worth every ounce of effort.
Bringing it all together
Some decisions have repercussions that can last a lifetime. Most of these decisions are made daily, and they require focus and perspective to keep them from haunting us. So, how do we address our lives in this moment? What can we do, starting right this very moment to change our direction? Years ago, when my mother was diagnosed with spinal cancer, I began to look into this, so that I might share it with my family as well as transform the way I experience the world. They are essentially five precepts for living.
The first precept is: Welcome everything, push away nothing.
My first Zen teacher Seung Sahn Dae Jong Sa was quite fond of saying, “Put it all down,” which was his way of saying “welcome everything, push away nothing.” In Zen, we also say things like; “live in the moment” or “be mindful.” Pema Chödron, who is a teaching lineage holder of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, says it from the opposite perspective, “Abandon all hope.” This means to give up our ideas that things will change other than what they are. Abandon the idea that the outcome of a given situation is other than what it is, right now. Face this life with full awareness. Suzuki Rōshi once said something to the effect of: “it’s like going to a restaurant for lunch, and when your lunch is served you say to yourself, ‘I shouldn't have come to this restaurant, I should have gone to some other restaurant. This restaurant is not so good.’ The truth of this situation is that we can only be here now. I still have a little card my first psychology professor gave me from a class on “transactional analysis” I took in 1980 which says, “Even if you don’t like the way it is, it still is the way it is.”
Bring your whole self to the experience.
This means to live our lives with our whole bodies and souls. To be completely present and to pay attention to ourselves as much as we pay attention to others. We have to feel ourselves in each situation, feel our own tension, our own fear, our own apprehension. We need to love ourselves in each moment, especially in times of stress and anxiety. If we pay attention to our inner self we can relax into the moment and it will be easier to be present.
Don’t wait.
Waiting implies something is going to happen by itself. It also implies that perhaps it can be done in the future. The reality that Buddha taught was that the only moment we have is now. Krishnamurti, who was one of the greatest sages of the twentieth century, talked a lot about this point. He said, “We delude ourselves in thinking that we can change some behavior in the future. It is through our discursive thinking that change can happen in the future. The only moment we have to change anything is now.”
Find the place of rest, in the middle of things.
This means that we must find that place of calm in the middle of the storm. The storm of our lives, the storm of work, the storm of getting our kids ready for school, the storm of someone who is close to us that is dying. It means that within each activity we can find a place of peace and then we can see the truth for what it is.
Cultivate don’t know mind.
Suzuki Roshi called this beginner's mind. In the mind of the beginner, possibilities are endless, in the mind of the expert, possibilities are few. An ancient once said, “Not knowing is most intimate.” This is being here without expectation or idea. This is our essential practice.
to be present
is what the Buddha taught,
So, what is being present this very moment?
HIT the Zen Stick!
I am speaking in a room with many friends and associates.
to have everyday mind
is what Nánquán expressed,
So, what is everyday mind?
HIT the Zen Stick!
My speech is almost done.
to only not know
is the way of Dahui,
So, what is not knowing?
HIT the Zen Stick!
Before the big bang, what existed?
so what is your way
of seeing clearly in this moment?
HIT the Zen Stick!
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About Ven. Wonji Dharma

Ven. Dr. Wonji Dharma is a Mahāsthavira in the Lam Te Thíen tradition and a Brahmajala Monk in the Kwan Um Jong tradition; additionally, he is a Zen Teacher and the Founder - Guiding Teacher of the Five Mountain Zen Order as well as the Chancellor of Buddha Dharma University.  

Ven. Wonji was ordained by Zen Master Seung Sahn as a Dharma teacher in 1995, as a Senior Dharma Teacher in 2001 and as a Brahmajala Monk in 2002. He received teaching authorization from Zen Master Ji Bong, in the Golden Wind Zen Order in April 2006. Wonji additionally received the 250 Bhikṣu vows on November 1, 2012, with Bhante Suhita Dharma (Hòa Thượng Thích Ân Đức), who was the first Dharma Heir of the Hòa Thượng Dr. Thiên Ân. Unfortunately, Bhante died suddenly on Dec. 28, 2013, in Los Angeles at Chùa Diệu Pháp Temple in San Gabriel, California, where he resided. He was 73. Following the agreement made with Bhante Suhita Dharma to study for at least five years under a Thien Master, on July 15, 2014, Wonji was accepted as a student of Ven. Thích Ân Giáo Roshi who was Bhante Suhita's Dharma Brother and close friend. Wonji is studying the intricacies of monastic practice and life from Ven. Ân Giáo.

History

Ven. Wonji originally began practicing Advaita Vedānta as well as Vipassana Meditation in 1985 with Swami Chaitanya Siraj and took refuge vows with his teacher that same year. Swami Chaitanya Siraj had studied with Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho) in his Indian Ashram for many years and was designated as a teacher in Osho's lineage; additionally, Siraj's path of teaching was wide and open to all of the Wisdom Traditions. 

Ven. Wonji's direction has been informed by Zen since his College days of studying Psychology. Wanting to experience the direct experience of koan study he eventually discovered Zen Master Seung Sahn and the Kwan Um School of Zen in 1989 and began practicing regularly at Dharma Zen Center in Los Angeles. After practicing and training at Dharma Zen Center for five years he received sanction and encouragement from Zen Master Seung Sahn to open the Huntington Beach Zen Center on August 14, 1993, where Wonji was installed as Abbot by Zen Master Seung Sahn during the Opening Ceremony.

The Huntington Beach Zen Center was renamed one year later at the first-anniversary ceremony by Zen Master Seung Sahn to Ocean Eyes Zen Center (Hae An Soen Won).  The center was originally founded as a residential Zen Center where up to six students lived and practiced together every morning and every evening. The Zen Center eventually moved to Stanton and later to the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach where it remained until the center was forced to close and relocate to a non-residential Center in 2000 due to zoning issues with the City of Long Beach. 

He has practiced with more than thirty different Zen Buddhist masters, as well as several Transmitted Catholic Zen masters during his studies and consequently maintains an eclectic approach to spirituality. Wonji earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Cal State Long Beach, he also holds a Master of Dharma Degree in Buddhist Psychology and a Doctor of Dharma in Buddhist Psychology from the Buddhist Studies Institute of Los Angeles. When the outgoing President and Abbot of both the Buddhist Studies Institute of Los Angeles and the International Buddhist Meditation Center of Los Angeles stepped down and retired Ven. Karuna Dharma, the previous President of the College, turned over control to the Five Mountain Zen Order. Ven. Wonji currently resides at Desert Zen Center - Chua Thien An, Lucerne Valley, CA.

Ven. Wonji was ordained by Zen Master Seung Sahn as a Dharma teacher in 1996, as a Senior Dharma Teacher in 2001 and as a Brahmajala Monk in 2002. He received teaching authorization from Zen Master Ji Bong, in the Golden Wind Zen Order in April 2006. Wonji additionally received the 250 Bhikṣu vows on November 1, 2012, with Bhante Suhita Dharma (Hòa Thượng Thích Ân Đức), who was the first Dharma Heir of the Hòa Thượng Dr. Thiên Ân. Unfortunately, Bhante died suddenly on Dec. 28, 2013, in Los Angeles at Chùa Diệu Pháp Temple in San Gabriel, California, where he resided. He was 73. Following the agreement made with Bhante Suhita Dharma to study for at least five years under a Thien Master, on July 15, 2014, Wonji was accepted as a student of Ven. Thích Ân Giáo Roshi who was Bhante Suhita's Dharma Brother and close friend. Wonji is studying the intricacies of monastic practice and life from Most Ven. Dr. Thich Ân Giáo.

Ven. Dr. Wonji Dharma has written 14 books:
  • Beyond Conceptual Thought, – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • Cold Heart Thawing, Poetry  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • Peering Through the Clouds,  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • Circling a Black Hole, Poetry  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • The Barrier That Has No Gate, Wu Men Guan,  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • Blue Cliff Record, Bìyán Lù,  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • Wu Shan Lu, Five Mountain Record, a collection of Kōans,  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • The Dharmaguptaka Bhikṣu Pratimoksha,  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • Clear Instruction for the Five Mountains Volume One – Vinaya,  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • Clear Instruction for the Five Mountains Volume Two – Chàn Liturgy,  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • Clear Instruction for the Five Mountains Volume Three – Chàn Forms  – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • Clear Instruction for the Five Mountains Volume Three – Chàn Ceremonies, – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • The Bodhidharma Lectures, – Buddha Dharma University Press
  • It’s All Good! the Zen Teachings of Wonji Dharma, – Buddha Dharma University Press
Recent stories

Forty-Nine Day Memorial Service - February 6, 2022 6:00 PM EST

Shared by Five Mountain Zen on February 7, 2022
Forty-Nine Day Memorial Service for Ven. Dr. Wonji Dharma-Paul Lynch
February 6, 2022
6:00 PM EST
Lotus Heart Zen Oneida, NY
Program can be downloaded from this webpage: https://www.lotusheartzen.org/wonjimemorial.html

Ven. Geungsahn Jishou - Officiant
Ven. Myohye Do'an - Chanting Leader
Rev. Anwol - Abbot
Rev. Anjin - Priest
Sr. Wanp'ung - Technical assistant

Music: Hejira by Joni Mitchell
Shared by Five Mountain Zen on January 23, 2022
Always remember in our lives, we have no cause to blame the egg for not being a chicken, and vice versa we cannot condemn chickens for not being eggs.
~ Wonji

the meaning of thanksgiving

Shared by Five Mountain Zen on January 23, 2022
we aspire in this lifetime
to embody the love and compassion
of Avalokiteśvara.
we take many vows
along this path
only to ignore them
or not break them knowingly.
without intending to do harm
we also do much harm indeed,
for we live in this house
of frailty and impermanence.
the reason we give pause
and rest in our appreciation,
is that others have helped us
along this path,
with love, support, guidance
and most of all unconditional compassion.
family and friends who walk
this crooked path together,
point out the potholes
and sharp turns to protect us.
may we all rejoice in our family
of seven billion people today,
and know that each one of us
is special, and deserving
of the same love that we aspire towards.
~ Wonji Dharma