“Top man cannot see his own karma”

In times past in Asia and during the spread of the dharma in the West, newly recognized Zen masters frequently went off on their own to practice and teach the dharma, often starting their own centers of teaching. One time I spoke with Zen Master Seung Sahn about this and asked him, “Why did you create teacher groups to oversee our school?” He said, “Top man cannot see his own karma.”

 I feel this is brilliant. Teachers working in groups as peers helps us to see our own karma and helps our practice and wisdom to grow. Teachers themselves—and thereby all students—benefit from this arrangement. During our lifetime, it has been possible to travel fairly easily, meet each other, share our experiences and practice, and get feedback from our peers. Students get to meet and study with different teachers of the same school. This situation is a treasure.

As we are experiencing during the current pandemic, traveling is not so easy now—in many cases, impossible. We are fortunate to still be able to connect digitally. Someday even that may not be possible. I hope we will continue to connect, support, share, and learn from each other while we can. This is one of the great strengths of our school and the practice and teaching which Zen Master Seung Sahn gave to us.

By Zen Master Dae Bong