About Kwan Um School of Zen
The Kwan Um School of Zen is based upon the tradition of Korean Zen Buddhism. The school was founded in 1983 by Zen Master Seung Sahn. The name of the school is derived from the Korean name for the bodhisattva of compassion, Kwan Seum Bosal—“One Who Hears The Cries of The World”. Kwan Um literally means “Perceive World Sound”—meaning compassion towards every single being.
It is an expression for the direction of Zen practice: attain enlightenment and help all beings. By the insight of meditation we cultivate vigilance, ability to be fully present in every action or thought. Meditation is about gradual awakening—it helps us see what is happening in this moment.
On the meditation cushion we learn how to keep our energy simply where it is, without suppressing it or surrendering to it. We learn how to relax amidst chaos, not to lose it, not to get stuck, but to totally open our heart and mind. By sincere and regular practice we gain a broad, more generous and enlightened world view in the middle of the challenges of daily life. Zen centers of the Kwan Um School of Zen can be found in many countries worldwide. Their main goal is to make the practice of Zen Buddhism available to all people of different religions, ages, educations, nationalities—to all who find interest in meditation practice.
Zen centers also offer the opportunity to live in a community that shares meditation practice together—sitting meditation, sutra chanting, bowing and kong an interviews with the teacher. Meditation practice helps the practitioners to find answers to questions regarding the meaning of life, their direction, and it helps them to be free and awake in every moment, every situation. People that live in the Zen center learn how to live in harmony with others, how to face the challenges and difficulties that come up when living together, and learn to be attentive to the needs of others and help each other.
These practices are the heart of meditation. They have different effects on the mind when they are practiced.