An Interview with Chief Dharma Master of Won USA Buddhism

- through Francois Leclercq

Published on

Fri. Juksanim. Image by Won Buddhism USA

Venerable Juksanim was officially appointed as the Chief Dharma Master of Won Buddhism USA on January 12, 2021. Sotaesan, the founder of Won Buddhism, emphasized the need for each country to have its own Chief Dharma Master. This is to ensure the effective dissemination of the teachings of Won Buddhism, adapted to the distinct cultural nuances of each nation. Reflecting this vision, in 1999, an amendment entitled "Overseas Headquarters" was incorporated into the Constitution of Won Buddhism. This change in structure legally permitted the appointment of a Chief Dharma Master in each country, thus contributing to the worldwide dissemination of the teachings of Won Buddhism.

Earned Buddhism teaches the dharma that should be practiced more in the era of a developed scientific civilization. In this sense, Won Buddhism as a living religion fits very well in the United States, where advanced science is developed and practicality is deeply valued.

(Fri. Juksanim)

Venerable Juksanim, leader of Won Buddhism in the United States, has a positive outlook on his future in America. He notes that many people are particularly drawn to Won Buddhism for its practical approach as a "living religion." Its teachings, which fit effortlessly into daily life, allow practitioners to immerse themselves in spiritual practices while harmoniously balancing work and family responsibilities, making them very appealing. He anticipates that the practical and accessible nature of Won Buddhism will continue to attract more interest and followers.

While there is a growing movement toward secularization, there is simultaneously a growing fascination with discovering inner peace and spirituality. This is evidenced by the growing number of people practicing meditation, highlighting a growing interest in spiritual practices in a secular landscape.

Fri. Juksanim observes this trend firsthand. Visitors to the Won Dharma Center include not only people with no religious affiliation, but also followers of various faiths. These individuals seek out the Meditation Center and attend Dharma services, undeterred by religious boundaries. For them, the benefit to their lives and mental well-being is paramount, regardless of religious context. “The fundamental purpose of religion is to facilitate transformation and provide assistance in people's lives. Founding Master Sotaesan emphasized the importance of accepting reality and the ways we can transform our current lives. The key to making a religion attractive lies in demonstrating the altruistic contributions that Won Buddhism can make to society and its individuals.

Fri. Juksanim. Image by Won Buddhism USA

Buddhism's headquarters in the United States regularly hosts meditation retreats, embodying the essence of the month-long meditation sessions practiced during Master Sotaesan's time. Fri. Juksanim elaborates: “These regular training sessions promote a conducive learning atmosphere and also provide an opportunity to reflect and realize the importance of Master Sotaesan's era, involving both laypeople and members. ordered. » He further states: “The journey of religious faith and practice is a series of experiences. Life changes are propelled by these experiences. Without them, a religion is lifeless.

Currently, Ven. Juksanim is dedicated to establishing a solid foundation for adapting Won Buddhist teachings to the American context. The goal is to develop a version of Won Buddhism that resonates with and is responsive to the unique cultural and environmental landscape of the United States, through independent and localized approaches.

In doing so, the emphasis is on reviving the spirit of Master Sotaesan's beginnings and the "soft power" of investing in culture and people. The essence of soft power lies in talent development. It is believed that even without a physical building, a single practitioner can fulfill the role of a temple wherever it is located.

There is a growing expectation that, under the leadership of Ven. Juksanim and the American Headquarters of Won Buddhism, the future of Won Buddhism will evolve into a version distinct from the established form of the last century, a version that truly embodies the original teachings of Master Sotaesan. Ordained practitioners who contribute to this vision are considered invaluable in shaping this new chapter of Won Buddhism.

Embarking on this significant historical path certainly implies a sense of responsibility. However, Ven. Juksanim views this responsibility positively, stating: “An appropriate amount of burden can transform into great energy. » He maintains that with the right level of challenge, the work advances effectively, and he remains undaunted, knowing that these teachings are intended for a global audience.

He emphasizes: “To lead a fulfilling life, one must deepen the understanding of the mind. » Further he says: “Just as we wake up every morning, the mind must also awaken to the truth, following a similar process. » He advocates “constantly seeking enlightenment and, through it, recognizing gratitude and grace as the keys to a truly enriched life.”

New Year's Message from Ven. Juksanim, Chief Dharma Master of Won USA Buddhism

Together, let us become living Buddhas by practicing the essential dharma of daily practice

New Year's morning dawned. My sincere wish is that peace, equality and happiness chart the path forward for humanity and all sentient beings. Last year, countless lives suffered great hardship due to wars, conflicts, poverty, disease and various disasters. However, behind this deep darkness, a bright dawn awaits us. Let us now move forward into a new life with renewed hope.

The Way is so vast and limitless that it transcends time and space. It is immutable, whether we are in action or at rest. Our lives exist in the truth of each moment, and every thought is a manifestation of faith. Each action is carried out without deviating from the Great Way. It is the timeless and placeless meditation of the triple practice. This is the true way to practice meditation in action and at rest.

This coming year, let's study and practice The essential dharmas of daily practice, which embody the essence of the teachings of Won Buddhism. Let us strive to attain the Great Way and become living Buddhas capable of incorporating the Great Way into our daily lives.

Sotaesan, the founding master of Won Buddhism said: “If one always practices with utmost sincerity, keeping one's mind free from being disturbed and deceived, while keeping one's mind free from all defilement, then, with this power, one will gain the ability to deliver even sentient beings from hell. By creating an affinity with the good dharma of the Buddhas, even once, a healthy seed for attaining Buddhahood is planted.

Let us take the first three articles of the Essential Dharma of daily practice and the motivating force of “Faith, Zeal, Inquiry and Devotion” as the guiding principles of our lives. This is the path that will lead to fruitful practice and success in everything we do. Let us live a life of gratitude, in harmony with all things, and make a Buddha offering to all beings. Let's live an independent life. Having a sense of public service, let us always be willing to learn and teach. This way of living will greatly benefit individuals, families, society and the world.

A time has come when the old world is disappearing and a new world is being built. Let us transform ourselves into true living practitioners whose lives are not separated from their daily practice.

By practicing the essential Dharma of daily practice, we can calm our mind, which is the source of the upheavals in the world. Let's cultivate a happy life and significantly extend our positive impact on the world. Together, let us all become living Buddhas, the pioneers who create a heaven on earth.

As winter deepens, as spring comes, I wish that the New Year unfolds for everyone like the warmth of the spring sun, melting the ice and bringing happiness to everyone.

Venerable Juksanim
Chief Dharma Master of Won USA Buddhism

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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