Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Bus to Enlightenment

The following is an interview my teacher and friend the Venerable Doshim Dharma.  I would like to thank him for taking the time to share some of his personal insights into Korean Buddhism, and his dream of starting the first mobile mediation center in the western hemisphere the Buddha bus

What first brought you to the practice of Zen?
Suffering, the general unhappiness that the Buddha identified as the mark of life--dukkha.

How did you find the right teacher?
I've had several teachers, but I realized that Seonsanim Paul Lynch was the right teacher for me because he never tried to impose and one form of practice on me. He trusted the teaching process and me as a student. I felt a genuine respect from him.

Why have you chosen Kwan Um rather than Soto or Rinzai  Zen?
I've practiced in Soto and a Soto-koan hybrid known as Sanbo Kyodan before I met Zen Master Seung Sahn's approach. There is just a genuine directness about his approach, his koan method, that can wake you up instantaneously. 

What motivated you to become a Zen Teacher?
Perhaps it's because I'm a classroom teacher, which affects the way you look at life, literature, and situations. Asking myself, "How could I teach that?" comes naturally. I also have a huge appreciation for the gift of the Buddhadharma, and consider it almost a tragedy not to share it. The Dharma has helped me so much, so becoming a teacher and devoting my life to the Dharma is like paying the debt back. It's the least I can do. 

Have there been any unexpected surprises or challenges to being a Zen teacher?
 Every week there's a new challenge. Between delivering Dharma talks, meeting new students, engaging students in interview, and teaching koans, a teacher has his or her hands full. It's really a dynamic and exciting responsibility. 

Where did the idea for the Buddha bus come from?
 I've been mulling over opening a Zen Center for a couple of years now, but it's really an enormous undertaking--utility bills, repairs, renovations, etc. It all adds up, and makes a sangha beholden to the almight dollar. So my father-in-law thought up the Buddha Bus. And the rest is history!

Why a mobile Zen center rather a stationary one?
 There are many advantages to a Buddha Bus versus a Zen Center. It's more reasonably priced, can move to meet people from around all of central New Jersey, and doesn't require the financial commitment to upkeep it. Plus, it's damn cool!

Do you have a target demographic that the Buddha bus is geared towards?
 Anyone who can meet us in a parking lot or park.

Can you describe to me this vision that you have for the Buddha bus?
Basically a mobile Dharma Center that can allows us, the sangha, to bring the Buddha's teachings others. Inside, we will sit and meditate, listen to a Dharma talk, and maybe, if space allows, practice walking meditation.

Has anyone told you they think your crazy for starting the Buddha bus project?
 At first, people give me a strange look, but as times passes and the idea settles, it grows on them.

Once you have the first Buddha bus on the road do you have any plans for a fleet of Buddha buses?
 Not yet, but that would be great. Maybe we could convert a bus into an RV with beds, bathroom, and kitchen. This way we could do retreats with the two buses together--one for meditation, the other for sleeping. 

I would like to give you a koan "Why did the Buddha bus go from the east coast to west?
"Beep beep!" Or better yet, "Hop on board!"

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
 Wake up and then save all sentient beings.

Make sure to check out thebuddhabus.com

Thanks for stopping by
El Dharmarado