in the heart and womb of the world’s suffering
Our attachment to form, which causes us to experience love and loss, is both noble and grievous. Grief can arise for many reasons; our bodies hold sorrow as well as joy. Perhaps we grieve for our world caught in the grip of a pandemic, or feel sorrow for the violation of a landscape, a special place in nature. Or perhaps our grief is closer to home: the loss of a child, parent, partner; the loss of hope or opportunity. Whether it is the loss of something we treasure or the death of a loved one, it leaves an absence – an empty chair, an empty crib, a desolate heart.
But while the feeling may be of emptiness, absence is not the same as emptiness, emptiness is the impermanence of everything. But emptiness is also form – form becoming empty as part of the universal process of change. In the face of suffering, we are called to meet ourselves in a naked, direct, and fearless fashion. This demands a radical questioning of ourselves and our reality, our most basic assumptions and preconceptions, and even the way we habitually see, hear, and sense the world.
Venerable Bom Hyon Sunim is from the Korean Zen tradition and is resident at the Korean Jong Bop Sa Temple in Sydney. Sunim relocated to Sydney in 2017, having lived in Victoria for the previous 8 years, where she was the resident teacher of the Bodhi Ahm Buddhist Centre and founded the Healthcare Chaplaincy program for the Buddhist Council. She is presently a PhD candidate at Western Sydney University and the Senior Buddhist Chaplain for the Australian Defence Forces – also Chairperson of the Australian Sangha Association (ASA).
Sunim conducts teachings and retreats and is active in interfaith, welcoming engagement with all who are spiritually and ecologically motivated to live in right relationship to the planet and all beings
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