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Anguk Zen Center opens in L.A.

Posted January. 24, 2022 08:00,   

Updated January. 24, 2022 08:00


On Jan. 9, there was a deep complete silence in Anguk Zen Center located in Los Angeles with any rustling sound non-existent. Knock, knock, knock. The sound of a bamboo clapper gave a break to Buddhists sitting in the lotus position. They took a deep breath out and relaxed their body.

Following Zen meditation, Monk Ungsan, the leader of the Zen center, gave believers a Buddhist lecture where he read out the Practice of Samanta-Bhadra and shared his personal experience.

Despite being only a small number of visitors on the premises, they were enthusiastic enough to add heat to the center. Founded in 2008, the Zen Center of Los Angeles started with a group of three believers. Although they had no monk to teach and get help from and their place for Buddhist ceremonies burned down to displace believers in 2015, they stayed dedicated to practice lessons of Buddha.

Inspired by their deep religious grits, Monk Subul took the initiative in buying a U.S. historical site to restore and get a Buddhist temple verified policy-wise for six years. Fortunately, final approval was given last December of usage of this facility as a Buddhist temple. Last summer, Monk Ugsan, a disciple of Monk Subul who served as chief monk of Daewoonsa Temple in Hamyang County, South Gyeongsang Province, was appointed to lead the center in Los Angeles.

This Zen meditation center is a rare Buddhist facility located overseas to follow four times of varssika a year – a Buddhist meditation period - with meditation at the core of operation. Until Feb. 27, the Zen center will maintain a varssika period for eight weeks by sharing religious lessons and moments of meditation with followers. It plans to open an overnight program aimed at young followers from nearby high schools and colleges.

“It is hard to practice Buddhism if you live overseas,” one of the early followers whose Buddhist name is Beogyeonseong at this center said. t feels like a dream that they can hold ceremonies in such an incredible space.” Another believer was happy that they are able to receive genuine lessons from monks, recalling the days when they had to rack their brains to figure out answers.

Monk Ungsan expressed his gratitude and sorry toward followers, saying, “What matters is to keep meditating while at home even though you are not available to come to this place. You may find it easy to visit any temple and meet monks in Korean. However, it is not the case here. I am grateful that believers have kept their belief amid difficulties since they left the country.”

Gab-Sik Kim dunanworld@donga.com