On Sunday, May 17 the Ven. Myong-Ahn, Duhk-Song, Mooh-Sans Sunim, and members of Soshima Zen Center traveled from New Jersey to the Buddha Birthday Celebration at Baek Lim Sa (White Forest Zen Monastery) in Summitville, New York. Baek Lim Sa was founded by Zen Master and Abbot Ven. Gae San Hye-Seon Sunim in 1979 and is intimately associated with Soshimsa Zen Center. Ven. Inl-Cho Dosanim (Shim Hyok-Kun) was instrumental in the development of Baek Lim Sa and all three SZC Sunims trained there, to varying degrees.
Traveling north, the dense suburban sprawl of central New Jersey
gradually changes to the lush, green hills and rural townships and
villages of upstate New York. Nearing our destination, we left
behind the world of the mundane and everyday, ascending a road to the
summit of an unnamed mountain to reach the 180-acre monastery. A bright
sun in a clear blue sky illuminated magnificent statues of Buddha in
meditation and sleeping lion's posture, and the mountain air was crisp
and clean. We then walked up the sloping, paved path to the ornate,
hand-painted temple constructed in traditional Korean architectural
style. Lanterns celebrating the Buddha swayed gently in a light breeze.
interior of the temple is beautifully appointed with statues of Buddha,
Kwanseum Bosal, and Jijang Bosal, and there are many other artifacts
too numerous to mention. Roughly one hundred parishioners were in
attendance for the services. Two short orations in English were also
included, followed by a Dharma talk by Abbot Ven. Hye-Seon Sunim. Following
services, a stately procession of sunims and worshippers walked slowly in front of the temple, passing a statue of Baby Buddha, which one could bathe ceremonially.
A repast consisting of miso soup, rice, shredded carrots,
bean sprouts, spicy bean paste, kim chi, rice cake, watermelon, and tea
was served to guests. A few then tackled the hiking trail through the
peaceful woods, passing gazebos, sculpture, and rock pagodas, ascending to the
stupa enshrining the relics of the Buddha, and finally returning to the
Soshimsa Zen Center offered to aid Baek Lim Sa in
development of English language programs. The offer was greeted with
warm enthusiasm from Ven. Hye-Seon Sunim. English Sunday
programs are soon to begin headed by our very own Abbot who will be
traveling to Baek Lim Sa a few Sundays per month. More details will follow.