When Zen Master Su Bong First Met Zen Master Seung Sahn
In 1975, a man called See Hoy Liau met Zen Master Seung Sahn in Los Angeles. See Hoy had been reading an enormous amount of Zen literature in an attempt to grasp the meaning of Buddhism and satisfy his yearning for a more purposeful life. His favorite book was The Platform Sutra by the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng, that told the story of how he got enlightenment. When Hui Neng heard “You should not abide in an object and give rise to thoughts”, he got enlightenment.
See Hoy wondered, “What is enlightenment and how do I get it? If I understand the same statement, then I also should get enlightenment.” He read the Platform Sutra over and over again but failed to apprehend the meaning of that passage. In one occasion, See Hoy asked Zen Master Seung Sahn, “In the Platform Sutra it tells how Hui Neng upon hearing a certain phrase got enlightenment.”
“Which one?” Zen Master asked.
See Hoy opened the book to the page, put it on the table in front of Zen Master and began to read out loud, underlining the words with his finger. “You should……”
Suddenly Zen Master slammed the book shut on See Hoy’s finger and said, “No more reading! Put it down!”
In a mild panic, See Hoy stuttered, “Then what can I do?” Zen Master replied, “Who are you?” See Hoy could not answer. There was a long silence. Zen Master finally said, “No more reading books. Only go straight, “What am I?”
See Hoy then decided to become Zen Master Seung Sahn’s student. He did not read a single Zen Book for eight years. In 1980, See Hoy became Mu Deung Sunim, the then Zen Master Su Bong.