Sunday, December 18, 2011

Master Won Hyo and the Moral Issue

You can refer to the full story of the ancient Korean Zen Master Won Hyo at various links such as this :

When I was at Mu Sang Sa, there was a wall painting of this ancient master. I was briefed by Zen Master Dae Bong on his story. I forgot exactly what I asked but think I asked ZM Dae Bong after that whether one has to go through this process of breaking through good and bad in order to reach the great perfect enlightenment. Perhaps he knew what was in my mind and immediately emphasised that Master Won Hyo did the right thing to disrobe after that and never went back to the brothel. ZM Dae Bong then said he lived in Paris at one time and Paris is a very romantic country with many pretty girls. He also had a girl friend once. And he is still a monk. His point being not every once attaining enlightenment need to go have sex at the brothel or with another woman. 

Wall Painting of Master
Won Hyo at Mu Sang Sa
And I must add that I realise yesterday that the woman that Won Hyo had sex with was a prostitute. Although I found out that he also had sex with a princess and had a son from the relationship after he disrobed, the fact was that Won Hyo was specifically led to having sex by his master. He did not go to the brothel girl out of his own desires. His master saw his ability to led hell beings and that led him to committing actions that will indeed lead him there. So, I think those sex actions were deliberately done in order to go to hell. And Master Won Hyo was well aware of that. And moreover, I found out that Master Won Hyo had such an acute bodhicitta in him that he started his own brand of Pure Land teachings for the Korean masses. He realised that meditation was probably too "unreachable" for most people and Zen had not yet reach Korea at his time. So, for Master Won Hyo, having sex was an act of great compassion. However, for present day masters who have sex, were they led to the girls due to a spiritual reason (such as to rescue those girls just like Master Won Hyo) or was it due to traces of sexual desires that still remain? I cannot answer that but this is the distinction I want to point out between Zen Master Won Hyo and other present day masters (including Tibetan Buddhist Masters) who like to use ancient master's actions or the teachings of tantra to justify their own sexual actions. Perhaps some of our present time masters have that special compassion too to commit actions that will send them to the lower realms on a compassion mission to save those beings there. Or, perhaps they could be practising a kind of Tibetan Buddhist tantra that requires a female partner. However, if we do not have that special ability and if we have not reached that level of enlightenment, then we better stick to saving sentient beings on the Planet Earth. And even if we do have that special ability and specific beings may require the masters to act in a certain "immoral" way, but our Planet Earth commonly demands that humans comply with certain decency and moral deportment, monks or otherwise. I am sure even some of our present Zen Masters have that same level of attainment as Master Won Hyo but maybe not everybody. But the principle of moral decency (in spite of bodhicitta) is true and applicable even for tantra. So, Masters still need to be discreet in their actions even though the "actions" may be correct spiritually. This issue is a very complicated one. While I cannot judge the actions of ancient or present Masters, and I respect all of them, I will remind myself of what I have posted before, i.e. Avoid Evil, Do Good & Purify the Mind. The intention of this blog post is basically to remind myself. As I said, I cannot judge the actions of ancient or present masters. I only need to make sure I do no wrong.

Note: the picture posted above of Master Won Hyo was taken by me and tells of the Master telling his friend that he need not go to China anymore.

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