The Teachings of
   Daehaeng Kun Sunim
Biography of
   Daehaeng Kun Sunim
Early Life
The Path that is not a Path
All beings and things
     were my teachers
 
 
 
 
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Early Life

Born in 1927 on the first day of the lunar New Year, Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s family was originally quite well-off. Her father had been an army officer under the last king of Korea, and had continued to resist the Japanese military occupation of Korea. For years he had evaded arrest, but when Sunim was six years old, in about 1933, the Japanese came after him. They confiscated all of his remaining lands and property, and he fled his house with his wife and children minutes ahead of the Japanese secret police. The family escaped across the Han River with only the clothes they were wearing.
There in the mountains south of Seoul they built a dugout hut. Their life of wealth and privilege was gone, as if it had never existed. For a long time all they had to eat was what they could beg or what was left in the fields after the harvest. Seeing the pitiful situation of his family and country, Sunim’s father was filled with despair. Although he was kind and generous with other people, for some reason he poured out all of his anger and frustration onto Sunim, his eldest daughter.
Confused and unable to understand why this was happening, she stayed away from the family’s hut as much as possible in order to avoid her father. She often slept alone in the forest, covering herself with leaves to stay warm. After about two years of such hunger and cold, she noticed that the fear she had felt at being out in the mountains at night had faded, and the dark night had gradually become comfortable and beautiful. However, the world outside of the forest seemed to be filled with suffering.
While spending her nights in the forest, Sunim often wondered who had formed her and why people had to suffer from hunger and disease. Why did people suffer? Who am I? What am I? What made me? She concentrated on these questions more and more, and intensely wanted to know the answers to these.