Ko Bong's Enlightenment

(extracted from "The Whole World is a Single Flower")

One summer, before he became a great Zen Master, Ko Bong Sunim sat summer Kyol Che at Tong Do Sah Temple. It was very hot that summer, so many retreatants could not stay in the meditation hall. Some sat on the veranda, some sat under the trees, while others sat by a nearby stream. Ko Bong sat on some rocks, under a big tree, courageously keeping don’t know mind one hundred percent. Above him, a cicada was singing in the tree. Ko Bong heard that and instantly his mind opened – he got enlightenment. He hit the rocks with a fan and the fan broke. "That's it!" he shouted, laughing, "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!"

  1. Ko Bong heard the cicada's song and got enlightenment. What did he attain?
  2. He hit the rocks with a fan and broke the fan, then shouted, "That's it!" What does this mean?
  3. Loud laughter: "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!" What does this mean?


One day, sometime before this summer Kyol Che, Ko Bong visited Tong Do Sah Temple. He stood at the gate and shouted, "Somebody come here and cut my hair, please. I want to become a monk." Many monks were angered by his arrogant behavior. They grabbed some sticks and went out to beat him. Ko Bong only said, "You can hit my body but you cannot hit my mind. If you can hit my mind, I will become your disciple." But none of the monks could hit his mind.

Another time, outside Nam Ja Sah Temple, he shouted the same kinds of things, and again all of the monks were very angry and wanted to beat him. Ko Bong again asked if anyone could hit his mind. At the time, Zen Master Hae Bong heard this and came to see Ko Bong. He asked, "How many pounds does your mind weigh?" Ko Bong could not answer, so he cut off all his hair and became a monk.