Goats are just goats;

people are goats trying to be goats.




Kwan Um School of Zen Weekly Teaching Piece 


Kill or Not Kill - That's a Big Question


Dear Bobby,


I am writing with many questions, and also bringing greetings however! First, my questions...

I've been confronted with the problem of what course of action to take in the event of a military draft or a war: to fight or not to, which comes down to killing or not killing.

Killing is O.K. with me, and so is not killing. If a man wanted to kill all beings, and the only way I could stop him was to kill him, I would kill for all beings. So, if for example the Soviets invaded another country and harassed and murdered as they've done, I would not hesitate to stop the Soviets, killing some soldiers to save the whole Afghan people, or Polish people, or whatever, if this was the only way. Similarly, if our country started victimizing another country like we did in Vietnam, I would not hesitate to use any means to stop that abuse.

Bobby, is this delusion? What comments and suggestions have you? I guess I am confused as to how I may best serve all people.

Many months ago you asked me, "How old are you?" My answer: "LOOK AT YOUR WRISTWATCH!"

Trying to hit Saturn with a toothpick?

I eagerly await your reply! I hope to come to Yong Maeng Jong Jin this Spring, and do hard training!



December 20, 1980

Dear John,

It was nice to hear from you again. How are you? Thanks for your letter.

You asked me about how to make important decisions in your life. Kill or not kill -- that's a big question! There's something I've been learning about questions: whether they are big or small, philosophical or concrete, important or unimportant, they are all very easy to answer if your life's direction is clear.

So, John, I ask you, why are you alive? What is the purpose of your life? You said that if you had to, you would kill for all beings. Killing for all beings is O.K., but there is something else you must do first. you must kill yourself to save all beings from any kind of suffering. How can you kill yourself? How can you completely understand your true self and end the life of delusive "I" that prevents you from being able to answer all of life's questions?

You must find out how to understand your true self. This week at the Zen Center we had a seven-day Yong Maeng Jong Jin. It was a very wonderful and strong retreat. Everyone was supporting each other and there were Dharma Talks that answered all questions as completely as possible in the realm of speech. I hope you will soon have more time to formalize your practice. I think that will help you very much.

In the meantime, join the Army if you believe in the causes you will be fighting for. If you don't believe in the causes, stay home and fight for a cause you believe in. In other words, do not be lazy. Pay attention to life, and try to help other people as well as you can.

I asked you how old you were, and you told me to look at my wristwatch. I didn't ask .you for the time! Zen is only keeping a clear mind. Ask your clear mind, and maybe next time you can give me a better answer.

I hope to see you soon. Have a nice Christmas vacation.




About the Kwan Um School: Seung Sahn & The Kwan Um School of Zen: A brief introduction  


About DVZC
Founded in 1999, Delaware Valley Zen Center (DVZC) offers to the community an environment for Zen practice. Our weekly practice includes chanting, sitting meditation and walking meditation. DVZC is one of more than sixty centers and groups worldwide affiliated with the Kwan Um School of Zen, an international organization founded by Zen Master Seung Sahn.

Our guiding teacher is José Ramírez, JDPSN, who received Inka in April 2009.

 The Delaware Valley Zen Center (DVZC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit religious corporation of the State of Delaware. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. DVZC is supported, administered and maintained by its members.

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Practice Schedule

Practice is held every Thursday evening at the New Ark United Church of Christ, 300 E. Main St, Newark, DE 19711.


Practice begins at 7:00pm with a short orientation for beginners, followed by chanting. We then have two 25 minute periods of sitting meditation with a 10 minute period of walking meditation in between.

Beginners are encouraged to attend the free Meditation Instruction session offered the first Thursday of each month at 7:00pm

There is no fee to attend our practice, you do not have to be a member.


Monkey Mind Zen,

is a new DVZC satellite.

The group meets in Philadelphia.

For information about their practice visit: