Bon's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    United States 2008

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    San Francisco, CA

  • AIRED ON:

    Public Television: Season 5

  • ON DVD:

BON SOENG

Zen Master
Empty Gate Zen Center

“The biggest wisdom really comes from not knowing; if you admit you don't know, then you're willing to look.”

INTERESTS:

Philosophy & Religion

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Beliefs & Faith Education Exploration Family Focus Honesty Individualism Self-Reflection Simplicity Societal Pressures Values

FOUNDATION:

Teaching / Mentoring

TAGS:

Buddhism, carpentry, civil rights, civil rights movement, college, control, development, ideas vs reality, influences, mentor, mind, not knowing, psychology, religion, self discovery, society, thinking, vietnam, vietnam war, war

BIOGRAPHY:

  • When he was 14, he realized he was “living a life that was someone else’s idea.”
  • Didn’t want to go to college; parents made him a deal: he’d finish his education, then be free to do whatever he wanted.
  • Moved to a Zen Buddhist farm in Northern California, his first encounter with Buddhism.
  • First Buddhist text he read, he found himself nodding over and over again, going, “Yes, this is what I think, too.”
  • Had seen his father’s disconnection from world of physical labor; decided to go the opposite route, became a carpenter.
  • People kept telling him he’d be a good psychotherapist—knew he wanted to bring Buddhism to the “regular world,” therapy could be the link.
  • Says it’s unrealistic to want to be happy all the time: “You’re not gonna want to go to work some days—that’s just how it is.”
  • It’s helpful to find a mentor who can act as a “mirror,” not someone who tells you what to do, but rather shows you who you are.

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