“Our opportunity exists in our community.” – Wonji Dharma

1380067154In late October, 2013, the Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy (BM) spent an hour on the phone with author, poet, Master Dharma Teacher Ven. Dr. Wonji Dharma (WD), founder of the Five Mountain Zen Order and President of Buddha Dharma University.

What follows is the transcript from that inspiring interview. Enjoy!

BM: Briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?

WD: Well, first off, it’s really not important who and what I am and where I come from. However, that stated, I would like to give some credit to my first teacher, Swami Siraj, who was a disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. He opened the door to the Dharma for me.

556109I also have to give credit to, and mention my lifelong dedication to Zen Master Seung Sahn, who I found a few years later; he opened my eyes and opened my heart to the truth of this world.

And lastly, I have to give credit to the Honorable and Venerable Suhita Dharma for his lifelong dedication and selflessness in his aspiration to help others on this path. Beyond that, I’m merely trying to emulate what it is that these people who have taken significant portions of their lives to help me see the truth, I dedicate my life to following as best as I can in their footsteps. So that is all I really want to say about myself.

BM: Fair enough. Second question is, Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?

WD: That is an interesting question. Years ago, before I decided to become celibate, I used to hang out on a site called DharmaMatch.com. And I remember there were so many individuals, and the ones that I cared about were women, there were so many individuals when asked what their religious preference was, they chose this option that the website allowed them, which was “Spiritual but not religious.” And I’m not quite sure what that means. There is a New Age trend about what it means to be spiritual, without any religious connotation whatsoever. And I’m not sure about the meaning of “Spiritual but not religious.” I’m not putting it down, I merely have no idea what it means. So am I spiritual? Within the context of post modernity in our 21st century society, I would have to say No, if those are the rules that garner what it means to be spiritual, I’m not spiritual. Nor am I religious. I only follow one path, and that path is, “How may I help you?”

We can get caught in the metaphor of idea, and I’m not trying to dodge Continue reading