Wednesday, June 27, 2012



By Andrij Obarymskyj

This morning we said goodbye to our Korean Buddhist monk visitor who has embarked on a 2 year cycling trip across Canada, the US, down through Central and South America all the way to Patagonia. Sunim belongs to a city temple in Seoul. He started his odyssey two months ago not knowing anyone in Canada and with very little English. He is 42 years old and cycles in waterproof sandals, the kind with the velcro straps! He had the good fortune to meet Dave in BC who first helped him with a flat tire, subsequently hosted him, then set up the Facebook page about his trip and now devotes numerous hours each day helping Sunim secure hosts along the way. Dave contacted us through Couchsurfing and that is how we came to host him. When he does not have a host, he sleeps in a small tent somewhere he deems appropriate along the highway.

Our first evening together was rather short as he arrived just in time for supper and he was ready for a shower and bed by 8:30.

Yesterday it rained from early morning until about noon. Then the sun came out for the rest of the day. He spent a quiet morning on his own, updating his blog and resting. After lunch we took him to see a German friend, Dagmar, who is a potter and has a workshop in her home in the middle of a forest on a neighbouring lake. She owns 144 acres. Her husband (deceased a few years ago) worked with wood and other types of media. Sunim commented that he felt like he was in a museum. He took pictures of a large wood sculpture in the workshop called the "breathing torso." Then the three of us walked 1 km to her waterfront and Andrij took a photo of Sunim sitting on her dock with his feet in the water. Dagmar owns 1 km of shoreline and another large portion of shoreline is Crown land so there are no neighbours and it is a very private place. We stayed there 15-20 minutes as it was very peaceful and the sun was warm. That lake is called Big Basswood Lake (approx 11 kms long). Our home is on Little Basswood Lake (3-4 kms long and not nearly as wide as Big Basswood Lake). Upon our return to the house, we took Sunim for a boat ride around our lake and he said that our lake was a big lake, no doubt because during the boat ride he saw some additional bays that are not visible from our house. Had there been time, we might have taken him for a boat ride on Big Basswood - then he would have really seen the difference in size between the two lakes. During the boat ride we saw a loon not too far from the boat. Back at the house I showed him a loonie and a toonie and explained how both coins got their names. From what I could tell it was the first time he heard that our $1 coin is called a loonie.

Sunim was not interested in fishing as he does like the concept of using a hook to catch fish. We learned that his dad was a fisherman and used nets, so that could be why. After supper Andrij and I played a game of Cribbage while Sunim shadowed my card hands and pegged the points. He also played some of my hands for me in the second half of the game. He found it a little complicated but was catching on by the end. Then he and I played a few rounds of Rummy 500 and he understood that game from the beginning. I'm not sure what he thought of the card games, but he was open to trying something new and different.

We often have lovely sunsets on the lake here at our home that we call Blisswood. Last night was a particularly lovely sunset in a clear sky and on water that was smooth as glass. Clouds and trees were reflected in the water and Sunim commented on how peaceful it was and used an expression something to the effect that it seemed that the world had stopped. I think he really appreciated the beauty of the 10 or so minutes that we stood on the dock watching the sun set.

It was a pleasure having Sunim stay with us. He did not hesitate to let us know when he was hungry or wanted more to eat, if he was cold and did not want to remain outside or when he was ready to retire to his room for the night. Always in a very respectful manner. He showed us pictures on his laptop of his life as monk as well as previous Canadian hosts. Also we learned that his hobby is relief wood carving and he showed us some pictures of his work.

Andrij, on his own bike, accompanied Sumin this morning for the 3 kms from our house back to Highway 17. He watched him disappear down the highway and commented to me that in his green hat and jacket, he looks like a green lotus flower floating down the river going a leisurely 8-10 kms an hour. He referenced the lotus flower because Sunim had shown us photos of his temple where the ceiling is covered in paper lotus flowers because of their profound symbolism in the Buddhist world. In brief, the lotus symbolizes the purity of heart, mind and speech and the blossoming of wholesome deeds.
Prior to posting this blog I shared it with some friends, one of whom quickly identified the following spiritual truths from the story of Sunim’s journey.

1 -- The Universe will provide for those who trust.
2 -- When our hearts are open, there is no language barrier.
3 -- Because all of mankind is one, when we give to another, we receive.
4 -- We have angels on Earth who are aiding us during Life's voyage. Simply receive their help, trusting at all times that it is there.
5 -- There is beauty everywhere, if we have eyes to see.

She wants Sunim to know that she is sending blessings his way since he is here quietly teaching us all how to live and we are receiving his gift.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Became Famous

Translated by Ian and Henry Haight (original:

While I was shopping I had a few interviews in the city of Sault Ste. Marie. The next day I was in the newspaper. People said it was their city’s 100th anniversary and having a monk come by must mean something. Ever since I came here I am experiencing so many things. Even though the newspaper was a city newspaper I was on the cover page. While I was traveling to my next host’s house, I stopped by a small shop and drank some refreshment. A stranger was riding a bike around the area and he stopped as soon as he got in front of me. He stared at me for a little and I said hello. He told me that I was famous. I asked, “How?” His response was that he saw me in the newspaper exchanging a bow with another person, and he wanted to try it with me. He bowed differently from how we were supposed to bow so I taught him the proper way.

On the way to my host’s house I saw three posters like the one above (see picture). From Sault Ste. Marie to the area I am in currently, everything has been ready. I am going to be at my next host’s house for three days in a row so I will most likely have an easy next few days. No hills and the road is pretty flat so it is pretty easy to travel. My host’s house is about 130 km from here so I think I should leave pretty early. A new video of an interview I did will be on the Facebook site David operates for me (—please come visit! ^^

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Link between the Bear and Destiny

Translated by Ian Haight. thanks Ian!

Original post:

Sorry for the late blog update. You’re probably worried, but when I go camping and find a place to stay there’s usually no Wi-Fi or I’m resting so it’s not easy to update the blog. Today I’m staying put for more than a day so I have some time for updates. I hope you all understand. Don’t worry too much because a lot of my new acquaintances are helping me. After Marathon there was a place called Wawa where I stayed at. The church people there said I could spend the night at their church. Right now it feels like half-camp, half-home. I didn’t know I had these relationships, which I’m so grateful for. My fingers and my left hand feel numb but it doesn’t hurt so I can still wander. Thank you.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sunim's stay in Thunder Bay

James Arthur, Daeung Sunim & Siobhan Farrell

Daeung Sunim was a delight to have visit here in Thunder Bay. He was excellent company and also an exemplary dinner guest. I marveled that he was so enthusiastic about a Moroccan lamb tagine with couscous and that he asked for a second helping! He certainly was “easy care,” asking for little, but readily making his needs known. And he even helped me lay out my carpet in the dining-room! And it was so interesting to see his home turf in Korea and to “meet” his earlier hosts west of here. His trip is a huge and inspirational undertaking affecting many individuals along his way. I wish him well!

James Arthur

Sunday, June 10, 2012

And then along came Sunim...

Sunim and Lorry in Winnipeg
Once in a while something happens in our ordinary lives that profoundly affects us, and often it is not until after the fact that we come to know the changes that have occurred and the “tweak” to the direction in which we are going.

Such an occasion just happened to me. And that was the opportunity to help with hosting a traveller from South Korea. Only a week ago I happened upon a Facebook post on a site called Sweeping Zen, which my friend Adam Tebbe is Editor of. It caught my attention right away, as this Korean Buddhist Monk was travelling by bicycle across the Americas, and would soon be arriving in my city of Winnipeg!

I read the story written by Dave Pope, who had so kindly picked up the Monk on the side of the road, stranded, outside of Vernon, BC. Something about the story compelled me to send off an email and get involved.

The next day I read on the Facebook page that a host had been found in Winnipeg, so I was not sure if I would be called upon to help. On the day after, Sunday June 3, I had a headache, and was feeling disappointed, thinking I might not be able to participate, and lose the chance to meet this Buddhist Monk, Daeung Sunim. Then I got a phone call from Robert Miyai, the person who so kindly offered his home to Sunim (Korean title for an ordained Monk). He wondered if I could help by driving Sunim to a Bicycle shop. I said I would be more than happy to help out ( I am retired and have time!), so a time was set for Monday morning. It was a full moon that Monday, June 4, and I thought, how auspicious!

Monday morning,and I was nervous! Robert had gone to work, and I was to meet Sunim on my own...what to say, how to greet a Monk? Should I take a gift I wondered...all I could think of was the fresh blueberries I had in the fridge. So off I went.

Now a little background about me...I know a wee bit about South Korea, because I had the good fortune to visit there in 2001, when my son, Sky Onosson, was teaching English for a year, in a little mountain town called Youngwol. My first time out of North America and I enjoyed the trip,and the Korean people, but the only language I retained was the greeting, an-nyung-ha-se-yo.. I have long been interested in Buddhism and was able to visit some temples while I was visiting this beautiful country.

So...knock on the door...wait...go to the side door...and this lovely, smiling man answered and said hello and bowed. I bowed back and mumbled my greeting and I think I surprised him. I offered the blueberries, and indicated that I would take him to a bike shop, so he placed the berries in the fridge and off we went.

I had decided to take Sunim to Olympia Cycle and Ski, as it was not far, and a shop I was familiar with. I knew there was a Korean grocery and Sushi shop next to the bike shop, thinking we could get sushi for lunch. When we got out of my car, Sunim was overjoyed to see the Korean Medical Clinic, which was in-between both stores. “I go there first!” he said, and in we went.

Korean greetings all around, and Sunim explained to Dr. J. Kim, about his very sore and numb hands. Dr. Kim was kind enough to treat Sunim right away. I waited and told a bit of Sunim’s story and the long journey he was undertaking, to the receptionist.

After the treatment we went next door to the bike shop. As Sunim was browsing, I explained to the clerks who my friend was, and where he was going. They were so kind and when Sunim went to pay for his new bike seat and hand grips, Scott, who works there, said “no charge”. Sweet guys!!!!

I suggested we then pick up some sushi for lunch, and I let Sunim order what he wanted from the Korean Sushi Chef. Then back to Robert’s house to eat. We both sat cross-legged on the lunch stools and shared our meal. I found it so easy to be with Daeung Sunim, after the morning’s greeting, I was very at ease with him. It was not hard to communicate at all, even though his English is limited.
After lunch, I realized Sunim looked very tired, and I knew there was a planned dinner at the host’s house that evening, but I offered to drive him the next morning for another acupuncture treatment, and left him so he could rest.

Tuesday morning, and off I go to meet the host, Robert Miyai, and pick up Sunim. Before we left the house, Sunim had his GPS out, and asked if I could also take him to MEC. The unit had the address wrong, but I knew where Mountain Equipment Co-op was located. I said, no problem! Robert suggested I try to have Sunim look at sandals there, as he only had flip-flops on, and to look for something with a firmer sole.

Sunim and Dr. Kim
Once again, we arrive at Dr. Kim’s. This time I asked to take some pics of Sunim receiving treatment (Adam Tebbe had suggested that would make a nice pic), and I did so. After his treatment, we headed off to downtown Winnipeg. Sunim commented that I was a good driver! So here we were in busy traffic, and we were chatting about meditation, as Robert had shared a few things with me that morning, and I was most curious.

I found a parking spot, and we entered MEC. Sunim seemed to know what he was looking for, a new pack, more hand grips for the bike, and a wood-tick remover! Lots of ticks out there in the wilderness! Then to look at sandals, and when he went to pay, I was surprised that he had his own MEC membership card (perhaps acquired in Vancouver while he was there?).

I suggested we get some lunch, and I made a quick detour en-route, past our Legislature, and pointed out the infamous “Golden Boy” statue on the top. Sunim made a funny face, and was not impressed! So off to Boon Burger, a vegie fast food restaurant, where we ordered vegie-burgers and sweet-potato fries with poutine, (gravy with cheese, tho the cheese was non-dairy). I am not a vegetarian but I like the fresh food at Boon Burger. Sunim enjoyed the food and the cold glass of Mango juice. He said it was his first Vegie-burger.

Sunim is a very observant person, and interested in everything around him, and eager to learn better English. He commented on people with tattoos, and piercings, and said there was not so much of that in Korea. He had noted a young person on bicycle using hand signals (and not enough people do that or even know the right signals) so there I was in the car trying to show him the right ways. Rather hard to signal left through the door! I showed him again later. At one point when we spoke about the hot weather we were having, he noted that Caucasian people get leathery after years of sun, but Asian skin stays soft. Then we arrived back at Robert’s house where Sunim showed me some photos on his lap-top, pics of his wood carving hobby! Beautiful! Inspiring hobby to have! I admired his work and he told me that when he returns to Korea in a couple years he will make me one and mail it to me! I told him I will be here waiting for it!!! Then I headed home to think...or not think!

“Stay in the body” says Sunim. Pay attention to what the hand does, what the foot does, where the breath is.

I called Robert that evening to touch base, as I knew there was one more Acupuncture treatment, and I would drive him. Robert explained to me that a pre-paid cell phone had been purchased for Sunim, and could I help Sunim pick it up? How could I say no?! Through all this time I had been coming down with a cold, but I knew time was running out, that Sunim would be leaving Winnipeg the next day, and I would have to say goodbye to my new friend.

Wednesday morning, June 6, Robert was at the house when I arrived. I showed them a book a friend had sent me awhile back, by a Korean Buddhist, Zen Master Daehaeng Sunim,“No River to Cross”. Sunim knew about the author, said it was a very good book, and we three discussed that and shared some thoughts about Buddhism. Robert gave me the papers regarding the cell phone, which was at Future Shop. So, off to the last visit with Dr. Kim, and then the Dr and the receptionist said their goodbyes in Korean, and then Sunim and I went to get the cell phone. The clerk there was very new, and it took some time, but finally got things sorted out, (Sunim noted that, in Korea, “only takes 3 minutes!”) and off we went. He wanted a bank machine to get some cash, I went to the nearest, which was CIBC, but for some reason his bank card was declined, and after several tries, we decided to get some lunch.

Nearby, and en-route to the Noodle House which I was thinking of for lunch, was the only “hill” in Winnpeg, the “Garbage Hill”, which used to be the city dump, many years ago. Winnipeg is on very flat land, and this spot is one place to see the city spread out. Sunim noted all the gophers running around, and said they were “so cute, in Korea, same but not so cute!”. I took a few pics, Buddha sitting on a pile of garbage!!! And Monks do have a sense of humor, as we passed by a bicycle lying on the sidewalk, Sunim said “bicycle is sleeping!”.

My last lunch with Sunim was a bit subdued, but the food was good. We ate Pho, or Vietnamese soup, at Mama’s Noodle House. He ordered the extra-large bowl, said he was very hungry! After, as we drove back towards Robert’s part of town, I spotted a TD ATM next to a McDonald’s, and pulled in. Sunim was so happy and overjoyed when the machine accepted his card, and he got some cash! He told me he had been very worried through lunch about what he would do if his bank card was not working. Oh the joys of modern life!

I was becoming sad, knowing that I would soon have to say goodbye and suddenly wanted more time. I realized later that day, that I really wanted to sit in meditation with Sunim, but I did not know how to ask him. So I drove through a lovely old neighborhood of beautiful houses, and he enjoyed that and we discussed architecture and styles, and finally arrivied back at Robert’s place.

Sunim wanted to take a pic of us, with his own camera, set up his tripod, and set the timer. Then a final bow, thank you’s, and a hug!

I got in my car and felt a bit weepy! Why? My new teacher was leaving and I may never see him again! I have had some time to digest what this whirlwind visit has meant for me, and I know I have learned something very important. “What is it?” is what Sunim teaches!
What is it indeed! I will tell you later!

Lorrell Onosson
June 10, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

An Easy-going and Relaxed Canadian Monk, and Lorry Who’s Become my Hands and Feet

This is a translation of Sunim's blog in Winnipeg, originally posted on June 7, 2012.

Translated by Ian and Henry Haight (original post:

The person on the right is the monk Fredrich Louis Ulrich. They call the monks “sensei” (instructor in Japanese) over here.  He is currently 78 and is French. Fredrich also stated that he will work until the age of 90 and will retire. He said that he was late today because he was at another funeral today.  Fredrich seems to be a very relaxed and honest person. A lot of people asked me recently how long I am going to be a monk; I told them that in Korea monks do their job until they die. Once I told them that this was the reason why I am not married and I don’t visit my family.  They looked at me in shock.

It is Wednesday and for 3 days Lorry became my hands and feet and helped me go to the Korean Clinic, take care of business at the bank and buy goods. She is 60 years old and lost her husband a few years ago. Her father is about 90 years old and has a 69 year old girlfriend. he he.  They want to learn Buddhism but they don’t really have an instructor so they are very respectful. 

At the bike shop, I bought a new seat, but the owner said that since I am a “tourist bike monk,” the owner gave me the seat for free. Wherever we went, Lorry introduced me and explained what I was doing and I was so shy…even at the restaurant a person next to me said that he was a monk too. He invited me to Facebook with him. 

For 3 days in the Winnipeg Korean Clinic I had acupuncture treatment. I lost my sense of feeling in my right hand and the doctor told me it was because I gripped the handle of the bike pretty hard. The manager of the clinic said I would get all my treatments free because I was a monk traveling in a foreign area. What a great person!  I think I am in pretty good relationships with others ever since I came here.  Is that why I wanted to come to Winnipeg so badly?^^  My finger wasn’t completely normal but the doctor told me that it will get better in time.

This is the cell phone I got today. Through good communications, David was given a phone in lieu of money. I got a place where I could stay while I am here and just in case my internet is down, David gave this phone to me. The phone can only text and it is all in English. ☺ I can’t check my Facebook with this phone, and it’s funny that this is my phone but I don’t know how to use it.  Everyone is doing my work for me. I don’t know how this is possible but I think the term “blissful emptiness” from Buddhism fits the situation...the truth is empty and self-evident. Those that I didn’t know and those that I used to know are now helping me. According to sensei Frederich, it’s “good karma, nice karma.” That may be so. This phone only works in Canada so when I go to the United States, they said they would change it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Last day in Winnipeg with Sunim

Wow, where to Sunim and I went to Future Shop here, to acquire the pre-paid phone for him, (thanks to Dave Pope for setting that up!). The clerk was pretty new, so it took some time to get the phone set up. I hope it serves him well on his travels. Then we tried an ATM at the nearest bank, so he could get some cash, and for some reason it would not accept his card. We were hungry so we went for lunch. He really enjoyed the Pho (vietnamese soup). We then stopped at another ATM machine, and SUCCESS !!! He was so happy it worked!!! He said he had been worried all through lunch about getting money if his card was not working. But it all worked out!

We then went back to his host's house, and he showed me some pics of his wood carving hobby on his notebook. I showed a book to Sunim, that my friend and fellow Buddhist, John McCaffrey, of Ottawa, had sent me, and Sunim knew about the author, and told me it was a very good book. Thanks John! I will read it again! Sunim talked about "karmic affinity" and a few other words from the book. Then I very reluctantly said my goodbyes, he gave me a hug, said he would send me a wood carving in a few years! When I arrived home, there was message for me from Janet Stewart, reporter from the CBC, where Robert works, and they may do a news story on Sunim's adventure!!!!

So, WOW, it has been quite a day so far! Robert, Sunim's host, is planning on driving Sunim east tonight, to the Whiteshell, and Sunim will leave from there in the morning, en-route to Kenora. I so look forward to seeing online the next parts of Daeung Sunim's adventure.