Of course there was the little matter of the pregnant 17-year old from Seoul and a few other indiscretions, including the ambassador's wife from Chile, but banishment from the Da Sunim Order was not what Kim considered justice-for dismissal implied a crime, and what he did to women was not even remotely criminal.
Yet Kim admitted he'd abandoned his practice on Mount Choyge that day, becoming the first Korean Zen monk in twenty-five years to be banned from the order for violating its celibacy vow.
Forced into homelessness, Kim packed his three robes, his formal eating bowls, Buddhist sutras and favorite wooden chopsticks into a rucksack and bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles to continue his special Zen practice and the inevitable female students it brought him.
On the plane he recalled again and again the incident with the girl at the temple, remembering the yellow leaves on the clean, raked pebbles, the smell of wet autumn Earth and the excited chatter of visitors from Seoul.
It was Sunday afternoon and groups of lay people swarmed the temple to light incense, pray for their ancestors and ask Buddha for good fortune.
The women who visited were mostly high school girls, old ladies from the countryside or middle class office girls with rich boyfriends and Italian clothes. These weren't the women Kim worked with however; he was far more disciplined than that. He picked female students who'd rejected everything they'd been given in the cities and growing suburbs; women who knew all the material wealth of Seoul, yet still felt empty and poor inside. These were the women who were ripe for the Dharma-the truth.
"Yet truth," said one the monks while picking tomatoes one day, "is not what beds women. It's mystery and eyes that don't give a rat's ass."
so it was with Kim. He lived among a hundred other men of similar physical appearance
and education. Men who had an equal mastery of the sutras and similar insights
into the true nature of experience. But only Kim succored women's need to be
filled. Kim realized his position gave him power and his detachment gave him
mystery, but it was his single minded pursuit of enlightenment over sex, money,
and power that made him irresistible to women-and he knew it.
"He uses women in service of finding his true Buddha nature," said a widow to a friend after an afternoon session with Kim. And he knew women found such an attitude to be both dreadful and undeniably seductive-and so Kim's fame spread among Seoul society, even bolstered in some cases, by accounts of naughty chopsticks and the perils of absolute submission.
As a senior monk, Kim was responsible for leading tours of the grounds, and that fateful Sunday was no different with its group pictures, ponderous high school teachers, crying babies, all of it. Yet as soon he spotted the young girl he felt his practice drop off into a dank vacuum.
The girl's sexiness was an original composite of pale skin, short bobbed hair, red lips and large-framed oval glasses. Her face was neutral, yet her ass was shaped like a swollen pear about to burst, waddling lazily from side-to-side as she stepped. Her petite breasts were teenage taut-ripped tight against the constriction of her white-lace bra. He figured she was 14 or 15. Not even worth fantasizing about, he thought.
Yet Kim yearned to kiss the large fleshy brown nipples he suspected were so near to him. He tried to reign in his mind, but he was far from Buddha while his groin ripened and unfolded in front of dumfounded tourists.
Sensing doom, an observant monk scurried into the crowd and took over the tour as Kim skulked off to sit on a gray stone next to the girl, who was feigning interest in a glossy pamphlet of the temple's history.
Twenty minutes later, Kim led the girl away into a small room where students meet with Zen masters during meditation retreats.
Once alone with him, she was silent and obedient. He asked her age and she said, "Almost 19".
Piled in a corner were two rows of black meditation cushions. On a small wooden book shelf stood a golden statue of Buddha. The temple was quiet. He commanded the girl to take off her jeans, panties and socks. She did so quietly with her back to him.
gazed at youth before, but her milky firmness sucked the strength right out
of his knees. She was white and taut and her ass lay open to him with its tiny
black moles clustered near her rounded crack and down toward her thighs.
"I've crippled my heart," he thought as he hovered over her. Greed had saturated all his lonely cells and rural nerve systems, creating a lust that bombed his Buddha calm like a tropical storm surge.
The girl glanced back at him for a moment, and with that consent, he grabbed her white cheeks and spread her wide, plunging his pinky into her little asshole as it throbbed in naughty brownness. Lust then gripped him at his knees, arching him toward her vagina and the final wetness he craved.
When the abbot burst into the interview room, Kim yelled, "Shit!" as he withdrew his gravity laden penis from the girl, but in truth he was screaming, "Karma!" For this is precisely what was at play as the abbot shushed the scared girl from the room and unleashed a storm of abuse so vile that the temple master immediately quarantined the whole area to isolate the public from such a display.
Kim did not defend himself. He'd abandoned his own highest principles and understood that correction was needed, although ultimately he never suspected how far the order would actually go.
In Los Angles, Kim quickly settled in the San Gabriel Valley among the region's bustling Chinese population. At first he stayed with a Buddhist group in Monterey Park before getting a small studio apartment and a job as a waiter at a Chinese restaurant.
At the Kowloon he worked hard and impressed his Chinese employers with his piety and attention to detail, quickly establishing himself a kind of "holy waiter" to the Buddhists who frequented the restaurant.
After six months he set up a small meditation room next to the storeroom, decorating it with shoji screens, Chinese landscape scrolls and tatami mats on the floor. On a pile of empty wooden orange crates he placed a maroon Buddha and began meeting with students.
Word soon spread that a very enlightened Zen monk from Korea was working with students in a small family-owned Chinese restaurant. By the end of Kim's first year, Kim found himself teacher to a small Zen community.
Kim felt the new students were his redemption. In America he found a real hunger for Buddha's teachings. His students included U.C.L.A. professors, Chinese businessmen, housewives from the Valley, retired cops, Christians and even a handful of Koreans who left the question of his past unexplored.
And of course there were women-lots of them. Young women. Divorced women. Chinese waitresses. Japanese exchange students. Black activists. Sophomore philosophy students. Punks from Santa Monica. Artists of every imaginary color and media. All kinds of ladies who came searching for something that couldn't find out there in the world, and just as in Korea, they flocked to the light of ancient wisdom and absolute mystery of unbridled male sexuality which seeks no direct end.
The first women he practiced with was Sara. She was a 20-year-old Jewish girl studying Russian Literature at a nearby college. She had shoulder-length black hair with smooth skin and big brown eyes that were always on the verge of tears. Like the Buddha, Sara's face was unmistakable. Her cheek bones were sharp and bold with a nose that curled up slightly at the end, radiating an intellectual alertness' that was like a drug to Kim.
Yet for all her Bohemian charm, it was Sara's body that yanked him in from the start. She had proportions that were almost unimaginable in a Korean woman. A slight frame with corresponding small shoulders and a slim waist, yet with breasts the size of wine jugs and a round full ass that was in such contrast to her tiny waist that he though he might just ejaculate in his pants from all the internal pressure.
One night after the other students had filtered out, Sara asked Kim if she could stay to work on a Kong-an-Zen word puzzles designed to break a student's attachment to unexamined thought patterns.
They sat across from each other on black cushions the way Zen students and teachers had for centuries.
He looked at her and said, "Do you have a question?"
She brushed a few locks of hair from her eyes and said. "Yes. I have practiced sitting meditation for two years with different teachers, but I still don't feel any closer to the truth about myself or the world. What should I do?"
Kim listened with no thought of himself. He was as still as a lake at midnight. No ripples. No waves. His mind was her mind. For a second he hesitated, wondering if she was ready. If she was at a level to handle this kind of instruction.
"Show me your original face," he said noting her concentration.
. . . I don't know." She replied as she rocked nervously on the cushion.
"I don't know, I . . ."
don't know because you don't understand your true nature," he said calmly.
Without a change in tone or facial expression he said, "Please stand up. Turn around and take off your pants, panties and socks. When you are finished please face the wall and squat down next to your cushion without letting your ass touch the floor."
eyes closed for moment and her lips tightened as her white face became crimson.
She was shocked, yet held in most outward signs of emotion.
Sara was now squatting with the bottom of her black pullover hanging above the white crease in her ass. Kim bowed to Sara and then sat in a meditation posture behind her. He told her that if she felt uncomfortable to stand up at any time. She said nothing, her breathing getting heavier.
Near her asshole and down towards her vagina Kim observed how the white skin became more red and volatile. There was a darker, more earth colored hue near her sex. He had a massive erection and was breathing slowly to control his thoughts. This was his first American student and the excitement forced him to focus solely on function.
took his hand and began rubbing his palm slowly across her bottom before moving
it laterally under her cheek and lips. Kim wanted to plunge his fingers deep
into both her holes but kept returning to his breath to keep him calm. He began
to feel her wetness leaching onto his palm and decided it was time.
During this movement the woman had to remain completely present and mindful if they were to experience pleasure and also insight. It was only this combination of control and vulnerability that brought students into the present. Together Sara and Kim shared the same mind. They were Buddha, Christ consciousness, the Tao, the Universe-all of it.
Sara began to moan and mumble incoherent little phrases. After several minutes Kim took away the chopsticks, telling Sara to stay still as he stood up and pulled out his penis. He was hard, and his sex was angled up to the ceiling as he walked toward her. He placed his penis level with the back of her head and then took a deep breath.
Doing as she was told, Sara turned around with a placid face like some early morning autumn sky. For a moment she stared at his dick clinically and then grabbed it from the base, stroking and sucking it generously.
Just like with all the women, he knew right away that she was not going to stop or spit him out. It was always that way. He reminded himself that he hadn't entered her, he'd just put it out there she had grabbed it. He never entered a women in any way during their time together, to do so was to turn practice into greed. That's what had happened with the young girl at the temple in Seoul. It was a reminder that one must remain mindful or suffer the consequences.
Things went on like this with Kim and students for some time until a woman with a red trench coat and black boots came in for dinner.
Her name was Abby Norris and she was a long-time American Zen student, although Kim wouldn't learn this until much later.
Abby sat at Kim's table and ordered noodle soup with green tea. When she finished eating, she lit a Camel cigarette and took out a book by the famous Japanese Zen master Suzuki. Kim admired Suzuki and was curious how this woman had learned of him.
After finishing her fortune cookie, Abby said to Kim, "I have heard of your teaching. I'd like to have an interview with you."
After Kim settled her bill the two went in back to sit near Buddha.
Abby's hair was red and she looked like an elegant Hollywood beauty from the 1920s. She was in her early 40s and had freckles up and down her arms the shape of star fruit.
Kim asked her a famous Kong-an and she answered it immediately. He asked another and another, relenting to her raspy voice as it scratched out a correct answer each time.
scratched the back of his neck and cleared his throat. He wasn't sure what to
do with her, except to initiate the special practice and find out more about
mouth dropped and he stuck his finger in his ear as if he'd heard it wrong.
He leaned over and pulled off her pants. Her vagina was blood red and he stuck his tongue right on the tip of her clitoris. Together they squirmed like fish on a boat bottom as Kim twitted his tongue over her opened vagina.
Abby pulled him up from her waist and guided his full sex into her. She grabbed the back of his ass and pushed it deep inside her, clamping her pelvis tight against him until he only wanted to come-entering the milky white splash that sprays across the fullness of everything.
When he came inside her, Abby whimpered like a tiny swallow and then thrust her breasts into his crumpled face.
She cupped his face and said, "So Zen monk, I ask you, 'What is the meaning of this life?'"
Kim pointed to a small window that framed a broad sycamore tree outside, its leaves crinkled and sour-colored from the cool fall nights.
Deep lines appeared on Abby's forehead. "Not bad, but you have one more hurdle before you mind is clear like space."
Kim said nothing. He wasn't in the habit of taking Zen lessons from women.
Abby silently dressed and left the storeroom. Kim stacked the cushions next to the alter and started sweeping the tatami floor.
A block down from the Kowloon, Abby closed the door to her silver Audi, rinsed out her mouth with Listerine, and spit the brackish solution onto the curb.
She lifted up her tan leather skirt, grabbed her white lace panties and ripped a big hole in them. She then tore a series of holes of varying length and shapes in her stockings.
"Finally it's time for real Zen", she said aloud.
Abby opened the driver's side door, stuck her left arm between it and the car, grabbing the armrest with her right hand and with one sudden pull, slammed the car door shut on her freckled arm.
She weeped uncontrollably from the violent and deep agony that produced the tears she'd hoped which flooded her face with violet mascara. The urge to vomit out the pain rising up in her body was intense, but she resisted, knowing too much chaos would take away from the mission at hand.
"It's fucking time," she grumbled out loud checking if her hearing was still functioning.
She put the car in gear, and then drove off down Alameda toward the police station.
To counter the pain she counted her breaths and focused on the cool air that filtered across her face. She was truly present with life now, pain eliminating all secondary concerns from her mind.
Waiting at a signal she reminded herself that this this was for Suzie. This was to erase the thought of her baby sister sitting down on Kim's grotesque chopsticks. This was to free Suzie from all the shame of Kim's sessions, all the days she lived as one who'd been violated and molested.
Suzie can't fight back, Abby reminded herself. That's that why I'm here, that's what older sisters do.
She found a parking space at the police station as her bruise expanded, now wrapping all around her arm like a gruesome bracelet. She unbuckled her seatbelt and then sat still for a moment.
Kim was indeed a monk, Abby thought. A man who'd spent weeks on end in mandated meditative silence.
"This will help you," she said softly as she creeped out the car with her newly disabled arm.
In an hour or so the police will knock on your door Kim, she thought. They will of course tell you that you have the right to remain silent. Silence is certainly familiar to Zen monks, but then they will tell you are under arrest for rape and sexual assault.
And right there your spiritual live will begin Kim! How wonderful! At that moment you will no longer be separate from life, no more hiding behind chopsticks and Buddhas Kim-just you and your life situation. In handcuffs Kim, you will find it, find that which you have searched your whole life for. I salute you Kim. You are indeed a truly enlightened man.