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A young boy wandering in the mountains was suddenly inspired to become a monk. He went to the Master Hwasan Sunim and told him, "I want to live in the monastery, sir." "Not all people can live as a monk. It is not an easy job." But the boy would not budge. He persisted and finally got the Master’s permission, on the condition that he would do odd jobs around the monastery for three years. This was how his life as a monk began.
Seoam Sunim was born in Youngju, North Gyeongsang Province, in 1914. He started to practice under the guidance of Hwasan Sunim at Seoaksa in Yecheon in 1936. Until the liberation of the country from Japanese colonization in August 1945, he practiced at diverse monasteries in the region of Mt. Geumgang, and one time he taught at Simwonsa in Cheolwon. He then held many important official positions, such as Executive Director of Administration for the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Elders, Head Monk at Bongam Monastery, and then the 8th Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
Seoam Sunim died at Bongamsa on the 29th of March, 2003, at the age of 87. He had been a monk for sixty-eight years. Before his decease, he assembled about 100 monks and lay people from Taego Seon center and Bongam Monastery and told them, "I have nothing say. If people ask about my Nirvana poem, tell them, 'There was an old man who lived thus and died thus.' That is my Nirvana poem." He then retired to his room and passed away in a sitting position.