Samu (sunim)

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Samu Sunim
Samu Sunim.JPG
Religion Seon
Born Sam-Woo Kim
1941 (age 75–76)
Senior posting
Based in Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom
Maitreya Buddhist Seminary
Title Sunim
Successor Haju Linda Murray
Toan José Castelão
Religious career

Samu Sunim (born 1941), born Sam-Woo Kim, is a Korean Seon sunim of the Jogye Order. He received Dharma transmission from Zen Master Weolha Sunim in 1983. He has taught primarily in Canada and the United States, having opened centers in Toronto, New York City, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois as well as Mexico City.


Samu Sunim was born in Korea in 1941, suffering the loss of both parents at an early age. He was orphaned at age eleven and became homeless. After several years of living on the streets, Samu was ordained as a Buddhist monk at Beomeosa (범어사) in Busan, Korea in 1956 (age 15). He moved to Japan in order to avoid conscription and relocated to the United States in 1968, where he established the Zen Lotus Society in New York City (today named the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom).

In the late 1960s he met and married Marianne Sasha Bluger in Montreal, Quebec, Canada while teaching at McGill University where she was a student. They had two children together: Maji Raphael Kim (b. 1969) and Micheline Agi Kim (b. 1970). They lived for a short time in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, then moved to Toronto in the early 1970s. Shortly after moving to Toronto they separated and later divorced.

Samu Sunim reported to have had a vision in 1977 in which his deceased teacher (Solbong Sunim) came to him and gave Dharma transmission. He received a more traditional authorization as a Zen master from Weolha Sunim in 1983. He is often cited in works by his student Geri Larkin.

In addition to New York, he has founded Zen centers in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Chicago, Illinois Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Mexico City; in 1985 he established the Maitreya Buddhist Seminary. While originally a monk within the Jogye Order, Samu Sunim's Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom does not require celibacy.[1][2] Within the Jogye Order, it is said to be "business Buddhism".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ford, 97-98
  2. ^ The Faces of Buddhism in America, 126-127