Seung Sahn Haeng Won Sunim (Dae Soen Sa Nim) was the first Korean Zen Master to begin teaching in the West. He was born in 1927 in Pyeong'An Nam-do (Southern Pyeong'An Province) in what is now North Korea. After World War II, disillusioned with politics and academic studies as a way to attain truth, he went to the mountains, did an arduous 100 day solo retreat, got enlightenment, and later received Dharma transmission from ZEN MASTER KO BONG, the most famous Zen Master of his time.
He first went to the United States in 1972, working for a while in a laundromat in Providence, Rhode Island. It wasn't long before he met some Brown University students, who would come by his small apartment to ask him questions about life and Zen practice. From these beginnings the Providence Zen Center was formed, and is now the head temple for many more Zen Centers around the world.
Zen Master Seung Sahn, founder of the international Kwan Um School of Zen, recently entered Nirvana on November 30, 2004, at Hwa Gye Sah temple in Seoul, Korea. He died peacefully, surrounded by his students. He was 77 years old and his monk age was 56 years.