Zen Master Jok Um to Lecture on Zen at Williams College

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, executive assistant; tele: 413-597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., September 23, 2019— Zen Master Jok Um (Ken Kessel ’74) will deliver a lecture on the use of kong-ans, or koans, in the Kwan Um School of Zen. A koan is a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held on Monday, Sept. 30, from 7 to 8:15 p.m. in Griffin Hall, room 3.

Zen Master Jok Um received transmission in April 2017. He began studying with Zen Master Seung Sahn in 1975. He is a Licensed clinical social worker and a psychotherapist, working with children and families in foster care, substance abuse, outpatient and inpatient mental health and therapeutic preschool settings, as well as in private practice. He specializes in infant and early childhood mental health. He is a guiding teacher for the New Haven Zen Center, Hwa Um Sa-Orlando Zen Center, and Florida’s Gateless Gate Zen Center and Cypress Tree Zen Group. He also teaches at the Chogye International Zen Center of New York, as well as at other Zen Centers and affiliates.

The Zen centers of the Kwan Um School of Zen around the world offer training in Zen meditation through meditation instruction, daily morning and evening meditation practice, public talks, teaching interviews, retreats, workshops, and community living. The Kwan Um School of Zen currently has 44 teachers around the world. The school’s purpose is to make this practice of Zen as accessible as possible.

This lecture is organized as part of the Williams College undergraduate course “Zen and the Art of American Literature.”


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications 413-597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at www.williams.edu/map