Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?

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Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? [달마가 동쪽으로 간 까닭은? - Dalmaga dongjjok-euro gan kkadakeun?] (1989) is an award-winning South Korean film written, filmed, produced, and directed by Bae Yong-kyun.


(text from DVD subtitles)
Hyegok, the old monk: There is no beginning and no end. Nothing is immutable, everything changes. That thing which does not come into being does not die.

Hae-Jin, the little monk: Why have we all left the world?
Kibong, the young monk: It's because in the world, there is no peace or freedom of the heart.
Hae-Jin: Why?
Hyegok: Because people haven't enough heart to put in all the things of the world. In fact, they have enough heart, but it's full of the idea of Self.

Kibong: He left the royal palace and went alone in the forest. This departure took place more than 2500 years ago. Was that flight an abandonment of the world? No the departure was simply the process of returning. In fact he never left. He came back inside us all. You know the reason for his departure was to come back totally within us?

Kibong: I became a hermit to free myself from the dust and the dirt of the world, looking for perfection. But I realized that it was impossible without loving the garbage and the dust of the world, even life's passions. One has to embrace all manner of things.

Kibong: If it's easy to fight against reality and fate, it is difficult to love them. What a beautiful world when you know how to love it!

Hyegok: You must keep the Koan between your teeth even if you fall into a furnace. The one who has decided to solve the Koan must go to the end. When you reach Enlightenment you will find freedom like the breeze on the mountaintop and a peace unshakable like a rock in a storm. The Place where you stood today can be the Land of Perfect Bliss itself.


  • Hae-Jin Huang - Haejin (the little monk)
  • Yi Pan-Yong - Hyegok (the old monk)
  • Sin Won-Sop - Kibong (the young monk)

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