The silence lingered and lingered. You could feel the mental fidgeting gather steam -- everyone had come for a lecture from this Korean fellow and now he seemed unwilling to honor his part of the bargain and give the damned talk. It all took place a long time ago.
Finally, some brave soul raised his hand and asked, "Why do you wear those robes?"
And things were off to the races. I can't imagine that Soen Sa Nim really gave much of a hoot what the question was. Any starting point is a good starting point ... who cares what the question is? And, more than that, it really is nice when spiritual discussions are just that -- discussions between two interested parties ... not some graven-tablet speech by one while the other writhes in awe.
I can't remember all of what Soen Sa Nim replied but I do remember he said something like, "Look. Suppose you go to the beach. Everyone is wearing a bathing suit. But then something happens and suddenly you need a cop. It helps if you can spot one."
The response, while a bit disingenuous, was close enough for folk-singing. You knew what he was talking about even if someone wearing robes is no guarantee of a helping hand or a well-armed response to some violent upheaval.
Who knows whether a person dressed in a robe can shoot straight? But when everyone else is dressed in string bikinis that make a fig leaf look excessively modest, it's a starting point... a point from which to start a discussion, perhaps.