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Archive for October, 2010

They further asked, “In the future, there won’t be any difficulties, will there?

The Master said, “Five or six years after my extinction, a man will come to take my head. Listen to my verse:

Offerings to the parents with bowed head.
There must be food in the mouth.
When the difficulty of ‘Man’ is met,
The officials will be Yang and Liu.

-The Sixth Patriarch’s Sutra

 

Five or six years after the Master’s death, a Korean monk named Chin Ta Pei hired Chan Ching Man of Hung Chou to steal the Patriarch’s head and bring it back to Korea so that he could make offerings to it. Being poor and hungry, Chan Ching Man accepted the money.

The Patrirch’s head was originally buried beneath the Main Hall, but after it was burned down and rebuilt, the head was enshrined inside the pagoda.


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Completing Yourself

Here’s a translation of a short but powerful Dharma talk by Daehaeng Kun Sunim.

Everything that confronts you-
take it all and entrust it to one place, one hole,
change negative things into wholesome things
by firmly entrusting them to that one place.

Do this with everything that confronts you.
Even when something arises from within you,
even when something confronts you from outside,
remember that all of those things are your foundation
testing you,
to see how you react.

Even when things seem overwhelming,
don’t be afraid.
Without dwelling on like or dislike,
just silently entrust it all.
Take what confronts you, and know
“This is what I have to do,”
and silently take care of it.

Answer others gently,
speak gently, think gently,
think gently,
and trust that one place with everything.

If you keep doing this,
if you become adept at this,
then the time will come when
your true self makes itself known to you.
This will absolutely happen.

I have personally confirmed and verified this.
There is the core inside of an electric cable
that makes it possible for energy, for light, to go back and forth.
Likewise, there is a core that underlies this shell of ours.
Taking everything and returning it to this core  
is the path of completing yourself.

                                              -Daehaeng Kun Sunim

 
 
copyright 2010, The Hanmaum Seonwon Foundation

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An exhibit of Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) Buddhist paintings is being held at the National Museum of Korea until November 21. There are only 160 of these paintings in the world, and 61 are displayed here. Chances to see these paintings are very rare, so don’t miss this exhibition if you’re interested. These tend to be wall-size paintings, and are quite old, so the photos here really don’t do them justice. 
    
 Here’s the info from the museum’s webpage:http://www.museum.go.kr/eng/Special.do?cmd=1001&gc_no=580 There’s a small entrance fee, and the museum is closed Mondays.

Masterpieces of Goryeo Buddhist Painting – A Long Lost Look after 700 Years

This exhibition brings together Goryeo Buddhist paintings from all over the world in the largest exhibition of these works in history. Goryeo Buddhist paintings are widely seen as some of the most beautiful religious art in the world. Their delicate and graceful forms indicative of the high aesthetic standards of the Goryeo people, their brilliant primary colors and resplendent gold pigment, and their beautiful yet powerful flowing lines combined to create an unparalleled world of beauty in the East Asia of the day. 

 Currently, there are known to be approximately 160 Goryeo Buddhist paintings around the world. Of these, a total of 61 are to be included in this exhibition, including Hyeheo’s Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara, currently housed at Japan’s Senso-ji temple. These 61 paintings include 27 from Japanese collections, ten from U.S. collections, five from European collections, and nineteen from Korean collections. In addition, the exhibition will feature 20 Buddhist paintings from China’s Southern Song and Yuan Dynasties and Japan’s Kamakura period, allowing visitors to examine trends in East Asian Buddhist painting over a similar time period. Also on display will be five Buddhist paintings from the early Joseon era, inheritors to the tradition of Goryeo Buddhist painting, along with 22 statues of the Buddha and metal crafts from the Goryeo era, for a total of 108 paintings and other artworks.

61 Goryeo Buddhist paintings including Hyeheo’s Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara (middle) will be on display.

 The exhibition has been organized by theme.

The introductory section, “Goryeo Buddhist Paintings: The Flower of Truth,” provides information about the historical background and themes of Goryeo Buddhist paintings, helping visitors to more fully appreciate these works.

 The first section, “Buddha: The Enlightened One,” features those works of Goryeo Buddhist painting that focus primarily on depicting the Buddha. Many of them depict Amitabha, in what is perhaps a reflection of the flourishing of Sukhavati belief in the Goryeo era. The Amitabha from the collection of Japan’s Shobo-ji temple is an example of the “descent of Amitabha” form, showing Amitabha approaching the departed to welcome them into paradise, and evokes wonder with its vivid primary colors and beautiful, intricate patterns, which survive intact to this day.

 The second section, “Bodhisattva: Savior of Sentient Beings,” features paintings of Avalokiteshvara and Kshitigarbha, familiar figures to adherents of Buddhism. The Water-Moon Avalokiteshvara from the collection of Japan’s Danzan-jinja shrine depicts a solemn and graceful Avalokiteshvara sitting on a rocky outcrop of Mount Potalaka and greeting Prince Sudhana, who has come seeking the wisdom of the Buddha.

The third section, “Arhat: Paragon of Spiritual Practitioners,” includes the Five Hundred Arhats series painted in the years 1235 and 1236 during the Goryeo era. Painted as a plea for peace in the kingdom and the well-being of the royal family, this series contains around 14 known works, seven of which are housed at the National Museum of Korea. All seven of these are to be shown at the exhibition, along with three others on loan from the U.S. and Japan. Through these ten works, viewers will be able to see the majority of extant paintings from this series.

 The fourth section, “Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in Neighboring Countries,” features works of Chinese and Japanese Buddhist painting that were painted during the same time period as the Goryeo Buddhist works, affording visitors a broader perspective in appreciating the era’s East Asian Buddhist culture and painting. In particular, it features three Western Xia Buddhist paintings from the 12th and 13th centuries, excavated at Khara-Khoto in 1909 and currently housed at the State Hermitage Museum in Russia. These works are well known among academics to have a strong affinity with Buddhist painting, but this marks the first time the actual works have been shown in Korea.

 The final section, “Succession of the Tradition,” examines the ways in which the tradition of Buddhist painting was carried on in subsequent eras, with a primary focus on Buddhist paintings commissioned by the royal house during the early Joseon era. The works on display include two pieces from the Medicine Buddha Triad, part of a commission of 400 Buddhist paintings by Queen Munjeong to honor the rebuilding of Hoeam Temple in 1565.

 * Paintings are alternated during the exhibition period, so exhibition times for the different works may vary.

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Buddhist Swag

A while back, Barry at Ox Herding had a great cartoon about spiritual swag that reminded me of an amazing street in Seoul. It’s the street in front of the main Buddhist temple in Seoul, Jogye Temple.

What I love is the variety of stuff that’s available. When I was practicing in the US (twenty years ago), if one wanted a mala, incense, or a Buddha statue, you had to look through a catalogue, (Shasta Abbey and Dharma Crafts were the best), and then mail in your order. Four or five weeks later, it would arrive, and you’d hope it was what you wanted. You had to order from a catalogue description or tiny picture, so you could never be quite sure.

both sides of the street are lined with a variety of small stores like these

Moktaks, in all sizes and sounds

 

Umm, okay. Something for everyone!

 

chanting tapes

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Of course, none of this makes practice any easier, and we shouldn’t mistake this stuff for the essence that we have to uncover, but, sometimes, it is kind of fun to wander through here and see what’s new and check out the different varieties of incense. And when you get tired, there’s always a very nice tea shop nearby.

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About an hour and a bit south-east of Seoul, tucked in the hilly countryside of YongIn is Waujeongsa, head temple of Korea’s lesser known Yeolban Jong, the Nirvana Order.

Near the top of the path that circles the steep grounds is a small grotto shrine in which lies this beautiful Parinirvana Buddha, carved from a single Juniper tree. It’s one of the many Buddhas I love sitting in the room with.

. . .

This year, a lot of special people in my life have had their leases expire. I know I’m not particularly unique or alone in this experience. Every religion and philosophy has their own explanations and beliefs about death (it’s usually a rather important subject!) and I’ve always appreciated what Buddhism has taught me.

It’s a difficult subject to discuss definitively because how many of us remember dying? What we do have, though, is the shared wisdom of those who can see, and personally, ones I trust. The Buddha spoke of witnessing his hundreds of lives, the number in the texts is 500, just before his enlightenment. If since that time, we’ve all been reborn as humans consecutively, we can probably add another 40-50 or so lives, but assuming the possibility that we could have gone anywhere from cats and dogs to birds and bees and who knows what else, well, from a Buddhist perspective, we’ve all experienced death enough times that there ought to be some knowledge stashed down in those roots somewhere!

At Saturday Sangha, Chong Go Sunim often talks about different situations when Dae Haeng Kun Sunim has assisted in the unseen realm of someone’s passing. One of the more practical stories, rather than one of the, “Holly cow! She did what?!” ones, was that she once said, “Even if someone has already been reborn, praying for them can still help them in their current life.”

There must have been people other than me who wondered about this for her to say it, but I’m glad that she did. It’s encouraging to think our thoughts and intentions can reach that far, even beyond death.

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back from Germany

Well, we made it back from Frankfurt with no major problems, and even met some great people and publishers at the book fair. It’ll be a few months of back and forth before anything’s finalized, but things look promising.

A professor of mine once said, “You can have a great teacher, but you still need to work your a## off.” ^-^ 
Boy, was he right! And that’s about how hard we worked as well to make things happen.

The difference between potential and realized is basically blood and sweat.
Once you know what to do, it’s a matter of throwing yourself into the task and doing the best you can. And all the while remembering is isn’t “me” that’s truly doing things, but this true nature. So that’s where questions need to be asked, and praise and blame returned to. (Although it helps to remember what’s being criticized isn’t me as true nature, but this collection of habits called “I.”) That’s what taking care of things, even when they go directions contrary to my intention. “This Buddha essence is taking care of things, so even this may be for the best.” And things really do work out for the best when I can get past “I,” and trust this inner essence.

Here are some more photos from Frankfurt. On a personal note,I’m leaving next week for the land of rain and coffee (Seattle) but I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

The old city center at Frankfurt

 

near our pension (bed and breakfast)

sunsets in Frankfurt were really something

 

the convention grounds - 11 huge buildings

 

a reading at our booth

 

 
downtime

 

The forum we held about Daehaeng Kun Sunim, to launch the German edition of "No River to Cross"

 

contemplating Dukkha, via Lufthansa ^-^ (hint: that's really how close my knees were to the next seat.)

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Sunday Photo; Maitreya Hall

Though the grounds of the Gold Mountain Temple are scattered with National Treasures, the most striking of them all is the three storied Maitreya Hall, the only one of its kind remaining in Korea.

Originally built in 599, the current buildings have been standing since 1635, after the entire complex was burned to the ground due to the discovery of a small army of monks who had gathered to train here in hopes to fight off the Japanese invaders.

There must have been intense debates among the temples at the time about whether or not to fight the Japanese. In the end the reasoning was that, ultimately, to fight them off would be less harmful. I believe the analogy was, if you see a rabid dog charging a group of children, it’s better the kill the dog than to allow it to attack the children. To borrow the conclusion of another anecdote, perhaps they struck down their opponents with all the compassion they could muster.

 

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