Archive for May, 2011

Sunday Photo; Jebiwon

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I just thought I’d share this with those of you in the Seoul area, there is a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) practice group in Seoul.

A friend of mine has been involved with the group for a few years and what she’s told me of her learning has been very inspirational. (Especially considering that of all the things that come out of our bodies, words can be some of the most troubling!)

On their website (http://krnvc.org/eng/index.aspx), nonviolent communication is described as, “a way of relating to ourselves and others, moment to moment, free of past reactions.”

A big part of NVC is actually learning to listen, to understand the other’s needs as much as learning to express your own.

For more information on the group, here is a link: What We Do

And if you’d like to visit: Direction

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To hike Jirisan, I’ve been told, takes a full three days, so the one time I went hiking in the mountain, I only went a short way up, to Buril waterfall, and camped out nearby, then made my way back down the next morning.

Just before the waterfall is a small hermitage, where the monk, Il-ryong (One Dragon), invited me in for some locally made green tea. I thought I would sit and have a nice talk with him, while he poured us tea but instead he pointed over to his tea sets and basket of tea, and said, “I have to go pray now, help yourself.”

I was a bit surprised, but took him up on his offer, anyway. Even more surprised was the older gentleman who came along a few minutes later to find the bald-headed foreigner sitting in the temple making green tea. He asked if I were a monk and was really puzzled when I said no, and that the monk was in the back shrine doing ye-bul (ceremony). He let me pour him one cup of tea, but quickly got up and left after. I wondered if he thought I’d invited myself in and didn’t want to be there if the monk came back.

I sat facing the open door, and enjoyed every sip until the leaves were finally exhausted, while gazing out at this view. I often think about making the eight hour trip back there just so I can enjoy it once again, but I know that moment will probably not be found again.

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One of the things I’ve learned from my teacher is importance of interpreting things positively. (Basically, the thoughts we give rise to lead directly to our future.)

So I found myself laughing as I woke up this morning, with this song playing over and over in my head. Even now this video puts a smile on my face!

(from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian):

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Since the South-West corner of the Korean peninsula has fewer and smaller mountains then the East side, a team of heavenly masons came down one night to carve one thousand Buddhas and one thousand stupas. These Buddhas and stupas would balance out the peninsula and save it from capsizing into the sea.

However, the rooster crowed, signaling the dawn, before these two were finished, and they still lay in place.

I’m interested in how the form of the Buddhas were decided by the shape of the rock, not necessarily by the artist. The rock already had the Buddhas within, it just took some chiseling away to reveal them!

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Most large Korean army bases also have Dharma halls. This may strike some as strange, but Korea has the draft, and just about every man, regardless of religious faith, ends up in the military.

One of the Dharma halls I look after is on a base that’s relocating as part of a consolidation project. As a result, the entire base is being emptied and demolished. So last night, which was also Buddha’s Birthday, we had a concluding ceremony and Dharma talk. It was really a celebration of a place where people have been able meet and grow for the last 23 years. (Here are some pictures before the ceremony; I got distracted and forgot to ask someone to take pictures of the event itself. Sigh. ;-) You can see some photos of last year’s celebrations here, as well as a larger Korean Army Dharma hall.)


Waiting for things to start (and having a few laughs)


taking care of everyone


The people who supported the Dharma hall over the years


Just a "panel-made" building, but it keep people warm and dry for 23 years


Thank you

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The Buddha’s Birthday is almost upon us, (tomorrow in fact) which means that yesterday was the street fair in front of Jogye Temple in Seoul. For an entire block, the road was filled with activities and booths set up by Buddhist organizations and NGO’s from around the world. I can’t imagine any other place in the world where one could see so many different types of Buddhism and Buddhist organizations. In fact, I have too many photos, and not enough time, so I’ll have to divide this post into two parts.  (You can see larger images of most photos by clicking on the image.)
For a great collection of night-time photos of Jogye Temple check out Robert’s photo blog.  In the next post I’ll cover the different Buddhist countries involved and some of the activities and NGOs.

Booths of the street fair stretching for a city block



you could hear these drums a block awayFarmer's band: one of the great things about the day are incredible traditional music groups



a booth for making miniature lotus lanterns (like the ones in the top of the photo)


There was all kinds of cool stuff for sale as well, here some incense holders

Incense being sold by Korea’s premier incense company, Neung In. They also provided the raw ingredients and showed people how to make their own incense.


One of the cool things about the street fair are the activities, here passersby participate in making a Buddhist painting


At Jogye Temple




Under the lanterns in Jogye Temple


Bathing the infant Buddha


"Between Heaven and Earth, there is nothing that is not this precious Self"



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The Buddha’s birthday celebrations won’t begin until this Saturday, but on Sunday we(Hanmaum Seon Center) had a preview of the activities our center’s groups are planning.  There’s nothing else for it, but to say they were incredible! The planning and effort they’ve put into the designs and rehearsals really show up. 

The Lantern Parade will begin at around 6pm or so from Dongguk University(Saturday, May 7). There will be performances beforehand, I think. The parade will go up to Dongdae-mun, and then down Jongno to Jogye Temple. On Sunday the 8th, there will be the street fair on the road in front of Jogye Temple, to be followed by more performances and a party in the evening. On the day itself, Tuesday May 10, there will be activities all day long at all the major temples in Korea.









the flowers are actually lanterns that light up




(for Fina^-^)

the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra



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If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I like texts that encourage us to practice.  Over several months I posted a translation of the Ven. Ya-un’s Admonitions to MyselfNot too long ago, I came across a link on Reddit to a text by Patrul Rinpoche (1808-1887) that has a lot of the same spirit to it: very down to earth and get-with-it. (If you’re not familiar with Reddit, you should check it out. Its Buddhist community is quite good.)



Vajrasattva, sole deity, Master,
You sit on a full-moon lotus-cushion of white light
In the hundred-petalled full bloom of youth.

Think of me, Vajrasattva,
You who remain unmoved within the manifest display
That is Mahamudra, pure bliss-emptiness.

Listen up, old bad-karma Patrul,
You dweller-in-distraction.

For ages now you’ve been
Beguiled, entranced, and fooled by appearances.
Are you aware of that? Are you?
Right this very instant, when you’re
Under the spell of mistaken perception
You’ve got to watch out.
Don’t let yourself get carried away by this fake and empty life.

Your mind is spinning around
About carrying out a lot of useless projects:
It’s a waste! Give it up!

Thinking about the hundred plans you want to accomplish,
With never enough time to finish them,
Just weighs down your mind.
You’re completely distracted
By all these projects, which never come to an end,
But keep spreading out more, like ripples in water.
Don’t be a fool: for once, just sit tight.

Listening to the teachings
—you’ve already heard hundreds of teachings,
But when you haven’t grasped the meaning of even one teaching, What’s the point of more listening?
Reflecting on the teachings—even though you’ve listened,
If the teachings aren’t coming to mind when needed,
What’s the point of more reflection? None.

Meditating according to the teachings—
If your meditation practice still isn’t curing
The obscuring states of mind—forget about it!

You’ve added up just how many mantras you’ve done—
But you aren’t accomplishing the kyerim visualization.
You may get the forms of deities nice and clear—
But you’re not putting an end to subject and object.
You may tame what appear to be evil spirits and ghosts,
But you’re not training the stream of your own mind.
Your four fine sessions of sadhana practice,
So meticulously arranged—
Forget about them.

When you’re in a good mood,
Your practice seems to have lots of clarity—
But you just can’t relax into it.
When you’re depressed,
Your practice is stable enough
But there’s no brilliance to it.
As for awareness,
You try to force yourself into a rigpa-like state,
As if stabbing a stake into a target!

When those yogic positions and gazes keep your mind stable
Only by keeping mind tethered—
Forget about them!

Giving high-sounding lectures
Doesn’t do your mind-stream any good.
The path of analytical reasoning is precise and acute—
But it’s just more delusion, good for nothing goat-shit.
The oral instructions are very profound
But not if you don’t put them into practice.

Reading over and over those dharma texts
That just occupy your mind and make your eyes sore—
Forget about it!

You beat your little damaru drum—ting, ting—
And your audience thinks it’s charming to hear.
You’re reciting words about offering up your body,
But you still haven’t stopped holding it dear.
You’re making your little cymbals go cling, cling—
Without keeping the ultimate purpose in mind.

All this dharma-practice equipment
That seems so attractive—
Forget about it!

Right now, those students are all studying so very hard,
But in the end, they can’t keep it up.

Today, they seem to get the idea,
But later on, there’s not a trace left.
Even if one of them manages to learn a little,
He rarely applies his “learning” to his own conduct.

Those elegant dharma disciples—
Forget about them!

This year, he really cares about you,
Next year, it’s not like that.
At first, he seems modest,
Then he grows exalted and pompous.
The more you nurture and cherish him,
The more distant he grows.

These dear friends
Who show such smiling faces to begin with—
Forget about them!

Her smile seems so full of joy—
But who knows if that’s really the case?
One time, it’s pure pleasure,
Then it’s nine months of mental pain.
It might be fine for a month,
But sooner or later, there’s trouble.

People teasing; your mind embroiled—
Your lady-friend—
Forget about her!

These endless rounds of conversation
Are just attachment and aversion—
It’s just more goat-shit, good for nothing at all.
At the time it seems marvellously entertaining,
But really,
you’re just spreading around stories about other people’s mistakes.
Your audience seems to be listening politely,
But then they grow embarrassed for you.

Useless talk that just make you thirsty—
Forget about it!

Giving teachings on meditation texts
Without yourself having
Gained actual experience through practice,
Is like reciting a dance-manual out loud
And thinking that’s the same as actually dancing.

People may be listening to you with devotion,
But it just isn’t the real thing.
Sooner or later, when your own actions
Contradict the teachings, you’ll feel ashamed.
Just mouthing the words,
Giving dharma explanations that sound so eloquent—
Forget about it!

When you don’t have a text, you long for it;
Then when you’ve finally gotten it, you hardly look at it.
The number of pages seems few enough,
But it’s a bit hard to find time to copy them all.
Even if you copied down all the dharma texts on earth,
You wouldn’t be satisfied.
Copying down texts is a waste of time
(Unless you get paid)—
So forget about it!

Today, they’re happy as clams—
Tomorrow, they’re furious.
With all their black moods and white moods,
People are never satisfied.
Or even if they’re nice enough,
They may not come through when you really need them,
Disappointing you even more.

All this politeness, keeping up a
Courteous demeanor—
Forget about it!

Worldly and religious work
Is the province of gentlemen.
Patrul, old boy—that’s not for you.
Haven’t you noticed what always happens?
An old bull,
once you’ve gone to the trouble of borrowing him for his services, Seems to have absolutely no desire left in him at all—
(Except to go back to sleep).

Be like that—desireless.

Just sleep, eat, piss, shit.
There’s nothing else in life that has to be done.

Don’t get involved with other things:
They’re not the point.
Keep a low profile,

In the triple universe
When you’re lower than your company
You should take the low seat.

Should you happen to be the superior one,
Don’t get arrogant.

There’s no absolute need to have close friends;
You’re better off just keeping to yourself.
When you’re without any worldly or religious obligations,
Don’t keep on longing to acquire some!

If you let go of everything—
Everything, everything—
That’s the real point!

This advice was written by the practitioner Trime Lodro (Patrul Rinpoche) for his intimate friend Ahu Shri (Patrul Rinpoche), in order to give advice that is tailored exactly to his capacities.

This advice should be put into practice.

Even though you don’t know how to practice, just let go of everything—that’s what I really want to say. Even though you aren’t able to succeed in your dharma practice. don’t get angry.

May it be virtuous. 
Patrul Rinpoche (1808-1887) was a wandering Dzogchen master of Eastern Tibet, beloved by the people. He was renowned as the enlightened vagabond.

Translation by Constance Wilkinson

Photo:  The photograph at the top is from the book Himalaya: The Secret of the Golden Tara, by Dieter Glogowski.

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