Nonviolent Communication group, in Seoul

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 (, 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

Sunday Photo; Jiri Mountain

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.

Looking on the bright side

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):

Sunday Photo; Buddhas at Unju Temple

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!

Last view of a Korean army Dharma hall

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

Buddha’s Birthday: Streetfair in Seoul

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"