letting go, being happy

There are times when I have more (impossible) questions and complaints than answers. Times I struggle so hard to reconcile all the theories and practices of all the different traditions I’m familiar with that I feel frustrated and quite angry.
And sometimes this bubbles over. Like a child raging in the supermarket, I pick fault, stamp my feet, and bewail the fact that there is no perfect philosophy, no perfect community, crying out in pain that I don’t know what I’m doing!
Thankfully, my friends respond. Carl, Young, Joe. “About the philosophical questions you raised, I wouldn’t worry too much”, Chong Go Sunim wrote. “They are all just skillful means aimed at untying the knots some people get stuck in…. so if they don’t click with you, it’s not a problem.”
Young, from the Bangkok Hanmaum group, wrote about how the experiences and insights we have and the words we use to describe them are two quite different things – and of course she’s right; all my confusion last week came from getting tangled up in words rather than simply relying on the practice.
The funny thing is, the trick to overcoming all this, the practice itself, is really very simple – the trick of letting go! Funny how I so often forget it, am still a complete beginner, prefering most of the time instead to live out never-ending intellectual and conceptual dramas.
The other trick is even simper (but boils down to the same thing) – to just do what makes you happy (combined with awareness of course!) … or, as Chong Go Sunim put it the other day, what makes you feel alive! I know that if I just let go and do what makes me fully alive, life is much simpler and better.
Today I practiced, and in the afternoon we went to a temple. The hall was empty and we bowed and sat, wandered around a little, talked to a monk, got some calligraphy done, then joined the service – just me and Ikumi and a single monk in a huge tatami shrine room with open windows, trees and sky.
Gorgeous, just gorgeous. No thinking, no worrying, no trying to work it all out – just letting go, just happiness!

teaching Fina “letting go”

A few months ago, Chong Go Sunim presented me with the idea (challenge) of teaching Fina “letting go,” an important theme throughout Seon Master Daehaeng’s teachings.

I think my mouth said something like, “Yeah, good idea,” but my mind was going, “Yeah, right! I’m not even good at letting go!” But in the end, that’s half the point. The best way to teach a baby to let go is to do it yourself and let the baby pick up on that.

After trying several times, when Fina would grab something, to try to emit a sense of, “I don’t want that…” I wasn’t sure how far I was getting. Then one day Fina spotted a big, stuffed Pororo (her favorite Korean character) doll in the toy section and squeezed it tight her arms, swinging back and forth, excitedly shouting, “Pololo! Pololo! Pololo!” (She learned Pororo’s name about two months before she learned to say “Papa”, even if she couldn’t quite get the r’s).

At first, I thought, “Well, we haven’t bought her too many toys, she’ll really enjoy this one”, then I saw the $70 price tag and almost choked. I had a feeling that mentally mimicking “let it go” wasn’t going to cut this one, and was in no mood for a baby-breakdown, then I thought of something different.

Fina was getting used to saying “Hi” when we say people we knew, but she was even better at saying “Bye!” so I tried it. I encouraged her to give the doll a kiss on the cheek, then waved to it and said, “Byyye~”

Just like that, Fina waved with one little hand, said bye to Pororo and carefully put him back on the pile of other Pororos.

Woo hoo! I’d never bothered keeping score with Fina, it would’ve been too humiliating! but score 1 for Papa anyway!

Sunday Photo; Buddha Carving at Bomunsa

This Buddha is carved into the granite cliff near the top of the mountain behind Bomun Temple, on the small island of Seongmodo. Along the thin platform a small group of people were doing 108 bows in the summer heat.

The really interesting thing is when you follow the path around and on top of the mountain, you can look across the hazy sea and see North Korea on the other shore.

Do what makes you come alive

I happened to visit the Dalai Grandma the other day and found she had a great quote for me:

Howard Thurman 
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Here’s another nice quote from Wikipedia:
community cannot feed for long on itself; it can only flourish where always the boundaries are giving way to the coming of others from beyond them — unknown and undiscovered brothers.

A lake in Russia, taken by my Dharma brother, Ilgyo Sunim

Sunday Photo; Hanmaum Dharma Hall Mandala

I found this technique for making 360 panoramic landscape images but decided it would be a great tool for making mandalas.

I made about 70 of these using different images from Hanmaum and chose this one in the end. It’s made from the first image I used for Sunday Photos here, so thought it was a good choice.

Clicking on the photo will link to the gallery, there are some really neat ones of the nuns circling the courtyard pagoda and some of just the pagoda as well.

Hope you enjoy!