See with your heart

This is a famous temple site near the ancient Korean capital of Silla. One of my Dharma brothers lives nearby, and visits this site when opportunity presents. While it’s unquestionably beautiful, what draws him is the feeling of living energy. Sometime, far in the past, people practiced very sincerely and deeply here. And the echos of that can still be felt even now.
South Mountain near Kyoungju



The Message of the Stone Statue (Dharma song)

The Message of the Stone Statue(돌 장승 우는 소식, here’s a practice version Message of the Stone Statue(Korean 20111023). The levels for the piano are a bit off, but you can get a good feel for the song.)

There’s a chill in the air,
when the frost comes, white flowers will cover the earth.
Those who have no eyes must feel so sad, unable to see.
Those who have no ears must feel so frustrated, unable to hear.
Those who have no hands must feel so hungry, unable to lift food to their mouth.
Those who have no feet must feel so lonely, unable to go or come.

Over that mountain,
on the path that Spring travels,
a stone statue, with tears of joy in its eyes,
is telling everyone that Spring is on the way.
Ah! How could we not know this promise of ripened flowers?!

Warm Spring is coming!
When the flowers blossom,
their fragrance will fill the land.
What a wonderful sight for those who have eyes that see!
What freedom for those who have ears that hear!
What satisfaction for those who can easily lift many hands
and help beings far and wide!
And for those whose broad feet can carry them far and wide,
without hindrance!

Over that mountain, in a valley
blossoming arrowroot vines
spread the news of Spring.
Ah! From the white-peaked mountain,
streams of thoroughly ripe water flow forth!

Even with walking, seeing, and listening,
After putting a foot on the ground,
Before lifting another up,
nothing is there.
The moon shines in a thousand rivers,
reaching in and grabbing for it,
eh-he-hah, de-he-hah!
opening my hand again,
could I even say that it came and went?

(verses by Daehaeng Sunim, English translation copyright 2011 Hanmaum Seonwon Foundation)

Korean Dharma Songs

Some of the earliest Buddhist songs in Korea were actually work songs, sung by farmers and their wives.  I’m sure that the work songs were present long before Buddhism came to Korea (circa 500 C.E.), but gradually they became examples of skillful means, as lyrics were created that reflected deep truths.
Imagine how deeply input the teachings would become as you spent hours reciting them while working:

Die once and open your eyes.
See yourself,
see yourself,
see, see.
Observe how this body is a collection
of karmic states of consciousness,
gathered together
according to karmic affinities.
this body contains billions of lives.
how they cause us to suffer
as they go back and forth
every instant.

Take the suffering and hardships that arise
and gather them together in your one mind.
Do this!
and the lives within your body
will be transformed into Bodhisattvas.
To save all beings,
start with those already within you.

This one mind that we all share
is the source of everything and every life.
One mind,
one mind,
our one mind and all Buddhas exist together,
working together as one. 

“All minds are my mind,
all bodies are my body,
not a thing is separate from me.”
Truly realize this for yourself,
truly bring forth this one mind.

Raise this unseen five-colored pillar high
and go forward entrusting everything to it.
Live magnificently throughout all the ups and downs of life.
Live magnificently!
Live magnificently!

(From the song “Live Magnificently,” by Daehaeng Sunim)

Dharma Songs

Koreans love to sing, and so the members of our temple have taken a number of poems and verses by Daehaeng Sunim and turned them into Dharma songs. This Saturday and Sunday we’ll even be having a festival of Dharma songs at the King Sejong Cultural Center in downtown Seoul. If you already have tickets, be sure to come! (I wanted to invite as many people as possible, but it sold out almost immediately.)

There will be a lot of performances by different lay choirs, as well as a sunims’ choir. Here’s one of the songs by the sunims during the 2004 Dharma Song festival, accompanied by traditional Korean instruments:


(This song is taken from a verse of Daehaeng Sunim’s translation of the Thousand Hands Sutra)

Sincerely entrusting everything to one mind,
Determined to know the real and help all beings,
Raising these great wishes,
May my Samadhi wisdom swiftly brighten.

May I attain every kind of virtue.
May the blessings arising from my practice guide and sustain all beings.
May all beings attain Buddhahood


This second song is called That Mind, Just As It is. It’s sung by the nuns of Hanmaum Seon Center, and is actually just a practice version.(They’ll kill me if they know I posted this!) The translation I did still feels a bit off, but here it is:

That Mind, Just As It Is (in Korean)

When water is clear, we can see the moon,
when water is murky, the moon is invisible,
but the moon doesn’t rise because the water was clear,
nor does it set when the water is murky.
When we dissolve all defilements and delusions,
mind becomes calm and clear,
and Buddha spontaneously appears.

 When our mind is clear, Buddha appears.
When our mind is murky, Buddha is unseen.
Buddha didn’t come from somewhere else,
Buddha didn’t go anywhere else.
If we calmly and flexibly guard the six senses
so that they don’t become thieves,
if we’re careful not to be caught by the functioning of the senses,
unenlightened beings at once become Buddhas.

The green mountains use no words,
running water isn’t caught by anything.
Like nature, when mind remains
solemn and settled,
that mind itself is Buddha.