Daegu Hanmaum

On Saturday, I finally decided to pay a visit to the Hanmaum centre in Daegu.

Standing along one of Daegu’s main streams, in the southern part of the city, I’d passed it dozens of times, going from one place to another, but never finding away to stop by. As I mentioned in a post a few months ago, the building had intrigued me since I first moved to Korea. I remember being fascinated by the seven-balled golden pagoda on the roof. I’d never seen a temple before and it looked so exotic.

We looped our way through the tightly woven alleys, looking for the parking lot. The navigation directed me the wrong way down a one way street on the opposite side of the temple, so I switched it off and followed my senses to the gate. Entering the small (for a temple) courtyard, there was an immediate feeling of a welcoming comfort, with an overall sense of sophistication. We entered and a couple of pleasant women directed us up to the second floor.

The Dharma Hall in the Annyang Hanmaum centre has to be one of the most remarkable shrines anywhere and this one was also spectacular. The large Buddha was slightly most generic then the Annyang one, but after doing three bows, I spent a long while studying the elaborate wood carvings on either side of the Buddha, depicting stories of Karma, the prism of Heavenly to Hell realms, and probably other things beyond my awareness, I’m sure. There was one ‘Halmoni’ (Korean grandmother) doing bows int he middle of the hall, so I didn’t want to disturb her with the clicking of my camera, but I would have loved to have captured a few of the details in the carvings.

In the lobby, we met a nun who seemed as though she may have been the Juji Sunim, though I’m really not sure, and I’m not sure that describing her would help; short, shaved head, gray robes…  ^_^  She knew Chong Go Sunim, anyway, and pointed out his photo in the children’s magazine she’d given us for Fina.

Part of the reason for the visit was that I really wanted to send some thoughts to my mother’s cousin, who was in the last hours of his life after developing ALS a couple of years ago. The temple sold lovely pale green candles, made of bee’s wax and mugwort. I left a package on a wooden tray beside the shrine that would be burned once the current candles were finished. He ended up passing away later that day, at peace, surrounded by family and loved ones. He used his last few months of life to help those in his life who needed and was ready for his time to come. One of the last things he told his family was that he wanted to see his mother.

The temple had an entirely peaceful atmosphere. Eunbong commented that it was the nicest feeling of any temple we’d visited in the area since moving here ast year.








Daegu Hanmaum, through the taxi window


When I first lived in Daegu, seven years ago, I used to occasionally pass by this building across the stream from the expressway that cuts through the city. It always caught my eye because of the unique tower of spheres on top.

When I learned about Hanmaum Seon Center, and found out there was a center, I wondered if it might be that building I used to peer at through the window of a taxi every couple of months or so during my first year in Korea. Last Saturday, after bringing Fina to the park for her birthday, we took a taxi downtown, and I waiting to pass the same place I hadn’t been by in nearly six years, and I could tell right away that it definitely was a Hanmaum center. It was interesting to me that for all these years that building poked out of my memory.

I’m hoping I’ll find a day really soon to drop by for once and visit the Dharma Hall. For now, I thought I would share the view from the expressway, an interesting sight/site in a sea of otherwise square, grey buildings

what’s keeping me busy

What Marcus said in his post yesterday was true, life with a young, growing family is busy!

Chong Go Sunim once asked me if having children has been good for my practice. My immediate response was, “No!” in the sense that Fina used to run circles around me, like I was a pagoda, yelling, “Woo woo woo woo!” every time I tried to sit, but I knew what he was getting at. There’s a lot less room for “me” in “my” life, and that’s as valuable as anything I’d learn sitting.

The side effect, though, is that I’m hesitant to write about practice when I’m not practicing very well myself.

Until I regain a balance, I thought I’d share a few photos of what’s been keeping me busy these days. What’s been lost in meditation minutes (and sleep!) is being made up for with Love, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I hope they make you smile! ^_^

sunrise at Yeonju-dae

This is my last weekend in the Seoul area before I move back to the countryside with my family.

Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while before I go was too see the sunrise from the top of Gwanak mountain, so last night I hiked to Yeonju-dae and spend a chilly night in my tent waiting for morning.

A thick fog came in during the night, so I wasn’t sure I would even get to see the sunrise, but it just managed to shine through.

In the top photo, if you were to follow a trail past the broadcasting towers, then up and down (or around) another small mountain, you can actually come out not far from Hanmaum Seon Center.

clicking on the photos will open them in higher res.

Tongdosa’s Nine Dragon Pond


Nine Dragon Pond

[ Some of you may have read this on my other site, but I just got back from a busy weekend looking at our new house in the countryside and have to get to sleep soon, so hope you don’t mind me reposting this!]

 In Korea, there are three special temples know as the “Three Jewel”, each representing one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism, the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

Deep in the southern mountains is Tongdosa, the temple representing the Buddha, splendid in both atmosphere and spirit. But when the temple was founded in the year 646, there were nine evil dragons occupying the pond that the monk JaJang had to contend with.

At first, he tried chanting a mantra to make them leave but they refused, so he brushed the character for fire on a sheet of paper and, tossing it into the air, whacked the pond with his stick. With this, the water began to boil. Soon, three of the dragon flew out from the water, but collided into a cliff and died. Five other dragons flew south, and settled permanently in what is now known as Five Dragon Valley. Finally, the last dragon emerged, blinded by the boiling water. He made a vow to JaJang that if his life were spared he would be the temple guardian. JaJang accepted his offer, and the dragon remains as the temple’s guard.


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.