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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Photo; Buddhas in the snow

At Saturday Sangha yesterday, we discussed the beginning of chapter seven, in No River to Cross. It’s a part that really stood out the first time I read the book, and continues to drift a considerable distance above my understanding.

One term that really jumped out at me was, “manifesting nondually”. It reminded me of something Chong Go Sunim told us back when Saturday Sangha first began.

The Dalai Lama has a policy of meeting any Tibetan refugee who crosses the Himalayas into India. Apparently, upon greeting him, many people thank him for rescuing them at some point during their journey. If they’d fallen into a crevasse in the snow, for example, they say that he appeared there to help pull them out.

Manifesting nondually, what a wonderful to open yourself to the world!

One mind, many bodies…

...one string, many kites.

Your fundamental mind, your true self is invisibly connected to all things in the world and through it all things communicate with each other and work together as one. In this way, the whole universe is functioning together as one through fundamental mind, so this working together is called One Mind (Hanmaum).

-Dae Haeng Kun Sunim

Sometimes, you just have to look up, and there’s a teaching waiting for you!

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A Better Zennist

All the people I meet, especially people I care about and who care about me, are my potential teachers. That is just how I look at life.

I met my Zen teacher, Chong Go Sunim, in 2007 and liked what he’d said about just about everything we spoke of. I’d never met Daehaeng Kun Sunim, his teacher, but I read her books, saw her on several occasions, and I bowed to her in respect, several times.

As with anything, I don’t accept all aspects of Buddhism, or Hanmaum Zen, which in Korean is called ”Seon”, but Han-maum, or One Mind Zen has at it’s center of understanding, a beautiful way of looking at reality; namely it says that our inherent nature is interconnected with all things. It also says that if we let go our worries, concerns, and desires to this “foundation”, they will find themselves-through our conscious effort of letting go of them-solved. This takes place in the interconnectedness of all things, working together. This is called Juingong. But you could call it God, if you want.

It is just the words that are different. You see, in Hanmaum, we “put our worries and concerns in our Juingong”, but I have realized it is the same as praying to God. I mean, I realize it doesn’t involve speaking to God, but you could do that too, if you believe in God. But if I release my worries and concerns to my foundation, does God not hear this? Of course not.

What I love about Hanmaum, though, or Zen, really, is that it doesn’t conflict with science, or any faiths, if you truly understand it.

In a funny way, it’s like The Force, in Star Wars. All life is bound by and penetrated with this oneness, and its energy emanates from all things as well. To me what people call “God” is like this; in everything and everywhere, and so what you call him doesn’t matter (those of you seeing God as something moe or less than male, please pad on my use of the masculine pronoun. I do so in the interest of convention according to standard English). The proof of that is all the names he has. In English it’s God. In Korean it’s Hana Nim (First Man, or First One), and in other languages it is other things. Do you think he cares? It is your heart he hears, not your tongue. He’s God. He’s not bound by the same physical limitations that you and I are bound by. I guess I should say here that I am not arguing a case for the existence of God, but I am arguing a case for the oneness of all things, and if one believes in Juingong, or God, it really doesn’t matter, not too much to practitioners of Hanmaum, anyway, and frankly, to me, that’s beautiful; no dogma here.

To me, Zen meditation can be utilized by anyone at any time, regardless of his or her religious practice. It is a tool for peace, harmony, and relieving oneself of useless worry, greed, and harmful states of mind that give rise to our misfortunes. It brings enlightenment. The main practice in any form of Buddhism, or Zen, is to meditate, which bings one the ability to live, as opposed to unconsciously.

I think Christians and Muslims should meditate. Chistians, especially, often ask me why I cannot just follow God, saying, ‘if you did that’, you wouldn’t’ need meditation’. I love people for caring about me this much, but people who say such things-in my opinion- betray a fear of solutions that can be added to their spiritual ‘kit-bag’, and they are basically saying something tantamount to, ‘hey, I got God; who needs penicillin, or stretching before running, or hammers?’

Though I think of myself as a Zennist, and I am in awe of many of the realizations Siddhartha Gautama had, I am not a Buddhist in the strictest sense, for Buddhists believe in rebirth. I am not sure about this. Actually, I am pretty sure I do not believe in  it, insofar as it means (to some) that my whole consciousness will be reborn in another life-form. I am not sure the Buddha meant that anyway. I think reincarnation and rebirth are vastly different, anyway, but I  don’t prescribe to either notions.

Buddhists also want to be  from the cylce of existence. I do not want to be. I love existence. What else is there? It makes sense, though, that Siddhartha Gautama would have wanted to find a release from the cycle of rebith, as he was raised in a Hindu nation, and the going idea was that you could come back as a worm, or an ant. Who would want that? Sheesh! But I do believe the basic teachings of The Buddha, just as I believe in what Jesus taught*.

I am a Zennist because Zen meditation makes my Christian practice better, and by that I mean my practice of loving others. Period. And as much as I am a Buddhist, because I believe in the basic idea that everything is in our minds, Zen meditation makes my Buddhist practice better. It is a wonderful tool. And to be a better Zennist just means to meditate often, so as to stay more “in the moment”, and less in the ego.

Seong Bul Hashipshiyo,

Carl~Mahn Doe

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* I am actually quite interested in the Gnostic gospels, which reflect ideas and teachings attribited to Jesus that were not permitted into the book we commonly call The Bible. For an accurate and fair assessment of  the origins and history of that book, read world renowned biblical scholar Dr. Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus: Who Changed The Bible And Why