Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the fourteen mindfulness trainings

the mindfulness trainings were enumerated by thich nhat hanh in 1966. they expand on the traditional buddhist precepts, serving as a guide for political and social action.

1. do not be bound to any doctrine, theory or ideology, even buddhist ones. buddhist systems of thought are guiding means, they are not absolute truth.

2. do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. truth is to be found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.

3. do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. however, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.

4. do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. find ways to be with those who are suffering. by such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.

5. do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, or wealth. live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.

6. do not maintain anger or hatred. learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. as soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your anger and hatred and the nature of the persons who have caused your anger and hatred.

7. do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside you and around you. plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.
8. do not utter words that can create discord and cause community to break. make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

9. do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. do not utter words that cause division and hatred. do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. always speak truthfully and constructively. have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.

10. do not use the buddhist community for personal gain or profit or to transform your community into a political party. a religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.

11. do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. select a vocation that helps you realize your ideal of compassion.

12. do not kill. do not let others kill. find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.

13. possess nothing that should belong to others. respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on earth.

14. do not mistreat your body. learn to handle it with respect. preserve vital energies for the realization of the way.
-the fourteen mindfulness trainings can be found in the book: "learning true love: practicing buddhism in a time of war" by sister chang khong (2007) - this excerpt can also be found in the september 2007 issue of "shambhala sun" magazine

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"prayer beads dangling
a harvest moon prayer....
mountain home."


night sky over hwaeom temple on jiri mountain - oct. 19, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

prospective immigrants please note

"either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

if you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

if you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

the door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door."

by: adrienne rich

Saturday, October 27, 2007

october 20, 2007: hwaeomsa spiritual music ritual: "on the path"

1500 people eagerly awaiting the concert ritual to begin! bundled up in hats and scarves to keep warm on such a cold and blustery autumn afternoon....sarah, chris, dr. lee and taeokbased on my personal experience and understanding of this ritual, i would describe it as being a collective prayer for the awakening of all beings....a reminder of the truth....that each and every person has the capacity to awaken their innate buddha (awakened/conscious) nature, bringing freedom and liberation from suffering and delusion. i felt this ritual also served as warm tea and bread for the journey....strengthening and deepening one's passion for and devotion to the bodhisattva path.
the ritual began with the monks processing in to the sweet sound of the wooden bamboo flute.once the monks were gathered in the common area, they began chanting the prajnaparamita the hwaeomsa ritual program describes: "this sutra illuminates the path to guide us from a world of illusion to that of enlightenment, from a world of discrimination to that of sounds like a bell to awaken us to the wisdom of emptiness, as there is nothing certain in this world, there is nothing to be hidden in the mind."and as if it were perfectly choreographed, a flock of birds began to circle in the sky above us....

after the chanting of the sutra, some monks began drumming. "as if responding to the sutra, the drum, played in motions of the shape of a heart, expresses desire to return to the original state of the mind...spreading the sound, the teachings of buddha, even to the souls of wild beasts. the wooden fish creates music, sending us a message to make constant effort without rest, just like the fish sleeping without closing their eyes. the cloud shaped panel is struck to comfort even the birds in the sky. the echo of the bell spreads far out into the valleys and villages awakening the souls from deep slumbers."

"songs for embarking on the path: the three women who perform in this ritual, dechen shak-dagsay, joanne shenandoah, and jennifer berezan sing of their departure to be on the path. having lost the land of their ancestors and a temple to pray in, they set forth on a journey to find the meaning of their existence. they found music along the way. their songs resemble the voices of the advanced masters who brought enlightenment and inspired others to embrace the truth and walk the bodhisattva path." (quotations taken from the ritual program)"dechen is from the high mountains of tibet...she left her homeland in childhood after her father's temple was set on fire (chinese occupation - 1959). she sings of the wisdom of the water. "may the memory of wounds burning like fire from life's journey be washed away and may you discover the truth that is as endless as the ocean.""joanne shenandoah, her tribe had their own name 'iroquois' taken away, and now live under unwanted protection with the name 'native american indian.' she sings of the wisdom of the wind. 'life's conditions may be limiting, but let us, like the wind, rise freely above all boundaries and awaken to the never-ending universe....'"sage smoke rising in the air.....joanne singing "the prophecy."
"we are now reminded to be aware of our place upon this earth and to fulfill our obligations to ourselves, our families, nations, the natural world, and to the creator. the words say we are to awaken, stand up, be counted....for we are being recognized in the spirit world." (from: "the prophecy")

"jennifer berezan....her songs awaken the divinity in temples, lying in the depths of caves, the barren desert and deep within the human body...she sings of the practice of the way of the bodhisattva. 'whenever you may be in pain, there is a being who will come running to you with flowers to dry your tears. so may you further dedicate yourself to the task of saving yourself, others, and the world....'"the sounding of the bell.....awaken.....awaken.....awakenjennifer singing "she carries me:"
"....a thousand arms, a thousand eyes, a thousand ears to hear my cries.
she is the gate, she is the door, she leads me through and back once more.
when day has dawned and death is nigh, she'll carry me to the other side.
she carries me, she carries me, she carries me to the other side.
she is the first, she is the last, she is the future and the past.
mother of all, of earth and sky, she carries me to the other side."

"om tara tuttare ture soha"

"in search of the sound of origin: emptiness of the mind drives one to set out on the path. the sound of elder cho soon ae embodies that emptiness at the source. her music precedes language, the sound of instinct and love, prayer for the wellbeing of the living and the dead, indifferent yet passionate like reverberations rising out of the earth. elder cho's music takes us to a place at the very depth of source, where prayers and souls grow, thus telling us to get in touch with our own divinity."

manish vyas

chium park - singing "nimegero"the head monk shared some closing wordspost ritual tea party in the temple yard....reminded me of the part i used to love most about church - the "fellowship" time with snacks after the service! we all gathered and sipped many different wonderful kinds of tea and had our fill of brilliantly colored rice cakes and kimbap (veggie sushi rolls). jungmyung led about 100 of us, including some western reporters for "the voice of america" (who just happened to be at the temple that day) in a spiral dance!! it was another one of those "pinch me, i must be dreaming" moments!lotus blossom tea.....delicate and divine!
may all beings be free from suffering.
may all beings be peaceful.
may all beings live with ease.

for more information on the performers and ritual:
jennifer berezan:
joanne shenandoah:
manish vyas:
the hwaeom spiritual music ritual website:

free at last, free at last.....never mind the "please pass"

october 19, 2007: after the tea ceremony with the monk (see previous blog entry below), the musicians spent the afternoon rehearsing for the upcoming performance and i meandered about the temple soaking in the beautiful sights and sounds.....prayer lanterns....i made a new friend at the monastery. his name is jong sah. he has been a monk at hwaeom temple for 30 years. he spoke great english! we had quite a ball together while the musicians were all rehearsing. we walked around the temple grounds chattering away. he spoke to me of how the mind is like the passing clouds overhead.....i told him that i had partly come to korea to cultivate a daily meditation practice and explore the idea of what it might be like to live a monastic life. he looked me straight in the eyes and enthusiastically said, "the nuns live five minutes from here. you talk to the nuns, they will let you live with them!" i burst into laughter, thanking him profusely, telling him i would think about it! i asked him if he had had relationships before he became a monk. he laughed a full and hearty laugh and said, "no, no! relationships bother me!" "relationships bother you?! what do you mean?" i couldn't help but ask, i was so filled with curiosity. he answered that relationships limited him, he had to do this and had to do that....and on and on....then with arms outstretched, he broke into a dramatic "FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD I'M FREE AT LAST!!" referring to his entry into the monastery!! he had me rolling on the floor, laughing so hard! jungmyung overseeing the rehearsals.cho soon ae - 79 years old!! her voice is like a deep rumbling inside of the earth - it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!! she is a master of pansori (a genre of traditional korean music). cho's drummer, who i hear is quite a heartthrob here in korea!!the wonderful deakem player - aa ramja il - outstanding keyboardist and electric guitar player who was offered a gig touring with korean pop star, rain
the chorus of singers dressed in traditional korean hanboksjennifer and manish - sportin' the energy drinks and pills that the stage managers handed out to all of the performers to keep them going through the long afternoon of rehearsals!!
rising moon over jirisanthe head monk talking with jungmyung. check out this guy's outfit! i love it...especially his hat!the monks drumming in their evening ceremoney

the head monk invited us all to a traditional korean dinner at a nearby restaurant. rice with a lotus blossom steamed in bamboo.....i can't believe manish caught this particular moment on camera! jennifer was going on and on about how my eating habits have changed dramatically since i moved to korea! according to her, my midwestern manners have been tossed out the window! never mind the "please pass," i now reach across the table with my chopsticks to grab whatever it is i desire and i wolf down my food more quickly than she does! (which is something we never would have guessed would happen in this lifetime!) the look on her face says it all!!