Korean Buddhist Cultural News
Adapting Buddhist Meditation Is Not a Cure-All
Effective meditation practices tailored to the dispositions and inclinations of modern society were suggested at a scholarly seminar on “meditation, physical constitution and healing.” The seminar, held on July 5 at the Korean Buddhist History and Culture Memorial Hall, was well attended by scholars of Buddhist studies, doctors of oriental medicine, meditation specialists and psychologists.
Lee Ja-rang, Humanities Korea Project research professor at Dongguk University’s Buddhist Studies Institute, compared the six categories of human physical types specified in the Path of Purification and the four types of dispositions specified by Sasang typology medicine, a classification given by Korean traditional doctor, Lee Jema (1837-1899). Suggesting a proper method of meditation practice for each of these four dispositions, Dr. Lee claimed that through proper meditation practice one can advance from an unwholesome disposition to a wholesome one, and from one’s “native physical constitution” to a more desirable one.
Jeong Jun-young, a professor at the Seoul University of Buddhism, drew great attention by looking into the side effects of meditation and their resolution from a Buddhist perspective. Surveying research results performed by noted Western scholars, he said that 62.9% of meditators reported side effects, 7.4% of them deemed serious. These included: anxiety, panic, increased tension, lowered motivation, boredom, pain, depression, increased critical attitude and even escapism.
Many Western practitioners misinterpreted the Buddhist concept of “non-self” as meaning the self does not exist, instead of its intended meaning which is the “absence of independent, fixed substance.” Claiming that Buddhism cannot be a cure-all for all psychological disorders, he found the source of the problem to be the misapplication of meditation techniques without a proper understanding of Buddhism in the fields of Western psychotherapy and psychology. In addition, Buddhism prescribes ethics training as a prerequisite before initiating meditation training. Dr. Jeong warned that the side effects of meditation won’t decrease if one adapts only the functional aspect of Buddhist meditation based on the misconception of the religious negativity of Buddhism.
Lee Pirwon, full-time researcher at Dongguk University’s Oriental Medicine Institute, proposed definitive practice methods tailored to the four types of physical constitutions. Yang Seung-gyu, another full-time researcher at Dongguk University’s Oriental Medicine Institute, presented his meditation research based on Indian medicine and Sasang typology medicine.
Asian Religious People Seek a Path to Peace,
Reconciliation and Coexistence
The 8th Assembly of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) was held from August 25th to 29th at the Songdo Convencia in Incheon, South Korea. This assembly, organized around the theme “Unity and Harmony in Asia,” brought together more than 450 religious persons from 22 countries. Held for only the second time in South Korea, the first time being 1986, it discussed various topics including “peace education and reconciliation,” “development and environment,” and “reunification of the Korean peninsula and peace in East Asia.” On August 28th a resolution reflecting these themes was announced.
The ACRP was founded in 1976 in Singapore on the initiatives of Thich Nhat Hanh, Mother Theresa and many religious leaders to pursue inter-religious harmony and peace.
Korean Temple Food 2014 in New York
Korean Temple Food and Buddhist Culture Well Received
New York City, the melting pot of the world, is about to add Korean Buddhist temple foods to an already amazing list of shared international cuisines. Starting on June 23rd and continuing until July 1st, a series of cooking demonstrations, exclusive dinners and free samplings were held at various acclaimed locations.
The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism, headed by Ven. Jinhwa, held the 3rd “Korean Temple Food in New York” exhibition from June 23rd to July 1st to let the world know the excellence of Korean temple food through a series of cooking demonstrations, exclusive dinners and free samplings.
Following the tradition of the 2010 and 2012 events, the 3rd event was held with the theme, “Natural and Healthy Meals, Korean Vegetarian Food Redefined.” Co-organized by the Cultural Corps, the Korean Cultural Center in New York and the Korean Consulate General in New York, the event also had the goal of developing markets for Korean food in the tourism and restaurant industry.
Ven. Jeongmun, temple food specialist, held lectures and cooking demonstrations at major cooking schools in New York and at the Lincoln Center Penthouse. She also appeared on “CBS This Morning” and introduced the Buddhist natural, organic cooking style that doesn’t use any pungent seasonings. The program host was awed by the unique taste and aroma of “yeonjabap”, rice steamed with tri-color fried lotus roots, gingko nuts and pine nuts.
A Korean Temple Food booth was also set up at the Fancy Food Show, North America’s largest specialty food & beverage event, held from June 29 – July 1, 2014 in the Jacob Javits Center. Attendees lined up for cooking demonstrations and food samplings.
Special Lecture by Dr. Christopher Germer,
Clinical Psychologist at Harvard Medical School
The Korea Buddhism Promotion Foundation (KBPF) prepared a special lecture to commemorate the “Month of Daewon Culture, 2014,” as part of its effort to explore how Buddhism can benefit humanity when it is applied in Western psychotherapy. Dr. Christopher Germer, a renowned clinical psychologist, gave a talk on “the power of mindful self-compassion” on Sep. 17, 2014 at the 3rd floor Dharma Hall, Dabowon, in the Dabo Building, the home of KBPF.
Between Sep. 18th and 20th Dr. Germer held a workshop on “mindful selfcompassion” at the Korean Cultural Education Center in Gongju, and on Sep. 24th he lectured on “the role of wisdom and compassion in Western psychotherapy” at the Korea Buddhist History and Culture Memorial Hall. Dr. Germer specializes in treating anxiety and panic disorders by applying the Buddhist practice of mindfulness. Since 1978 he has tried to integrate the concepts of meditation and mindfulness into psychotherapy. He is the author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, and co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice.
Chade-Meng Tan, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow,
Lectures for the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism
Chade-Meng Tan, author of the bestseller Search Inside Yourself and a founder and chairman of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), will visit Korea from Oct. 9th to 16th. This will be his second visit to Korea since his first visit in 2013 as an invited speaker for the 4th Asian Leadership Conference. He teaches that the core of leadership is in the development of emotional intelligence based on the cultivation of compassion. During his visit he will introduce his meditation program “Search Inside Yourself (SIY)” at various venues. On Oct. 10th he is scheduled to lecture to Hyatt Hotel employees, and on the 11th and 12th he will introduce his SIY program to business executives at a two-day Templestay program at Yukjijangsa Temple. On Oct. 13th a conversation with Ven. Hyemin will be conducted for the Buddhist Television Network. On the morning of Oct. 14th he will lecture to employees of SK Construction, and that afternoon he will give a talk for the Humanities Series “Who Am I?” for SBSCNBC. On the morning of Oct. 15th he will deliver a talk at a breakfast meeting of Mirae Assets, and that afternoon and evening he will hold a discussion and dinner lecture for the Monastic Training Department of the Jogye Order.
After a successful 8-year career in engineering and two years as Google EDU’s Head of Personal Growth, Meng now serves on Google’s People Development Team. Currently he works to achieve his vision of world peace by presenting Buddhist mindfulness meditation techniques in easy-to-understand terms, thereby expanding public awareness of and access to meditation.
New Publications in Korea
Finding the True Self
by Master Jinje | Lotus Lantern Books, Inc. (June, 2014)
Seon Master Jinje, the Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order, published his second Dharma talk collection titled Finding the True Self. His first book was titled Open the Mind, See the Light. The new publication is expected to be a good guidebook for English-speaking practitioners who want to learn the Korean style of Zen called Ganhwa Seon. As a traditional Buddhist practice, Ganhwa Seon employs a hwadu or a key phrase (“koan” in Japanese).
The book will be donated to major libraries and universities in America and Europe. Recently, Master Jinje was invited to the United Nations Committee of Religious NGOs and gave a talk at the Church Center for the United Nations. He has visited overseas many times to let more people know of Ganhwa Seon. He shared his conviction saying, “The practice of Ganhwa Seon can bring happiness to people and peace to the world by heightening the spiritual culture, which is the true value of religion.”
The book introduces proper Ganhwa Seon practice and explains the realm of enlightenment by citing the cases of old patriarchs as examples. Also included are his conversations with Professor Paul Knitter, an authority on liberation theology, and with Rabbi Jack Bemporad, a spiritual pillar of Judaism.
Wake Up and Laugh: The Dharma Teaching of
Zen Master Daehaeng
by Daehaeng | Wisdom Publications (April 2014)
Wake Up and Laugh, a collection of Dharma talks by Master Daehaeng (1927-2012), the founder of Hanmaum Zen Center, was published in March by Wisdom Publications. The Hanmaum International Culture Institute (HICI), an affiliate of Hanmaum Zen Center, announced that the book, originally published in German, was recently released in English as well.
Master Daehaeng gives readers a clear-cut explanation of “entrusting” — the step following the letting go of your attachments. She compares “entrusting” to “dying,” as you have to “kill yourself” first before entrusting everything to your true nature, something everyone on this earth already possesses. “Then, we come to release the great energy and potential that has always been within us,” she explains.
In 2007, the HICI published No River to Cross, essential teachings of Master Daehaeng, through Wisdom Publications. HICI further mentioned that as Wisdom Publications has a wide distribution network around the world, more overseas readers will now have easier access to the teachings of Master Daehaeng.
Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun:
Essays By Zen Master Kim Iryop
by Kim Iryop | translated by Park, Jin Y. | University of Hawaii Press (2014)
Before her monastic ordination, Kim Iryop (1896-1971) dedicated herself to understanding the changing role of women in Korean society as a pioneering feminist intellectual. As an influential Buddhist nun, she examined religious teachings and strove to interpret modern human existence through a religious world view. Originally published in Korea when she was in her sixties, Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun (Eoneu sudoinui hoesang) makes available for the first time in English a rich, intimate, source of material with which to understand her Buddhist thought and the depth of her Zen practice.
In Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun, Iryop challenges readers with her creative interpretations of Buddhist doctrine and her reflections on the meaning of Buddhist practice.
The translator, Jin Y. Park, is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at American University.