Monday, September 16, 2013

Hunger Strike at Jogyesa (Jogye Temple), September 15th, 2013

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Here is a piece I wrote in hopes of finding a publication for it in Korea;

Yesterday, I visited Jogye Temple, the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, located in downtown Seoul, where nine meditation monks are on their 10th day of hunger strike. They remain in meditation throughout the day without food or sleep.

They are protesting against the head monk of the Jogye order, Ven. Ja Seung, who had promised to resign at the end of his term after allegedly being involved in gambling and prostitution scandals.  Now that his term is up, he is trying to remain in power. Though the initial scandal received much press, these monks are getting very little coverage in most of the media.

The nine monks on hunger strike are meditation monks who usually don’t get involved with the business of the office monks but this is a serious issue for them. They are asking that he keeps his promise to resign and that the community of monks may be cleansed of those who conduct themselves inappropriately.

Perhaps if the wider Buddhist community, including the laity, and the general public, both inside and outside of Korea, showed greater support, their efforts would not be wasted. The activity of the administrative sector of the temple headquarters, widely considered to be of a standard less than ideal in Buddhist monks, should not tarnish the reputation of the entire community when, in fact, there are many monks who continue to practice their faith diligently, following the path of the Buddha with true sincerity.


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