Monday, November 18, 2013

Precepts ceremony at Hanmaum Seonwon, November 17th, 2013

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It was a special day together yesterday with my old friends and Dharma Brothers, as much for the ceremony as for the simple company of dear and wonderful friends. Something we've all been struggling with is being isolated from friends and even just a single hectic day together helped fill the void. We all recognized how great it was for our paths to meet again, especially in this way.

Chong Go Sunim did a lot of running around for us, providing us royal treatment at the ceremony. We had front row seats for the ceremony, just behind the group of monks on the right (nuns on the left). After a few minutes of meditation, a video made of Daehaeng Kun Sunim before she passed was projected beside the main shrine which seemed to bring her to life and I could truly feel her presence as she looked out upon us. A dharma talk she had given on the precepts was played which Chong Go Sunim later translated for us. What I was able to retain of it, and I may be totally botching it, was that the five precepts are the gateway but when we let go of "I" we also let go of the precepts. However, when "I" is dissolved and we see all beings, every single being in the universe, is ourself, we natural hold the precepts because when other is self, how could we cause harm? One does not even need to "know" the precepts to hold them. Simply not doing harm to others, one will naturally follow the precepts. Every opportunity to help, no matter how small, must be taken. If you were to come across a struggling worm, wriggling on the sidewalk, help it to a safe place. There are no words to express what it means to help in this way. Our thoughts and intentions come back to us perfectly. Hurry, hurry, come, become a Buddha. (Chong Go Sunim, please correct me if I'm terribly off, even even a little!)

Then, the Juji Sunim (Abbess) of Hanmaum gave the precepts, with a stronger emphasis on the doing aspect than what not to do, asking if we will do it after each one, and we repeated our intention to uphold them. Once that was done, the monks form a long row of assembly lines, preparing incense stick to mark our arms with. Chong Go Sunim told us it was the luck of the draw as to which monk burned as, which didn't really matter to me at all, but I sarcastically whined to him in my best imitation of a spoilt child, "But I want Juji Sunim to do mine~~~." "And that's why it's the luck of the draw!" he responded.

I went to the nearest nun, bowed, held out my arm, and she pressed the three incense sticks into my arm. It doesn't hurt too much, but the sting did make me flinch. I thanked her for burning me, which sounds a bit odd if you decided to think about it, with palms together and bowed again. Before leaving, Chong Go Sunim snuck us over to great Juji Sunim, who was set up in the middle. I bowed to her and she motioned for my arm. She planted the incense into my flesh much firmer than the other nun had and though I didn't flinch, hers hurt! I wondered if she knew how bad I'd been since initially taking them five years ago... haha I didn't even notice at first, but the ember of one of the stick had actually stuck to my arm and continued to smoulder. As I returned to Chong Go Sunim and Marcus, I noticed the thin line of smoke rising from my arm. "Sunim," I called, with a bit of a tremble, "do I have to leave it there or can I put it our" "Uh, you'd better but it out right now." I was joking, but I actually didn't mind the extra-strength burn. Chong Go Sunim once said that the mark left by the incense will open doors for you in the unseen realm, I'm hoping that one will open them really wide! (^_^)

Thank you to my friends, Joe, Marcus, Chong Go Sunim, thank you to Daehaeng Kun Sunim (Zen Master Daehaeng), Juji Sunim, and all the nuns and monks at Hanmaum Seonwon (One Mind Seon Center), and thank you to the 3000 other people who joined us on Sunday. May the karmic momentum of the day be long lasting and far reaching.

Later, at Bongeunsa

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Juji Sunim's burn is the top one, with the black spot in it! (^_^)

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