Tag Archives: Zen

Arts & crafts Buddhist culture history Stories, legends & people Temples & shrines

Zen Legends- Part 2: Bodhidharma (달마) and the Severed Arm of Dazu Huike

Continued from part 1…

Painting of Bodhidharma and Dazu Huike, Heungryusa Temple

Painting of Bodhidharma and Dazu Huike, Heungryusa Temple

Usually built in the mountains, a lot of folks enjoy visiting Korea’s Buddhist Temples for their relaxing atmosphere and serene architecture.  Appropriately, most temple buildings are decorated with mystical portraits of Bodhisattvas, pastoral images of the Ox Hearder Parable, or scenes from the life of the Buddha.   Occasionally though temple visitors come across violent or gruesome paintings that clash with the otherwise tranquil vibe.  In one such image, you might find a monk bowing before a grumpy-looking figure seated in a cave, offering him a severed arm on a leaf!  This bizarre and unsettling image actually depicts a famous legend about the Bodhidharma (달마), the First Patriarch of Zen Buddhism (Kr. Seon or 선, Ch. Chan) and the awakening of his successor, Dazu Huike. read more »

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Arts & crafts Buddhist culture history Stories, legends & people

Zen Legends- Part 1: Why the Bodhidharma (달마) Came From the West

Portrait of the Bodhidharma (from atlantica.hangame.com)

Portrait of the Bodhidharma (from atlantica.hangame.com)

In Korean Seon (선) Buddhism (Ch. “Chan”, Jap. “Zen”) practitioners often meditate on paradoxical or nonsensical riddles known as koans (공안 or “ kong-an” in Korean) to gain insight into the nature of thought, perception and reality.  One of the most famous of these riddles is “Why did the Bodhidharma (Kr. “Dalma” or달마) come from the west?”  The Zen master Zhaozhou answered, “The cypress tree in front of the hall.”  I‘m not sure about that myself, but thankfully the mundane answer is a bit more simple.  read more »

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Arts & crafts Buddhist culture Festivals Gyeongju Korean culture videos websites

Video: Zen Action Painting (초대선묵전)

I was sorting through my video archives a while back and discovered some great footage from one of my first visits to Gyeongju back in the Spring of 2003.   I had stumbled into a Korea-Japan Buddhist Culture Festival in Tumuli Park and was lucky enough to catch the performance of the famed Korean Zen Master Beomju Sunim (법주스님), painting a spontaneous portrait of the Dalma (달마), or Bodhidharma, on a 10′ by 15’ sheet on the ground.  The video’s a bit shaky as I was shooting over people’s heads, so I’ve edited from 10 minutes video down to a more watchable 3 and 1/2.  I hope you enjoy it and if you’d like to check out more of the work of Beomju Sunim, you can visit the art and video galleries on his website.  He’s also got an English page with his biography and philosophy of Zen painting. read more »

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Buddhist culture East Sea Gyeongju history Stories, legends & people Temples & shrines videos

Video: Seonmudo (선무도) Demonstration

Last month my University asked me to help guide a tour of Korean-American students around Gyeongju for a day.  That afternoon we stopped by Golgulsa (골굴사) Temple for a short lesson in Seonmudo (선무도), or Korean Zen martial arts.  In all the times I’d been to Golgulsa, I’d never actually seen what Seonmudo actually is.  Luckily for us the monks gave a demonstration after the lesson and got to show off some of their top moves.  I had my handycam with me, so here’s a short 3 minute video of some of the highlights I’ve edited together. read more »

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Buddhist culture Gyeongju history Seonggeon-dong Temples & shrines

Seogyeongsa (서경사) Japanese Zen Temple

Seogyeongsa Japanese Zen Temple, Gyeongju

Seogyeongsa Japanese Zen Temple, Gyeongju

The other week my wife and I were walking through an older neighborhood of Gyeongju on our way downtown to grab a burger at McDonalds (Yeah, yeah. I know, but she’s pregnant.  I’m not going to argue.)  About a block from the courthouse, we turned the corner and stumbled on something we’d not seen since our last trip to Kyoto:  the sweeping rooftop of a Japanese Buddhist temple. read more »

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Buddhist culture Stories, legends & people Temples & shrines

Parable of the Ox Herder (심우도)

Parable of the Ox-herder, Okryeongam Hermitage

Parable of the Ox-herder, Okryeongam Hermitage

Okay, I admit it:  I’m a Korean temple junky.  Big or small, I get a kick out of visiting Buddhist temples over here.   Maybe It’s because they’re something excotic we don’t have back home (and no, Yogaville doesn’t count) or just that I find them very relaxing places to be.   But whatever your religious preferences,  Buddhist temples here are a pretty unique expression of Korea’s traditional culture and spiritual heritage.   read more »

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