Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hwa Gye Sa and Mu Sang Sa

Today I returned from my trip to Korea and these two verses capture my thoughts and feelings after visiting these 2 temples which are associated with the late Zen Master Seung Sahn.
Hwa Gye Sa Temple Arch

1. Hwa Gye Sa
Abandoning likes and dislikes, practitioners focus their mind inward.
Travelling to Hwa Gye Sa to meet the Master again after many years,
Bowing deeply at the relics and stupa recalling his kindness,
The Master is no longer there, but yet his presence is everywhere.

Buddha Hall, Mu Sang Sa
2. Mu Sang Sa
Dragons and phoenixes adorn the temple of Mu Sang Sa.
They live in harmony in Mount Gye Ryong,
Protected by a Grandfather who rides on a tiger,
The lonely summer flower blooms in the winter chill.

1. The first poem describes my main purpose of travelling to Hwa Gye Sa. The dharma talk for that day was by Zen Master Dae Jin who talked about likes and dislikes and how these are impermanent concepts. While there, I was shown the former room of the late Master Seung Sahn. Many of his items are still there. Bowing at his stupa was a touching moment for me as I decided to stop corresponding with him years ago because I really did not understand what he was saying then. I decided that I should find out more and understand deeper before I write another meaningless letter to him. But ... Alas! Now that I have got a little bit of understanding, he is no longer around. But yet, I have got this feeling, that all this was made possible with his blessings. And I am not the only person who has felt his deep influence to so many people till today. In that sense, his presence is felt everywhere. The first picture shows the large arch leading to the temples inside Hwa Gye Sa.
Lonely Summer Flower

2. The second poem describes Mu Sang Sa where the Buddha Hall was adorned with many heads of Dragons. Even though I have seen temples with dragon heads before, but these heads are really very big. They reminded me of the dream I had before I had even heard of this temple. So I was quite surprised when I first discovered from a picture in the internet before my trip that Mu Sang Sa has the same big dragon heads as the temple in my dream. So I said I got to go see it for myself. But that was about October 2010, i.e. last year. It was only this year that I heard of the name "Mu Sang Sa". Very strange. There are also many phoenixes, especially the inner side of the temple roof. I was informed by Zen Master Dae Bong that the spiritual energy at the temple site, which is at Mount Gye Ryong, is strong owing to the harmony of Ying and Yang “chi”. I was informed that the local Korean folks believe in the protection of a local spirit pictured as an old man with a tiger (rarely as an old woman). When Buddhism came, he was regarded as a protector and Buddhist temples often has a separate shrine for him. While there in the temple, myself and Zen Master Dae Bong saw a small plant that should have been dead by then due to the cold winter conditions. I was told it usually grows in the hotter season. It was the only plant with flowers there. The other plants around it were dead (withered), except that one. Zen Master Dae Bong suggested I take a picture of it for posterity. And I did. So it was indeed a strange sight.The second picture is the Buddha Hall at Mu Sang Sa. The third picture is that of the flower plant that still survive the winter. As you can see, it is not surrounded by other similar plant. All photos here are taken by me.

No comments: