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Don't Look at Them Differently

  Dongguk University is famous for Buddhism.  Therefore, it's easy to find monks who study in the library, eat in the cafeteria and walk around the campus like other students.  The differences between monks and students are just their clothes and shaved heads.  But, are they really the same as us students?  Staying in a temple is so different from a student lifestyle.  So, the Post will introduce the monks' daily routine in a temple based on interviews with several monks.


  Getting up early for us
  "I feel refreshed by a cool breeze when wake up for worship in the morning." a monk said.  "When do you get up in the morning?" I asked.  "Hm, usually around three."  "Wow, that's so early.  Aren't you tired?"  "No. I'm not tired.  My routine is not as hard ans you might think.  Sleeping for six hours is enough for me," said the monk smile. 
  Early in the morning, the sound of a temple bell ends the monks' sleep.  There are other sounds, too:  wooden-fish, cloud-shaped gong and drum.  What do these sounds mean?  "They are for life's relief.  Striking a temple bell, called Beomjong, means relief of all living beings," the monk said.  So these sounds get the monks up around three for worship.  "After washing my face, I go to the sanctuary with other monks.  We walk in a line to show respect for each other and to show respect for those who came before us.  It is called Anhaeng, an imitation of a flock of wild geese.  We promise the Buddha every morning to do something good for the public."
  The Buddha was used to get up early in the morning for discipline and then would give a sermon to relieve mankind of problems.  His believers have followed his habit for generations.
 

 Living with the Zen
  "After having breakfast, we return to our rooms for  meditation."  "Meditation?  That's too hard for me," I responded,  "Because it gives me the feeling of pins and needles in my legs.  It's not Zen but punishment for me!"  "You started meditation after entering your university, didn't you?  The pain is one way to disciple yourself," the monk said while smiling and arranging his body for meditation.
  "How long do you meditate?" I asked.  "about eight hours: three hours after breakfast, three hours in the afternoon, and two hours before going to bed."  "Amazing!  Aren't you bored?"  "Not bored at all.  I always think Wha-du.  Do you know Wha-du?  It's a Buddhism question which I have to solve during my life.  I'm living with this question and haven't solved it since I became a monk," he said.
  Monks ask this question again and again for their whole lives.  Fully, apprehending the Buddhist question is way of being the Buddha.  They consider this question not only during meditation but also while doing something else.
 

Studying and working
  "What do you usually do when not meditating?" I asked.  "Actually, everything we do is connected to  meditation.  For example, I study the Sutras, textbook of Buddhist teaching, to lean the Buddha's instruction."   "And we regard physical work as sort of studying.  Though it, we can know the soul of the Buddha."  "Does this apply to sweeping a yard or mopping a floor?"  I asked.  He nodded his head and laughed.
  Sutras tell us that every monk should work without complaint because everything is a learning experience.
 

 Life, a kind of discipline
  From dawn till dusk, they think about the happiness of mankind.  So, they will meditate, study and worship everyday.  And every dawn, the temple bell will sound to release mankind from suffering, and all the monks will rise and pray for us.  Although their lives seem to simple and uninteresting, they live with the soul of the Buddha and the duty to help relieve people of their suffering.  If we have a chance to meet a monk on campus, we should be interest in their intellect not just a shaved head.

Lee Seon-a  faciras@dongguk.edu

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