Meeting D. at Hwa Gye Sah Temple
Last night I met with D, a Zen Buddhist of the Kwan Um School. He introduced me to some of the teachers at the Hwa Gye Sah Temple in Seoul.
"This is Bo Zang," he told me. "He is from Lithuania."
"Hello," I said. "Nice to meet you."
"And this is Zen Master Wu Bong. He is living in France."
"Nice to meet you."
"That is my Korean name," Bo Zang told me.
"I would like a Korean name," I said.
"If you sit for 3 years," D smiled. "Then you can take your precepts and get a Korean name."
"Mmmm," Zen Master Wu Bong remarked. "Maybe, Bop Bo."
"Bop Bo," I repeated. "What does that mean?"
"It is like yuppy."
"I like that name. I would like to have it."
"Well," Bo Zang gestured. "If Zen Master says it, then I think this is your name."
D. and I sat in the sitting room with a few other foreigners at the Temple. Most of them had just finished a 90 day retreat. They were very talkative.
"I am from Newfoundland," one of the Buddhists told me. "It's on the far side of Canada."
"This is a Franciscan brother who has come to sit with us," D pointed out a nice, Scottish monk.
We all chatted about where we came from, and then discussed jokes from our native countries. Then our Dharma friend from Newfoundland told us about his retreats to the caves in Thailand.
"My cave was angled in such a way, that whenever it rained all my things would get washed away," he smiled. "It was very hard. There was also a man there who had not left his cave in 17 years. He just lied in a hammock and kept thinking."
This made us all laugh. D. then potificated on the practice rituals for those who want to be with people and those who don't.
"Maybe, the people who want to be alone, need to practice with others," he smiled. "And the people who need to be with people, need to practice alone."
Everyone nodded in respect to D.. Then D. and I made our way outside the Temple. He was set on taking me to a hot bath. "How do you expect to get Enlightenment if you don't go to the hot bath?" D laughed.
"Okay," I said. "Let's go take a bath."
We made our way down the hill from the Temple and stopped off for some palm rice wine. This was where D. and I talked about the "American Dream" and Los Angeles.
"In America," D. said. "There is a lot of this ME mentality. Everything is me, me, me. This is very different from other places."
"Yes," I said. "I noticed it in Los Angeles. Everyone was dreaming."
"Yes," D. smiled. "And you got out of it. This is good. You have the Dharma companions guiding you. Do you know this term Dharma companion?"
I shook my head.
"Dharma companion is like ancestors of the Dharma. They look out for you. They have brought you here. This is very good."
"Yes," I agreed. "Los Angeles was starting to get to me."
"My friend he was a musician in Los Angeles. He said everything is concentrated on the external."
"Yes, image is a big thing," I agreed.
"Now you are out. You must go sit every Sunday to make your center strong. Then when you make a mistake it is only a big mistake."
D. asked me about sitting with Brad Warner. He was very curious about him. "I would like to meet him," he said. "I like his book."
"He's a good guy," I said.
"Did you sit at any retreats with him?"
"Just one. There were kids playing in the playground outside. They kept yelling "Marco! Polo!!" Then when we were done sitting, Brad looked up and said, "Polo."
"Good," D. smiled.
"Yeah," I said. "He was a pretty serious guy."
"Good," D said. "Life is very serious, Pirooz."
I told him about how Brad was criticizing Ken Wilbur and the 15 minute Enlightenment ideas W. had been supporting as of late. "Brad says how you couldn't expect to lose weight after 15 years of being out of shape, so how could you expect Enlightenment to come as easily," I explained.
"Yes," D. smiled. He is wrong though. For some people, it is just like," D. snapped his fingers. "Just like that. There is no waiting. For others, it takes a long time. It sounds like he was commenting on the importance of sitting. This is good. But do not worry about when. Just practice."
"Only go straight," I nodded.
"Gooood!" D exclaimed. "Yes, you will go to these Sunday sits. Do not worry about the talk. Talk doesn't matter. Just sit."
"Okay," I said.
"Yes!" he exclaimed again. How old are you?"
"Oh, so young!"
"Mmmm. Yes you have a lot of time. You are young and healthy. Go with what happens. Just allow the moment."
We left for the hot bath soon after. We walked about 6 or 7 blocks only to find it closed. D. didn't know any others to go to, so we walked back to the Temple. He was set on making sure I got a taxi to get back to campus. He stood by the traffic light to watch for when it changed. As soon as it did, he shouted and pushed me.
"Go!" he yelled after me. "Just go!"
I went straight.