Monday, May 10, 2010

Hong Beop Temple: Lantern Making and Epic Spaz Attack

On March 21st, I went to Hong Beop Temple to learn about Dharma and try out traditional calligraphy. It was a pretty cool way to spend my birthday. Anyways, this month's program was a Dharma talk and traditional lantern making for Buddha's upcoming birthday (May 21st). The Dharma talk was given by an American monk who was currently visiting an international meditation center in Busan.  Even though he gave the same basic message as the last monk, the delivery was completely different. He was trying to really get across the point of being in the moment--that meditation isn't just about sitting still.  It's in everything you do. When you are walking, just walk, when you are eating, just eat. Concentrate on what you are doing fully and 'just do it.' Very good message though he did end up sounding a bit like a Nike commercial. It would be hilarious (and also scandalous and ten kinds of wrong) if they had a zen master for the next ad campaign.Anyways,  Here is a paraphrasing of one of his anecdotes that I really enjoyed:
A few hundred years ago in China, two monks are traveling between temples one day on a rather long journey. Following their customs, they do not talk and are just walking along. Eventually, they come to a stream that is engorged because of recent rains. On the bank is a maiden who is distressed about trying to cross the dangerous water alone. One of the monks picks her up, carries her across, puts her down on the other side and continues on his way.  Many hours later, just before they reach the temple, the other monk says to him 'you know in my temple it is forbidden to even touch a woman and you picked one up!'  The first monk replies 'I carried her across the stream. Are you still carrying her?'
His point was that if you are free from attachments you are truly free to help people. Anyways, there were lots of interesting things said. I will never be a Buddhist but I think that the religion has quite a good deal to offer people.  As the positive aspects of many religions do. But I digress! Back to the temple.

Apparently, they were in the midst of running a week long camp for little boys to be like 'real monks.' They shaved their heads, gave them monk clothing and treated them like real monks for the week. That included not touching their heads (or much touching in general) and waking up at 3am. I hope the little tykes got an afternoon nap. They were unbelievably cute. Even the Koreans at the lecture were cooing over them like mad. Of course, I've never seen a grown-up monk run or play frisbee but I'm glad they got to relax a bit.
They even took part in community work. Notice how the boy on the far right is nearly hidden by his wheelbarrow.
So making lanterns with delicate paper takes incredibly advanced motor skills. Notice how they have one helper per child? The kids did seem to have an inordinate amount of fun painting the glue...and their sticky fingers.
Eee! Sticky fingers! Put them together...and pull...together....apart...STICKY AMAZING GOODNESS! .... That's what I imagined they were saying. That's just me though.

At the moment, I can hear my Mother going, "Yes, yes the miniature monks are very cute but WHERE ARE THE PICTURES OF YOU?!" I will not disappoint the mother unit even though I have helmet hair from riding Female Kiwi's motorcycle.

And yes, that is my yellow notebook which goes with my everywhere. How else would I be able to paraphrase random Dharma stories so well? Sadly, I filled it up this afternoon and will have to transfer to a new purse notebook. This wouldn't be a big deal only I keep ongoing lists in the back few pages on things to check out when I have a change. I COULD cut them out and put them in the new notebook only it's a different size and it would just offend my OCD sensibilities.Errr, tangent gun!

Finally, the finished product!
Aren't they pretty?! I will (possibly) put candles in them like I'm supposed to on Buddha's birthday only I'm pretty sure I'd accidentally burn down my apartment so for now they will be strictly ornamental. The lotus flower one is suppose to have 5 rows of 13 petals each (of the pink) but they didn't have quite enough petals to go around and to be honest I got pretty sick of gluing things after 3 hours. The munchkins only made the simpler lantern. Now I'm sure you are wondering how on earth I got home two fairly delicate paper lanterns on the back of a motorcycle. Here's how: I put the purple one very carefully into my amazing expandable North Face backpack (brought along just for this purpose) and begged my other friend to carry home the lotus one.  For carrying home several extra lanterns (I wasn't the only one taking an anti-lantern mode of transportation home) on the subway she deserves a medal. At the very least, I think crappy movie night dinner will be my treat on Wednesday.

Spaz updates...just from the past 3 days:
1. Female Kiwi said that she's never been close to having an accident...until that ride with me. On the way their we had to swerve to miss another cyclist heading the WRONG WAY down our lane, a car that peeled out without looking both ways, and a truck changing lanes abruptly without signaling. Riding was very fun but I think my luck might be hinting at something. On the positive side, we didn't die!

2. Saturday I said 'crick' instead of 'click' and later 'tower' instead of 'towel.' I have officially been in Korea for FAR TOO LONG. Dear Summer Vacation, Please come faster! Love, Alex

3. While helping my coworker put up the poles for the volleyball net, the handle for adjusting the tension fell off, whacked my thumb and sliced it open. I'm serious. Not only did I bruise it, I actually started to bleed a bit. The PE teacher had to go get a bandaid and everything. Then again, I didn't hit myself or anyone else in the head during practice so maybe it's a good idea to get out my spaz magnet before volleyball starts.

4. I forgot that I was wearing my indoor slippers outside on the way to volleyball until I slid on the steps outside (no traction!) and nearly face front of a few parents waiting for their children. I managed to save myself at the last minute....but it was a close call and definitely still ridiculous looking.

There are a few more minor ones but I think I'll save them for tomorrow's post.


Kyle Crum said...

I don't know if that summer vacation is going to rid you of your Konglish. More than a month later, we still say "changey". It's a hard habit to kick.

Alex said...

Yes but it might make me feel better about it!

When I was home in between contracts I somehow found myself mixing Korean and Spanish together like 'hana mas mama.' It was strange and completely unintelligible.

I don't think I'll ever stop saying 'nice-uh'....

era said...

I concur, 'Nice-uh' still has yet to leave my vernacular. I have hispanic service techs I work with and sometimes I'll reply to their spanish with korean, like I keep saying "mulayo" instead of "no se."

Love the Buddhist tale, by the way. It's a keeper, like my favorite Taoist tale:

Two monks stand on a bridge and watch the fish in the stream near their temple. One monk says, "Ah, how wonderful it is to be a fish, freely swimming in the clear stream." The other month says, "But, you are not a fish. How could you possibly know what it is to be a fish?" "Ah," replied the former, "but you are not I, so how do you know I don't know what it is to be a fish."

God I love that one.

So where did you put your lanterns? Did it make it?

Alex said...

One went in my backpack and is hanging up near my window (yay for 3m hooks). I gave the other to a friend but somehow it ended up in a girl's car who apparently lives near me but who I don't know at all. Hopefully I will manage to get in touch with her this week to reclaim my lamp...