[FOUNTAIN] The Buddhist Saint of Silence

Home > Opinion > Editorials

print dictionary print

[FOUNTAIN] The Buddhist Saint of Silence

In one of the Buddhist sutras, a divine voice echoes in the empty air after a woman gives birth: "Think of only divine laws and never speak of worldly affairs." The baby stops crying, and says not a word while growing up. Some people chastise the parents for raising a mute child. But the parents give their child the name Mu-eon (silence), believing that Buddha is sure to bless the child. The child later became a Bodhisattva - or a Buddhist saint - of silence, respected by Buddha.

In our world, there are many times when words cannot express true meaning. After speaking words, we often feel that we failed to deliver even half of what was in our hearts and worry about a misunderstanding. So Buddhists often talk about understanding each other without using words, and looking at the pointing finger instead of the moon being pointed at. Buddhist priests sometimes let out a short scream of enlightenment instead of teaching a great lesson in words or speaking final words on their death beds.

"I have deceived men and women for my entire life, and my sins fill the sky. I will fall into a living hell and suffer 10,000 regrets. The red sun is in the middle of the green mountain," said Venerable Seongcheol, revered as the living Buddha of our era, before he died. Although he possessed nothing, leaving behind only tattered clothes and a pair of black rubber shoes, he felt that his sins filled up the sky.

A Buddhist ceremony was held Friday at Sancheong-gun, South Kyongsang province to celebrate the restoration of the childhood home of the Venerable Seongcheol of the Chogye Order and open Geop-oe temple. (Geop-oe means "reaching beyond kalpa," where kalpa is the Buddhist concept of eternity.) "I pray that the temple and the house will become valuable places that enlighten people on the true meaning of nirvana," said President Kim Dae-jung. Grand National Party President Lee Hoi-chang and Millennium Democratic Party Chairman Kim Joong-kwon attended the ceremony to learn from the spirit of the Venerable Seongcheol, and conversed with senior monks. "The sea always takes back all the water, including the muddy water from the flood," one monk observed.

In Buddhist terminology, kalpa, or "eternity," is the time it would take to rub down a large piece of rock by brushing it with a thin cloth once every hundred years. Kalpa is, in fact, a time longer than eternity. We wish that politicians would speak only clean words and use words sparingly, as did Venerable Seongcheol. Even he, who surely spoke only clean words, said he had deceived people all his life. So are political leaders who denigrate each other every day destined to fall into a living hell? Most of our people are judging them - silently.

by Lee Kyeung-chul

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)