[VIEWPOINT]Running in Harmony With the UniverseIn Buddhist temples, believers often pray all night in preparation for a special occasion. Sometimes they practice Zen meditation at the temple for 7 days or 21 days without a break, except for when they eat or go to the bathroom. In very special cases, some refuse to lie down to sleep for scores of years and devote themselves only to Buddhist meditation.
Let us imagine practicing Zen meditation for seven hours. It would be extremely boring and difficult, and would take a lot of perseverance to accomplish. However, perseverance alone will not allow us to enter a perfect state of spiritual concentration. We must learn how to pull out the higher power, connected to the universe, which is hidden inside of ourselves. During meditation, I feel a power rising in myself, helping me to complete the prayer, a power that I believe indicates that I absorb, even become, the universe while I practice meditation.
Recently, Lee Bong-ju won the Boston Marathon. Let us try to imagine what he felt during the 2 hours, 9 minutes and 43 seconds it took him to run over 42 kilometers. I, who have a hard time even riding a bicycle, can not comprehend how difficult it would have been. I do not know where the power came from which helped him to race up the steep, heart-pounding inclines, demolishing the morale of the Kenyan runners beside him, some of whom had 10 victories under their belts. However, I can guess that Mr. Lee transformed himself into a new being connected to the universe so that he could harmonize time and breath, heart and legs all at one moment.
Buddhism teaches that everything on the earth is nothing but creatures of our minds. This means that while everything in the universe exists as it is, we name things and ideas in the universe with our words. The universe itself does not change no matter how we name the things inside it. However, this interpretation of Buddhist teaching can lead us to the fallacy of erasing historical facts and realities.
If we accept this idea, we have to deny the historical fact that Confucius, Christ and Buddha gave us teachings about the truth. In order to avoid such dangers, it is important that we pull out the heart of universe hidden behind everyone's mind. The larger mind of the universe leads the world to move naturally, but individuals tend to fall out of this natural rhythm, creating personal agonies for themselves. The consciousness of the universe and that of the individual are not separate but exist together in harmony. Yet, we often fail to understand the entire concept.
It is difficult to achieve any goal with individual effort alone. Inducing the power of the universe to help us achieve our goals is the key. Entering nirvana is only possible when the universe and individual are in harmony, but earthly thoughts stop us from entering the perfect state of spiritual concentration. Many talented golf players fail at the critical moment because they can not remove worldly thoughts from their minds. The current condition of the economy in our country is not only a matter for ourselves. Other countries have similar difficulties. But the government fails to win the confidence of the people because it appears too arrogant and self-centered. Reviving the national economy will also be possible when the leadership exerts its efforts in earnest without any earthly thoughts and desires, like running a marathon.
One should not pursue one's own ego for one's own benefit. A tour guide who takes a group of tourists abroad should not speak for himself only, but must represent the others in his group. Like him, our ego should not be exalted in pursuit of our own interests. Giving up self-interest will help us come closer to our goals.
Christians may believe that God helps them, while Buddhists may say it is Buddha. It is not important what people believe in. What is important is putting one's mind in perfect harmony with that of the universe. Then, we will not be afraid of any difficult task. We can do it.
The writer is the head priest of Popchusa temple.
by Seok Ji-myeong