[Viewpoint] Two doors open onto but one mind

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[Viewpoint] Two doors open onto but one mind

The Republic of Korea has had a very difficult June due to the demise of late former President Roh Moo-hyun and the military threat from North Korea.

Although it is frustrating that we are in such a situation, I propose we think of it rather as one of our nation’s stages of social development.

All things and phenomena in our society are interdependent and coexistent. All incidents and accidents in society are linked together, and we are all directly or indirectly connected with them.

In Buddhism, we call it karma.

We ourselves are the causes of our recent conflicts and difficult problems, and we are the beings that should be held responsible as a community.

I cannot help but worry over the words and deeds of people who criticize former President Roh Moo-hyun for ending his own life.

In particular, I warn those who in their sadness allow their emotions to overtake impulses for self-examination and reflection.

We need calm efforts and wisdom to process the president’s death and to let it be a catalyst of political reform and social development, so that his death was not in vain.

Neither the government nor the opposition party should use the current situation for political purposes to pursue the interests and tactics of their parties, and nobody should use it as an opportunity for their own political gains.

In the Buddhist teaching of the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana Doctrine, a question is raised:

One mind has two doors. What are they? One is the door of absolute truth, and the other is the door of life and death.

If the door of absolute truth leads to a mind where all kinds of filth have disappeared because it is so calm and free of anything dirty, the door of life and death sets phenomena apart due to different conditions, and it is the fundamental cause of good and evil.

As the two doors preside over all the related laws of Buddha, our minds are divided into two like them. But they are originally one mind.

We often see that public opinion is divided in two according to region or ideology when it comes to issues that decide the fate of the nation or lead to social development.

Just as the mind is divided into the door of absolute truth and the door of life and death, people are busy labeling things as “right” or “wrong” without a single compromise. Also, frequent fights and confrontations break out among them. This is because they believe that their opinion is good while that of their opponent is bad.

There is a saying: “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.” Putting oneself in the position of the other side is a shortcut to understanding them, that is, to get closer to having but one mind.

There is no problem or state affair that cannot be solved if we put ourselves in the position of the opposition. We should give priority to the future of the country when times are difficult. Before companies pursue their own profits only, and unions announce their demands only, they should make continuous efforts to understand the other position and make efforts to talk to each other.

People should also realize that violence only leads to more violence.

It is the 22nd anniversary of the June 10 Democratization Struggle. It cannot be denied that the June democratization struggle was the source of reform and the driving force behind Korea’s democratization.

However, even though enough time has passed for the rivers and mountains to change twice, we have still failed to embrace the passion and the lesson of that hot summer’s day properly. The roots of regionalism have persisted, and reforms have crumbled. All of us bear responsibility. The leaders of our society should ponder ways to stabilize our country and our society, and pursue development.

Half of this year has already passed. In June 2009, it looks like the Republic of Korea is holding a large bomb in its arms. If we sincerely want to get rid of this bomb and move forward into a sea of reconciliation and coexistence, we have to start by recognizing that we, a nation of 45 million, share the same fate and but one mind originally, just as the doors of absolute truth and life and death are originally one mind.

*The writer is a senior member of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.

by The Venerable Jongha

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