Venerable Beopjeong’s body sent to Suncheon
Respecting the monk’s dying wish, there were no colorful funeral odes or lotus decorations, as if the Buddhist spiritual leader was giving a sermon on his mantra of “non-possession.”
President Lee Myung-bak, an elder of a Protestant Christian church, visited the Venerable Beopjeong’s mourning altar before the procession, paying respects to the Buddhist leader who died Thursday.
Senior Blue House and government officials accompanied the president to Gilsang Temple in Seongbuk District, northern Seoul. Before the late Buddhist leader’s portrait, Lee burned incense and bowed three times.
“I have always admired Venerable Beopjeong and read many of his books,” said Lee. “I am saddened by his death. He left us with great lessons.”
During his lifetime, Venerable Beopjeong wrote many books, including the widely read “Non-possession.” Perhaps keeping that in mind, Lee said, “He particularly left important lessons to those who possess much.”
Lee also had tea with Venerable Jaseung, the head of the Jogye Order, the largest Buddhist sect of Korea.
The president’s visit to the Gilsang Temple to mourn the Buddhist leader’s death took place amid the latest friction between the Buddhist community and the Lee administration.
Last month, the Jogye Order issued a statement contending that the National Intelligence Service had exerted pressure to cancel a gathering scheduled to take place inside Jogye Temple. Buddhists and the government grew at odds shortly after Lee took office in 2008. As Buddhists’ anger about perceived Christian favoritism in the Lee administration deepened, in September 2008 President Lee expressed regret for the poor relations.
By Ser Myo-ja [firstname.lastname@example.org]