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“Dharma Sermon upon Dismissing the Winter Retreat“
delivered by Venerable Dorim Beopjeon, Supreme Patriarch of the JOKB
2,222 monks from 94 Meditation centers nationwide participating
Upon the successful completion day of the winter retreat on Feb. 21, Venerable Dorim Beopjeon, Supreme Patriarch of the JOKB, has delivered his dharma sermon along with his request to the retreat participants for continuing their endeavors.
Venerable Dorim Beopjeon, quoting and elaborating the story of ‘golden brocade robe’ of Kasyapa and Ananda, emphasized that a Truth-seeker should travel all around with the koan of ‘Buddha’s golden brocade robe’ and should continue searching for the truth that goes beyond ‘knocking down the flagpole in front of the temple gate’.
According to a recent report, “Almanac of 2007 Winter Retreat on Seon Meditation,” released by the nation-wide JOKB’s Head Monks’ Association of Meditation Centers , the total number of 2,222 monks from 94 meditation centers such as 5 Monastic Compounds, 925 bhiksuni (female monks) Meditation Centers, and 34 bhiksu (male monks) Meditation Centers participated in the winter retreat. Those participants of 1,111 bhiksu, 925 bhiksuni, and 186 Monastic Compound student monks are known to have devoted themselves to meditation during the retreat.
Winter Retreat means that monks gather and concentrate on rigorous meditation during the 3 month period in the winter (normally from October 15th to January 15th of the following year). The participants refrain themselves from going outside for undivided concentration.
The origin of the word, Retreat, is Sanskrit (vrsvs). In India, the rainy season lasts for about 4 months. During the three months of the rainy period, the monks were disallowed to go outside and should remain inside of their shrines or caves. Winter retreats originate from Shakamuni Buddha’s regulation that monks should stay inside during the wet season in order to save all the lives of bugs, insects, grasses and bushes that can be unintentionally killed in the rainy seasons. Besides, walking in the rain was not easy either.
It is noted that there is no country in the world other than Korea in which Buddhism still practices the tradition of Winter and Summer Retreats.
The following is the entire text of His Dharma Sermon:
Ananda asked Kasyapa, “I heard the golden brocade robe was bestowed to you by Buddha. Is there anything else given to you?”
Then, Kasyapa called “Ananda!”
Hearing his call, Anada immediately answered “Yes!”
Kasyapa continued “Break off the flagpole of the Temple Gate.”
The question of Anada was “What did Buddha give to Kasyapa except the golden robe?” and the Answer of Kysypa was the calling “Ananda!”
Note that Kysapa’s calling “Ananda!” and Ananda’s reply “Yes!” are the beginning and the end of the whole sermon. To say, the direct transmission of Dharma from mind to mind is completed. When Shakamuni Buddha held out a flower at the Gridhakuta Mountain gathering in Magadha Kingdom, Kasyapa replied with a smile in understanding Buddha: at that moment Kasyapa got the transmission of Dharma from Buddha. After this, Buddha said “I entrust to Kasyapa the ‘Prowess to judge the righteous Doctrine of Buddha (政法眼藏)’ and ‘profound mind state of Nirvana’ (涅槃妙心)”: the transmission of truth was done in silence. Here, Kasyapa’s calling and Ananda’s answering to his calling are the same as Kasyapa’s smile to Buddha’s flower holding.
However, if a monk had really devoted himself into arduous efforts during the whole retreat period and gained awakening, he would know he need not to worry about the flagpole to break off. This is the same reasoning as you do not exchange gold for gold; or as you do not wash water with water. If Kasyapa forwarded truth to Ananda or if Ananda received something from Kasyapa, we all could not avoid being swept away by the flow of life and death. Without this koan, we would suffer from the cycle of life and death.
As seasons take their turns, spring is about to come, and we again see the end of the winter retreat. Now, roam over all the places with the ‘Shakyamuni Buddha’s golden brocade robe’ koan in your travel-sack, while continuously concentrating on the search for the Truth of ‘break off the flagpole.’
Ice is melting on the northern hill of the river
Flowers are blooming on the southern branches of the tree.