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Monastic Practices

Mediation (참선)

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Writer Jogye Date22 Jul 2015 Read2,566 Comment0

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Entering into Meditation (入禪), Coming out of Meditation (放禪) and Walking Meditation (經行)

입선(入禪), 방선(放禪), 경행(經行)

In Korean, to enter into meditation is termed Ipseon (入禪) and to come out of meditation is called Bangseon (放禪). Gyeonghaeng (經行) is the act of walking around the Seon room quietly after finishing meditation and stretching one’s legs. Each Seon center maintains a different timetable for meditation practice. Some centers just repeat a cycle of 50 minute sessions of seated meditation separated by10 minute breaks. Other centers simply sound the bamboo clapper to signal the beginning and ending of a meditation session but leave the option to continue the meditation or not to each practitioner. The accumulated practice time amounts to 8-9 hours a day, although there are slight variations between each center.

For example, in case of the Jo-in Seon Center of Sudeok-sa Temple, the day begins at 3 a.m., just like any other temple. Seon practitioners get up and then offer three prostrations to the Buddha according to the three strikes of the bamboo clapper, which is a simplified morning Dharma service. Then the practitioners enter into a two-hour meditation session under the guidance of the rector monk (Ipseung). They finish meditation at 5 a.m, have breakfast at 6 a.m. and rest until 8 a.m. Then, the two-hour meditation session begins again. The monks finish meditation at 10 a.m., offer a Dharma service before noon and then have lunch. The afternoon practice session begins again with a two-hour meditation session at 2 p.m. The monks sometimes perform Gyeonghaeng, or walking meditation, in the meditation hall to stretch their legs, which become stiff during practice. They finish meditation at 4 p.m. and have dinner. They begin seated meditation again at 7 p.m., finish at 9 p.m. and go to bed.

For those who want to practice meditation without the restriction of following the center’s timetable, there are “gateless” Seon centers called Mumungwan. In these centers practitioners practice alone in a solitary room, without ever leaving the room or a small yard attached to the room. With a firm resolution that they must reduce their sleeping time to “resolve the matter of life and death” by attaining enlightenment, they pour themselves into practice.

- excerpt from Buddhist English (Intermediate 1) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

 

 

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