I first encountered this in nature. I've always been attracted to abandoned fields, where the natural forces won against someone’s idea. No more clean lines and monotonous order, instead a swirling chaos of weeds and flowers, so beautifully arranged. A stand of trees, all the intersecting branches and scattered light moving in the wind -- there’s some meaning beyond the simple fact that it exists. It conveys something of the place from which it came.
It became alive in me. I first noticed when I had to do the morning bell chant at Musangsa, solo. I’m not a vocalist. I don’t have any natural ability with the voice. I could do it, but not clearly. Out of desperation, I recalled the sunlight through the trees, and I found my voice. It took a few years for me to understand this. My voice became the same as the sunlight through the trees. When I chanted from that place, it conveyed the same information. Then it slowly began to dawn on me that I should live this way.
I've moved from Seoul. For most of the year I'm living and training at Baekdamsa, a large temple-complex in a deep forest of the inner Sorak Valley. It’s where Man Hae (1879-1944) attained enlightenment and wrote the manifesto for the Korean independence movement. Since I’ll be there for the next four years, and largely offline, these blog posts are automated. I’m completely off-line until the end of August.