Jungto society marks Buddha's birth with rallies in Seoul

- through Henry Oudin

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Fri. Pomnyun Sunim. All images courtesy of Jungto Society

The Jungto Society, the international Buddhist community founded by revered Korean Dharma master and social activist Venerable Pomnyun Sunim (법륜스님), marked the birth of the Buddha on Saturday. Fri. Pomnyun Sunim, who recently returned from a tour of Asia to visit vulnerable communities and social activist groups in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, led a series of three commemorative ceremonies during the day at the headquarters of the Jungto Society in the city center. Seoul: a morning ceremony for Jungto practitioners, an afternoon interfaith gathering for respected public figures, social activists and representatives of other religious traditions, and an evening ceremony for young members of Jungto society .

The commemorations of Buddha's birth, a public holiday in South Korea, are known as Bucheonim Osin Nal (부처님오신날) which means "the day the Buddha came", and Seokga Tansinil (석가탄신일), "Buddha's birthday". The festival is observed on the eighth day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar, which usually falls in May.

To celebrate the 2th anniversary of the Buddha's birth this year, Buddhist temples and public spaces across Korea held events and celebrations illuminated by thousands of delicate paper lanterns. Although related events were scheduled in Seoul and elsewhere from May 567, the festivities and activities continued until the official anniversary of May 11, when official Dharma ceremonies were held.

The morning began with a ritual commemoration of the Buddha's birth, which was attended by more than 1 Jungto practitioners and broadcast live to some 500 Jungto Society members around the world. A celebratory video was shared with message practitioners from across Korea and around the world. The participants sang the vow of refuge in the three jewels and the heart sutra, and Ven. Pomnyun Sunim expressed the bodhisattva's aspiration for the liberation of all sentient beings and made an incense offering in front of the Buddha.

Jungto Society is a volunteer-driven community and humanitarian organization that aspires to embody Buddhist teachings through social engagement and by promoting a simple way of life centered on sustainable living. Jungto society seeks to solve the crises of modern society, such as greed, poverty, conflict and environmental degradation, by applying a Buddhist worldview of interdependence and living according to the principle that everyone can find happiness through Buddhist practice and active participation in social life. movements.

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim then offered a Dharma teaching, presented here in an abbreviated format, on the significance of the birth of the Buddha and how practitioners today can continue to practice and embody this ancient spiritual heritage:

“Today marks the 2th year of the Buddhist calendar. Over the past 567 days, I have had the opportunity to visit parts of South, Southeast and West Asia, where I have met people, observed their lifestyles and engaged conversations. I learned things I didn't know while living in Korea, saw things I had never seen before, and heard things I had never heard before – about how people are suffering all over the world in places we may never mind. . . .”

“The wisdom of the Buddha encompasses the understanding of all of this. Viewing others as inferior because they are not from our country, or because they are a woman, or a disabled person, or because they have broken the law is not compassion. Compassion means recognizing that they are all suffering for various reasons and finding ways to help them free themselves from that suffering.

"Today, as we celebrate the day of the Buddha's arrival, lighting lanterns has a symbolic meaning: it represents the illumination of the flame of wisdom and, at the same time, the alleviation of the suffering of those that surround us, that we see, hear and understand. . . . . While the Lantern Festival can be a celebration for us, what is more important is that the light from our lanterns reaches those who are suffering, where it can be turned into water, food and school supplies. This is the true attitude we should have as we celebrate the day of the Buddha's arrival.

“Furthermore, we must learn and properly embody the teachings of the Buddha to realize that we are beings without suffering. This means that if we understand that we are satisfied, we will no longer feel compelled to use all kinds of energy and money to torment ourselves. Psychological discomfort or inferiority complexes lead us to desire expensive clothes, expensive bags, earrings, necklaces and other expensive adornments to compensate. These behaviors are a major cause of environmental destruction, all stemming from the emptiness in the heart. However, if I am conscious of being content, I can live proudly without being attached to material goods or ornaments. I only need to eat enough to maintain my health, and clothes need to cover my body and protect me from heat and cold. I'm not going to indulge in fine dining or obsess over luxury goods.

"Furthermore, even by sharing a small portion of my wealth with those around me, we can use money that might otherwise be wasted in a single indulgence to save someone who desperately needs it from death." Building a house for someone who is homeless does not require a large sum of money. . . . Similarly, digging a well in a place where water is scarce requires only a small sum. . . .

“What Buddhists should be doing today is alleviating the sufferings of the poor in various parts of the world and taking the lead in addressing the global climate crisis by ending the senseless pursuit of material desires. There is no other way to solve these problems than through the correct teachings of the Buddha.

Following the Dharma teaching, practitioners gathered respectfully to partake in the symbolic bathing of the Child Buddha, representing the aspiration to purify oneself and transcend the cycle of birth and death.

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim then offered the ritual blessing, known in Korea as Majeongsugi (마정수기). According to Indian tradition, there is said to be an eye of enlightenment between the two physical eyes of each person. During the symbolic ritual, representing the opening of the eye of enlightenment, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim touched a water offering to each practitioner's forehead, uttering the words, "You will become a Buddha in the future." . . .”

"With this virtuous aspiration and connection, in this auspicious celebration of the Buddha's birth, I swear that all who participate in this ceremonial event will awaken from their ignorance, be freed from suffering, and live the life of a bodhisattva. , supporting their neighbors and the world.

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim, the Director Dharma Teacher of the Jungto Society, is a widely revered Dharma teacher, author, and social activist. He founded many organizations, initiatives and projects around the world. Among them are JTS Korea, an international aid organization working to eradicate poverty and hunger, and Jungto Society, a volunteer-based community grounded in the teachings of the Buddha and dedicated to solving modern social issues that lead to poverty. suffering. Fri. Pomnyun Sunim also works closely with the International Network of Committed Buddhists (INEB).

In October 2020, the Niwano Foundation for Peace in Japan presented the 37th Niwano Peace Prize to Ven. Pomnyun Sunim in recognition of the revered monk's international humanitarian work, environmental and social activism, and tireless efforts to build trust and goodwill between communities of different faiths and cultures, towards the goal of world peace. *

* Buddhist monk Ven. Pomnyun Sunim Receives 37th Niwano Peace Prize (BDG)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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