2020: Making a benevolent South Korea A hopeful message to Koreans from Monk Sangjin of Blue Lotus Temple

강진성 기자l승인2020.01.21







There appears often in Buddhist scriptures a bird called ‘Gongmyeongjo’. It has two heads with one body symbolizing a community sharing common destiny. What it teaches us is that one side might think he could live better alone but when it happens as he wished both die as a result. The Kyosu Shinmun (professor’s newspaper) chose this bird as a symbolic message of the year end.

On meeting of Monk Sangjin of Blue Lotus Temple, we asked him to give a hopeful message for New Year. He gave us the Six Action Virtues: 


Giving, observing, bearing, devotion, meditation and wisdom.

About giving, he said that brewing jealousy and envy in our heart when others are well-off is but foolish. Practicing giving on the other hand makes our heart filled with joy.  

About observing, he said that we must keep in moral boundary to avoid conflicts with others. 

About bearing, he said that we must endure no matter how humiliated we are.

About devotion, he said that we must train ourselves hard and do not still others. 

About meditation, he said that we must meditate regularly to keep a virtuous life.

About wisdom, he said that we must have the wisdom to see things and phenomenon right. 

“If today is not beautiful, tomorrow will never be beautiful. If today is not happy, tomorrow will never be happy. So we must do our best to make our every day beautiful and happy. If you do not love yourself, you cannot love others. So you love yourself first to love others” said him.

He pointed out five benefits we must not forget: the benefit from the nation, the benefit from parents, the benefit from teacher, the benefit from society and the benefit from friends. We can pay back to these five benefits with patriotism to the nation, filial piety to the parents, a success to the teacher, volunteer activities to the society and friendship to the friends. 

He said it is important to throw away our desire for greed, anger and foolishness. It is important not to think they are wrong and bad if other’s thoughts are different from oneself. It is important to try to see bright side in dark side. Trying to see bright side more makes our lives more peaceful and content.

Blue Lotus Temple (Chung Ryeon Temple)

Blue Lotus Temple was built in 827 on the Muhak Mountain in Wangsimni, Seoul, in the name of ‘Anjeong Temple’. It is said that great Buddhist monk Muhak remodeled the temple in 1395 and seeing the lotus in the back garden releasing auspicious energy he named the temple as the current Blue Lotus: from here, he moved 3.9 kilometers further west on which Seonggye Yi, the founder of the Joseon dynasty, buit Gyeongbok Palace. 

Blue Lotus Temple was relocated to Gaemyeong Mountain in 2009 by monks in Anjeong Temple of the Korean Taego Buddhist Order when a conflict between the Taego Order and the Jogye Order occurred and the original site and the surrounding areas were to be redeveloped as a result.

Monk Sangjin is serving as the chairman of the board of Blue Lotus Temple. He entered Dongbang Buddhist College in 1992 and studied Buddhist voice. He gave performance at the Carnegie Hall in New York and at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in LA, and organized and performed many other events home and abroad. Not surprisingly, Blue Lotus Temple is rich in Buddhist culture from ritual and music to costumes. 

Meanwhile, the temple has been actively engaging in volunteer activities. It donated 150 bicycles and many notebooks to children in Cambodia in 2017 alongside a support for building new facilities. December last year, the temple sent free kimchi and briquettes to neighbors who are in need in South Korea.

강진성 기자  wlstjdxp@naver.com
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