people who have been following this blog for a while & who i talk with on a regular basis will know a little about 대사님 already; you will know about my helping him build houses & rip rap paths in his mountain home & sitting sipping expensive teas he is gifted by old students.
well he is visiting my guesthouse. for the first time i have met him somewhere other than his mountain community. it is fascinating to watch him in the world.
대사 is a title, which illustrates a distinction, in this man’s case, it is that he became enlightened some 40 odd years ago (he’s 75 & still works like an ox) & retired to the mountains to build a community where he could teach & offer land for those who wish to develop themselves with him. though he has studied with monks, he is not a monk, he has no dogma, he doesn’t believe in anything that isn’t tangible, even if that tangibility is not accessible to us but is to him.
i don’t know how i feel about his abilities, which include a sort of direct perception of history, the footsteps of ancestors across continents in 4-D, as he says; & furthermore, being able to converse with the universe & objects in nature. i could tell you some very interesting stories here & now, but i am not going to, as i am in the process of poetifying these anecdotes that i have heard from him, so you will just have to be patient. i will however annex a poem i wrote while visiting him last year & also a few snaps from today of the man in full swing.
lectures on seeing
Dae Sa nim took me on a tour of his new meditation path
with the pride of a child who learned to tie their shoe.
alone through all the days of march he worked
the soil soft as fontanelle, incised the slope to form a trail,
packed the earth like bean paste in a pot, stacked felled trees.
now he admires the pine that slouches underneath the tea house
& the one erect as a totem pole from alternate angles.
he lectured me on dramas that he sees in natural things,
equivocating a point when he points at two silver birch
that grew around each other like an old manuscript curling on itself,
the pine with arms as multiple as a compassionate god;
all lectures in the way that natural things can show us how…
he often pressed his hand like a stethoscope to a tree’s chest,
arranged a fallen branch or needles in a tidy pile.
he flattered natural things with compliments about their handsome shapes,
& they responded in a kind i could not comprehend – he did.
at the apex of our stroll, a platform you can peer
down into the valley from, Deokyu mountain set on the sky’s easel
& where Dae Sa nim often goes to dance alone in a crown of pine,
he had us lie down & enjoy the lazy clouds.
i listened to him glug that air, as if it were a tonic.