대사님 (Daesa-nim) is visiting

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.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Dina says:

    Wonderul portraits. Have a great weekend, Daniel.
    Best regards – Dina

    1. Thank you Dina. I don’t usually photograph people so i am happy they’re not too shoddy.

  2. How does one know when they are enlightened? Is it verified? Or just announced? I am asking this seriously, not taking the mickey…

    His face in the photos and what you describe in your poem suggests a man who has the playfulness of a child as well as the ability to truly see what is around him.

    1. Wow. Erm… really wish i knew. i think it is one of those slow burners. like looking at your face everyday & many years down the line realizing you have become old: a mix of experience felt by others, word of mouth, influence upon people. but to be honest i don’t really know.
      he is very child like. he says when he hit 60 he was born & so now at 75 he is 15. do not understand this very well.

      1. hmmm maybe when you are there, there is no need for ‘proof’. But is it Daesa-nim who says he is enlightened or those around him? word of mouth round these parts suggests I am not enlightened 😉

      2. The fact people call him Daesa, which is a title of acknowledgment that he is would suggest that people do. i am very much undecided. i have pulled myself out of believing & arrest my decision until i can talk more in depth as my Korean is not enough to question him & understand him enough. it is an ongoing process for me so i am open pending further results, inquiry.

      3. Either way, he sounds like an interesting person to spend time with. What I have found is that when there is a connection with another person, language doesn’t matter so much. I made some really good friends when I lived in France and it was only as their English got better and my French got better and we kinda met midway that it became apparent that there was a lot of basis for a friendship there…we didn’t know it until we could have more dialogue, but there was a natural ease in one another’s company…point I’m making is, maybe whatever you know or feel now will not change greatly with mastering Korean.

      4. Couldn’t agree more. He is a character who will inspire by his simply being what he is. Furyher understanding Korean will mean being alone with him will be easier so working is more comfortable. He wants me to learn Korean so in the future when he builds a meditation centre i can help & even explain to foreigners more in depth about his life & thought. i would be interested in doing this a while but i don’t think I’m the sort to follow so i couldn’t make it a lifelong task.

      5. He obviously sees something in you too. Who knows, you say now that you couldn’t make it a lifelong task, but maybe you’ll feel differently once you’re at that point…maybe paths have been converging to that destination. Do you feel that the kind of encounter you’ve had with him would be possible in the UK, or Australia for that matter?

      6. i don’t rule it out. i accept change is part of us & life so who knows. i don’t know as Western countries have folk like him. There is no pretense about him. He is very pure. I feel like a Western version would be affected a little ridiculous. But he is an admittedly rare but accepted part of society.

      7. Well it is nice to know of him through your blog.

      8. Plenty more on its way. (He is singing now)…

  3. That ending! Nice poem, my friend! Abrazos, José

  4. This is a most excellent post, and great poem and photography too. The Master radiates a kind aura, so halcyon and serene !

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