The Sanchon Hunjang
(usually clicking on the photos yields an enlarged version)



음매음매 송아지

※ Okay, I'm back from a week and a half of being out of town. Let the posting begin!

A web log that I like to read posted some photos from 범어사, a Buddhist temple in Pusan. It got me to thinking that the Sanchon Hunjang knows only the very basics and none of the symbolism behind the boy and cow story that features so prominently in paintings on the exterior walls at many Buddhist temples. So I did a little searching about these In-search-of-the-ox Murals (멱우도 覓牛圖*)).

It's a series of usually ten paintings called "In Search of the Cow Paintings 尋牛圖" or "Herding the Cow Paintings 牧牛圖," some people even say "Ten Cow Paintings 十牛圖." The cow symbolizes truth, or one's Buddha-nature 佛性.

Originally there was a Taoist painting series, called the "Eight Cow Paintings 八牛圖," that ended with the scene of nothingness. During the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279 A.D.) Zen Master Huoan 확암선사 廓庵禪師 added two more frames to supplement the message of the search for truth. Other sources say Zen Master Qingju was the original artist. There are variations, such as the "Ten Horses Paintings" in China or the "Ten Elephants Paintings" in Tibet. But if you're an antiques collector in search of original Indian or Tibetan Buddhist paintings, I have some sad news that may give you pause. You see, the traditional medium is pigment on the surface of paper that has been prepared by rubbing it down with cow dung. The same holds true for paintings on the walls of temples and other structures. I'm sure that there are less offensive smelling things to collect in this world.

Some guy has done a thorough job in describing each of the paintings and its significance in detail. In brief, it consist of the following ten steps.

  1. Search out the ox (심우 尋牛): Shows a young boy 童子 who has decided to set out in search of the cow. He holds reigns as a symbol of his resolve. This first frame emphasizes the realization that something is lost and the determination to seek it 發心, even though there are no traces of what exactly is missing or where it may be.

  2. See tracks (견적 見跡): Through diligent effort, the boy discovers the footprints of the ox.

  3. See the ox (견우 見牛): The boy then catches a glimpse of the ox itself. The ox is dark in color. This symbolizes the fact that, while the devotee has seen hints at his own Buddha nature, he is still stained by attachment to the mundane world.

  4. Catch the ox (득우 得牛): The boy catches hold of the ox. Although he is still unable to direct the ox in its course, he has taken one step closer.

  5. Herd the ox (목우 牧牛): The boy takes control of the ox and breaks it as a trainer breaks a wild horse. The symbolism is that the truth-seeker weans himself from the attachment and temptations 三毒 of the world.

  6. Return home riding the ox (기우귀가 騎牛歸家): The boy returns to the world of enlightenment, which is his home, riding on the purified ox. The boy plays a flute with no holes, which symbolizes the sound of his true nature coming from the deep recesses of his heart. The boy and the ox have become one.

  7. Cow forgotten, there is only the man (망우재인 忘牛在人): The boy has returned home and no longer has need of the cow. The cow was just a means to reach this state.

  8. Cow and man are all forgotten (인우구망 人牛俱忘): All has become nothingness 無. The boy has annihilated his individual being and become one with those who have gone before and everything.

  9. Return to basis, go back to the origin (반본환원 返本還源): The boy, the cow and everything have returned to the original state before they became a separate boy and cow. This is the state of true enlightenment.

  10. Enter the marketplace and hang your hands down (입전수수 入廛垂手): Without concern for raiment or appearance, the boy returns to help others. As he makes his way through the marketplace, all those who behold him are enlightened

  11. According to several sources, Zen Master Huoan is telling the story of the Maitreya Buddha 彌勒佛, the Buddha of the future, who is to appear on the earth, rule, achieve perfect enlightenment and begin a new school of teachings that will surpass those of of the historical Buddha. All of this according to the Avatamska Sutra 화엄경 華嚴經. The message of this series of paintings is thus that the Miatreya Buddha must be found.

    If you'd like to go in search of your own bovine of truth, I have a little comment. Some friends, most notably WH, say that Le Petit Prince place is the best around. I prefer a different place, which was, ironically enough, introduced to me by WH.

    *) Okay, okay, you caught me. It's not 우도 but 우도. Still, 尋 is the same as 覓, right?



I have just what you needle

※ The Sanchon Hunjang is going to be spreading his ignorance abroad this week with questionable access to the Internet. I'm pre-dating a couple of posts that I originally intended to put up during the week.

According to oriental medicine, the body has this vital energy*) that flows through it along lines, kinda like blood. And when something is not right, you can tweak the energy spigot along these meridians by using such stimulus as pushing on certain spots, poking the right spot...

...with needles,...

...or applying suction using some cups that have been heated so they suck the skin in through vacuum action as they cool...

...or some mechanized cup to achieve the same vacuum effect...

...(these leave the biggest hickeys you could ever imagine),...

...or burning some dried herbs over the site.

There's also this reduction aspect to the human body. The whole body is reflected in the hand, the feet and the ear (and probably other places).

This means that you can treat the whole body by just needling somebody's hand. Or massaging their ear. Or foot. It works because the process stimulates all the pressure points on there that represent the whole body.

This is why they make "massaging sandals" with specially placed studs of plastic or wood to stimulate those points. Sometimes the power is even kicked up a notch by adding magnets or jade to the studs. This idea also underpins a school of acupuncture: 고려수지침, where they jam mini-needles only into your hand to treat the whole body.

I was once sick with some flu-like symptoms and was talked into visiting some "doctor" to get acupuncture. He had a little piston-like machine that drove the needles home. After he had stuck me with about 20 or so (and, by the way, DON'T believe those morons who tell you that it doesn't even hurt) I feigned nonchalance and asked, "You're getting about done there, right?" Just as casually he responded, "Oh no. I'll need to put in 200 or so more." I couldn't contain myself any more. "TWO HUNDRED?!? Get these stupid things out of me!" I said as I removed the inserted ones and left for home. That saying about the cure sometimes being worse than the disease was certainly true in this case.

So, there's a mini-body reflected in your hand, ear and foot which can be used as a proxy to treat the whole body. And in the part of the ear that corresponds to the actual ear, there must be another microcosm of the whole body. By this kind of reduction, it stands to reason that a real expert should be able to find the ear of the ear of the ear of the ear of the ear of the ear point and solve any problem with just one needle.

Amazingly enough, there is a saying "one needle, two weed-burnings, three medicinal herbs 一鍼二灸三藥." I choose to interpret this to mean that a true practitioner of Chinese medicine only needs one needle, two weed burnings or three medicinal herbs to cure any ailment. Irrefutable evidence that anyone who is trying to insert 200 needles into my hand is a 돌파리. Maybe I should put together a new graphic dictionary for Korean.

Here's the first entry:

돌파리 의사 (이름씨)

NOTE: My conscience compels me to note that most people interpret 一鍼二灸三藥 to mean that, as techniques for the treatment of illness, the most effective is acupuncture, second is moxibustion and last is materia medica.

*) The famous (lit. "breath"), that the Chinese call "chee," but spell qi4 due to the wonders of pinyin transformation. The Koreans call this "ki," and the Japanese probably have a name for it too, but who cares.



It's like a finely crocheted afghan

I admit that my neighborhood is not the nicest in Seoul. Nope, I don't live in 살기 좋은 영등포. And the fixed-line phone service here has always been pretty weak. I frequently can overhear other people's calls in the middle of my calls and occasionally even have words with the 아줌마 on the other line who has somehow gotten merged into my line.

I don't believe nicer neighborhoods suffer from this problem as much. At any rate, when I saw the rat's nest that is my and my neighbors' phone connection, I suddenly understood how this line crossing could happen.

There doesn't seem to have been much care invested in that wiring job.

No wonder everyone loves cell phones around here. That way the people who aren't on the call can only overhear one side of the conversation.



Diet fit for a god

My kind neighbors and coworkers are showing motherly concern for my expanding waistline. Even my boss. Of course this concern doesn't stretch so far that he would actually consider letting me go home on time to hit the gym, or canceling those dinner meetings with clients that don't start until after 8:00, but concern nonetheless.

All this concern around me was causing me to be concerned as well. But as I was out walking around the other day, suddenly it hit me. I'm on the Buddha diet!

Notice the close similarity in our figures:

And a close-up view:

I still have a way to go, and I still have to work out the healthy golden glow. But I figure that if it's good enough for a deity, it's good enough for me.

Good eats to y'all!



It had to be too good to be true

Earlier, I decided 섬 wasn't going to be worth it. But I did watch 김 기 덕's 봄 여 름 가 을 겨 울 그 리 고 봄. It was impressive. The most impressive thing was the floating hermitage. One reviewer said it made him want to run away to an isolated lake and meditate. It didn't take me that far, but the beauty of the cinematography was arresting.

Then I came across photos of the floating hermitage. I had thought that it was just a set constructed for the purpose of making the film. But if an independent photographer can visit it and take photos, it must be a real place. If its a real place and somebody else was able to go there and get photos, then I can too!

That pushed it up past 단양 on my list of places to visit, camera in-hand.

So, what do I need to do to get there?

1. Google around and find a location. Check: 경북 주왕산국립공원

2. Use that to find a specific name for the reservoir. Check: 주산지

3. Locate a map and Info on how to get there. Check:



...the fateful summary...

"...the hermitage was removed when filming was completed"

Well, scratch that plan. I'm sure the reservoir is nice by itself. But, like someone else said, sure the reservoir is pretty and all but it's the hermitage that really brought it to life.



The economy is really bad these days

There was once a fishmonger's shop. It was named 생선나라. Fitting. But it never did a thriving business and then it disappeared, to be replaced by a small eatery 자양식당.

You can tell times are bad when the new owner doesn't even bother to put up a new sign but just slaps some stickers on the old sign. And they only partially cover up the fact that he now occupies the space left vacant by the defunct 생선나라.

Oh, we have a different phone number, too. Two more stickers please.

Perhaps it's not surprising that 자양식당 didn't last too long either. I wonder if the next owner will also try the sticker trick, leaving a genealogy of out-of-business tenants to remind any passersby that this is an inauspicious spot for a business.



Pearl of the Dragon Temple panoramas

Some time ago I read about and downloaded this freeware image stitching program. I have used image stitching programs long long ago with a portable scanner I had that you had to drag by hand across whatever you were trying to scan. The scanner didn't work well and neither did the programs.

So I started without much expectation.

To get some stitchable material I paid a visit to 용주사*), near 수원대학교. It's a fairly nice temple (although now that they've built a parking lot right next to the peaceful garden between the ticket counter and the front gate, it's much less so).

Especially for a freebie, the program is amazing.

The image size supported by Blogspot is pretty small, but if you click on the images they expand. A bit.

Here's the 180º view of the inside court of the temple.

That was just setting the camera on the tripod and rotating the head to make a "flat" panorama. Then I started wondering how well it would do if I tilted the camera while shooting the scene, in order to get more scene into the picture.

Here's that 360º view of the path from the ticket counter and front gate to the real temple compound. I shot it with 3 photos vertically stacked on top of each other as I rotated through the scene.

This was originally 41 images, all sewn neatly together by the program. Takes a bit of processing time, and the files come out huge but it does a nice job. I'm sold.

I did a little experimenting. I was most interested in whether it was better to shoot the whole panorama in the same exposure or to let each piece be exposed at its own proper value. Turns out that the latter makes better panoramas. If you do the whole thing with one exposure, the tonal range turns out to be far too great to capture. I also screwed up a few photos by not closing the viewfinder when shooting. ㅜ.ㅠ

Now I'm going to have to go back to 울릉도 for summer vacation this year to get some panoramas!!

*) 용주사 [龍珠寺] :

A Buddhist temple at the foot of 화산 in 경기도 화성시 태안읍 (near 수원대학교)

☞ Get there by taking bus #46, 46-1 or 24 from the front gate of 수원대학교 on the
same side of the road. It is three or four stops from 수원대 at the stop
directly after 건/융릉, which is also nice for a visit.

Sect: 대한불교 조계종
Location: 경기 화성시 태안읍 송산리

I'll follow up with a more detailed description of the temple one of these first days.


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