images of the crossing over

That Brief Interlude

Despedida de Soltera, part of a conversation between Dave Bonta and Luisa Igloria.

Deok An Sunim playing the piano in the “Jewel Hall of Great Heros,” our main Dharma Hall, autumn, 2010.


13 responses

  1. Hello…Dave Bonta sent me the link to your site this morning. Thank you for linking us, and for the inspiring words and images you bring together here. Happy New Year!

    January 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    • Hello,

      I’ve enjoyed tremendously the series between you and Dave. Thank you, as well, for the chance to share in the dialogue.

      January 5, 2011 at 10:50 pm

  2. Right now, I am just immensely grateful for the poems. I hope to be able to continue in the series for a while… By the way, I love your shot, and meditation, on the shoes; and what you’ve chosen to write (in Latin) on them.

    January 6, 2011 at 4:22 am

  3. Thanks. The Latin was accidental; most nuns, Korean or Western, write Chinese characters or use visual Buddhist motifs. I can’t remember how my interest in Latin started, especially since I flunked it my freshman year in college. Please keep coming back!

    I look forward to reading more of your poetry, whether in response to the Morning Porch or others.

    January 6, 2011 at 5:32 am

  4. Hello — I shall indeed keep coming back. I love the images and the words you have here. Today’s Morning Porch/Via Negativa poem-response has a little tiny tribute to you and your image of the shoes (yours, and your sister-nuns’). ~ Good wishes, Luisa (How should I call you?)

    January 6, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    • You can call me either “Sunim,” with or without “Seon Joon” in front of it, which is roughly like referring to a Catholic nun as “Sister” or any ordained by their title (Rabbi, Reverend, Venerable), or–as is typical for a lot of my friends in the West, just Seon Joon. I’m not too particular, although in Korea we’re never addressed, even by other nuns, by anything other than our dharma-name plus the honorific “Sunim.” (I.e., I’m either “Seon Joon Sunim” or just “Sunim” here.) The two characters of my name constitute my dharma-name.

      January 7, 2011 at 9:36 am

  5. So, all together, is Seon Joon Sunim your dharma name? (What is “Sakyadita” therefore? How does one come by one’s dharma name? Pardon my ignorance, there is so much I don’t know.) Thank you, I am honored to know your names.

    January 9, 2011 at 1:07 am

    • My Unsa Sunim–“beneficiary teacher” gave me my name. In my “family”–the nuns associated with my temple and ordained within our family under the same teacher–the nuns of a particular generation all receive the same first character, in my generation’s case Seon, or “meditation/meditative state.” The second character was chosen by my teacher, “Joon” meaning “Excellent, superior.” My personal interpretation of my name–“Superior Meditation” or “Excellent Meditation” is that it refers to the meditative state the Buddha achieved under the Bodhi tree the night he attained awakening, “The unexcelled meditation on loving-kindness.” It was due to the power of this meditation that the Buddha subdued the demons who came to distract him and prevent his full awakening. In a sense, then, this name is my homework for this life.

      “Sunim” isn’t technically part of a dharma-name, but because it’s the official honorific for monastics in Korea it’s appended to every name, using “Sunim” is part of the social recognition of monastic life and status. The technical term for a female monastic who has received full ordination is bhikkuni/bhiksuni, and in some Buddhist cultures this term is appended to the Dharma name. Sunim, however, is a gender-neutral title used for both monks and nuns.

      “Sakyadita” means “Daughter of the Buddha,” and was used in the earliest portions of the Buddhist canon to refer to the Buddha’s first female renunciant-students.

      There: a little history on Buddhist names and terminology!

      January 9, 2011 at 9:08 am

  6. Thank you for the lesson on names and naming in terms of temple (and your surrounding) context. I very much like the idea of one’s name as one’s homework in life. Another way to think of how to “grow into one’s name”. Might we all be thought of as “Sakyadita” too? When I was a child and very sickly, the women in my family tried a little folk “cure” on me by gifting me with a secret name whose purpose was to confuse the demons or bad spirits responsible for illness– so that it would be harder for them to find me! I hope your headaches are better, btw.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    • Absolutely, we’re all “Sakyadita!”

      Names and naming are fascinating processes. It’s too rambling (and perhaps boring) a subject to get into names/naming in Korean culture, as opposed to American cultures, but I’m fascinated by the significances of our names and the ramifications in our inner and outer environments our names have.

      I like the idea of having a secret name. When I was a kid, from the time I was seven to about 12 or 13, I always wrote my journal as if to someone else–not so much a journal or diary as a collection of private letters written to someone who was me, but not: a different name and a different existence, one that let me have an audience without the fear of exposure. (I felt it easiest to write to someone at that age, rather than to just ramble “to myself,” as I saw it.)

      The headaches have calmed down, at last…thanks for your well-wishes!

      January 21, 2011 at 6:11 am

  7. Seon Joon, an extension to this musing on names —

    January 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm

  8. I’m going over a book by Susan Stewart, Poetry and the Fate of the Senses, in preparation for my Monday night graduate class in the Craft of Poetry. Stewart writes in the early chapters of that book about how the history of poetry is a history of speaking out of the darkness, in order to address another. I guess even when we’re “only” writing to ourselves in journals, whether or not we give ourselves a different name, even that self we speak to is a kind of other subject who allows us to emerge from that darkness into something else… It’s all quite heady stuff, but I’m quite taken by her theme of the “I” always speaking to a “you”…

    January 23, 2011 at 6:48 am

  9. Pingback: Morning walk, 3.14.2011 « Blog Archive « from this shore

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