I could watch Matt Semke’s work all day. So simple, yet profound. I am so honoured that he has allowed us to feature his vision in so many of my recent teaching-videos. He is an unstoppable force, having created at least one work of original art every single damn day since 2006 or something. Without fail — constant insight, relentless application. Every piece I see, I want to say, “Oh, this is my favourite.” Oh, the like-and-dislike mind get great suffering with Matt — it is only like-like-like-like-like-like, never ever tiring of his vision or feeling I have it “figured out.”
Matt can be reached at his website: www.catswilleatyou.com. I wish I could support him more, because he is so pure and spiritual and unassuming and completely non-self-referntial or catty in his vision, but also because he has been so kind and open to my use of his works to express a graphic tone I feel in my own teachings.
If anyone wishes to support my work, they can always help me by offering a donation to Matt, because damn I wish I could do more.
This cartoon in a major Buddhist newspaper in Korea points to a problem facing the Chogye Order: While soldiers and priests are provided with clothing and basic necessities in exchange for sacrificing their lives (however differently) for their “mission,” the central Chogye Order provides nothing whatsoever to monks (and even less to nuns). Nada. The looming crisis is among the “haves” and “have nots” in monastic society — and there is zero assistance for monks as they age and decline in usefulness and activity. There is nothing to support them in their infirmity.
There is a misconception that I must somehow be “provided for”, as a monastic of 30 years ordination: the Order sustains this very burdensome work, with all of its many costs and material needs. And it surprises the people who ask me, when I tell them that I have never received a single spoonful of support from the Order and nothing, too, from the temple where I was raised — not even, as the cartoon makes clear, the kasa and robes. We must seek out lay donors if we wish to be clothed and fed, thereby creating an unnatural relationship of dependency. This is where all of the decidedly un-Buddhist ceremony-making and corruption come into nuns’ and monks’ lives.
I am glad, now, not to be receiving assistance from a central authority, because then I am not beholden to any institutional pressure or politics. But I have a fairly unique situation, especially since being a Westerner and then a publicly-facing teacher for so long gave me the tools that nearly all Korean monks do not have, or even know how to seek. Yet, I cannot be active for long. Already I notice greater retirement into quieter attempts at expression of Dharma, such as this blog, things not requiring so much movement and generating of enthusiasm and organization. How will my many years contributing to the development of this tradition’s voice in the modern age be acquitted when hospital visits and treatments start their inevitable hegemony over my life?
The current kerfuffle over Hae Min Sunim touched this nerve: a relatively youngish monk who has amassed a vast fortune in the tens of millions of dollars, including ownership of real estate properties in the pricey Gangnam, Namsan, and Brooklyn waterfront districts. He was a completely unregulated man, less monk than businessman and impresario. His revenue streams (through shallow-thinking bestselling books in 35 languages, a lucrative speaking schedule, income from videos and tapes, and a strongly monetised YouTube channel, in addition to the usual flow of private enveloped-donations which are the oxygen of life in Korea’s generosity-based society) were never questioned by any force of the eternally self-regulating power of Sangha.
Meanwhile, some monks whither out their final years in the back room of some temple, parked out in front of a loud TV back by the kitchen where the cats fight over scraps of garbage and overflowed ceremony leftovers.
Just got this SWELL handmade hat in the mail today from my super-duper mega-precious friend in Munich, the indescribable funny intense sarcastic and stunningly beautiful soul Dr. Leila Horvath, MD.
After years of work as a doctor, often dealing with emergency and trauma cases, Leila is now a higher-up in the Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Gesundheit und Pflege (the Bavarian Health Ministry). She is in charge of ensuring that health care workers (especially in long-term care facilities) are fully empowered against the Covid pandemic. She is in clinics all the time. She was in charge of setting up and running the successful contact-tracing program in Bavaria which was praised worldwide for being so instrumental in suppressing the virus spread in the Spring and Summer months, during that long, long ago “first wave”. She has been working flat-out since mid-March, sometimes six-day weeks, often returning home late at night and working on weekends (that is a particular no-no for Bavarian mentality!). She sometimes does not see her two precious daughters much during the week, and now has her weekend sliced in half. Lucky for her, she has a great partner in her husband and soulmate.
How did she have time to knit this, and perfectly timed for my birthday? If you knew her, you would know that you had met a true and living Superwoman. And she would also laugh at you if you even thought that. She is a very, very precious member of our Zen Center Regensburg e.V. practicing family, and even follows the daily livestream on the few days per month when she can actually sleep in in the morning.
I know that I am in total prophylactic safety with this beautiful hat. And I actually really needed one, too.
당신의 선택입니다. 오직 할 뿐이다!
매일 매일 하루에 세 번 참선 정진합시다.
한국 불교 역사에서 첫 “온라인 안거”입니다. 유투브: cloudpath108. 내 공식 비디오 체널이에요.
나는 당신을 위해 설명 할 것입니다 :
(즉, “할렐루야!” )
진정으로 현실로 깨어날 수 있습니다. 더 이상 헛소리가 없습니다. 진정으로 자유로운 사람이 될 수 있습니다.
매우 간단한 선택입니다.