I should start by saying that ever since I can remember I have asked “God” to help me know the truth. I could never stand being left in the dark when it comes to life’s most central principles – and I was never very good at blind faith. That being said, I now believe that if one is truly a seeker, with sincere intentions, than the truth will find them – as long as they are willing to meet that truth halfway.
I first heard of Jeung San Do at Kyobo bookstore. While one may not expect to meet the truth of this universe on the modern, material-driven, streets of Gangnam, I was lucky enough to be approached by my close friend and teacher Shin Ji-Woong there in March of 2004.
At the time I had been in Seoul for about 3 or 4 months and I was contemplating visiting one of the accessible Buddhist Temples around the city where foreigners are encouraged to partake in meditation and other forms of mind training. I had been curiously reading about Korean culture, Buddhism, and Eastern Philosophy for some time before coming to Korea. The integral, non-dualistic outlook began to click in my mind. As a Westerner, what had initially struck me in my research was the possibility that science and religion did not have to be in conflict with one another. In fact, many books, such as the “Tao of Physics,” seemed to show that recent discoveries in Quantum Physics and the spiritual traditions of the East were starting to converge after all of these years. This was a major revelation for me.
In Canada, I had grown up in a somewhat Christian environment with my father’s side of the family being devout Baptists while my mother came from a more relaxed Baptist background. My parents themselves are not extremely religious but I did attend Church with my father when I was young. My Church seemed to act as a community for its members and rarely did these people ask anything of it besides moral comfort and security. However, the people were always kind and it was in no way a negative place or time in my life.
Any bitterness or grief I have maintained towards the Christian religion has stemmed from my University education or certain political tendencies that are prevalent in the West. With the help of Jeung-san-do I have learned to overcome my shortcomings and simply accept things as they are. I have also become proud of my past and see it as part of my spiritual path and development. After all, sometime when I was very young I started to pray. I was never sure who I was praying to but in my mind it was certainly never Jesus. Now I know who it was: it was Sahng-jeh-nim.
While I certainly do not want to downplay my experience learning of Sahng-jeh-nim, and the awakening that has come from honoring my ancestors, I must admit that these were not the initial areas of Jeung San Do that grabbed me. The two most natural aspect of the teachings for me to embrace were Cosmology and, of course, the Tae-eul Mantra.
Studying Cosmology has continuously been my “favorite” aspect of Jeung San Do and has been one of the most enriching endeavors of my life. I was immediately struck by the depth and simplicity of the principle of birth, growth, harvest, and rest and I have rarely doubted its truth. Each time I listen to a lecture or reach a new level of understanding I feel passion and fulfillment. I know I have a lot to learn but I feel a constant hunger to go deeper and learn more. I am certainly up for the challenge as I have a strong desire to spread this truth.
Meditation, unfortunately, has not come as natural to me. I have long legs and coming from the “chair culture” of the West has caused my practice to be physically difficult at times. I have rarely meditated longer than two hours and I know that this is something I have to improve.
However, that is not to say that I have not experienced the power and medicine of the Tae-eul Mantra. In fact, the first time I chanted the mantra, almost two years ago, I saw color and circular movement behind my eyelids. The physicality of this experience was not something I could ignore or deny. Since that time I have chanted and meditated daily and felt much more in tune with the energies at work in my body. I continue to see that same color and movement behind my eyes brighten and this inspires me to sit longer and concentrate harder. Also, the thought of saving others by using this sound as medicine is another obvious motivation to chant more and to spread these essential teachings.
Before I conclude I feel that it is necessary that I at least mention the people, and land of Korea. For me, it is difficult to separate this country and my life here from my experiences with Jeung San Do. From the moment I stepped off of the plane I have always had some sort of spiritual intuition about Korea. It has always felt natural being here and as if I have some hidden connection with this country that I am not fully aware of.
I am just incredibly grateful to the organization of Jeung San Do and the window it has given me into the true culture and history of this beautiful country. I am proud to spread a spirituality that comes from Korea and I will always consider this country my second home and share a strong bond with its people.
At this time my main goal in Jeung San Do is to delve as deeply as possible into the teachings of Sahng-jeh-nim, Tae-mo-nim, Tae-sa-bu-nim and Sa-bu-nim. As an English-speaking Westerner I feel a great responsibility when it comes to both understanding and conveying the truth. I feel that by furthering my understanding of the natural principle I can clearly share the teachings with others. I am confident that many Westerners can accept these teachings, especially if they are open enough to study the cosmology and try chanting the Tae-eul Mantra.
I feel very privileged to be one of only a very few non-Korean speaking people to have learned about the coming of Cosmic Autumn and Dao of Gae-byuk. I just want to be ready to effectively spread the truth whenever opportunity presents itself. With sincere cultivation and humbleness I have confidence that I can maintain one-mind and help others at this consequential time. I will certainly do my best.