by Aaron J Jackson Crabb, 25/09/2011

How long can you sit on a plush grey pillow your legs crossed in a quiet room thinking only what is revolving around inside your being? Five, ten, twenty-six minutes? How about twelve hours? Is this actually possible? Twelve hours of sitting in one place in a quiet peaceful room on a plush grey pillow with just your thoughts keeping you company.

I know, sounds dreadful but for many this relaxing peaceful self-absorbing time has a name. They call it Zen Meditation. According to Oxford American Dictionaries it is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition. My intuition told me to run. But deep down inside there was this desire to learn something I hadn’t read about. That’s when a friend of mine asked if I’d like to spend an afternoon at the Zen Meditation center listening to a monk discuss Dharma. Intrigued about this other form of meditation I gladly accepted the invitation.

My simple reason for wanting to attend was to understand the differences between Zen Meditation and Tergar Meditation. Back in June, I was asked by K4E to attend a speaking engagement where I would meet the speaker a Tibetan monk named Mingyur Rinopoche.

At the time I had no idea who Mingyur was, nor did I know anything about Tergar Meditation. But I did meditate occasionally, western style. What I learned during this event was meditation could happen at any moment, under any circumstances as long as you felt it inside yourself.

Because of this introduction into the world of dedicated meditation I really wanted to see if there was or was not a difference between the two types of meditation? What I didn’t expect to happen did. Through sitting quietly at the back of the room I heard him discuss who we are as beings. He described people as having a “thing” inside them. It does not feel, touch, taste, hear, and smell, it just exists within. It is our “mirror.” Essentially, you reflect what you are observing outside of yourself. He explained that this “thing” existed well before your birth here on Earth and it will continue to exist after your body has died. This is when I knew Zen meditation and Tergar meditation were speaking different languages.

Think of Tergar meditation as being able to get along with every living or inanimate object you ever come into contact with. Whether its cancer, air conditioner, jet engine or a song bird, through Tergar meditation you can train yourself to become “friends” with everything around you. It will help you become a patient person and less aggressive. Then think of Zen meditation as a reflection of your inner self. It is who you are. You are the reflector of what you are witnessing around and within yourself.

To learn more about Zen Meditation you can attend a Dharma talk session every Saturday afternoon in Insadong near Anguk Station at the Zen Meditation Center. Saturday’s schedule includes a half hour meditation session from 2:30pm to 3:00pm followed by the talk beginning at 3:10pm until 4:00pm. Afterwards the monks will invite you downstairs to enjoy tea and refreshments. There will be an informal discussion about meditation, Zen or whatever questions are on your mind. 

Directions: Get to Anguk Station (orange line # 3) go out exit # 2. When exiting walk in the direction it leads you out of the station. This is Bockchon-ro. 5-minutes on the road you will arrive at a streetlight. Continue straight through the light. On the other side is a tourist information center. Stop here if you need to, they will provide a map ask for Zen Center. Follow the sidewalk straight up the street another 5-minutes. Just before the street begins to go uphill there will be two buildings on your right. The Zen Center is the grey building.

Seoul Anguk Zen Center
10-3 Gahoe-dong Jongno-gu Seoul
Seoul 110-260 Korea

About the Author: Full of vim and vigor, Aaron is a globetrotting freelance photographer and writer, who has lived in Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the United States. He has traveled extensively throughout the oceanic region and back again. Catch up on his latest misadventures on his blog.

Photo by Aaron J Jackson Crabb.

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