Here is the promised update on my Korea trip.
It has been quite interesting, though that wasn’t the word I was using until my plans (finally) started to firm up.
So, here goes:
First, I was going to go to Hwa Gye Sa in Seoul and sit for three weeks straight. The retreat was offered for free. All I had to do was show up. I started emailing them in February and had had a few responses when they suddenly stopped replying to their email. Not to be deterred, I had my Korea fundraiser and went ahead and bought my ticket. It was a good thing that I got my ticket when I did because there were very few seats to be found!
Well, the month of May progressed and still nothing. I got a little desperate and actually called Korea three times without getting any clear answers. I was also asking friends of mine in the school to see if they could find anything out for me. They were as unsuccessful as I was.
At that point, my teachers decided that I might be a lot better off going to Mu Sang Sa which is affiliated only with our school, unlike Hwa Gye Sa which has shared loyalty to our school and the Korean Chogye order. For those who are now confused, my school, the International Kwan Um School of Zen, was founded by Zen Master Seung Sahn, who immigrated to this country in the 70’s. He was a Korean monk of the Chogye order but the school he set up is now a little different from traditional Korean Zen.
Anyway, I was not too thrilled about going to Mu Sang Sa for two reasons; one, I couldn’t get in there until July 14 and two, I would have to pay for the retreat (another $500 that I. just. don’t. have.).
Then, suddenly, I started getting emails from Hwa Gye Sa. They were very sorry for the delay in getting back to me, they would be following the Chogye style of retreat, was I still interested in sitting, etc. I told them that I definitely still wanted to come and that the retreat schedule really didn’t matter to me.
End of story you think? Not so.
About a week later, Hwa Gye Sa announced that they were severing ties with Kwan Um School and that even though they would still be offering free retreat, there would be no Zen Master on hand to talk to. This was a problem. Stuff comes up when I meditate, stuff that would drive me bonkers if I didn’t have a teacher to talk to about it occasionally.
That brings us back to Mu Sang Sa. My teachers here knew about my financial issues and, unbeknownst to me, had arranged a scholarship for me to go to Mu Sang Sa for two weeks! It is very rare in my life adult life that someone says, “I’ll just take care of it.” I usually have to scrimp and save and worry and ask my friends for help (thank goodness they always do. Love you guys! MMMWWA!). But they just took care of that one last piece without me even asking and I am very humbled by that.
So, after this huge long novel, here is the final plan. I’m still leaving July 3. I am going to go to Hwa Gye Sa for a week, spending a few days in Seoul (if there’s yarn, I’ll find it!) then off to Mu Sang Sa for two weeks and then home.
In my next post, I’ll let you know how I’m coming on my preparations. It involves me and a sewing machine. Be afraid.