Monthly Archives: November 2011

Description: Ringing Cedars of Russia – Anastasia: Cedar House Video

Oprah’s Next Chapter is Oprah Winfrey’s new show for 2012. OWN announced that Oprah’s Next Chapter will premiere January 1, 2012.

Oprah said in a statement: “After 25 years I got myself out of the studio chairs, I moved into the next chapter, and I am having more fun than ever – moving around the country and the world talking to people I’m really interested in getting to know and I think viewers will be, too. It is so energizing to be out and about in the world exploring new people, new places and new ideas.”

Oprah’s Next Chapter sees Oprah interviewing people outside a studio. Oprah’s Next Chapter series premiere features a candid chat with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler at his New Hampshire home. In the two-hour premiere, Winfrey and Tyler cover everything from his years of drug addiction, his complicated relationships with his wives and American Idol. Subsequent episodes will include a trip to Haiti with Sean Penn, a tour of Skywalker Ranch with George Lucas, a slumber party at Paula Deen’s house. Transcendental Meditation in Fairfield and much more.

“I sat at the dinner table with a Hasidic Jewish family and tried to explain to the children who have never seen a television what TV is…can you imagine? I fire-walked with Tony Robbins – never pictured myself doing that! I celebrated the power of God and community with Joel Osteen and I’m planning a trip with Deepak Chopra to India where I’ve never been,” Winfrey added.

Winfrey’s primetime series Oprah’s Next Chapter will launch with a two-hour premiere on Sunday, Jan. 1 from 9-11 p.m. Oprah’s Next Chapter will move to its regular time slot beginning the following week at 9 p.m.

This is a video peek at Oprah’s Next Chapter:

Oprah’s Next Chapter, which was first announced in 2010, is one of several new additions to OWN’s line-up. The network also announced a new reality show featuring supermodel Beverly Johnson. These changes are the latest efforts to bolster the young network’s ratings.

Oprah Winfrey released a new book: The Oprah Winfrey Show: Reflections on an American Legacy.

Released on November 15, The Oprah Winfrey Show: Reflections on an American Legacy is full of iconic photographs, personal memories, highlights from The Oprah Winfrey Show and a foreword by Maya Angelou.

The Oprah Winfrey Show: Reflections on an American Legacy cover

The book hosts essays on specific topics by other writers. Dr. Oz and Bob Greene on health and wellness. Bono and Nicholas Kristof on social action; Ellen DeGeneres, Stanley Crouch and Henry Louis Gates Jr. on equality. Elie Wiesel and Toni Morrison on writing books; Julia Roberts and Diane von Furstenberg on culture. Maria Shriver and Gloria Steinem on women’s issues. Dr. Phil, Mark Nepo and Marianne Williamson on personal growth.

Plus, an added surprise: a tribute to Oprah by John Travolta and Phil Donahue.

The International Seon Center is a Zen meditation training center as well as a learning facility for Buddhist cultural practices.

The overall aim of the International Seon Center is to promote awareness of the inherent value of Korean Buddhism and its practices to the global community. The center contains a templestay facility, a large prayer hall, and a culture and education center, and provides temple-stay programs, Seon lectures, traditional Buddhist temple cuisine cooking classes, tea ceremonies, and many other programs and activities which aim to provide a living experience of traditional Korean Buddhist culture. To cater for the needs of international visitors, Korean to English interpretation is provided throughout many of the center’s activities.

Example of events at the International Seon Center:

=== Saturday Evening Dharma School ===
Participants: Open to all
Program Schedule: Every Saturday Evening
-19:00 ~ 19:20 : Introduction to Buddhism; Evening Chanting
-19:20 ~ 20:00 : Sitting Meditation (30 mins); Walking Meditation (10mins)
-20:20 ~ 20:50 : Dharma Talk; Q&A Session
Location: International Seon Center: Temple Stay Dharma Hall, 5th Floor
Cost: Free (Donations are gratefully welcomed)

Apart from Templestays, the Seon Center also offers Saturday evening meditation classes year-round with the purpose of helping individuals find peace within the hectic modern world. The program is conducted entirely in English and is open to beginners and advanced students alike.

For more details about templestays or the Saturday dharma school, please feel free to contact our international relations director: Kim, Yong Tae (010-5053-8819)

Address : 319-11 Sinjeong 6-dong, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul, Korea
Tel : 02)2650-2242 / Fax : 02)2650-2201
homepage :
E-mail :

Templestay ScheduleThe Templestay schedule differs from temple to temple. You can join with the following reservation.

Title : International Seon Center Regular Schedule
Period : Regular schedule
Course : 2 days


A course in happiness review: this is a review of our wellbeing book, as written by “The Agora” in Nov 2011. Enjoy!

The Korean Temple Stay program was started by the Buddhist Jogye Order on the occasion of the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup. The Korean Temple Stay program by the Jogye Order program continues today and is gaining increasing popularity and acclaim.

Many of Jogye’s temples are located in pristine, natural mountain environments and the temple buildings and compounds are truly beautiful. In addition, many of the temples house numerous cultural treasures and properties to be appreciated by visitors. The Temple Stay programs afford participants the chance to live in such an environment, sample ordained lifestyle, and experience the mental training and cultural atmosphere of Korea’s ancient Buddhist tradition.

The Temple Stay programs include 2-or-3-night stays, and although the daily schedules may vary slightly from temple to temple, in general they include basic education in Buddhist religious services; sutra reading; meal offerings monk style; work periods; food preparation; and work in the fields.

Buddhist practices that participants may experience include hwadu meditation and chanting, and they also may hear sutra reading or Dharma talks. Cultural activities include the tea ceremony, stone rubbings, temple paintings, Buddha statue making, Zen martial arts, hiking, and taking in cultural and historical sites and objects around the temple.
Everyone is welcome to join the Temple Stay program, regardless of religious affiliation.

To contact the Temple Stay Program:
Tel: (82-2) 732-9925/7 Fax: (82-2) 732-9928

Example of Korean Temple Stay: Hwaeomsa’s Templstay Program
Hwaeomsa is a place to give your chaotic mind a rest and discover your True Self amidst incredible natural surroundings. Here, the clear waters of the Seomjin River meet the beautiful scenery of Jirisan Mountain. Hwaeomsa runs a variety of seasonal programs based on the changes in nature. Some of the notable programs include a walk through the wheat fields in February, a visit to the Cornelian Cherry Festival and rafting along Seomjin River during cherry blossom season in March, preparing wild green tea leaves in April, a Seon training program in the summer and winter, a trip for families up Jirisan in June, Five Days Under the Moonlight during Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), Enjoying the Autumn from September to November, Christmas in the Mountain Temple, and a New Year’s program held at Nogodan peak on New Year’s Eve. The newly-introduced 3 Temples 3 Colors Program will bring you to three different temples where you can stay a night each. With facilities to accommodate 200 people at once, there are also programs that focus on groups and businesses.

Address : 12, Hwangjeon-ri, Masan-myeon Gurye-gun Jeollanam-do
Tel : +82-61-782-7600 / Fax : +82-61-782-7601
homepage :
E-mail :

Cognitive-behavioural therapy online is effective when delivered online in real time by a therapist, according to “Therapist-delivered internet psychotherapy for depression in primary care: a randomised controlled trial” a study by The Lancet.

Despite strong evidence for its effectiveness, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) remains difficult to access. Computerised programs have been developed to improve accessibility, but whether these interventions are responsive to individual needs is unknown. We investigated the effectiveness of CBT delivered online in real time by a therapist for patients with depression in primary care.

In this multicentre, randomised controlled trial, 297 individuals with a score of 14 or more on the Beck depression inventory (BDI) and a confirmed diagnosis of depression were recruited from 55 general practices in Bristol, London, and Warwickshire, UK. Participants were randomly assigned, by a computer-generated code, to online CBT in addition to usual care (intervention; n=149) or to usual care from their general practitioner while on an 8-month waiting list for online CBT (control; n=148). Participants, researchers involved in recruitment, and therapists were masked in advance to allocation. The primary outcome was recovery from depression (BDI score <10) at 4 months. Analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN 45444578. Findings 113 participants in the intervention group and 97 in the control group completed 4-month follow-up. 43 (38%) patients recovered from depression (BDI score <10) in the intervention group versus 23 (24%) in the control group at 4 months (odds ratio 2·39, 95% CI 1·23—4·67; p=0·011), and 46 (42%) versus 26 (26%) at 8 months (2·07, 1·11—3·87; p=0·023). Interpretation CBT seems to be effective when delivered online in real time by a therapist, with benefits maintained over 8 months. This method of delivery could broaden access to CBT. More information on:

Free Online Crisis Counseling is provided by these volunteer organizations, often 24/7 and and both in-person and by email.

Free Online Crisis Counseling in USA
The National Hopeline Network
Toll free: 1-800-784-2433

Free Online Crisis Counseling in USA: by specialization
American Social Health Association: Sexually Transmitted Disease Hotline 1-800-227-8922
CDC AIDS Info (800) 232-4636
AIDS Info: Treatment, Prevention and Research (800)HIV-0440

Child Protection Hotline (Los Angeles County DCFS) Within CA (800) 540-4000
Outside CA (213) 283-1960
Child Help USA National Child Abuse hotline (800) 422-4453

National Hotlines, Referral Resources, and Support Services See Website for List of Phone Numbers
State Crisis Lines (24-Hour) See Website for List of Phone Numbers

National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-7233
National US Child Abuse Hotline (800) 422-4453

American Association of Poison Control Centers (800) 222-1222
America Social Health: STD Hotline (800) 227-8922

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration (800) 662-4357

Planned Parenthood Hotline (800) 230-PLAN (230-7526)

National Domestic Violence/Child Abuse/ Sexual Abuse (800) 799-7233
Abuse Victim Hotline (877) 448-8678

National Runaway Switchboard (800) 786-2929
National Hotline for Missing & Exploited Children (800) 843-5678
Child Find of America (800) 426-5678

Al-Anon for Families of Alcoholics (888) 425-2666
Alcohol & Drug Abuse Hotline 1-800-729-6686
Cocaine Anonymous (800) 347-8998
Families Anonymous (800) 736-9805
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hopeline (800) 622-2255
National Institute on Drug Abuse Hotline (800) 662-4357

Self Abuse Finally Ends (800) 366-8288
Shoplifters Anonymous (800) 848-9595
Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention (800) 931-2237

Free Online Crisis Counseling: Worldwide
Online Crisis Counseling at Befrienders:

Free Online Crisis Counseling: Worldwide
International Federation of Telephone Emergency Services – IFOTES

Life Line International

Child Helpline International

Telephone Helplines Association (UK)
Other associations

American Association of Suicidology – AAS

Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention – CASP

International Association for Suicide Prevention – IASP

Prevent Suicide Now

Online Crisis Counseling in United Kingdom and Ireland
UK: 08457 90 90 90
ROI: 1850 60 90 90

What is Hwadu meditation? Seon Master Wumen Huikai (1183-1260) said,

Meditation is the penetration through the barrier gate of the patriarchs. Marvelous enlightenment has to cut off the paths of all thought. If one does not penetrate the barrier of the patriarchs and does not cut off the path of thought you will be no different to a phantom who lives attached to grass or a thicket. (Wumen guan)

Hwadu is made up of the word hwa, which means speech or story, and du, which is a meaningless suffix. So hwadu is just a word for speech. But we must note that Seon masters use this word in a particular way. Hwadu is a special language of Seon masters that blocks all passages for thought and discrimination.

Such words cannot be grasped with everyday thought. Hwadu have the power to remove the thought and discrimination of conceptual thinking. Therefore hwadu have discarded the everyday norms, and are called exceptional words beyond the norm. This is because they are absolute words that cannot be attached to in accordance with the function of rational thinking.

The words that we use everyday are relative words. We use words such as exist and not exist, you and I, go and come, good and bad. But answers such as, “The cypress tree in front of the courtyard” and “A dried-up shit-stick” to questions such as, “What is the meaning of the Patriarch coming from the West?” and “What is the truth?” are exceptional, absolute words that transcend the relative words. These are true words that cut off the paths of speech and thought. One should be directly enlightened to such hwadu.

There are also times when the du of hwadu is not used simply as a suffix. At such times, hwadu means “the head of the word,” and indicates the world before the word comes out. One may also see that hwadu means the definition of words preceding daily speech. Hwadu are presented by the teacher to the pupil and the student must wrestle in a bout with life and death in taking up this hwadu.

Hwadu are also called gongan and gochik. All mean the same. Gongan also is the public (gong) of transcending public and private, and gochik is the go (past) that transcends time and space, and hwadu is a word that transcends words. In other words, gochik are the just rules of law, the Dharma/Law that was recognized by the ancient worthies. That is they are “the laws that were via words,” and the “laws of the patriarchs of the past.” Being just, the discriminating mind must not intervene in them. Therefore they are called public cases (gongan). If one zealously practice in accord with that Dharma one is sure to be able to see the nature. Gongan are thus said in the sense that they are “standard cases” that will allow one to be enlightened if one practices according to that Law that transcends both sides. In this way gongan are a basis of absolute criteria and judgments in the practice of meditation.

One may be directly enlightened through such hwadu, gongan and gochik. But if (the Master) says wake up, and one cannot wake up even when it is presented, one has no option but to take up the hwadu. As even doing this is a method of awakening, one just puts it down. One must know clearly that hwadu is not simply a method to produce a doubt.

There are many methods for meditation. In Korean Buddhism the traditional method called “Ganhwaseon” is used. Korea is the only Nation where the traditional meditation using hwadu (usually translated as “head of speech” which means “true speech”) is generally practiced. Used by many enlightened masters of the past, the practitioner endeavours to suspend logical thinking so that the Original Nature becomes clear through a direct transmission from mind to mind. As we are all Buddha by nature, it is only necessary to clear away ignorance and delusions for our true nature to come forward.

A human being is composed of a body and a mind. A body without a mind is just a dead corpse. A mind without a body is just pure spirit. Someone who, although endowed with both a body and a mind, only knows the body but not the mind is called a sentient being. In general, a sentient being is understood as any being possessing conscious life. Birds flying in the sky, animals walking on the ground, fish swimming in the water, as well as the tiniest organism, are all sentient beings.

The purpose of practicing Zen meditation is awaken to the mind. Such practice does not involve just sitting quietly and trying to calm and pacify the mind. Nor does it entail contemplating the breath. Instead it involves direct into a hwadu. An example of a hwadu would be a question such as “What is this?” or “What is this mind?”. What you are searching for can be called by many different names: mind, spirit, soul, true nature and so forth. But such designations are merely labels. You should put aside all of these names and reflect on the fact that the true master of the body is more than just the label “mind”. The master of the body is not the Buddha, for it is not yet awakened. Nor is it anything material, because it cannot be physically given or received. Nor is it simply empty space, for empty space cannot pose questions or have knowledge of good and evil.

Having negated these four possibilities, a question will arise as to what this master really is. If you continue inquiring in this way, the questioning will become more intense. Finally, when the mass of questioning enlarges to a critical point, it will suddenly burst. The entire universe will be shattered and only your original nature will appear before you. In this way you will awaken.

Hwadu is derived from the Chán schools of the middle T’ang dynasty of China and developed over a number of generations during the most diverse period of Chán’s growth. The Records of Ta-hui, Chinul’s most immediate acknowledged source, was written only a generation before Chinul lived and he may have been exposed to teachings relating to it and hwadu during his earlier years of practice through contact with Chinese practitioners. Initially, hwadu practice was quite fluid and based on exchanges between a master and a student in which one party asks the other a question and a response is given that demonstrates the realization of the original mind. These exchanges were eventually written down and preserved in collections by students and came to be called kung-an or kong-ans (or koans as they are known in English commonly), which translates to “public case records” (Buswell, 1991, p. 68). Buswell states that there is some evidence that the first uses of practices similar to koans may date to the Fifth Patriarch of Chán Buddhism, Hung-jen, but its later use and codification was popularized by Ta-hui Tsung-kao, who wrote Records of Ta-hui read by Chinul. In its earliest form, hwadu is the portion of a koan that forms the central point or core topic of it and can be considered its key. As it developed later, it can be best understood as “the point at which (or beyond which) speech exhausts itself” (Buswell, 1986, p. 219). These koans and their attached hwadu form a puzzle of sorts. At an intellectual, rational, or logical level, they make no sense. If they are treated simply as an intellectual puzzle, they appear nonsensical, almost like a bit of nonsense text quoted from Alice in Wonderland, for example. The words can be read rationally but their meaning will elude you because the nature of the exchange is transcending speech and rationalization. According to Chinul, while koans are a form of speech and, therefore, of rational thought, they go beyond the limits of rationality, showing where intellectual understanding reaches its limits. Chinul also points out that the hwadu acts as a purification device that wipes away conceptualization or thoughts, leaving the mind open to the unconditioned or original mind that is beyond all ideas, speech, or discrimination. Chinul quotes Ta-hui in Chinul’s Excerpts from the Dharma Collection, stating that in true hwadu practice “you need only lay down, all at once, the mind full of deluded thoughts and inverted thinking, the mind of logical discrimination, the mind that loves life and hates death, the mind of knowledge and views, interpretation and comprehension” (Buswell, 1991, p. 185). Chinul taught initially that this was the shortcut method of enlightenment only accessible for superior practitioners, but near the end of his life he shifted more and more emphasis on hwadu as the best or ideal vehicle for realizing enlightenment for all followers of the Dharma.

Sources: The Way of Korean Zen by Kusan Sunim
Al Jigen Billings

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