inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #26 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Sun 19 May 02 07:36
    
up in #18, Mitsu asked:  
> in addition to the portraits of the San-shin spirits, to what 
> extent is there present in Korean art a tendency to make paintings
> or drawings of the physical mountains themselves?

This is hardly ever done in San-shin paintings-- much to my surprise
over the years.  I wonder why not?   Mountains are usually shown in 
the background of these paintings, as you can see in my book or on
the website, but they are almost always stylized idealized mountains
and not identifiable as any particular ones, by shape or other
characteristic.  You would think that the artistic would try to 
depict the particular mountain whose spirit he is painting... but 
I'm not sure that I've ever definitely seen that.  

There there is one icon show in my book in which the background peak
is obviously the great extinct volcano on the border between North 
Korea and China called Baekdu-san [White-head Mountain]. That is the
highest peak on the peninsula, and since the early 20th century has 
been maybe the most sacred mountain of all, a symbol of all that is
holy in Korea and of the aspirations for national reunification. But
this painting is enshrined in a temple at a second-class mountain in
the south, not up at Baekdu-san;  so it's just as a religious symbol
and not as a physical depiction.  

Early Korean aristocratic landscape painting followed the Chinese 
Sung Dynasty way of idealized fantastic-shaped mountains.  Starting
in the late seventeenth century after 75 years of horrific foreign 
invasions, however, there was a new movement of realistically 
painting the actual mountains (and folk-scenes) of Korea.  This 
produced some of the greatest national-treasure masterpieces, but
never carried over into the paintings of Mountain-spirits which also
started around the same time.  I really have no idea why, except
landscape painters were aristocrats and painters of San-shins were
low-class artisans (although some did very fine art!).  I'd like to
know why....
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #27 of 234: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Sun 19 May 02 09:33
    
David, in the book you mentioned that San-shin shrines still exist in
North Korea, but that there are apparently no practitioners.  I'm
wondering if you've learned anything further about the state of
religious practice, in general, in North Korea today.  I gather that
you're not able to travel there yourself, but do you have (or have
access to) correspondence with anyone in the North?  
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #28 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Sun 19 May 02 20:19
    
That's right, I'm a USA citizen and thus not able to travel to North
Korea myself (along with most South Koreans), except for the fenced-
off Diamond Mountains just across the DMZ on the East Coast.  I went
up there for 3 days over this past New Year's Eve, with my wife and
boss and a dozen ambassadors-to-Seoul.  Stunningly beautiful, even 
in the bitterly-cold winter.  But so desolate -- no North Koreans in
sight except the soldiers; no temple sites can be visited.

I follow news reports about North Korea closely (as my LIFE depends
on how the end-game goes there!), and have corresponded with some 
travellers who've been there (Canadians Euros Aussies etc can visit
although it's very restricted & expensive).  I wrote the North Korea
chapter in Lonely Planet's KOREA guidebook in 1996/7, so i'm quite 
familiar with the details.  No, i don't have "correspondence with 
anyone in the North" -- nobody does.  No mail, no phone, no e-mail.
Utterly cut off from the world, except a few narrow gov-controlled
channels.  Weird.  Horrific.  The #1 very worst government in the 
entire world, it is fair to say.

During the Korean War the US Air Force pretty much bombed every 
building in the North, down to farmer's outhouses; very few historic
structures remain there.  Some of the greatest Buddhist temples were
rebuilt by the gov, in some cases including the San-shin shrines --
according to photos i've seen.  

But those are just empty buildings; all ministers, monks & shamans 
were forcibly secularized in the 1950s, if they resisted they were 
killed.  Many fled to the south.  None left up north, and there's 
no practice or practitioners of any sort of religion or folk-belief
that we know of.  The state retains a monopoly on religion for its
own "Juche" cult -- really, the entire nation is a giant paranoid 
armed-to-the-teeth David Koresh / Waco kind of semi-shamanic cult! 

The surviving artwork in those temples has mostly been removed by 
the Army, we hear, and sold in China for cash-to-stash.  The S K gov
supposedly has a secret fund/operation to buy up the best of it in 
Hong Kong etc and save in warehouses for the inevitable reunifica-
tion.  I hope that's true.  I hope the purchases include some great
old San-shin paintings...
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #29 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Sun 19 May 02 20:36
    
But, there's exciting New News on this.   The N K gov has never 
permitted any sort of spiritual activity on it's soil, including in
that cut-off tourist-area of the Diamond Mountains (formerly a very
sacred set of peaks).  

However, just 6 weeks ago they suddenly allowed an association of 
several dozen S K shamans (and 200 followers) to come up to those 
Diamond Mountains (by ship, the only access) and conduct a full-
scale Mountain-spirit Ceremony!  They did it at the ruins of Shingye
Temple (which S K Buddhists have offered to reconstruct).  They also
held a ritual for the Dragon-King at the beautiful area where the
mountains reach the East Sea.

I have photos of this historic event (from a journalist who went); 
i'll get them up on my web-site as soon as i find the time.

Now, WHY did the northern authorities permit that ritual, after 50
years of suppressing such...?  I'd love to know, but they aren't 
talking (whoever is "they" is not even known).  Clearly, they're 
softening up on national-identity/culture stuff, starting with Dan-
gun (mythical Founder-King) and proceeding to San-shin, which is 
exactly what i predicted in my Chapter 4 (on the future of San-shin
in Korea; see all that discussion of N K there) !!

Very exciting for me!  I'll be watching this closely as it develops.
I'd send the leaders copies of my book, if there was any postal
service to them...
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #30 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Sun 19 May 02 20:53
    
up in #18, Mitsu asked me about:  
> the extent to which you might feel Korean shamanism and/or the 
> San-shin tradition can be found influencing everyday Korean 
> customs and culture.  

Very few Koreans will admit to you that they visit fortune-tellers 
or bow/donate at San-shin shrines or patronize Shamans.  But hey,
SOMEbody is keeping thousands of professionals employed full-time
and financing the construction of ever-fancier shrines...  When a 
new building etc starts construction or is opened these days, it has
become common to hold a Shamanic Ceremony, incl a San-shin ritual.
But other than those -- not much.

> That is to say, not so much the conscious awareness of this, but 
> rather unconscious habits of interaction or ways of thinking or 
> perceiving.  In what ways does it show up in language and/or 
> customs and/or societal structures, as you have observed?

Very interesting question, sure.  But i'm not a Professor of Social
Psychology, so have no research or speculations of my own. I've read
some authors who posit that the Korean mind works in layers that 
follow religious history -- a Shamanic core dominating the sub-
conscious, a layer of Buddhism over that, a strong layer of Neo-
Confucianism over THAT, and now a layer of modern-westernism covering
all, superficially.  Makes sense to me, fits with what i've seen, but
i can't speak to validity of this theory.  

Recent Korean language, customs and social structures remain very 
different from Euro-American models, of course.  They are influenced
heavily by the Korean past, without a doubt.  But i won't go out on
a limb on exactly which has led to what...
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #31 of 234: Pseud Impaired (mitsu) Mon 20 May 02 00:26
    
I would imagine North Korean leaders are opening up in these ways primarily
because they are desperate.  Very sad tragedy unfolding in the North.

Is Korean shamanism primarily an oral tradition, or are there many extant
texts describing the practices?  Do they have a tradition of secret texts?
Is the lack of Korean scholarship on San-shin paintings accompanied by a
similar lack of scholarship regarding Korean shamanism as a whole?
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #32 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Mon 20 May 02 05:21
    
> I would imagine North Korean leaders are opening up in these ways
> primarily because they are desperate. 

I dunno.  Surely most of their recent "opening" (the barest crack of
the door) has been out of desperation, trying to elicit cash & food
from the South and foreigners -- to keep the army content and the
elite in power.  But what benefit do they get from allowing S K
shamans to do a Mountain-spirit Ceremony?  That won't impress other
powers a whit, and not even impress the S K decision-makers much 
(they probably have little support for "old superstitions").

Now, maybe this Association of S K Shamans managed to give a huge 
amount of cash or rice to the N K authorities behind the scenes, and
thus got permission for this, who knows?  But i look at it, perhaps
too optimisticly, as part of the early stage of an ideological 
change.  Just like what has happened in China -- the previous ruling
philosophy (Marxism, Maoism, Juche) is dead, dysfunctional, nobody
really believes anymore.  So the dictatorship turns to raw Nation-
alism to keep people pumped-up & distracted, and justify their power.

This fits with the legitimization of the Dan-gun myth ("It is true
history!", Pyeongyang now says) starting 7 or so years ago. San-shin
is the next step...

The bad news is, hysterical isolationist-nationalism isn't going 
to make them any easier to deal with than paranoid isolationist-
communism ever did.  

But i *do* regard re-instating important elements of traditional 
Korean culture as possible first steps towards sanity, and allowing
re-unification someday on the cultural level.
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #33 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Mon 20 May 02 06:05
    
> Is Korean shamanism primarily an oral tradition, or are there 
> many extant texts describing the practices?  

Oral. As it was ignored / supressed by the Confucians for 300 years
or so just as much as by the authorites of the 20th Century, there 
are very few records or scripts of any sort before about 1980. Some
reports of observations by Chrisian missionaries 1885-1925 are 
valuable, tho of course biased and uncomprehending.

> Do they have a tradition of secret texts?

No.  Some of the semi-shamanic "new religion" cults promote their
"formerly secret but now unveiled ancient text", but those all seem
bogus.

> Is the lack of Korean scholarship on San-shin paintings 
> accompanied by a similar lack of scholarship regarding Korean 
> shamanism as a whole?

Until the '80s there wasn't much at all.  Most of the scholarship on
Korean Shamanism that has followed, and there is now a lot from both
Korean and foreign researchers, has focused on sociological /
anthropological studies of the Shamans themselves -- their lives &
status, or logging the exact rituals they do.  Since the Shamans are
mostly (poor) women, there's a lot of sympathetic feminist-slanted
stuff coming out.  For the best of the western books, see the fine 
works by Laurel Kendall.

What has NOT been done much is work on the actual deities themselves
as subjects of research, as agents acting and evolving thru Korean
cultural history.  That's where i saw a yawning gap and a need, and
jumped on in.  There are plenty of others besides San-shin, but none
nearly so interesting -- none so central, so common, so intricately
linked with all major religious / philosophical traditions.
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #34 of 234: Pseud Impaired (mitsu) Mon 20 May 02 08:12
    
>what benefit do they get

Well, Castro allowed the Pope to visit a little while ago, presumably also
to gain some goodwill capital.  I imagine that it is a combination of this
and the fact that many North Koreans, party members or not, probably
secretly hold some affinity for or perhaps at least agnosticism with respect
to the old shamanism...  But I hope you're right about an actual ideological
change.  In any case once reunification occurs, well, everything will
change.

>none so central

Speaking of which, I am curious to know what the relationship is between the
San-shin and other shamanic deities in the system.  Is San-shin thought to
be "above" the others, first among equals, or is there not such a notion of
clear hierarchy among them?  Are there also shamanistic deities associated
with, say, streams, lakes, and so forth --- i.e., other natural features?
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #35 of 234: Pseud Impaired (mitsu) Mon 20 May 02 08:18
    
An additional question regarding North Korea which is somewhat off the topic
but I can't help but ask --- from your vantage point, how is the process of
reunification going?  Is it moving forward, likely to happen soon, etc.?
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #36 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Mon 20 May 02 20:43
    
There are various hierarchy-systems among all the shamanic deities 
and the Buddhist & Daoist ones and etc -- it very much depends who
you talk to!  Since there is no "bible" or "Vatican" of Shamanism,
(and Hinduism, Buddhism & Daoism are all quite loosely structured 
compared to the mono-theisms), each pratitioners follows their own
beliefs & practices -- what "works" for them -- whether they make 
them up themselves or learn/adapt a system from a teacher or book.

Many here will tell you that there is a hierarchy of Heavenly, 
Earthly and Underground (Hell) spirits, and since San-shin is of the
Earth, he/she fits in the 'middle ranks'.

When "Assembly of the Gaurdian Spirits" paintings were first made 
and enshrined in Buddhist temples in the 1700s-1800s, no Mountain-
Spirits could be found in them.  Then theyy started to include San-
shin, but as one figure amoung many in, yes, the 'middle ranks', 
only head & one hand showing.  But in the 19th Century works he 
is frequently found at the bottom, up front and prominent, full body
shown with elaborate details.  See pages 113-117 in my book. In 20th
-Cen paintings San-shin is always prominent, easy to find.  See the
middle of:  http://www.san-shin.org/newdis4.html  for one example.
And   http://www.san-shin.org/newdis7.html  for more modern cases,
one quite unique (includes the tiger).

San-shin used to play second-fiddle to the Seven Stars of the Big
Dipper [Chil-seong-shin] and others.  But without a doubt, among all
the Shamanic deities of Korea, it has become the primary one, rising
far beyond all others.  As mentioned above, it's the only one so 
intricately linked with all major religious/philosophical traditions
and also with such deep connection to the National Identity.  Maybe
also it's the one that represents what people experience in their
daily life, that means a lot to them deep-down -- the mountains and
Nature.  Certainly, it's the only one still evolving in meaning and
form, and having elaborate new shrines built to it (in ever more 
public locations -- see  http://www.san-shin.org/seongmo1.html  and
the next page... the Seven Stars got nothing going like that!

> Are there also shamanistic deities associated with, say, streams,
> lakes, and so forth --- i.e., other natural features?

Yes, they are thought to contain -- to be manifestations of -- 
spirits.  Especially waterfalls and their pools.  But these are not
highly-developed, human-form deities like San-shin.  Mostly, people
just bow to them out in nature, make a small offering of food/liquor
if they're acknowleged at all.

The Dragon-King of the Waters is the catch-all spirit for bodies of
water -- see pages 110-111 for photos and explanation.
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #37 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Mon 20 May 02 23:07
    
> ...regarding North Korea ...  how is the process of reunification
>  going?  Is it moving forward, likely to happen soon, etc.?

Not much visible progress at all.  When Prez Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine
Policy led to his stunning summit-visit to Pyeongyang, schmoozing 
with a friendly, reasonable and respectful Kim Jong-il (son of the
late "Great Leader", who is now a shamanic deity himself up there),
here was a great surge of hope.  And a Nobel Peace Prize for KDJ
(thank gopod they were wise enuff to NOT include KJI in that, like
they included Arafat with Perez! they learned something...).  That 
was June 2000.

But since then there's been nothing but disappointment, as KJI / NK
has not followed thru on ANY of the agreements they made.  They just
continue to dribble out small concesions (like agreeing to hold yet
more talks) as ways to get more aid (food for the soldiers & favored
classes).  They frequently still resort to abusive insulting propa-
ganda announcements or outright military blackmail to get more rice
or cash.  The public here has lost most hope that being nice to them
is ever going to accomplish anything.  Japan is so disgusted with NK
behavior that it has stopped all aid -- *all*.  Even China & Russia
won't help them beyond a minimum.

So, the "process of reunification" is going nowhere, dead in the 
water like an NK submarine.  It looks like the amazingly evil NK 
Gov (and i don't use that term lightly) can keep on truckin' as long
as their control of the guns and death-camps remains firm.  Not much
anybody can do but wait, watch their population suffer.   

But then, there's the example of Romania -- only 6 quick days from 
when the first crack in a pillar showed to the Great Dictator being
shot like a dog in a muddy field.  North Korea could collapse in a
day or two, and it could be *any* day -- some General decides to make
a move, has enough troops behind him, and *splat* the whole house-of
-cards comes down in wild bloody chaos.  This Would Be Bad -- i hope
i'm on vacation somewhere when/if it happens...

> the fact that many North Koreans, party members or not, probably
> secretly hold some affinity for or perhaps at least agnosticism 
> with respect to the old shamanism...

a fact?  i wish i could know.  But as i said, they ain't talking.

> But I hope you're right about an actual ideological change.

we all REALLY hope for a peaceful evolutionary change, like Russia,
China, South Africa and etc. rather than violent collapse / war.

> once reunification occurs, well, everything will change.

Yep, everything. There is pretty much *nothing* in North Korea, from
philosophy to songs to electric generators to clothing, that is in 
any way useful or viable in the modern world.
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #38 of 234: Pseud Impaired (mitsu) Tue 21 May 02 00:05
    
A follow-up: though San-shin are considered "middle-level" deities, would
you say that there are more rituals or people devoting time to them than the
other Korean shamanistic deities?

You talk a lot about stories of people who eventually become San-shin.  I am
curious how many folk tales/legends there are which actually feature San-
shin (i.e., not before they become San-shin, but afterwards) as characters?
I.e., characters that have dialogue, etc.  Or are San-Shin seen more as
entities that protect and/or defend without really saying very much?

I'd also like to hear you speak more about the idea of San-shin as it might
relate to Gregory Bateson's ideas.  I have long been an enthusiastic fan of
Bateson's work, and I was intrigued by your references to him.  Can you give
more details on how you might feel San-shin relates to Bateson's concepts?
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #39 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Tue 21 May 02 07:03
    
> though San-shin are considered "middle-level" deities, would you 
> say that there are more rituals or people devoting time to them 
> than the other Korean shamanistic deities?

Definitely, yes.  The 'middle' ranking is purely in theory, within 
the non-Buddhist deities said to defend Buddhism (the teachings, the
holy places and the monks) by the Hwa-eom [Hua-yen] Sutra.  Korean
shamans have always regarded the Mountain-spirit as at least one of
the most important in their practice, from what we do know about 
them; is usually the first to be invoked and supplicated during a 
long exorcism or fortune-seeking ritual ceremony.   

As I said above, these days San-shin has no real rival as far as the
amount of time money attention and shrine building devoted to it. 
Running behind the Seven Stars, the Lonely Saint (a disciple of the
Buddha) and the Dragon King.  They may once have been equal, but in
the last generation or two San-shin has gotten far more juice.    

I have a funny sort of nerdy rivalry over this going with a woman 
professor from Oxford -- when I gave my speech on San-shin in 1990's
Korea, she actually heckled me from the audience and then used up
most of my question time, insisting that the Seven Stars were and 
are and always will be "number one"!  She got quite agitated about 
this; I was embarrassed and nobody else in the audience knew or 
cared.  She was coming from an entirely theoretical place on it, and
I could grant her point in theory, but I have a decade and 10,000 
miles of experience in the field that she doesn't.  I had a hundred
photos with me right there to prove my case, and she had nothing but
ideas of how it was supposed to be...    

I've run into this several times, big respected professors who spent
some months in Korea talking to three shamans and two monks, think
that they've got all the answers on the final truth about this stuff
and write books pontificating "THIS is how it is, they believe this
way and do like this", real simple.  But my analyzed database of 800
shrines nationwide (and hundred or more practitioners interviewed)
shows a far more complex and contradictory picture, with many more
exceptions to the rules they posit than examples that follow them... 
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #40 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Tue 21 May 02 07:20
    
There are many folk tales/legends which feature San-shin as active 
characters, that speak dialogue, make judgments and decisions, have
interests and concerns, etc.  They are not necessarily real people
who have become San-shin, they can just be "regular" San-shin.

But I can't tell you how many.  The primary source for old Korean 
stories is the Sam-guk Yusa [Legends of the Three Kingdoms] written
by a great Buddhist monk in 1170 or so.  An an invaluable resource 
for everyone who studies Korean traditions. I found at least a dozen
good stories that include San-shin in it.  

For those who are really interested, I refer you to the 450-page
_Myths and Legends from Korea_ by Sheffield University professor 
James Grayson, Curzon Press 2001.  Tons of good stuff in there.  
{Although James & i disagree on a key aspect of San-shin's identity;
we've argued about it some on the internet with no resolution; I 
mentioned his ideas and my dispute of them in the book}.
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #41 of 234: Elisabeth Wickett (wickett) Tue 21 May 02 08:38
    

_Spirit of the Mountains_ is indeed a stunning book and I feel very
privileged to have read it.

Are San-Shin stories told to modern children in Korea?  Is the vivacity of
the belief being passed on in that most basic of cultural ways?  Or is it
introduced to the young more culturally and religiously?
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #42 of 234: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Tue 21 May 02 10:12
    
Excellent questions, Elisabeth.  I was wondering the same.  Also, how
much (if any) is taught in primary or secondary education?
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #43 of 234: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Tue 21 May 02 10:57
    
From what I've learned about Korean martial arts, apparently the
Japanese devoted much effort to influencing - if not overhauling
outright - many aspects of Korean culture during their occupation.  One
result was that older Korean martial art forms, such as Tae Kyun and
Su Bak Do, were surpressed and Japanase styles dominated Korean martial
arts, despite the use of Korean names such Tang Su Do (which was for
the most part Japanese Karate).  After the Japanese occupation ended,
Koreans adopted Tae Kwon Do in a spirit of renewed nationalism, and it
was supposed to represent a "getting back to Korean roots" movement. 
But even as late as the mid-60s, many were still using the name "Korean
Karate" (Karate being a Japanese word).  And many older generation
Korean Tae Kwon Do masters continued to use Japanese words, such as
"gi" (uniform) and "kata" (movement pattern), instead of the Korean
words, "dobak" and "pum seh," respectively.  In other words, even
though the Korean name, Tae Kwon Do, was adopted, the art itself was
still very Japanese in style.  When the post-WWII generation came of
age, the actual practice of Tae Kwon Do was decisively overhauled to
rid it as much as possible of its former  Japanese influence.  This
could be seen in the dramatic difference between the old and new
pum-seh, for instance the old "pal-geh" versus the new "tae-guk"
series.  

Did the Japanese try to alter San-shin or other Korean religious
practices in a similar way?  If so, to what extent did they succeed,
and was there a similar movement afterward to recover from it?
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #44 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Tue 21 May 02 20:25
    
You're quite right about the Taekwondo case.  By the way, those last
two terms you mentioned for series of moves are now spelled pal-gwae
[eight diagrams (trigrams of the I Ching)] and tae-geuk [the grand
ultimate (yin-yang symbol)].

During the first half (the soft part) of their imperial occupation 
of Korea 1910-1945, the Japanese mostly ignored Korean folk-culture
and didn't try to alter it.  During the second half (the militarist
part) they actively tried to wipe out Korean culture and replace it
with their own, or with subjegated-to-Japan versions.  Korean folk-
religious practices such as San-shin and Dan-gun ceremonies were 
suppressed, and Japanese Shinto (shamanic, but Emperor-centered) was
harshly imposed.
 
I used to know an 80-yr-old Neo-Confucian scholar, one of the last 
of the old Joseon-Dynasty types and a real fish-out-of-water in 1988
-91 post-Olympics Korea.  My wife's Chinese-character teacher Grand-
father Song Heon spent his youth 1930-45 maintaining & doing rituals
at a top-secret shrine for Dan-gun, San-shin and other "National
Patriarchs" in the deep forest on Man-i Mountain on Kanghwa Island
(big island just west of Seoul).  He and friends risked torture-to-
death if caught, but they never were.  He took us there in 1990, 
shortly before his passing (but he climbed to the 400-m peak!); the
old shrine still exists (tho was rebuilt for repair), ceremonies 
are still performed there regularly.

After the Korean  War, there was recovery and great expansion of 
San-shin practices.  The only direct effect from the Japanese that 
i can tell is that their policies & actions drasticly spurred the 
development of Korean nationalism / patriotism, and that has surely
benefitted San-shin who is spiritual Patriarch / Matriarch of the 
nation.  Again, see my  http://www.san-shin.org/seongmo1.html
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #45 of 234: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 21 May 02 20:33
    

Oh!  Is there a Korean version of the I Ching?
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #46 of 234: Pseud Impaired (mitsu) Tue 21 May 02 21:08
    
I'm glad to hear that Taekwondo has returned to its Korean roots.  I was
always puzzled by that martial art, because it seemed very "hard" and yet
I was told that a very old Taekwondo master moved in extremely soft ways.
I studied Japanese martial arts for eight years, and I have studied Chinese
for about two and a half years.  My teacher said that the original
karate was intended to be soft, but it had been changed or corrupted into
this very "hard" form later, which to him was a corruption of the
original form.

Your description of the Japanese occupation parallels developments in
Japan.  The original impetus behind the Meiji restoration was a progressive
reform of Japanese society --- the Meiji revolutionaries were samurai,
like my family, and they instituted a variety of liberal reforms, including
democracy, equality, the abolishing of the class system (including
their own samurai class!), and so forth.  But over time this original
idea was lost, and for a variety of reasons too complicated to get into
here, a strange corruption of Japanese culture occurred, and a militaristic
corrupted distortion of both the original ideals of the Meiji revolution
as well as the ideals of the original Japanese samurai came to power.
As these fools took power, at first slowly (in the 10's and 20's) and
then more quickly (in the 30's), the behavior of Japan abroad deteriorated,
apparently, corrupting and destroying foreign cultures --- but before they
did that, they also corrupted and destroyed their own Japanese culture.
It makes me almost physically ill to think about it.
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #47 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Tue 21 May 02 21:10
    
> _Spirit of the Mountains_ is indeed a stunning book and I feel 
> very privileged to have read it.

Thank-you very much Elisabeth Wickett, and welcome to our discussion!

> Are San-Shin stories told to modern children in Korea?  
> Is the vivacity of the belief being passed on in that most 
> basic of cultural ways?   Or is it introduced to the young 
> more culturally and religiously?

Well, San-shin appears in little children's story-books that retell
old myths from the Sam-guk Yusa and etc; those are not as popular as
the Disney stuff of course but they are sold all around.  Christian
parents would never buy them...   Those tykes lucky enough to have
grandparents from a rural village who tells them bedtime stories...
but i have no experience or specific knowledge of this

> #42 of 44: Gerry Feeney (gerry) 
>  how much (if any) is taught in primary or secondary education?

Not much at all.  Protestant Christians (20% of the population, but
concentrated in professionals, gov officials, other elite groups) 
have waged war against Korea's folk traditions for 50 years now, and
they are especially sensitive to what the kids are taught.  Think of
a teacher in a Kansas school at Halloween, trying to get some Wicca
across to her students... the reaction is similar.  

Like in the USA, the religious/culture-wars and seperation-of-church
-and-state-mandate has led to kids not being taught much of anything
at all that smacks of religion in public schools.  And the only 
private schools there are here are Christian.  The result is college
students amazingly ignorant of religious traditions, even their own
(and bring up Islam or Hinduism, fergitabowdit).  That leaves them
quite vulnerable to on-campus recruitment by weird cults (like the
famous Moonies) and extremeist/fundamentalist Christian groups.

This always bugged me during my 12 years as a Prof. I tried to teach
"overview of world religions" and "Korean spiritual traditions" 
lecture/discussions in my English Conversation classes, try to make
an improvement.  Some students were really turned-on, grateful; I
even ran an after-hours "Sam-guk Yusa In English Study Group" during 
my final two years, which was enthusiasticly attended.   It was 
deliberately modeled after the many on-campus after-hours "Bible In
English Study Group"s which so many Korean students use to practice
their English (even if they aren't really christian)(yet).  I just 
switched the text, to the "bible" of Korean traditions...  

At that time i had a really good prof job at the rural-mountain
campus of Korea's academically-best university, Yonsei (i got my MA
in K Studies from their main campus in Seoul).  But, that school was
founded 110 years ago by American protestant missionaries.  They 
still thake their Christian identity very seriously.  So, there were
complaints, from both students and other profs.

Just when I came up for tenure, i was abruptly fired (with zero 
due-process) for "teaching inappropriate things to the students". 
They said that as i'm a real american, i was expected to teach only
*american* culture (meaning, to them, protestant beliefs if any 
religion at all) in my classes or after-hours groups.  That's right,
can ya believe it?, i was thrown out of a top Korean university for
preaching Korean culture!   The irony never stops...
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #48 of 234: Pseud Impaired (mitsu) Tue 21 May 02 21:18
    
As I understand it, Christianity was seen to be anti-Japanese, and it does
seem terribly ironic that part of the legacy of the destruction of true
Japanese culture that the militarists engaged in was the lasting resistance
amongst some Koreans to their *own* culture.
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #49 of 234: (fom) Tue 21 May 02 22:12
    
   >Japanese Shinto (shamanic, but Emperor-centered) was harshly imposed

That would be the subset called "State Shinto," right? Not all Shinto is 
Emperor-centered, as I understand it.
  
inkwell.vue.150 : David Mason: Spirit of the Mountains
permalink #50 of 234: David A. Mason (mntnwolf) Wed 22 May 02 02:30
    
Right, (fom).  The militarists kidnapped Shintro in the 1920s / 30s.
I don't know how centralized it is now, nor how tied in to Emperor-
cult stuff.  Don't kno nearly as much about Japan as i should, or 
would like to.  For example, i still have never been to Mt. Fuji...
just too damn expensive to travel there even tho i'm right next-door.


> #45 of 49: Linda Castellani (castle) 
> Oh!  Is there a Korean version of the I Ching?

No, not a seperate version.  The Koreans call it the Ju-yeok [Changes
of the Chou (dynasty)], imported it along with the rest of Chinese 
civilization starting around 2000 years ago.  Famous philosophers
like Yi Toegye studied its layers of commentaries and added some of
their own.  It's still used by some fortune-tellers, still studied 
by the educated.  

A decade ago a powerful abbot gave my wife and I a rare hardcover 
3-volume printing of the Commentary on the I Ching written by a 
great Korean Zen Master around 1930.  We always hoped to translate 
it to English -- together, we had that ability.  Wouldda been quite
fascinating!  But then she got busy working, and then we divorced...

Trigrams and Hexagrams frequently appear on Joseon-dynasty gates, 
altar-frames, artworks and big bronze bells.  Four trigrams appear 
on the National Flag, of course, making it the world's most philo-
sophical flag, and my favorite.  Patriotic Independence-fighter An
Chang-ho originally put all eight on it, but was persuaded that it 
looked too cluttered.

One thing i've long noticed is that in all these San-shin icons i
study, no artist has put the trigram for the Mountain {Keeping Still}
--- into one.  They should...
- -
- -
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

   Join Us
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us