Greetings, readers! Today, I’m excited to share a unique journey that intertwines the serene practices of Korean Zen with the bustling city life of London. Recently, I had the privilege of exploring both these worlds and discovered how Zen philosophy can enrich our experiences, no matter where we are.

Seoul’s Zen Roots: Embracing Tranquility

My journey began in Seoul, at the Seoul International Zen Center. Nestled within the serene Hwa Gye Sa Temple, this center stands as a testament to the teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn, the first Korean Zen Master to teach in the West. It’s a place where individuals from diverse backgrounds gather to find their true nature through Zen practice. The daily schedule here, especially during the intense 90-day Kyol Che Meditation Retreat, is a profound experience. Waking up at 3:00 AM for meditation and participating in traditional rituals like 108 prostrations and morning chanting, I found a deep sense of peace and self-awareness.

London Calling: A Korean Adventure Abroad

From the quietude of Seoul, my next stop was London. The contrast was striking. London, with its rich history, iconic landmarks, and vibrant culture, offers a different kind of adventure. But even here, Zen principles found a way to enhance the experience. Whether it was navigating the city’s world-class transportation system or enjoying the luxury of a limousine ride (a popular choice among Korean visitors), I found that mindfulness and being present in the moment made every experience more meaningful.

Bridging Cultures through Zen

This journey was more than just a physical travel from Seoul to London; it was a journey of the spirit. Zen, with its emphasis on mindfulness and inner peace, can transform how we experience different cultures and environments. Whether in the serene surroundings of a Zen temple or amidst the hustle and bustle of a major city like London, the practice of Zen encourages us to find balance and harmony within ourselves and with the world around us.

As I reflect on this journey, I’m reminded of Ven. Hyon Gak Sunim, the guiding teacher at Seoul International Zen Center, who, like many of us, navigated between different worlds – from his upbringing in a Catholic family in New Jersey to his profound immersion in Zen Buddhism. His journey, like ours, shows that Zen is not confined to a temple or a specific geography; it is a path that can be walked anywhere, enriching every step with clarity and serenity.

Whether you’re a seasoned Zen practitioner or a curious traveller, I encourage you to explore how Zen can be integrated into your travels and daily life. Embrace the mindfulness and tranquility that Zen offers, and you’ll discover that every journey – be it to a distant land or within the depths of your own soul – becomes a more enriching and enlightening experience.

Bridging Cultures: The Zen Connection Between Korea and the UK

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