It is 6:00 am as I write this. I am sitting at my desk looking out my window at Gyeryong Mountain. The sun is beginning to show its light over the crest while the mists are rising from the mountain forests with the sun. Korea has been called the land of the morning calm, and there is no better example of that than this morning.
There is a soft calmness that pervades the land here under the mountain. Birds sing quietly to the sun, crickets have ceased their nightly chirping. The bees hum softly as they begin their daily quest for nectar and the squirrels refuse to chatter and fuss at each other as if by some grand edict from Great Nature.
This mountain has long been considered one of the most spiritual sites in Korea and there are many temples, shrines, tombs and monasteries located here. In the morning you can hear the soft, deep peals of the distant giant temple bells as they ring out their greetings to heaven. Or again, you can hear the muted chanting of the monks as they begin their daily meditations.
Here at the Maum Meditation Nonsan main center people are beginning to stir. The people in the cafeteria have been up for an hour or more preparing the breakfast meal for the students. Those that spent the night meditating in the classrooms are moving back to their rooms to shower and begin another day of cleansing their mind.
But even here, inside these busy halls, the sense of the morning calm still exists. People great each other with simple, quiet hellos and good mornings. They gather at the hot water dispenser to make a cup of coffee or tea and talk quietly of the day’s events. Soon they will all meet in the cafeteria and begin talking in earnest, deciding what class to go to or perhaps, for the higher level students, where to go do the working meditations for the day.
As the sun rises in the air and the day grows warmer, the creatures in the land begin to join in the noisy day. Squirrels will fuss at each other and the birds will cry to their mates. The buzz of the bees will grow to an ominous level while the crickets will add their sounds to the din.
But night will fall and the sun will rise again and all will follow Great Nature’s unspoken rule that the morning is the time for calmness. The sun rules the sky and warms the earth; and, if only for a little while, this truly is the Land of the Morning Calm.