Sitting above the Green Elephant, Part 2

This is an account of my experience teaching English as a Foreign Language at Dongguk University, the Buddhist university in Seoul, and producing textbooks for my classes.

At the beginning of each term, I had the students bring in photos to class and glue them to 4 x 6-inch index cards containing their names, ID numbers and contact information. When class started with the student desk-chairs arranged in a semi-circle.  I sat at the same level in front of them. In Korea in 1989, this was radically new. Most of the professors stood on a podium behind a lectern and … Read More

Sitting above the Green Elephant, Part 1

On a gray, wet day during the summer season of 1989, I took a cab up the steep hill to the Seoul campus of the Dongguk University. The name, approximately a rhyme with “sung book,” was derived from Chinese dong guo, or Eastern country, which to me meant Bodhidharma bringing Zen Buddhism to East Asia. The temple and shaven-headed monks in traditional monk’s clothes reminded me of China, where I had been happy and content. Also, nine years before I had begun flirting with meditation practice, reading books and occasionally talking with someone. I longed for more, but had … Read More