David A. Mason, Promoting Traditional Korean Culture

This is my second Skype interview with David Mason. The first was on Korean mountain spirit. (Link). The photographs are used with permission and come from his websites. (Link) (Link) – I highly recommend spending a couple of hours browsing through the many pictures and stories.

I began by asking David when he first came to Korea and under what circumstances.

David’s story

Well now, I was one of those Lonely Planet book carrying, backpack travelers that everyone loves to either admire or disparage. In East Asia this kind of travel didn’t get … Read More

The Korean Mountain Spirit

David A. Mason has spent thirty years roaming Korean mountains, giving tours, teaching university classes in culture and tourism and researching and writing books and articles about Korean culture, particularly the religious traditions. His Spirit of the Mountains received the 20002 Best Book on Korean Culture Award from Korea’s Academy of Sciences. He was contributing editor to The Baekdu-daegan Trail Guidebook by Roger Sheperd and Andrew Douch and co-author of the 1997 Lonely Planet Guide to Korea. He is currently completing an encyclopedia of Korean Buddhism. This recent interview took place over Skype, when David was in Korea and I

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First 10-Day Vipassana Meditation Retreat

After my application for the retreat was accepted, I started having doubts. Ten days without speaking to others I didn’t see as a problem for me. I like silence. We were also forbidden any reading or writing materials—I’d heard about this before with Zen practice. Also no cell phones, or food we brought in ourselves. No problem, I thought. But eleven hours of daily meditation? With my old back and sciatica-ridden right leg?

I found out that students could work independently much of the time, in their own quarters if they like, where they could stretch out on the bed … Read More

A Meditation Teacher’s Last Talk

Years ago, our meditation teacher left the Lotus Lantern Buddhist Center in order to return to Canada. He laughed when we gathered in the meditation room and saw seven tape recorders laid out on the floor in front of him. In Canada he removed his monk’s robes and wrote his own book on meditation, which he talked about in “The Man Behind Spiritpower.” (Link) (Link) When I asked him about his monk’s name, he said, “Do Gong means ’empty way.’ My interpretation: a way that is empty includes all other ways. So I don’t have a personal path because my Read More

Japanese-style Meditation Practice

On one of my trips to Japan I interviewed an American teaching English in a private university. He showed me the little Buddhist shrine in his apartment, but he talked mostly about the meditation as he had practiced it in and around San Francisco. In Japan he has gone  to the headquarters of the Sotoshu Zen sect, to connect with like-minded people and does some meditation with people in his area.

Tracy’s story

My reason for coming to Japan was that I couldn’t grow professionally in the Bay Area.  You can’t get work in one institution full-time, which means you’re … Read More