26 September 2008

Seoul meditation update

While sightseeing is a major component of my current long-term stay in Seoul, my primary reason for being here is meditation.

In addition to frequent physical therapies, I have a weekly group meditation session, where I meet with other meditation practitioners, coming from places throughout Seoul (and a few outside the city as well) and get to listen to some very interesting conversations. Too bad that my Korean is sometimes a bit short, preventing me from fully understanding the conversations, but I do get the general picture.

The consensus is that Western medicine has been wonderful in quickly treating severe symptoms, but ineffective in long-term treatments; medications do nothing but cover up the symptoms, as opposed to curing them. (Of course, multinational pharmaceutical companies make a fortune by making people take those medications for life.) The way to treat long-term illnesses is to harness the innate energy of one's own body, or qi (氣). Western medicine doesn't understand qi, because it cannot be detected - at least in dead cadavers anyway - but acupuncture and alternative medicine make good understanding and use of qi.

I even learned that qi can be detected in live human bodies, in a net-like network; in fact, North Korean scientists learned a great deal about qi, through experiments on live humans (political prisoners) dating back to the 1960s. I'm also being told that the Japanese took a lot of the North Korean knowledge in qi, and developed a great knowledge of alternative medicine in general. In South Korea, however, alternative medicine - and any mention of qi - remains taboo in the medical community, and any doctor discussing qi will be disbarred; I am pretty sure it has to deal with the origins of modern qi theories in North Korean human rights abuses. While live human experimentation is evil, and that should never be forgotten, it bears remembering that the human subjects did not die in vain; the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany human experiments benefited humankind through aspirin, and the North Korean political prisoners are making similar contributions today. Even the US did extensive X-ray experiments on live humans during World War II.

On religion, the practitioners seem to agree that the goal of a human being is to harness the qi, and discover and live out the purpose of his/her existence as envisioned by the Creator. Obsessing with the preparation for entering Heaven or the Afterlife, as is the cases with Christians in both South Korea and in the US (I still remember all those "NOT OF THIS WORLD" antisocial decals on Southern California SUVs), defeats the purpose; instead, the Creator will be happy to take me back, when I have harnessed my qi and fulfilled my purpose in this world. The Buddhists are not immune from criticism, either, given the wrong priorities and mentalities of some monks in seeking whatever they want to accomplish.

That's all I want to say for now regarding my meditation. I will have to continue for several more weeks, and hope those physical therapies, which indeed are designed to maximize my qi potential, will work; already, they have improved my body posture and composition.

One more update: I should visit Busan for two nights sometime next week. It should be a great trip!