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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
fall 2007| 62 |buddhadharma How Deep (and Sad) Is Your Love? Aphrase in one of the Korean liturgical chants has always seemed to me to be a gateway to a deeper understanding of compassion in the Buddhist tradition. The chant is called the Morning Bell Chant, and, as the name indicates, it is chanted in early morning hours, at all Korean temples and monasteries. Typically, one of the monks sits by a large hanging bell and hits it at peri- odic intervals in a prescribed manner. This protocol is followed whether the liturgy is done in the moun- Mu Soeng iS the forMer director of the Barre center for BuddhiSt StudieS and iS now a Scholar in reSidence there. he trained in the Korean Zen tradition and waS a MonK for eleven yearS. he iS the author of The DiamonD SuTra: TranSforming The Way We Perceive The WorlD and TruST in minD: The rebellion of chineSe Zen, Both puBliShed By wiSdoM puBlicationS. The conventional definitions of “love” and “compassion” are quite limited, says Buddhist scholar Mu Soeng. He explains that real love is marked by a deep and transformative feeling of care and sadness. tains of Korea or in a Los Angeles neighborhood. The monk also chants in a traditional manner and, at periodic and indicated intervals, the congregation joins him in chanting the phrase, Namu Amita Bul, “Homage to Buddha Amitabha.” The Morning Bell Chant is a curious commin- gling of three disparate Buddhist traditions that are all inherited from China: Huayen, Pure Land, and Zen. In the Morning Bell Chant, elements of these traditions are blended in a single sonic narra- tive that’s unique to Korean Buddhism. When and why this chant came to be adopted in its present form is a subject of many debates and interpreta- tions among Korean Buddhists. The phrase in the chant that has always cap- tivated me is dae ja, dae bi, popularly translated Water, 1974 (from the series “In Praise of Hands”) by Naoko Matsubara