December 19, 2011

Kim Jang- KimChi Making Fest 2012

Every year according to Korean temple tradition, we at So Shim Sa hold our Kim Jang Kimchi (김장 김치) Making Fest. Kim Chi is a most common side dish in Korean diet made by fermenting Korean napa cabbage, ginger, garlic, radish and of course plenty of red pepper flakes in a large clay pot. We bury the pot in the ground over the winter and visit it only to get a fresh batch of kim chi. The 2012 Kim Jang will be held on Sun, Jan 8 after our usual communal lunch.
According to the Korean Tourism Organization website ( Kimchi has the following health benefits:Well-fermented kimchi has numerous anti-biotic functions. Perhaps the most significant is the presence of lactic acid bacteria. It is in large part due to the process of fermentation that this powerful agent helps build resistance in the body by suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria.This bacteria not only gives a sourish flavor to matured kimchi but also prevents excessive fermentation by restraining growth of other bacteria in the intestines.In addition to such benefits, substances in kimchi prevent hyperacidity resulting from excessive intake of meat and other acidic foods.Most ingredients of kimchi are rich in water and low in other nutrients. However, lactic acid in kimchi restrains the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines and helps relieve intestinal disorders.Furthermore, the lactic acid is also efficacious for preventing adult diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and even gastrointestinal cancers.Juices from the vegetables and salt in kimchi help the intestines remain clean as well.Some substances in kimchi help promote the secretion of pepsin (protein-digestive enzyme) and maintain the presence of a certain level of bacteria.

December 9, 2011

2012 So Shim Sa Calendars Available Now

2012 So Shim Sa Calendars are now available for pre-order. Get your orders in soon in order to speed along the process. Priced at $25 each, the calendars are printed in beautifully vivid colors on 11x17 gloss paper. This year's theme is "Taego Order- The Keepers of Tradition" and features beautiful photographs of some of Teago Order's traditional arts such as the Seung Mooh Dance, the Butterfly Dance, and the Bara Dance; 1600 year-old traditions kept alive only by the Taego Order. Also included in the calendar is health related information (Seasonal Health Tea Guide and Vegetarian Days Guide) as well as Daily Observances. The Calendar features Gregorian as well as Lunar dates. A must for any member of the Zen Center. Makes a wonderful gift.   

December 6, 2011

Ven. Myong-Ahn's Bhikkhu Ordination (Korea 2011)

On Nov. 23, 2011 Ven. Myong-Ahn along with Ven. Hae-In from Washington received the Bhikkhu Precepts at the Bop Ryun Sa Headquarter Temple of the Taego Order in Seoul South Korea. The training and, lectures and the ceremony itself began on the 21st and culminated on the 23rd. The Ceremony was presided over by Supreme Patriarch Most Ven. Hae-Cho, President of the Order Most Ven. In-Gong, Most Ven. Prof. Oun-Gok. Ven. Myong-Ahn was honored to have his UnsaNim (Ven. Il-Cho), his Ordination UnsaNim (Ven. Sang-Muk Sunim) and Yeon-Hwa Bosal attended the Ordination in a show of support. Total of 95 male and 32 female monks took the Bodhisattva Precepts that day. An excerpt of an interview with Ven. Myong-Ahn can be found in Korean on Ven. Myong-Ahn is quoted saying that" It is a great honor to be a part of this traditional ceremony in which we become inducted into the long historical lineage of the Taego Order. The feeling can only be understood through first-hand experience, which my two Doban (Ven. Mooh-Sang and Ven. Duhk-Song) will soon have a chance to experience for themselves". We all congratulate Ven. Myong-Ahn on this memorable occasion.

November 30, 2011

2011 Diversity Award and citations from The State of New Jersey and Somerset County

On Nov 19, 2011 Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition awarded the 2011 Faith Community Diversity Award to So Shim Sa Zen Center. During a formal Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner the president of the Coalition Dr. Tulsi Maharjan also presented Ven. Myong-Ahn and the Zen Center with  citations from both the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders as well as The State of New Jersey. The Diversity Award and the citations were issued  as a recognition of So Shim Sa's activities of "promoting the grater understanding and civility, tolerance, diversity, collaboration and cooperation". We are honored to receive this recognition from all three agencies. 

November 8, 2011

Fox News Latino article features Ven. Mooh-Sang

Last month So Shim Sa enjoyed a visit from Cristina Pinzon a freelance writer for the Fox News Latino. Fox News Latino featured the attached article in their  Nov 6, 2011 Lifestyle web column under the heading "More Latinos Choose a Less Traveled Road to Spirituality".
Article Source: 

Written by Cristina Pinzon, "More Latinos Choose a Less Traveled Road to Spirituality" Published Nov 06,2011, 2011 Fox News Latino, retrieved on Nov 08, 2011.

 "More Latinos Choose a Less Traveled Road to Spirituality"
Ruben Lambert was educated in Catholic schools and grew up as a faithful Roman Catholic. As he grew older, the first generation Cuban-American decided to adopt a religion more rooted in meditation and enlightenment.
Now he follows the practices of Zen Buddhism and has assumed the name Venerable Mooh-Sang Sunim.
Like Lambert, many Latinos are shedding their traditional spiritual beliefs for non-traditional, non-Christian religions. Whether it involves praying five times a day or forsaking a suit and tie for long robes, these people are firm believers in the doctrines of their chosen convictions.
At first, it was like anything new and my family was reluctant to except it. The idea of a Buddhist monk is not an idea my parents expected me to become. So, taking those factors to account, there was a natural resistance.
- Ruben Lambert, who has assumed the name Venerable Mooh-Sang Sunim
While the numbers of Latinos converting to these religions are still very small, they are slowly growing. According to experts, 65 percent of Latinos are Catholic, 30 percent of Protestants, and 5 percent are “unaffiliated.”
“It’s a larger number now than, say, 10 years ago, and the smaller numbers spread out among Islam, Buddhism and various Sikh and Hindu denominations,” said Arlene Sánchez-Walsh, an associate professor of Latino church studies and chair of the Ministry department at Azusa Pacific University, an Evangelical college in California.
Lambert’s conversion to Buddhism came as a shock to his friends and family. His family expected him to follow their spiritual footsteps.  
“At first, it was like anything new and my family was reluctant to except it,” he says, “The idea of a Buddhist monk is not an idea my parents expected me to become. So, taking those factors to account, there was a natural resistance.”
Unknowingly, Lambert's began his spiritual journey at age 7, when his father first enrolled him in Taekwondo. For both father and son, this involvement meant absorbing long-standing eastern philosophies that would help develop the mind and body.   
Eventually, as an adult, he would use these and similar practices at the So Shim Sa Zen Center in Warren, New Jersey, where he acts as the Director of Wellness Programs.   
“I was raised to believe that we have to see it in order to believe it,” he says. “I was reluctant at first but eventually gave it a try. Personally, my interest peeked in the midst of meditation when I experienced how the mind can go from external distractions to inner peace.”
The growth of Latinos converting to Buddhism has been concentrated in major metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, which have some of the largest concentrations of Hispanics. Some meetings in these areas are now held in only Spanish.
William Aiken, director of public affairs for Soka Gakkai International, says their organization is comprised of 78 organizations world-wide, including some in ArgentinaMexicoChile, and Brazil—their third largest network.  
“The growth of Latino Buddhist can be in part due to our number of growing Latinos holding leadership positions. We have a great deal of Hispanics who are essential to coordinating the expansion of this community,” he says. “We’ve also noted an increase in the Northern Virginia and Washington area, where there is also an increasing number in our youth membership.”
But Buddhism is not the only Eastern religion Latinos are beginning to embrace.
Juan Galvan of the Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO) said there are a growing number of Latino Muslims in cities like Los Angeles, Houston, New York City and Chicago.  
While there is no way of stating what ethnic groups are likely to convert, LADO believes Puerto Rican-Americans have gained more visibility; thus, generating interest among Latino communities in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. Meanwhile, a significant number of Mexican-American Muslims have had a major influence on Latino communities in Texas and California.
About one-fifth of the world’s population is Muslim. A study in 2006 by the American Muslim Council reported that there were more than 200,000 Latino Muslims living in the United States.
Among them is Umar Abdul Kayyam Garcia, 31, who is Puerto Rican.
He follows the doctrines found in the Qur’an at the Islamic Educational Center of North Hudson (IECNH) in Union City, N.J.  
Unlike most traditional converts who accept the religion freely, Umar’s introduction to Islam was a bit different. He was Muslim as a young child after his parents converted from Catholicism. But after he moved to Puerto Rico following his parents’ separation, he stopped practicing the religion.  
“Here I was. I called myself a Muslim, but I didn’t practice it,” Garcia says. “I remember hearing my uncles always debating about religion and this always intrigued me. So, when I returned to the United States as a young man, I was very eager to learn more about a conviction I had long forgotten.”
When he returned, he embraced a life in Islam when he took his Shahada in Spanish (The Shahada is an oath of faith that officially makes someone Muslim). With his formal conversion, he began to grow a full beard, while his wife (also a convert) began to wear a hijab – a traditional head scarf worn by Muslim women.
“My friends and family became dubious and doubtful when I started to show more physical and cultural changes. They didn’t entirely accept it but they slowly grew more open minded,” he said. “As a Muslim, I pray five times a day, I don’t drink alcohol, and I have an extended family.”
Cristina Pinzon is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.

October 18, 2011

Casual Conversation with Bhikkhu Bodhi

On Saturday Oct 15 Ven. Myong-Ahn had a casual meeting with one of the pioneers of Buddhism in the West, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American ordained in 1973 in the Theravadin Tradition of Buddhism. In 2000 he gave a keynote address before the United Nations at the first official United Nation's celebration of Vesak. President of Buddhist Publication Society, Bhikkhu Bodhi has translated many of the Sutras of the Theravda Tradition into English. The brief conversation between Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ven. Myong-Ahn revolved around the world hunger relief efforts of the Buddhist Global Relief of which Bhikkhu Bodhi is the founder. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi's relentless efforts to make Buddhism available to the Westerners deserve recognition and hope to inspire the many generations of American Buddhist still to come.  

October 12, 2011

So Shim Sa at Dongguk University

On Sunday August 7th, So Shim Sa was honored to receive a delegation of a group of Dongguk University students led by Professor Cho Il Hwan. The group consisted of seven Buddhist monks and two students who are currently completing their degrees in Buddhist Studies at Dongguk University in Gyeonju, South Korea. The group was made up of those select few who qualified for the 2011 scholarship program.  The scholarship prorgram, sponsored by Prof. Cho was an 8-week intensive English language course conducted at Columbia University interspersed with weekly trips to 10 Buddhist Temples. One of the 10 temples visited was So Shim Sa. Upon return to Korea the scholarship students were required to compile a 60 page booklet about their most impressive experience. So Shim Sa clearly left a lasting impression and was given 13 pages  complete with a transcript of an interview with Ven. Il-Cho Bobsanim, the Ven. Monks of So Shim Sa and the scholarship group. The article entitled 소심사의 미국스님들 (So Shim Sa's American Monks) was written by Ven. Sang-Min.

October 10, 2011

Luau Fundraiser Dinner Party Oct 8,2011

Our Fundraiser Dinner Party was a great success. Mother nature supported our October Luau Party with a beautiful weather. Luau music, great food, the scent and sound of a crackling fire pit. And of course great company of over 40 participants, made this a memorable Saturday evening. Both young and the young at heart among us had a good time. 
A big thanks go out to those who helped with the set-up, cooking and the clean-up. 

Releasing Life Ceremony Oct 2, 2011

Releasing Life Ceremony (Bang-Seng) is a Buddhist tradition of releasing, improving or extending life of living beings. It is usually carried out in a ceremony where living things such as birds, animals, or fish that are destined for slaughter are released into the wild and given another chance for life. This ceremony teaches us that all life is precious and inspires us to be more compassionate, gentle, and kind towards others. The Releasing Life Ceremony consists of a prayer service where the merit of this compassionate deed is transferred to the participants who get to release their very own fish or release one on behalf of a ailing friend, a newborn child, a deceased loved one, or for other personal reasons. Included were prayers for one our member's mother who just recently suffered a stroke as well as a new addition to our extended family baby Blake. May you all be well.

September 30, 2011

Happiness Here and Now- Presentation at Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center

With an invitation from Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center, and as a part of our Educational Outreach, So Shim Sa was invited to give an interactive presentation at Richard Hall on September 27. Richard Hall is a "Comprehensive community mental health center dedicated to the prevention, early detection and treatment of mental illness and serious emotional and behavioral problems." Ven. Myong-Ahn's talk entitled "Happiness Here and Now" was followed by a meditation session led by Ven. Mooh-Sang. The presentation concluded with a wonderful Q&A session with a very interactive and receptive audience of over 30 participants.We hope to foster an ongoing relationship with Richard Hall Center and So Shim Sa's 1000 Hands Outreach.

September 25, 2011

International Day of Peace Address

On Sep 25, 2011 Ven. Myong-Ahn and Ven. Mooh-Sang in collaboration with Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition participated in the International Peace Day. The celebration took place at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Somerville and featured representatives from various religious traditions. Ven. Myong-Ahn's address was followed by guided loving kindness meditation led by Ven. Mooh-Sang. The following is the transcript of Ven. Myong-Ahn's address:

The Whole World is a Single Flower
There is a famous calligraphy by Zen Master Man Gong that reads “The whole world is a single flower”.  The statement is short and simple yet points to a deep, deep truth, namely: that we are each indeed a part of a whole. In fact each one of us can make a statement the “I am the most important person in the world”. It is said that when the Buddha was born he pointed one finger up and another down and declared: “Heaven and below, earth and above I am only one”. For it is up to you to carve your destiny out of the ephemeral mist that is our thoughts. Because the ancestor of every action is a thought. Peace, begins in your mind, and your mind begets reality. There is a running thread between those great souls who actually experience their unity with the life around them. A relationship that declares peace among all. To borrow a phrase from Mother Theresa “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other”. The root, the stem, the petal, is there one more important than another, can any of us live disconnected from anyone else? We all breathe the same air, we all drink the same water. When you poison the rivers you poison your own blood. When you pollute the air it is your lungs that will be diseased. 
When you raise the sword in the end it is your own flesh you will cut.  One man’s inhalation is another’s exhalation. The tides, the coming and going of the waves are the expansion and contraction of the universe. It is all a heartbeat of one life. It is as the Upanishads tell us:” As is the human body, so is the cosmic body. As is the human mind, so is the cosmic mind. As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm.” You cannot harm another without ultimately hurting yourself. From the Buddhist, but as we can see not only the Buddhist perspective, we are called to live these truths. But although universal truths and lofty spiritual goals are enticing our lives are always reduced to the practical. For a Buddhist this often means taking the 5 Precepts, very first of which is to “Avoid killing living things”. To avoid killing, to refrain from causing harm, to be a banner of peace. We can each only hope that in a world made dark by violence, ignorance, greed and suffering we can be, and must be, a beacon of peace.

The world is a single flower.
Together, we can make it blossom.

September 24, 2011

Shim Martial Arts Academy visits for Taste of Zen Program

A group of Master Alfaro's Tae Kwon Do students from Shim Martial Arts Academy participated in our Taste of Zen Program. The children learned about Buddhist and Korean culture by observing a traditional Morning Service...
...learned about meditation and practiced focus and concentration with a chopstick challenge game. Everyone enjoyed Question and Answer and had overall good time. So Shim Sa was invited to conduct a Tong-Gong Health Seminar at the Academy in the future.

September 13, 2011

So Shim Sa Buddhist Fellowship Launches Another Semester at Rutgers University

Start off the school year with a right mindset. So Shim Sa Buddhist Fellowship is a lay Buddhist movement with an emphasis on the dynamic practicality of Buddhist philosophy in daily life. Encouraging  members to draw from the innate source of wisdom, compassion and courage, we strive to empower each individual to overcome life’s challenges and lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Tuesdays 7:00 - 8:00pm
College Ave. Student Center
Rm 402 

August 31, 2011

Tong Gong Fall Semester Registration Now Open

Founded by Bodhidharma, a 5th century Indian Buddhist monk, Tong-Gong is considered the root of all modern martial arts. Tong-Gong has been employed and developed as a method for curing illness and strengthening the body. Its main therapeutic properties lie in its regulation of the activity of the cerebral cortex, the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system. Furthermore, the therapeutic effects also help correct abnormal reactions of the organism and have a massaging effect on the organs of the body. Tong-Gong is based Oriental medicine. The exercises put pressure on a combination of specific acupuncture points which elicit desired physiological responses. Since the movements are combined with breathing, Tong-Gong delivers freshly oxygenated blood to the muscle tissue and internal organs. The harmonization of Nae-Gong (internal) and Wae-Gong (external) exercises leads to a balance of mind, body and spirit.  FOR MORE DETAILS CLICK HERE.

August 26, 2011

Brazil Charter for So Shim Sa Fellowship presented to Dinair Santana

Dinair Santana recieved a charter and will be the President of the Brazil Chapter of the So Shim Sa Buddhist Fellowship. Andrea Prados will be the treasurer for this first international chapter.  Dinair has been studying Buddhism under Ven. Myong Ahn Sunim for 7 years and has completed the Chapter President Course. We look forward to supporting her in this expansion and watching our Sangha grow.

Eastern Buddhist Association visits So Shim Sa along with DonGuk University Monks and Professor

On Sunday August 7th, several new visitors participated in the Traditional Sunday Service. Afterwards the Sangha ate together and exchanged pleasant conversation. The feedback from the visitors was good and they were impressed with the progress of So Shim Sa and the support from its members.

Monthly "Extended Sit" Schedule

Beginning in September we will hold EXTENDED SIT classes. These classes will be held every LAST Monday and Wednesday of EACH month. Extended Sits are intended to deepen you meditation practice and prepare you for longer meditation retreats.
Extended Sit schedule:
6:00 pm   Evening Service
6:30pm   Extended Sit instructions
6:40pm   1st period of sitting meditation (30 min)
7:10pm   Walking meditation
7:20pm   2nd period of sitting meditation (30min)
7:50pm   Self administered acupressure massage and harmonizing health exercises
8:00pm   Class end

Note: Prior meditation class attendance is required
         The Extended Sit is conducted in SILENCE.