Inauguration of Sakyadhita Korea and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s Visit

By Hye-in Lee and Catherine Lee

Sakyadhita Korea, the newly established Korean branch of Sakyadhita International, announced its presence to the world with its first major event to commemorate its inauguration. Sakyadhita Korea invited Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, renowned meditation teacher and bhiksuni leader, to Korea. Her visit to Korea took place from Nov. 6-12, 2013. During her stay, she gave lectures at two universities, held an inaugural Dharma talk, visited Bongnyeongsa, a major bhiksuni temple, and appreciated the beautiful sights of several temples around Korea, one over a thousand years old. In particular, her lectures at the universities offered an opportunity for young generations to rethink Buddhist teachings and Buddhist perspectives on social issues.At the inaugural dharma talk co-hosted by Sakyadhita Korea and the Buddhist Women’s Development Institute, held on Nov. 10, at 2 PM, at the Jogye-sa temple, Performance hall, the following Sakyadhita Korea pledge was read aloud. “As the Buddha’s daughters, following the Buddha’s teachings: We pledge to strive towards realizing a Buddhist Pure Land of equality and harmony.
First, we shall seek to promote the international exchange of Korean Buddhists,
Second, we shall provide a space for scholastic research and discussion,
Third, we shall discover and cultivate talented Buddhist women.”

The lecture hall was so jam-packed – with over 400 in attendance – that many had to sit on the stage together with Jetsunma due to lack of space. Jetsunma’s talk was a reinterpretation of the six paramitas in terms that modern Korean people could easily understand. Reviews of the talk said it was the greatest, most moving sermon in recent memory for Korean Buddhism.

Her visit attracted much attention from the media and was featured in various newspapers. She stressed the importance of Korea’s long bhiksuni tradition and the role Korean Buddhists could play in establishing an international bhiksuni sangha. In response to a question about whether women are disadvantaged because of their physical traits when it comes to Buddhist practice, Jetsunma used a metaphor of waves and water skiing to answer.
She said, “Even if women are more volatile as nature designed them to be, if they control it to use it, not being consumed by it, women can advance much faster and much higher. Most women get swept away by their own emotions. Emotions are like the ocean. There are waves up and down. The waves that women experience tend to be taller. However, if you build a boat or a water ski, rather than getting drowned by the waves you can ride them! Then you ascend. Water skiing experts are not fond of mild waves. They want stronger ones so that they can surf.” She turned around the question: the currents of volatility women have is in fact an advantage that can propel them to much greater heights in practice.
Thanks to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s visit, Sakyadhita Korea gained many new members who shared the ideals of Sakyadhita: to realize a better world by joining the strength of women. Sakyadhita Korea will focus on two major tasks in 2014. The first is the translation and publication of the collections of papers from the previous two Sakyadhita conferences into English, and the second is planning a tour to Nepal and India in order to view the sites of Buddhist women’s practice