Richard Gere Visits Ven. Jaseung and Pay Homage at the Jogye-sa Temple
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An internationally renowned actor and photographer, Richard Gere, visited the Jogye Order’s Headquarters and Jogye-sa Temple last May 21, around 11:00 A.M. Mr. Gere, wife Mrs. Carey Lowell, and his son received a warm welcome by many dedicated Buddhists at the temple, and with the help from the Ven. Jihyeon (President, Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism), went on to pray at the Main Buddha Hall in Jogye-sa.
Mr. Gere, a student of H. H. Dalai Lama and known for his great Buddhist commitment visited Jogye-sa Main Buddha Hall and offered three prostrations and incense to the Buddha. Gere also wrote the following aspiration and dedication prayers in the visitor’s book: “I sincerely hope for the World Peace and all sentient beings to be happy.”
After the visit to the main hall, Gere went on to converse with Ven. Jaseung on the 4th floor of the Center for Korean Buddhist History and Culture. Mr. Gere offered a bouquet and photos he personally took from Tibet to Ven. Jaseung as a gift. In return, Ven. offered 3 porcelain incense burners, traditional Korean clothes to be worn during his Templestay, and prayer beads to Mr. Gere and his family.
While his visit with Ven. Jaseung, Mr. Gere familiarized himself of Korean Seon(zen) Buddhism and its practices. Gere also shared his personal experiences; “I began my Buddhist studies by practicing Zen with Ven. Sashiki Rossi, a Japanese Zen Master.” and added following happy remarks, “Jogye-sa is the first temple I visit on my first visit to Korea. I feel very surprised that the first special connection I made is this Jogye-sa, the Headquarter of Seon Buddhism in Korea.”
When Ven. Jeongmin’s requested “Please present a Koan to Richard Gere”, Ven. Jaseung stated, “I once saw the film ‘Hachiko: A Dog’s Story’ starring Mr. Gere. This film demonstrates what true Buddhism is.” Mr. Gere responded, “When I first saw the original film, I was so touched by the story that I cried.” and added “The first scene where the monk talks about the meaning of life to a puppy named Hatchiko, is like the way the Buddha taught Dharma to all sentient beings.”
After the meeting with Ven. Jaseung, Mr. Gere went to see the bronze sculpture of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva and commented again and again on how beautiful it is. Also, when the Ven. described that the great Tripitaka published in Korea was the first published Tripitaka to be published in the 11th century, Gere responded with a great admiration, “Wow, the first Tripitaka to be published?”
Mr. Gere also stated, “I was first exposed to Buddhism through Zen Buddhism, and I don’t think it is a mere coincidence that I came to learn about the Seon Buddhism from Jogye order. I heard before that South Korea has a long-standing tradition of Buddhism. It is very important to maintain and preserve the strength of Seon Buddhism,” and said “Thank you (for your work)” repeatedly.
After completing the tour of the museum, Gere and Ven. Jaseung experienced the Traditional Korean Buddhist meal at the ‘Beans’, a restaurant across the street from the Jogyesa temple
Mr. Gere and his family came to Korea to promote “Pilgrims” photo exhibition, which is scheduled to place until the 24th of July, at the Seoul Arts Center. Mr. Gere attended the opening ceremony of the Exhibition on the June 22nd, 3 P.M. and plans to visit Tongdo-sa Temple in Yangsan on the 23rd to experience more of the Korean Buddhist Culture. Mr. Gere’s planned departure date is June 25th, 2011.