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Yongsangbang (용상방)

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Writer Jogye Date22 Jul 2015 Read8,307 Comment0


Yongsangbang (龍象榜)


When the formalities of the bangbu are completed, each participant is given a task to perform during the treat. The retreat participants then put their names and assigned tasks on the plaque called a Yongsangbang, which is hung on a wall of the large room. In this way, each of them becomes a member of the retreat group. The word “yongsang (龍象),” from “Yongsangbang,” literally means “dragons and elephants.” That is, dragons and elephants are deemed auspicious in the world of animals, which symbolizes that the Seon Center is filled with only virtuous practitioners.

Among the tasks and duties listed on the plaque of Yongsangbang are the following titles and jobs: the “Spiritual Patriarch” (Bangjang) and “Guiding Teacher” (Josil) are the highest leaders of the temple; the “Yuna” is a disciplinarian in charge of enforcing rules and maintaining discipline; the “Hanju” is a virtuous monk who does not have any assigned duty; the “Byeongbeop” is in charge of maintaining rituals and ceremonies; the “Heonsik” is in charge of offering food to the hungry ghosts by taking a small portion of the meal when the attendees eat their meals; the “Ipseung” is a rector in charge of the affairs of the Seon room; the “Chaljung” is a vice rector; the “Jijeon” is in charge of the cleaning and maintenance of the Seon meditation hall and Buddha hall; the “Seogi” is in charge of paper work and documents; the “Dagak” is in charge of providing tea and fruit for the attendees; the “Myeongdeung” is in charge of turning the lights on and off; and the “Hwadae” is in charge of heating the Seon room.

After the tasks are allotted to the retreat participants, the seats where each participant is going to practice meditation are assigned. The seating arrangement is determined according to the order in the Dharma lineage, in other words how long each participant has been a monk. The Seonbang is a large room, the right side of which is called “Blue Clouds (靑雲; Cheongun)” or “Blue Mountains (靑山; Cheongsan)” and the left side “White Clouds (白雲; Baegun).” On the “Blue Mountains” side sit participants who are permanent residents at the temple, while on the “White Clouds” sit the visiting Seon practitioners who are only staying for the retreat season. Visiting Seon monks are called “white clouds” because they continue their practice while moving freely between temples, like floating white clouds or flowing water.

- excerpt from Buddhist English (Intermediate 1) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

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