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  •  READER COMMENTS

    Reader comments on Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring

    Subject: Re: burning oneself alive
    Date: Jun 27, 2004
    Sender: NancyPrevious | Next

    Thank you for taking the time to explain some of the Buddhist/symbolic elements behind the Old Monk's self-immolation. It helped me to better understand both the scene itself and how it fit into the film as a whole. I loved the film and felt a bit frustrated that I don't have the cultural context to appreciate it fully, so I'm grateful for your filling in a little of that context for western viewers.

    Previous: Re: burning oneself alive | Next: Re: burning oneself alive

    Respond to this message | Return to original article: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring



    Response to this comment:
    Re: burning oneself alive

    Seong-nim immolated himself to fulfill the dharma of samsara. He had sealed off delusion when he pasted the character "bi" (i.e., 'shut' or 'closed') to his eyes, ears and mouth, a possible reference to the lines "Kwanum (Korean for "Avalokiteshvaro Bodhisattvah")saw that the five bundles (the senses) were empty of characteristic... Perceived form is emptiness, thus emptiness is perceived form." from the "Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra" ("Maka Kannya Haramita Shin Gyung" in Korean, "Heart of Profound Illumination Sutra" or simply "Heart Sutra" in English), which is what he had his protege carve into the deck, and the lyrics to the song heard at the beginning of the film. Also, in Buddhist art, fire ("agni" - the fire that consumes all, or a funeral pyre)is the background as a symbol of purity, for the Buddha or a bodhisattva who is sitting on a lotus blossom that is floating on water, just like the boat that Seong-nim was sitting on. He was not ending his life, so much as going into another stage. He also was in a state of samadhi, or "profound illumination and awareness of his buddha-nature", as evidenced by his assuming a lotus position and arranging his hands into a mudra representing his entrance into samyak bodhi, or "supreme enlightenment". He was not so much committing suicide as entering into another stage of enlightenment in the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth.






    Comment index:

  • burning oneself alive   from diane greene, May 19, 2004
  • Re: burning oneself alive   from Cheong YongTai, Jun 26, 2004
  • » Re: burning oneself alive «   from Nancy, Jun 27, 2004
  • Re: burning oneself alive   from Tony Ferguson, Jul 26, 2004
  • Re: burning oneself alive   from cinthya, Apr 21, 2009
  • Re: burning oneself alive   from Vil Blekaitis, Jul 9, 2004
  • Symbolism   from Gail, Jan 17, 2005
  • Spring, Summer, Fall...   from , Jun 22, 2004
  • Re: Spring, Summer, Fall...   from dottie cohen, Jul 5, 2004
  • Re: Spring, Summer, Fall...   from Loca Salmagundi, Jul 22, 2004
  • Re: Spring, Summer, Fall...   from Tony, Jul 26, 2004
  • Re: woman's hidden face   from Bill, Mar 7, 2005
  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring   from D McClain, Jul 12, 2004
  • spring, summer, fall, winter...spring   from Koji Takakuwa, Nov 29, 2004
  • spring, summer, fall, winter...spring   from Koji Takakuwa, Dec 8, 2004
  • Addendum to previous commentary   from Koji Takakuwa, Dec 15, 2004
  • my thoughts.   from Joey, Feb 22, 2005
  • Sutra translation   from Bill, Mar 7, 2005
  • the second statue   from mary, May 9, 2005
  • Re: the second statue   from michael, May 16, 2005
  • Re: the second statue   from John L, Sep 19, 2005
  • the symbolic   from roh jin, Jul 25, 2005
  • Re: the symbolic   from shelley, Aug 1, 2005
  • Re: the symbolic   from roh jin, Aug 2, 2005
  • all   from Erik, Aug 11, 2005
  • Re: the symbolic   from sean lee, Jan 16, 2008
  • burning oneself alive   from diane greene, May 19, 2004
  • Re: burning oneself alive   from Cheong YongTai, Jun 26, 2004
  • » Re: burning oneself alive «   from Nancy, Jun 27, 2004
  • Re: burning oneself alive   from Tony Ferguson, Jul 26, 2004
  • Re: burning oneself alive   from cinthya, Apr 21, 2009
  • Re: burning oneself alive   from Vil Blekaitis, Jul 9, 2004
  • Symbolism   from Gail, Jan 17, 2005
  • Spring, Summer, Fall...   from , Jun 22, 2004
  • Re: Spring, Summer, Fall...   from dottie cohen, Jul 5, 2004
  • Re: Spring, Summer, Fall...   from Loca Salmagundi, Jul 22, 2004
  • Re: Spring, Summer, Fall...   from Tony, Jul 26, 2004
  • Re: woman's hidden face   from Bill, Mar 7, 2005
  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring   from D McClain, Jul 12, 2004
  • spring, summer, fall, winter...spring   from Koji Takakuwa, Nov 29, 2004
  • spring, summer, fall, winter...spring   from Koji Takakuwa, Dec 8, 2004
  • Addendum to previous commentary   from Koji Takakuwa, Dec 15, 2004
  • my thoughts.   from Joey, Feb 22, 2005
  • Sutra translation   from Bill, Mar 7, 2005
  • the second statue   from mary, May 9, 2005
  • Re: the second statue   from michael, May 16, 2005
  • Re: the second statue   from John L, Sep 19, 2005
  • the symbolic   from roh jin, Jul 25, 2005
  • Re: the symbolic   from shelley, Aug 1, 2005
  • Re: the symbolic   from roh jin, Aug 2, 2005
  • all   from Erik, Aug 11, 2005
  • Re: the symbolic   from sean lee, Jan 16, 2008