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Polishing the Diamond: enlightening the mind, reflections of a Korean buddhist master

Polishing the Diamond: enlightening the mind, reflections of a Korean buddhist master
Jae Woong Kim
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225 x 150
In Polishing the Diamond, Enlightening the Mind, Master Jae Woong Kim explains the teachings of The diamond Sutra, one of the most beloved and profound scriptures in East Asian Buddhism, believed to contain the heart of the Buddha's teachings.

Through forthright instruction, allegorical tales, and heartfelt personal stories about his own teacher, Master Kim reveals the technique of "surrendering"—;an accessible practice to help keep the peacefulness of sitting meditation in any situation. This simple technique cuts through even the hardest of contemporary spiritual concerns. Master Kim's warm personal reminiscences and practical meditation advice are both a testament to the vitality of Korean Buddhism today and a timeless expression of the transformative role the Buddha's teachings can play in each of our lives.

An offering of concise teachings, stories, and meditations from Jae Woong Kim, one of Korea's most revered living Buddhist masters. Inspired by the Diamond Sutra - the most beloved scripture of East Asian Buddhism - Polishing the Diamond is at once a testament to the vitality of Korean Buddhism today and a timeless expression of the transformative role the Buddha's teachings can play in each of our lives.

"By far the best translation into English I have ever seen of a contemporary Korean Buddhist book. A remarkable achievement."
—Prof. Robert Buswell, Director of the Center for Korean Studies, UCLA

"Readers who seek inner peace will find valuable advice in this book."
—From the Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"Profoundly practical..."
—Values & Visions

"This book is a significant advance for the growing awareness of Korean Buddhism in the English-speaking world... Master Jae Woong Kim offers the reader instructions, delightful allegorical tales, and moving stories about his own master. Based on his understanding of the Diamond Sutra, Master Kim uses these stories to point to the profundity of ultimate wisdom and compassion."
—Tricycle Magazine

"A remarkable book. Kim has written a series of detailed and emotional personal stories, vivid and quirky anecdotes, and elegant Buddhist lessons. ...Though the practice of Buddhism is thousands of years old, Kim's voice and his reflections are both modern and timeless, dealing with universal and never-ending challenges.... Kim's book, through the Diamond Sutra's teachings and experiences of his own life, shows us ways to cultivate our minds and end our cycles of greed, self-serving behaviors, wrong decisions, and many lifetimes of suffering... A wonderful addition to anyone's library, regardless of their relationship to Buddhism or Korea."
—Korean Quarterly

"A refreshingly new and unusually eclectic blend of teachings, and at least in the extent to which the focus is on the actions of karma in daily life, perhaps more on the order of what one might expect to find in a text from a modern Theravada tradition. POLISHING THE DIAMOND is not a scholarly examination of a teaching system, or even an inquiry into a distinctive Korean cultural manifestation of Buddhism. It is rather a collection of stories, anecdotes, and lectures by the master and his master—a modern "teaching record" (K. _orok_), as it were. The lectures presented in this book are captivating in their down-to-earth orientation, in their aim toward showing monks and lay practitioners how to make practical use of Buddhist principles in the solution of everyday problems connected with such matters as running a business, raising children, working, finding a suitable spouse, securing economic security, and simply getting along with others. There is much spiritual inspiration to be found in the extensive discussions of the action of karma, especially the anecdotes showing how a certain kind of behavior will result in a certain kind of rebirth. Both masters claim to have full recollection of their previous lifetimes, as well as the ability to see the past lives of their students, and thus therapeutic solutions for mental disturbances are offered on the basis of this superknowledge. It is this emphasis on the effects of karma, along with the dire importance placed on the task of "purifying karmic hindrances" that gives a very un-Zen like feel to the teaching. At the same time, the strikingly mundane discussions of karma are well balanced by an evidence on the part of these masters of a broad knowledge of and deep insight into Buddhist doctrine as a whole. Students of Yogacara will note the extensive and tangible usage of Yogacara concepts related to the store consciousness, _vasanas_, karmic "imprinting," and so forth. The practice of "chanting while offering up" is reminiscent of Lotus and Pure Land teachings. Thus, the teaching offered in this book is eclectically pan-Buddhist in character. Since the setting is Korea, and the practitioners presented in the book are Korean, we also get a certain amount of insight into interesting Korean cultural norms and habits. Also, in terms of affinity with the Korean Buddhist tradition, the exclusive emphasis of the Diamond Sutra is significant (one of the later chapters in the book is devoted solely to discussion of the Diamond Sutra), in that the Diamond Sutra has long been one of the most favored texts in Korean Seon for chanting and study. Here the Diamond Sutra is playing a role that we might imagine for the Lotus or Amitabha sutras in Japan. While POLISHING THE DUAMOND is obviously aimed at practitioners, its presentation is sophisticated enough that one might use it in some kind of basic undergraduate course on Buddhism, perhaps to provide some interesting reading content as a supplement to a core course text that properly grounds students in historical and doctrinal background. The style of teaching is refreshingly innovative; the prose is well-written and flawlessly translated. It is a joy to read."
—Reviewed for H-Buddhism by Charles Muller, Faculty of Humanities, Toyo Gakuen University

Master Jae Woong Kim is the foremost disciple of the late Master Wook Baek, the most prominent Korean Buddhist leader of the 20th Century. He is also the head of the Diamond Monastery in Korea and travels frequently to the U.S. to give teachings.