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[Opinion] Meditation Discipline

Posted April. 18, 2005 23:34,   


People who have just come back from the army usually get divided into either of two groups: those who say, “There will be no one else who suffered as much as me,” and those who say, “There must be no one who was as free as me.” If on one hand, there were those who were sent to the iron-fenced DMZ (demilitarized zone) and still had a relaxing time with “considerate” seniors and superior officers, on the other hand, there were those who were assigned to the rear area with a satisfactory position but had to pass tedious days. Thus, the theory of relativity is applied to the clock of the Ministry of National Defence.

The army has included meditation to the regulations of discipline for enforcing soldiers’ military spirit. This provides soldiers a chance to self-reflect through meditation. First and second class privates can meditate once for 20 minutes or less, and privates first class and privates can mediate twice for 20 minutes or less. This is a complimentary policy to the original regimen of push-ups, sit-ups and standing up, digging and filling individual trenches, and fully uniformed running. Army personnel assure that humanity-degrading disciplinary actions, such as mountain bombing and face up sleeping and face down sleeping, have long been eliminated.

However, there exist doubts over whether this is true. Assaults and harsh treatment inside the army may be carried out secretly in unseen places. According to Ministry of National Defence, our army was, since a long time ago, a perfect place. As the military discipline regulations got weaker in physical strength training, I wonder how our army could become a strong force. There are those who worry about the new soldiers’ weaknesses.

Despite this, people do not know how hard meditation is unless they try it. When done right, they will realize that passive discipline of meditating and writing introspective reports is no more easier than active discipline. There might be hard “meditation discipline” consisting of all-night meditation sessions requiring concentration and sitting straight for a long time with one’s legs crossed. What is always important is not the regulations but the people.

Oh Myung-chul, Editorial writer, oscar@donga.com