In a unique encounter, a group of South Korean Buddhist monks belonging to Haeinsa monastery in South Korea and members of the Jogye order, stayed at Sant’Anselmo for three days during their visit to Rome. The group included eight monks in formation, and one formator.
The visit was initiated by a request from the South Korean Catholic Bishops Conference. Following the request, a few South Korean Benedictines and residents of Sant’Anselmo were the bridge between the two communities that facilitated the visit.
The program offered the Buddhist monks a chance to visit Rome, an opportunity for interreligious dialogue, and a close-up look as to how the Benedictines pray and live their community life at Sant’Anselmo.
During their visit, the Buddhist monks attended prayer and community meals. They also requested a moment of encounter with some of the community leaders at Sant’Anselmo. Prior Mauritius Wilde, OSB, said the encounter was a moment to “share experiences as monks, and ask questions.”
Topics discussed ranged from the practice of celibacy (a vow also taken by the majority of Buddhist monks) to some of the challenges of modernity. For instance, Prior Mauritius said the topic of modern communication, specifically, finding the proper equilibrium of technology use in the monastery, was a topic of shared interest and concern for both monastic communities. Prior Mauritius identified the tension monks have between the desire “to be in communication with the world and with the people, and at the same time, see that this can distract us from meditation and contemplation.”
In sharing and listening to each others’ respective monastic practices, Prior Mauritius said the encounter was truly a moment of “respect for each other.”
There are over 10,000 Buddhist monks and nuns in South Korea alone. In comparison, there are about 20,500 Benedictines monks and nuns worldwide.