Date: Thu, 25 May 2000
From: Palden Jenkins <>
Subject: Re: Korea Focus

Greetings, everyone!

At 20:03 24/05/2000 -0400, jean hudon wrote:

>I agree with Leigh on the need to better document the long term historic
>perspective of this part of the world. If you need assistance on this task,
>you may want to see also if my good friend Palden Jenkins
><> could not be available to direct you to some Web
>resources or even contribute his own unique perspective on such historic
>background. He wrote a book on the Hurt of Nations and has a great
>knowledge of the history of many countries. I Cc him to let him know my
>recommendation on this.

I don't have much to add here, since Korea is not a speciality of mine, except this: Korea has always been somewhat divided, in a variety of ways, and the north and south have been separate kingdoms at times. Generally the north has been highly influenced by China and the Mongols and Manchus for a very long time, very Confucian/imperial in flavour, while the south has been independent or Japanese-influenced - much more indigenous in terms of beliefs and cultural ways. Interestingly, the south has also traditionally been one of the world's greatest pirate-havens too (particularly in the 16th-19th Centuries)!

I think it's also true to say that Korea has a weakish sense of national identity ('nation' in the sense of 'people'), which is a factor which needs taking into account. As with Germans, national identity has been focused on 'the people' (Volk) rather than on territorial boundaries, which means that, territorially, as with German-speaking peoples, there has not been a clear territorial-national sense of integrity. So the urge for reunification now, though genuine, does not necessarily have the same historic roots and strength of folk-feeling as other countries.

I'd suggest also that the (somewhat corrupted) polarisation of capitalist (south) and post-Maoist (north) systems in Korea embodies a microcosmic mirror of the world to some extent - the fact that capitalism has overwhelmed alternative systems (such as the Marxist model) leads northerners to feel some justified anticipation over the entry of capitalism into the north (a parallel sentiment to those found, perhaps, in Cuba). In other words, the destruction of alternative systems in the world, and the establishment of a capitalist monoculture, is a factor here. (The main issue here being not that 'capitalism' is 'bad', but that monoculture of any kind is unhealthy for humanity, leading to likely viruses of the kind we can see in Microsoft monoculture. In other words, although the post-Maoist system of North Korea is defunct and atavistic, there is some meaning in the Northerners' holding out to preserve their system and avoid being taken over by the capitalist south - in a way which would parallel the questionable takeover of East Germany by the West.)

>Please note that I took out the word "nation" to put instead "part of the
>world" because although nations are still very much a defining parameters
>on this planet, the vision to hold is that the unification of humanity
>will gradually lead to a dimming of the need to emphasize national borders
>and identities - a source of so many conflicts in the past and today.

There's nothing wrong with nations, as such, and as sub-groups and families within humanity they are emotionally and culturally important. The problem lies in the sense of national inadequacy which pervades many nation states - a feeling that one must defend oneself against other nations in order to preserve one's own identity - plus the fact that most nations have been established through royal or imperialist antics, so they don't even reflect the true needs of people-nations either. Another problem is that 'nations' have become identified with 'territory', which is a big mistake - the example being the Middle East, which has always been made up of socially-interlocking people-nations within one area of territory. Different middle-eastern nations established their identities through their social roles rather than through territorial identification. Thus, the Middle Eastern question cannot really ever be resolved until the whole area is reunified - but to do this, the connection of 'nation' with 'territory' (introduced largely by the British and French earlier in the 20th C) needs to be loosened and dissolved. However, this prospect hits many emotional buttons for people in that area, and the prospect of achieving such a thing within a few decades is slim, unless there is an enormous transformation of feelings and attitudes in the area. Lebanon and Israel, in particular, are examples of multi-layered, multi-ethnic nations where territorial identification does not serve them well in the longterm - and, to complicate things, the region has also had enough of interfering foreigners (Egyptians, Hittites, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Christians, Arabians, Persians, Turks, French and British) imposing their own ideas and regimes on the area!

Time-zones: I would highly recommend using a consistent UT/GMT timing for your meditations. It gives an unequivocal standard, consistent reference-point. People will get used to it. Otherwise, chaos and uncertainty! I have attached a useful timezones table which might help. Also: bear in mind that, really, with simultaneous synchronised meditations, you can only please half of the world (East-West) with convenient timings - and the rest will be faced with the need to meditate in the middle of the night! Not much can be done about this if meditations are to be synchronised globally - it's just a fact arising from living on a spinning *planet*!

With love