Samboilbae: Three Steps and One Bow
The way towards penitence, the way towards Life and Peace.

The following speech was read out on the shore of The Wash just before the samboilbae of 31st January 2004.


"Hello. I am Sukyung, a Buddhist disciplinant from Korea.

I pray with my palms pressed that our meeting shall light the way to the peace of the world, to the harmonious living together of all lives on the Earth, the Green Star, and to the reunification of two Koreas.

Samboilbae or three steps and one bow is a way of Buddhist discipline, which is to dispel greed, anger, and foolishness. Greed, anger, and foolishness breed environmental destruction and wars. Unless we, so-called the lords of all creation, immediately repent what we have been doing so far, only total destruction on earth will remain for us.

Mountains, rivers, and oceans have committed no sins. Trees, flowers, wild animals have committed no sins either. It is only the human kind that have committed faults and sins. American invasion upon Iraqi people is just the same shameful sin as Koreans' ruthless exploitation of their own ecology. War and pollution have the same roots. All the wars are futile life-killing, just like environmental destruction.

Last year I had to do Samboilbae to repent what we have been doing in Korea. We have been trying to massacre countless lives in Saemangeum, vast tidal-flats on the southwestern coast of the Korean peninsula, by huge reclamation works building banks over 35 kilometres long. Different people from different religions joined Samboilbae and we walked and bowed all the way from Saemangeum to Seoul. It took 65 days to walk and bow 330 kilometres, which usually takes just three hours by car. All the people walked three steps and bowed, and walked another three steps and bowed, and walked...We all toiled, wept, and bled all the way to Seoul.

I got exhausted on the way, and even had knee surgery. Fortunately, I could recover myself and join the long and slow walk again. It was of course painful, but it was also joyful. It was genuine happiness through repentance. As a disciplinant, I think I just followed the simple truth, "Your pain is my own". I came to realise on a deeper level that "You are my own root, and I am your own root".

I find my place for discipline not only in the temple and the quiet retreat, but also wherever Nature is being destroyed. Disappearing tidal flats, cruelly maimed mountains, and rotten rivers are the very sites I find my place for repentance. War-stricken Iraq as well as divided Koreas is my place for discipline.

My Samboilbae has not yet finished. It is just a small beginning. One step for my confession, another step for disciplining my mind, still another step for repentance. I will call up all the lives dying form pollution, all the names being killed in the wars, during my Samboilbae. I will kowtow, praying for the peace of the humankind.

I believe the green forces are sprouting all over the Earth, the Green Star. In Korea, day by day, cries are having strong repercussions for preserving the Earth and resisiting wars. I don't think it is just wishful thinking that the 21st Century will be the age of Life and Peace.

On returning to Korea, I will set out on a pilgrimage with Do-Beop who came here with me. I will walk and visit all the villages in Korea, and try to sow seeds for Life and Peace. It may take three years or five years. I really don't know. However, I will walk and walk, with the spirit of Samboilbae. I believe all of you will walk with me. I am You, and You are Me.

Thank you very much."