LUNAR AND SOLAR CALENDARS

In the infinite universe, there is no time, no beginning and no end. It is always now.

Since the human mind is limited and cannot go beyond the three-dimensional world, it cannot help but measure time and divide it into years, months, and days. To do this, man has used some kind of calendar since time immemorial.

In the past, the lunar calendar was the most used. It was based on the cycles of the moon. The Romans also had a sort of lunar calendar, but it was not at all accurate. Therefore, in 46 BC, Julius Caesar ordered that the solar calendar be adopted. It divided the year into three hundred and sixty-five days and was called the Julian calendar. Nowadays, the Julian calendar, with the adjustments made by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, is the most used in the world.

However, many countries still use the lunar calendar or celebrate their festivals according to it. This year, in China, Korea, and other countries, New Year’s Day is January 22. In Korea, it is called Seol. It is the most important festival in the country. People return to their hometowns to spend their holidays with their families and relatives. Furthermore, they perform a special ritual for their deceased ancestors.

Happy New Year to all my Korean friends and relatives!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English edition)

– A Hidden Sicilian History (English edition)

– The Vibrations of Words (English edition)

– Travels of the Mind (English edition)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (edizione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (edizione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

TRADITIONAL KOREAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS AND GARMENTS

Music is born with man. It is a universal language, for everybody can feel and enjoy it, regardless of the country in which one lives.

All countries have their traditional musical instruments. In Greek mythology the lyre was played by Apollo, who drove his chariot playing the lyre. However, the most ancient musical instrument is human voice, for music is the language of the soul.

A few days ago, we went to an exhibition of traditional Korean art. We saw two string instruments: one, called gayaguem has twelve strings, the other, called geomungo has six strings. I think it is difficult to play them.

They also exhibited Hanbok, traditional Korean clothing to be worn on formal and semi-formal occasions.

Clothing is also an art and expression of one’s personality!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A KOREAN LEGEND ABOUT FORBIDDEN LOVE

Gyeongju is the old capital of Korea. This city, a World Heritage Site, thrived under Silla dynasty. It is renowned for the Royal Tombs and the remains of old palaces and temples.

We walked in the woods and came across a legendary pond. A friend of us told us a legend connected to it.

She said, “One day, Silla’s King Soji went out of his palace and met a rat that told him to follow a crow. King Soji followed the bird and was led to this pond. Once here, he met an old man that gave him a letter urging him to get back to the royal palace and shoot a case of geomungo (a traditional Korean musical instrument) with an arrow. The king did so and found that a Buddhist monk and a woman of high rank were hiding inside the case. They both had been shot to death. Obviously, they were making love illegally.”

At the time, the illicit lovers were not numerous. If King Soji lived now, he wouldn’t have enough arrows to hit them all!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

CHRYSANTHEMUMS IN ITALY AND IN KOREA

Yesterday, we went to the chrysanthemum festival in Daegu, Korea. The botanical gardens were swarming with visitors. The flower beds and floral figures were adorned with multicolored chrysanthemums.

In Korea the chrysanthemum is considered a flower to be given in various occasions. The Koreans see it as a flower that conveys happiness and love. If you give a bouquet of chrysanthemums or even a single chrysanthemum to your beloved one, she will be delighted. A Korean friend of mine showed me the pictures of the chrysanthemums that a neighbor had given her from her garden.

If you live in Italy, never do that! In fact, the Italians associate this beautiful flower with death. We use chrysanthemums just to make wreaths for funerals and to deck the tombs and graves in the cemeteries on November 2, the Day of the Dead.

When in Rome do as the Romans do! If you do not know the culture of the country, give roses as a gift. However, the most beautiful flower is the one you keep in your heart. Give that flower, and you will not be wrong, for its fragrance and love will delight everyone you come across!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

SYMBOLS IN BUDDHIST TEMPLES AND IN SICILY

Along the street that leads to Duryu Park, in Daegu, Korea, a beautiful Buddhist temple shows these symbols: the ‘Swastika’; the ‘Three Buddhas’; the ‘Laughing Buddha’.

The swastika is a very ancient symbol. It can be found all over the world since time immemorial. If you have the chance to come to Sicily, go and visit the Villa Romana del Casale, in Piazza Armerina, dating back to almost two thousand years ago. Looking closely at the mosaics that depict scenes from Greek myths, you will see a swastika. It was considered a symbol of good luck. Hitler made from it the flag of his regime, but he rotated the swastika a bit. Apparently, the rotation of the symbol didn’t bring him good luck.

The ‘Three Buddhas’ symbolize the proper attitude toward evil. You should neither listen, nor speak, nor hear anything that is bad.

Finally, the ‘Laughing Buddha’ means not to be too serious in life and to avoid extremes. To live well, just laugh and be grateful for life. It is a way to get enlightenment!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

AUTUMN COLORS IN KOREA

For those who love nature and beautiful landscapes, autumn is the best season to visit Korea.

What I enjoy most is climbing Palgong Mountain up to Gatbawi Buddha. On the peak, a Buddha statue stands peacefully. This Buddha wears a traditional Korean hat called ‘Gat’ in Korean, and is well-known for answering believers’ prayers. It is said that a monk made the statue to appease his mother’s soul.

Another place I usually visit in autumn is Haeinsa. There is a seven kilometers trail leading to the temple from the bus stop. In some stretches, the path runs along a stream. As we were walking along it, I took some pictures. However, the photos can not fully describe the romantic atmosphere of the place, the vivid multicolored falling leaves, and the murmur of the water that flows from the mountain and forms little ponds here and there.

Finally, we arrived at Haeinsa after walking for three hours. This temple is a World Heritage Site, for it keeps Printing Woodblocks of the Tripitaka Koreana. Buddha’s sutras were engraved on wood blocks to protect the country from the invasion of Mongolia. And then, they were printed and spread.

While walking to the temple, we enjoyed the beautiful autumn landscape, especially the autumn yellow and red leaves in the trees. There were a lot of fallen leaves on the ground. They are metaphor for human life. Leaves sprout, become green, then they change color, wither, and fall off the branches. Human life is like that. The cycle of life!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE WALLS SURROUNDING OUR HEARTS

A few days ago, we visited Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, Korea. Its walls are almost six kilometers long. They are interspersed with towers and various wooden structures. Suwon Hwaseong Fortress is a World Heritage Site. It looks like a miniature Wall of China.

Walking on Hwaseong Fortress, I recalled a few walls that man has been building over time: the mighty walls of Troy, the walls of Rome erected by Emperor Aurelian to protect the city from barbarian invasions, the Hadrian’s Wall that marked the boundary between the Roman Province of Britannia and Caledonia, and many other walls.

Besides the walls made of bricks, man has been building immaterial walls. The most notorious is the Iron Curtain, an invisible wall that divided the world into two parts, during the Cold War. Even the borders between nations are invisible walls.

Will man be able to demolish these walls someday? The most difficult walls to eliminate are those that surround our hearts. Even unknowingly, every day we build walls around our hearts to protect ourselves from others. If we are able to remove the walls in our hearts, those between nations will also collapse someday!

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

CHANGDEOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL, KOREA

Unlike the royal palaces I have visited in Europe, Changdeokgung Palace, the royal palace in Seoul, is not a single building; it consists of many wooden structures scattered in a large area. There are Throne Hall, King’s Council Hall, King’s Residence, Queen’s Residence, etc. The Royal Secret Garden takes up almost 60% of Changdeokgung Palace. There are several small pavilions on the banks of the ponds, and a library. The kings were taught and studied there. Maybe many of them were very learned.

In Changdeokgung Palace, there is even Nakseonjae Hall, the place that King Heonjong, 24th king of Joseon, built for the concubine he really loved. It is said that the concubines vied with each other to win the king’s favors and reach high rank position.

While I was visiting the place, I recalled a friend of mine who was a teacher of Italian literature. At the time, he said to me,

“Remember this! Neither monarchy (one-man rule) nor democracy (people’s rule) has ever existed. What has always existed and still exists is just oligarchy (rule in the hands of a few men).”

Was it right? I think so.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A POTTERY CLASS IN KOREA

The origins of the art of pottery are lost in the mists of time.

In Egyptian Mythology, Khnum, the god of creation, also called the Potter God, gave life to living beings by shaping them with clay.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus, on the orders of Zeus, created man from clay and then gave him wisdom.

In the Bible, God created the first man, Adam, in a similar way.

Does the creation of man by modeling clay have a symbolic meaning? Probably yes. Be that as it may, the myths indicate that the art of pottery is very ancient. Probably, man invented pottery when he began to cook food.

Today, we attended a pottery class in Youngcheun, near the city of Daegu, Korea. The teacher was very good and also patient. I did my best to shape a mug. To do this, I kneaded some clay, flattened it, and then rolled it around the lathe.

The pottery class was funny and relaxing. Like when you paint, you must not be in a hurry while modeling an object. This calms your brain and mind, and reduce your anxiety.

Don’t you think some of the rulers of the world should take a pottery class to calm down?

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE WOODEN WALKWAY IN SAMUNJIN NARUTEO (DOCK)

Samunjin Naruteo is the place where two rivers, the Nakdonggang and Geumhogang, and two streams meet. It is located on the outskirts of the city of Daegu, Korea.

Samunjin Naruteo is also well known for being the dock where two American Christian missionaries, husband and wife, brought the first piano, in 1900. Actually, the Christian religion was already widespread in Korea when the two Americans came. We can say, without fear of denial, that Korea is the only country in the world where Christianity was not introduced by missionaries. It sprang up naturally!

The wooden walkway on the river is about one kilometer long. We walked it up to the end. I had a feeling that the melodious sound of the first Korean piano was still echoing in the air. The atmosphere had something magic.

We can admire many beautiful sunsets in the world, but that in Samunjin Naruteo is unique!

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo