The Ears of Seongjin Castle

In the last light of March, under cherry trees as large as the oak
Near the tomb of those lost
in the battle of Seongjin Castle, yet another tale
of the cruelty and kindness of men…

The Japanese hacked off the noses and ears of the dead
took them home, proof a battle won, souvenirs of a war.
The Koreans buried fathers and sons in a common grave and mourned.

Years later, a Buddhist monk went to Japan
Pleaded for the return of the remains–
Ten thousand ears heard him, ten thousand eyes saw him
On Heart of Love opened, Om Mani Padme Hum–

Japan relented and gave them back–
Under a large tree, in a snow of blossoms, the story teller, a Korean friend
Looked at me and said, “Only the oldest trees know the sorrow of the blossoms.

 

Rayn Roberts 2002

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Traditionally, Japanese warriors brought back the heads of enemies slain on the battlefield as proof of their deeds. Ear collection in lieu of heads became a feature of the second Korean invasion.[4]:p. 195 [10] Remuneration was paid to soldiers by their daimyō commanders based on the severed heads upon submission to collection stations, where inspectors meticulously counted, recorded, salted and packed the noses bound for Japan.[11][12] However, because of the number of civilians killed along with soldiers, and crowded conditions on the ships that transported troops, it was far easier to just bring back ears instead of whole heads.[10]

Japanese chroniclers on the second invading campaign mention that the ears hacked off the faces of the massacred were also of ordinary civilians[13] mostly in the provinces Gyeongsang (where Seongjin Fortress was located)  Jeolla, and Chungcheong.[2]:pp. 475–476 In the second invasion Hideyoshi’s orders were thus:  Mow down everyone universally, without discriminating between young and old, men and women, clergy and the laity—high ranking soldiers on the battlefield, that goes without saying, but also the hill folk, down to the poorest and meanest—and send the heads to Japan.  Many of the ears, noses and heads of the dead are now buried in Kyoto, Japan, but some were returned to Korea.  Mimizuka: Ear Tomb

Kuan Yin /  Avalokiteshvara in Tibetan, is the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion and is said to have ten thousand ears and eyes to hear and watch over the suffering people of the world.   Om Mani Padme Hum is a mantra associated with this Bodhisattva.

옴 마니 반메 훔

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