Concept - Korean mystic shamanism – Sinbyeong
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Derived from Kim, Tae-kon (1998). Korean Shamanism—Muism
Sinbyeong or shinbyong, also called "self-loss", is the illness an initiate into Korean shamanism goes through at the start of the spiritual path. It is thus an indicator of the ‘calling’ stage on the path.
The illness may result in loss of appetite, insomnia, and visual and auditory hallucinations. The potential mudang may become weak physically and psychologically. There may be very vivid dreams, appearances of guides and spirits in the dreams or even revelations. Most of the dreams are likely to be symbolic at this time.
The physical and mental symptoms should not be subjected to any form of medical treatment, as most of them are caused by constantly adjusting energy changes, and may only be cured through acceptance of and full commitment to the Calling.
A ritual called a naerim-kut ‘cures’ this illness, which also serves to induct the new shaman-priest.
In the tradition of Muism, the shinbyeong is considered a structured religious experience demonstrating the vertical connection between god and humanity and showing that "god in some form exists in human consciousness." It is a form of revelation that causes the shaman to become one with god and, consequently, change his or her patterns of thought. The shinbyeong is dissociated from reality and enters a higher form of consciousness.