Korean mystic shamanism – Methods – Reducing desires and Humility
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Korean Shamanist Ritual - Symbols and Dramas of Transformation - Daniel Kister
Playful, ecstatic, ritualistic, confrontational, humorous, and wondrous - kut serve the modest, but basic human need of achieving purification of evil and nurturing harmony within a family or village community, with one's family ancestors, with local forces of nature, with the local gods, and with one's own personal destiny.
The present thrust of Korean government policy toward globalization is probably unique in Korean history; Korean society has not generally been expansionist. Neither has the kut community. Kut worship has never led to war or the slaughter of non-believers to further a global religious vision. Its religious vision is utterly unpretentious. The kut community, too, is itself quite unpretentious and free of official pomp and display. Its religious activity requires little or nothing in the way of common written scriptures or established property.
Centered on the family, the neighborhood village, and the circle of a mudang's clients and initiates, its basic structuring factors are those of Korean culture as a whole - personal, symbolic, and dramatic.
Nevertheless, self-contained and modest though the Korean kut community is, it is far from being trapped in the Western stereotype of Asian culture as passive, faceless, and closed. It is a community of persons who actively seek freedom from han and affliction and who are open to a divine presence at work in nature, the home, crisis areas of birth, illness, and death, the mudang's life, and their own communal play and prayer. It is a community of persons who celebrate their life together in transforming symbols that are sometimes ordinary, sometimes sacramental, sometimes wondrous, sometimes beautiful, and always ultimately dramatic.
For her part, the mudang activates the community's dramatic symbols, but she does not invent the dramas she performs. Kut humor and symbols spring from the common dramas of the Korean soul – from a desire for wholeness and purity in the face of divine mystery and human suffering, for release from anxiety, for unity in the midst of disharmony, for laughter and play in the midst of pain, for harmony with nature, the family, and the gods. The real-life drama that kut stage is human drama, but always graced by contact with the gods-fearful, surprising, joyous, and wondrous contact that the gods and ancestral spirits themselves, not human beings, are believed mysteriously to initiate.