Trip to Spain
3rd November, Monday
In front of Gate 107 in Inchion internaltional airport, I am waiting for the 00:55 airplane bound for Amsterdam. During this travel, I have to transfer two times. I am already tired. In order to be ready for this travel, I had exercised in advance. How was Tathagata? Even at the time when he was older than me, he didn't look tired. I am doing this journey alone without him, so lots of thoughs are crossing my mind.
"I am confident. I'm dignified."
"The place where I am now is commanding." "I am pround of myself."
The flight of 11 and half has finally finished. The man who sat next to me was a 32-year-old man who was working for a company. He had a good first impression on me and the conversation was quite good. When I told him that people in the world prefer money and looks too much to spiritual matters, he said that he was glad to have the chance to talk about such subjects. We exchanged our name cards and promised to keep in touch with each other. Now I'm sitting on the chair in front of Gate C15, waiting for the airplane bound to Madrid. This flight will be much better because the flight time is just two and half hours.
4th November, Tuesday
TuesdayFinally the day has come. It's unexpectedly cold outside. Strong winds lowers the sensory temperature. After fifteen-minute walk, we knock the door of the office Albert visited last year. Fortuantely, there is a man. He seems to remember Albert and invites us into his office. His name is Michael and is in the doctor's course. He has an American accent. He says he has studied in USA for a few years. At the question about the definition of philosophy, he says it is looking for answers. When I ask for one of examples he has found so far, his answer is too long to understand clearly. He says there aren't absolute goodness and badness but neutral mixtures of goodness and badness. When I give the example of 'Se-Weol-Ho', he says it is a bad thing.
[ At the university of Salamaca ]
As he agrees, what philosophers do is making simple things complicated, and at the same time, making it difficult for people to understand the simple things.
He denies the existence of the absolute truth and it changes respectively according to individuals. I take an example of '+(plus)' in mathematics. Even though the answers are different according to the numbers which are added, '+(plus)', itself, doesn't change. At this explanation, he seems to agree with me. "Michael, what is the most important thing to you?" "It is my life." "Michael, what if you don't exist? The most important thing to you is yourself. To me, it's myself. To our surprise, the only way to make ourselves better is to make others better." He seems to like what I say. We leave his office, telling him to keep in touch with us. Will he do so?
We cannot find any cafeterias. We find one but it's closed. We sit and take a bite of 'Kim-Bap' at the bench with a wall behind. It is still cold, though. We will say hello to any students while we are looking for bulletin boards. There are a lot of students in front of a building over there. We say hello to three students who stay a little bit away from the rest. It is not easy to lead the conversation due to their English. They know lots of things and so talk much. Before starting a real conversation, they leave for their class. We give them our name cards and tell them to keep in touch with each other through facebook.
In the campus, I can't see any departments of science and engineering. The map says they are on our way back home. As we walk in cold winter, two students come out of a building over there, which is a dormitory. After about five-minute walk, they start to climb steep steps. That's it. I tell Albert to follow them. Panting. There is another campus at the top of the steps. We are looking for bulletin boards when we see the two students coming to us. Can't miss it. They don't know K-Pop, which means the rumor that K-Pop is popular in Europe is untrue. They are majoring in computer science. It's easy to talk with studtents who study in the departments of science and engineering. It's because it is easy for them to verify facts.
One of them wants to open his own business in the future. "To know what is correctly helps you to be successful and keeps you stay away from danger. If we can keep in touch with each other, it will be a great thing for both of us." They like what I say and tell us they will do so. After putting a few posters in the builing, we return home. On the way, the two studetns are waving us and I wave back them. I feel my throat sore and my lips are dried. From too much talk or strong cold wind?
The sore throat wakes me up at 02:30 am. Lots of thoughts are crossing my mind. I take a shower at 05:00 am. and make breakfast. We are kind of busy because we have to make lunch, too. Lunch for today is sandwich and 'Gim-bap' for tomorrow. Salamanca is well-known as an educational city in Spain. There are two big universities. Today, we will visit Pontificia university which has catholic basis. We go to 4th floor where there are officess for professors of the department of philosophy. One door is open. I tell Albert that someone is waiting for us. We knock the door. There is an old priest and professor who is teaching Hebrew. I won't talk much because of the state of my throat. I ask him a few questions. Answering takes a long time.
He says people are good, even though they do something bad. He seems to mean everybody has good nature. He says he can make 'all' the bad people better. When I take the example of criminals who keep committing crimes, he says they cannot be cured because they have bad things like terrible disease inside them. It means that he cannot cure all the people. As I try to start an earnest talk, he goes to his lecture. After leaving the office, we put a poster on the bulletin board in the building. I buy sticks for dry lips and candy for throat. They are very expensive. 7 euros! It's a strange university. There are not many students but lots of chinese students who study spanish. While looking for bulletin boards, we say hello to a girl on a bench. She welcomes us. She wants to be an acheologist in the future. I tell her that in order to make her dream come true, she has to prepare all the proper causes for her dream. She says she can do so by herself and leaves for class. A little bit frustrated.
We decide to meet priests in Cathedrals. The Cathedrals are for turists and there are houses for priests in other places. About fifteen-minute walk leads us to a house for priests. A woman at the information desk asks us whether we want to meet a young priest or an old priest. Of coure a young priest. In about ten minutes, a priest is coming to us. 'He is not young at all.' The priest is responsible for the house and is a retired elementary school teacher. He is 72 years old and really the youngest priest in the house. He is answering all the questions on the message for students. The message is intended to make students think of fundamental matters. I tell him that, although almost all of the educators, the rigious people, the politicians, etc. say that they are doing their jobs very well, their societies are very dark. He says that it is because children in those societies act recklessly. I ask why they do so. He says it's because their parents don't teach well. I ask why they don't teach well. He gets upset and says that one hour has already passed and he feels tired. He wants us to leave the house.
The expelled feel hungry and have lunch on a bench at a square. While we eating, an old lady who seems to be blind and walks together with a man approaches us and asks if we enjoy the sunlight. Albert is looking at his map, searching for the place where real young priests stay. The youngest priest gave it to us. We move again. Albert is looking at his map again. We seem to be near the place. I see a teenager who looks like a student smoking and waving other students. He enters a building, which turns out to be our destination. He opens the door for us. He is a third-year student in the department of philosophy in Salamaca university.
He volunteers to do some work for the Church. When I move to the door after collecting the phone number of a priest, Albert looks into my face and says that we just go out. Oops! I am just about to miss the chance to talk with the student . After exchanging trivial information with him, I ask him what philosophy is, because he is a student who studies philosophy. "Philosophy is searching for the meanings of things." I ask for one of the examples that he has found so far. "I came to know the faith is life." 'Does the faith help you to harvest well, to solve math problems well, and to lead your life well?' "No. But still the faith is life, because the faith encouraged me to have my part-time job which I didn't like to do." 'The faith might have given you the reason but it hadn't given you how to do it well.' Finally he admits that the faith is different from life. I try to talk more but he leaves for his class.
My throat has gotten much more sore. I had better return home a little bit earlier and take some rest.
6th November, Thursday
The condition of my throat makes today's start late. We walk toward Salamanca university again. Checking the posters we put the other day, we look around for students. The building for students are locked. When we approach the building, a girl student opens the locked door with a card. I say 'hola' to her to stop her. We show her our posters and talk about living in a good way. She likes it. She has an exam tomorrow. She says she will contact us later with her friends. Will she?
During the conversation, there was a phone call. Albert hurries to call back up the phone number left on my phone. A girl student answers the call. She is majoring in biology. We promise to meet in front of the entrance of the building of the department of biology. We continue to look for bulletin boards and students. At 01:00 pm. We are waiting for the student in front of the entrance. She is late. There turns out to be two entrances. She is at the other entrance. She phones us. Over there, a girl with her weak face comes to us, dragging her bike. We go to the nearest cafeteria. She is sick. She heard that she needed psychiatric treatment. I ask several questions. It seems to be a typical problem connected with a ghost. I deliver to her what I heard of the matter from Tathagata. I tell her to keep in touch with us, if she wants to. Totally discouraged. People who don't have problems in their lives or pains in their bodies are indifferent to their lives. It was the first call, which turned out to be big disappointment. Juan Carlos who asked for making friends with me on facebook doesn't answer our invitation.
We go to the other campus of Salamanca university. We do see few students while we are checking up our posters. Where are they gone? It's really cold. There are a lot of tourists in Salamanca. Salamanca must be a famous tourist attraction. To my eyes? Nothing special. My body condition gets worse and worse. After meeting her, I have a terrible headache. Body temperature rises up. I had better take eary rest. Maybe, am I being defeated by something?
7th November, Friday
I decided to buy a jacket for winter because I brought only one jumper which is not for winter. The map on the phone said that it would take 40 minutes to go to the cheap shop on foot. So we walked. On the way back home, we changed our direction to look for a proper place for us to stand with the banner later on. While doing so, we found a police officer and asked him if we would need a permission to do our work. He said we needed the permission and told us to go the police station.
An officer in the police station said something ridiculous. For permission, we need to request with some documents and it will take 10 days. We will leave Salamanca in 4 days. Even though I said that I have come here to do good things for people in Salamanca and asked him to show me some flexibility, he doensn't seem to listen to me. I ask him if I distribute pamphlets to people on the streets. At first, he says it would be ok if I doposit some money to them but later, he says it's impossible to do so. As I get upset, my voice becomes bigger. An fat, oil-faced, and tall man come up to us. He is the boss. He just says, 'No!'.I am upset but I will not be defeated. We decided to make a pamphlet with the contents of our poster.
[ What am I doing now? ]
We make 300 pamphlets with one side in Spanish and the other side in English. On the way home for lunch, we find a small square and decide to hold our business there. During the lunch, my phone rings. A student from Peru shows his interest in our poster. We make an appointment at 5 pm.
The square we take in order to avoid the police is small and quiet. Not many people pass by. Old man and woman say hello to us. The old lady asks if we have jobs. The man is surprised to hear that we couldn,t get permission. 'Si tienes tiempo, por favor puedes leerlo."(If you have time, please read it.) Only a few people stop, read for a minute, and leave right away. It's 4:50 pm. We hurry to the place for our appointment. The student from Peru is a senior who is majoring in pharmacy in a public college. He says he is interested in the contents of our poster. However, it is strange for a senior who approaches the graduation not to have serious worries about employment. He turns out to be a believer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. When I ask the evidence of the existence of god, he tries presenting a few evidences, which are disproved after all. He seems to be embarrassed but soon tries to talk about the contents of Bible. I tell him that I will meet him again when he find the evidence.
At home, we count the left pamphlets. We handed out 198. Not bad. Dinner for today is 'Doin-Jang-Jji-Gae'.
10th November, Monday
A lot of different thoughts which are crossing my mind awaken me many times. It is the final day in Salamanca. We leave home at 09:00 am. It is a fine day. It's much better because there is no wind. Today, we determine to knock all the doors of the professors, as long as we have time. We seem to come too early. All the doors are locked. We almost give up knocking to doors when we find a door open. A middle aged woman professor is smiling at us. She teaches logics. She seems to welcome me very much. It is because her son lives in Seoul. There are a few photos on the wall which she took with her son in Seoul.
[ Leaving Salamanca ]
Does this conversation go well? She doesn't consider the present corrupted condition from the past dictatorship very serious, even though Spain faces up with economic, political, and societal crisis.
She says that she is just teaching her subject, logics, and doesn't teaching anything else because students are already adults. Moreover, she says that she produces good students. I ask her why the results are different from what she says. Almost all the teachers say that they are producing good students but their society is full of lots of problems such as corrution, robbery, economic crisis, etc. My question seems to make her upset. She orders us to leave her room, saying that she is busy on preparing her seminar. My heavy steps get much heavier.
A man sits on a bench over there. He is Havier whose job is an editor. He is waiting for his girl friend. He is not satisfied with his income. He asks a question about our message. "Isn't truth different according to individuals?" "When we add numbers mathematically, the answers are different according to the numbers added but we apply the same formulus, '+', to any numbers. The truth is the same." He nods affirmatively. His girl friend is coming. I give him my name card.
Albert finds that there is the bus station for Madrid. The direct bus for Madrid costs 24 euros and the bus which stops at about 10 stations on the way to Madrid costs 14 euros. It's cheap but we must be careful of our luggage. When Albert found the bus station, he also found a church near the bus station. The church on his map doesn't there. We ask a man who is about to get on his car. He says there is a similar place like a churse. It takes about fifteen minutes to get there on foot. The place is a chatholic dormitory. A young man greets us. He is a dorm proctor and enducator. I tell him that he must know facts correctly in order to practice the right education. He says that he does his job well enough and he doesn't seem to have any complaints about his corrupted society. The fact that I have become to know newly is that the catholic people in Spain don't hate the dictator, Franco, at all. He says good-bye to us.
We eat lunch at the same bench that we had lunch four days ago. There comes the student from Peru. He takes English course which is very expensive. He says he left the evidence of God on my facebook. After lunch, we walk toward the place with lots of benches where we met Havier. There is another guy. He is Imanol who is taking physical training course and is a senior. His dream is to have his own training center. "Training must not be restricted to a body. Spirit needs also to be trained." He likes it. We deliver our message to him and tell him to keep in touch with us on facebook.
Finally, we go to Pontificia university to meet professors in the department of philosophy. Most of the doors are closed. One professor we meet says he is busy. Oh, there is a professor who is seeing off a student in front of his room. The priest professor teaches philosophy of religion. I should have been much more careful of meeting a religious person. I was not vigilant. I am losing my concentration on the conversation. It is hard to counterattack him. I try to find contradictions in his words, while shouting 'attention' in my mind.
He says God is the truth. "What is the truth, then?" While he is trying to explain about the definition of truth, he keeps using the word, truth. "You explain about the definition of truth and are still using the word, truth. Does the definition of truth need the word, truth?" He says it's a good point. When I ask for concrete examples, he keeps saying, "in general, in general". I am trying not to lose my concentration. Finally, he says he has to go somewhere. He finishes the conversation with gentle voice and sophiscated attitude. It was really a hard time and a good experience as well. I have to alert myself before I meet religious people.
It rains and wind blows strongly outside. Farewell to Salamanca. I smile at Albert, asking if I can come back to Salamana.
12th November, Wednesday
It's the first day in Madrid. The first place is Complutense university. We have to go there by subway. The company from UK built the subway so the trains move in the opposite way. Those who live in a big city have similarity in many ways. They walk fast and show their firm faces. There seem to be a lot of trees on the street to the university, compared to Seoul.We roam around in the buliding of the department of philosophy, while we are putting posters. Two students are doing something in a small room. One of the students speaks English fluently. He seems to be interested in things in Spain's society. I ask him what students must learn in school. He says that students must learn how to analyze problems in a society. The question is about the fundamental matter but he sees things in terms of his interest. As I try to indicate the point, he says he has to go to class.
[ At Complutense University of Madrid ]
We promise to meet at the same plae at 04:10 pm.
As we go out of the building, three students are chathing. They major in law. Today's main subject with students is what students must learn from teachers and what teachers must teach to students. They can't answer this question because they have never been asked about this question before. Fundamentally, the two things must be learned or taught. The first one is the delivery of knowledge or information. This is practiced all over the world. Of course, there are many cases where incorrect information is delivered. The second one is to improve students' wisdom. I take the example of eye sight. Just as the distance which we can see changes according to our eye sight, the depth and exactness of our understanding change according to our level of wisdom. The student who showed his interest at first becomes indifferent and the rest two show more interest as time goes by. It is possible to improve wisdom through endlessly doubting and confirming facts. I beg them to keep in touch with us.
We leave the building of the department of philosophy for the building of the department of law. There is a poster which is recruiting students for volunteering activities, saying, "Do you want to be happy?" How about provoking a dispute with them? It's not easy to find its location. We find the office of students' union, while we are looking for the place on the poster. The corridor is dark. There is a female student in the dark. As I am trying to talk with her, a male student opens the nearest door. They know each other. We start our conversation in the room, asking the same question. They say that they are interested in the answers and that they will contact us with other member later. I think they will not contact us but I have a hope in my mind.
It was very cold in Salamanca but it's warm here in Madrid. We have lunch on a bench. We move toward another campus which is a little bit far. When we come out of the building of the department of tele-communication, three students are chatting on a bench. For my question and answer about knowledge and wisdom, a student says that he isn't interested in them and that he can do things well on his own. "Are you 100% sure of what you said?" "No" I plead him to think about them again and to contact us. After putting several posters, we get tired, sit on a bench, and talk with each other.
It's 04:00 pm. We go to the place where we promised to meet the student. Several news on the commercialization of university in Spain are put on the wall. After all, he doesn't come. I knew it. We leave the place.
13 Nobember, Thursday
In Korea, there is the biggest annual exam for high school students. Hoping they are doing well, I start to prepare breakfast and lunch.
Albert is reviewing the list of the universities for us to visit. Today, we will visit Polytechnic University next to Complutense University we visited yesterday. As the name of the university means, this university consists of the departments of science or engineering. We are on the wrong road. The street is full of dormitries. Who in the world are using all these dormitories? A passer-by is well aware of the locations of all the campus of Polytechnic University. The building of the department of Tele-communication turns out to be of Polytechnic University.
The first campus that we visit has the departments of mountains and forestry. Interestingly, they keeps a lot of golden fish. Albert is surprised to see them for the first time. We take pictures of them. Unlike yesterday, it's dark and a little bit cold. We cannot see students out of the buildings. We move toward the department of Tele-communication. We find another building we couldn't see yesterday. Four students are hanging around in front of the building. They welcome us. They like the questions of what students have to learn in school and what teachers have to teach in school. They also listen to us, when we explain about the fundamental matters of their nature and their lives. I give them my cards and tell them to keep in touch with me.
There is a newly built building of the department of computer science. Almost all the bulletin boards are thoroughly controlled. We find only one place next to a cafeteria to put our poster. Some students are playing with a ball in the place where the sign says, "No playing football". Beside the place, there are three students who enjoy chatting. We say hello to them. They don't seem to welcome us. However, I must do my best to deliver our message.
The campus including the departments of engineering is located near the center of the city. It starts to rain when we walk toward subway station. When I hurry to unfurl my unbrella, a student called Baroja is asking me to become his friend on facebook. What a surprise!
In the building, a bulletin board is placed next to a rest room. This building seems to have the same structure on every floor. As we try to go upstairs, there is another board next to another rest room. Some students are making some noise below. What is it? We meet a femal student and two male students. They major in the mechanical engineering. While I am asking some casual questions, the female student is asking me why I have come to Spain. I have been waiting for the question. When I am about to answer the question, another student is asking about the relationship between South Korea and North Korea. And the other student says that he is always asking himself about all the questions on my message and that he is frustrated because he hasn't been able to find the answers. What he said draws my attention. They tell us to move to a cafeteria. It is too noisy in the cafetia. The one who drew my attention reminds me of my school days. I tell him to move to another place but he says he has some classes and he has to take exams until next Tuesday. He seems to want to meet us. Maybe him? I ask him to contact us many times. The noise in the cafeteria makes me have a headache. I hope again that we will contact us on our way to our place.
14 November, FridayToday
we go to the university of Autonoma. It is a well-known university in Spain which has its position in the ranking of worldwide universities. We have to take a train to go the university because it is located in the subverb. The station we arrive at looks like one of the buildings of the university. The main buildings are all connected. As we did, we are looking for students, while putting posters on bulletin boards. We find three students who are smoking in a smoking room. I hate the smell of smoking but I cannot help it. Let's go. They all major in anthropology. During the talk, a student comes in. He is a friend of theirs and major in philosophy. As other studetns do, they also show their interest in the education of wisdom. The bottom line is whether or not they will keep in touch with us.
[ In a building of the university of Autonoma ]
Do they know how precious this chance is for them? Do they know how desperately we hope that they will contact us later?
We are in front of one of the club rooms in the departmen of chemistry. When we knock the door, a student wakes up on the sofa in the room. He is Pablo from Chile. The talk with him doesn't go well. Is it because he still feels sleepy? He looks very tired. He is busy on doing his part-time job as well as studying. When I say that I'd like to meet him in Chile in the future, he just smiles.
It rains outside. We looks for a cafeteria. One cafeteria puts posters which say that we cannot eat our own food inside the cafeteria. There are only a few people. We move to another cafeteria. Here, we can eat our lunch. There are full of people. Students with their homemade lunch cannot have lunch with friends who have to use a cafeteria at the former cafeteria. The cafeteria isn't doing their business very well.
After lunch, we are walking along the main street in the university. There are two studetns on a bench who are chatting. Albert says hello to them. The reaction is good. I give them my card and tell them to keep in touch with me.
There are several buildings over there. The inner structure of a building looks like that of a museum. Strangely, there are few students in this building. When we try to enter the next building, the door is closed. Today is Friday. When it becomes afternoon, most of the doors have already been closed. We cannot help moving toward the train station.