The Meaning Behind the Korean Folktale of Shim Cheong 심청전
The story of Sim Cheong is a Korean folktale about a daughter who sacrifices herself to help her blind father to regain his sight.
It is one of the well-known folk stories of Korea and I would like to share the meaning behind the folktale.
Summary of the tale of Shim Cheong
Once upon a time, there was a family in Dohhwa village, literally 'Peach Blossom Village.' The daughter, Shim Cheong, was raised by her father, a blind man Shim, after the death of her mother. The blind man Shim was told by a Buddhist monk that he could regain his sight by offering 300 bags of rice to Buddha.
To raise the money, Shim Cheong sells herself to sea merchants, but is saved by Jade Emperor and becomes the new wife of the Song Dynasty. As the empress, she hosts a feast for the blind to find her father and finally reunites with him. Overjoyed at the reunion with his daughter, the blind man Shim regains his eyesight.
I love the interpretation of this story in the book "The way to become a person in heaven while living" by teacher Woo Myung.
Shim Choeng means "Clear mind."
In this story, the blind man, Shim, sacrificed his only daughter Shimcheong to Buddha, the existence of Truth, and soon after he could see.
The story is about being born in the new world, the kingdom of Truth, for when Shimcheong is sacrificed, she falls into the sea and dies, but then is resurrected in the underwater kingdom of the Dragon King where she becomes his queen. Here, the kingdom of the Dragon King is the kingdom of Truth; to drown in the deep sea means the death of the existence of one's self.
In the story, Shimcheong becomes Truth and returns to the human world with the true mind. This story is about how the blind Shim actually had a mind that was blind, and that the eyes of his true mind opened when he met his daughter, Shimcheong who was Truth. This means Chimchoeng and her father opened the eyes of their minds, by completely giving up their selves as well as what was theirs.
I love how the story conveys the meaning of Truth. How being blind is used as a metaphor to explain being ignorant of Truth, and how one will find the true self by letting go of the most precious existence to oneself, which is oneself.
Here is a video clip that talks about the tale of Shim Cheong and its meaning behind. Hope you enjoy.