Sunday, July 24, 2011

Temple Stay

Okay. Haven't been great with this. Apologies, again.

This one may be short - but there's more to come.

The weekend after my mother's wonderful visit - my friend Zoe and I decided we needed to knock off a serious token on our Korean bucket list.

Korea has a long history of Buddhism and because of this, they have Buddhist temples new and old. Many of these offer a program to stay over at the temple and learn about Buddhism and they call these templestays.

Templestays range from a long time to just one night. The intensity relates accordingly - and since it was our first time, Zoe and I decided for a one-night stay. Our friends had done a templestay at this particular temple and had enjoyed their time there. We followed in their footsteps.

We arrived at the temple at noon on Saturday. Immediately they fed us some lunch (a vegetarian medley of all things cabbage, beet and lettuce-y........this would be the general meal trend for our time there).

After eating, we met some of the otehr templestayers - a few more Americans, and some other international people (the americans were teachers like us, the others were traveling around Korea for various reasons).

We then took a hike up to an amazing spot on the temple's mountain. The end result - the view - was spectacular - but it was a warm summer day and we sweat quite a bit getting up there. Worth it - but I hadn't brought any more clothes, so I stayed sticky and smelly the whole time.

We learned more about the temple throughout the afternoon and at night, after eating a 4:30pm dinner, we all practiced meditation. My one qualm with the templestay was that they had us sit down for a few hours to meditate, but didn't give any instruction or guidance. Just told us to "do it" essentially.

I've had some meditation pracfice from Madison and some in Seoul - so it wasn't much of a problem - but for others I imagine it was a bit more difficult. I was also curious about their technique and how it differed from what I had learned (the one aspect I did get was that they wanted us to keep our eyes open the whole time, something wholly different than my earlier practice).

We got to bed by 9pm. This was appreciated because the monk (our guide) woke us up sometime around 4:30 to start the next day. The day starts with the ringing of some bells and drums out front that they do daily. We got to see the monks-in-training there, a group of international people who have come to that particular Korean temple to study to earn their monkhood, I suppose.

Again, not sure how the whole process works.

The next day was some more meditiation. Another walk to another lookout point over the city. We left in the morning after all that and took some pictures which I'll post here.

Overall, it was a great experience - learning about Buddhism and the temple system and such. Really glad I got to do it and experience another part of Korean's culture.

- e.g.