A few weekends back I got to experience something I really wanted to try in Korea: Being a monk! 🙂
As many of you already, Korea has a lots of mountains, 75% of its territory is mountainous. So they have a very special relationship with mountains, considering them as sacred for thousands of years. When Buddhism was first introduce during the 5th Century they built many temples in the mountains. Most of the mountains have a Buddhist temple at its top. If you want to visit those you have to climb and hike a lot.
Today they have a program called Temple Stay for people to go and experience the life of monks for a weekend or more. It’s becoming a little tourists-y but still its is very common for families to go experience and get in touch with their Buddhist side.
A Temple Stay is a cultural-experience program designed to help people understand Korean Buddhism better. Temple stays offer various kinds of practicing methods such as Yebul (ceremonial service involving chanting), Chamseon (Zen meditation), Dahdoh (tea ceremony) and Balwoo Gongyang (communal Buddhist meal service). Participants can find their ‘true self’ amongst the harmony of nature while staying at a temple.
Temple Life, the experience of temples, is another program designed to help people understand Korean Buddhism and the life of monks better.
So We went to this remote temple, me and 2 other of my friends, Jen and Hélène. It took us about 2 hours and a half of Express bus from Seoul and than we had to switch to a local bus to get to the temple.
Once we got there, they explained to us how the temple works , showed us our room and gave us clothes.
While there, we had a tight schedule, time was even counted for toilet, shower,etc… We also have to get up at 3:50am and go to ceremonies, clean up the temple, I never bowed so much in my life. Also it was soo cold outside (especially at 4am,-15C they said), in the mountain we can’t see well here but they still had snow almost everywhere while it was all melted in Seoul.
It was a physical experience but I learned a lot, to me it was very interesting and eye-opening. my favorite parts was the tea ceremony with the monk where we could talk to him about anything, ask him questions, and also walking in the fir forest was so nice.
Check out my gallery on smugmug to get all the pictures 🙂
here for the slideshow: