Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Last weekend I went to a Templestay.  This is where you go to a Buddhist temple and experience life in the temple and learn about Buddhism.  I have wanted to do this since I came to Korea but I have been putting this off because it included a very early morning and I like my rest.  However, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for one.  I chose a good weekend too because for some reason the city of Seoul paid for the Templestay for the guests.  That was a nice surprise and a good start to the weekend.

The templestay started at 3pm on Saturday and ended at noon on Sunday.  It all started with a small hike up to the temple (of course).  I then signed in and was given a baggy purple vest and pants to wear and then sent to my room, which I was sharing with three other people.  We changed and got a tour of the temple, along with some of the history of Buddhism.

We had a bit of free time here and there to wander around.  We had supper, rang the bell and then met at the Buddha Hall to do our 108 prostrations.  This involved standing and then getting onto our hands and knees and bowing very deeply.  This, especially after the hike and tour, was very difficult.  I didn't do all 108 prostrations but I did do them constantly for the time, around 25 minutes.  My legs were very weak by the end.  We followed the prostrations with meditation.  My legs were so exhausted that they were cramping a bit during the seated meditation but luckily they had us do walking meditation, too.  After this was all finished, around 8:30, we were sent off to bed or to continue with the meditation.

We were woken up at 4:30am by a monk hitting a stick on something.  It was actually very quiet and took me a while to realize what I was hearing.  Then the bell or a gong was hit.  We had to meet in the Buddha Hall for the morning gathering, which involved a few more prostrations.  We were then given an hour rest or meditate before meeting there again for breakfast.  After breakfast, we did some communal work.  I washed and dried some of the breakfast dishes.  Others had to clean the hall or the sleeping quarters.  

Later we met with one of the monks and had tea with her.  We enjoyed some Korean snacks and tea and got to ask the monk some questions.  I didn't have much to ask but it was interesting to hear the other participants questions and to hear the monk's responses.  She spoke a little English and had a translator when she needed one.  After tea, we went for a short hike around the temple.  Needless to say, my legs were very sore from the prostrations the day before and it was difficult to go both up and downhill but I made it.  The mountains in Korea are beautiful and I will miss them when I come home.

After the hike, we had lunch and then changed to go home.  I really enjoyed the experience and I am very glad I finally convinced myself to do it.  I almost didn't do a Templestay while I was here because of the reason mentioned earlier and because I was worried about the food, which was basically normal Korean food but vegetarian.  I didn't mind the food but something things have started to grow on me in the last few months that I never really liked last year.  I guess my palate is changing more and more.  Anyway, I really enjoyed Templestay and I am so glad I did it.  Here are some more pictures.

This is a face in the rock by the temple.

This is the Dharma Gate.  Nirvana is as easy to get to as stepping through this gate.

Stepping through the gate.

About the ring the bell.

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