That is until this past weekend. My mind was completely blown away by how wonderful this temple stay was! I’m so excited to write this post and share it with all of you.
I had been wanting to do a temple stay for quite a while, it was on my Korean bucket list, so I was very excited to actually be doing it!
We had booked the temple stay way back at the end of April, it was completely booked up until this past weekend. We felt quite lucky that we booked this weekend as all of the temple stays had been cancelled during June due to MERS.
We arrived just in time and upon our arrival, were given a uniform to change in to. We would wear this uniform until we left again the next day (we ended up, sleeping, hiking and bowing in this uniform so we were all pretty happy to take it off the next day.)
Luckily there was an English translator present throughout our entire stay so we always knew and understood what was happening while there.
Once all of the temple stay participants arrived it was time to go to one of the beautiful temple areas for our opening ceremony. We were met by one of the monks who taught us how to bow properly, how to conduct ourselves while staying in the temple complex and what activities we would be doing that first day.
We then recited the five precepts that we would live by during our time there (these are five things that all Buddhists should strive to live by) After reciting each one we bowed and continued on with the next one.
Afterwards we all sat in a circle and had a chance to introduce ourselves. Our group was about 50% Koreans and 50% foreigners. It was sad to hear the reasons why the Koreans were completing the temple stay (mainly due to stress from their jobs) compared to us foreigners who were doing it for a cultural experience.
One of my favorite parts of the day came next. We all walked to the river and were told to choose a spot where you can hear the water flowing. We then had about 15 minutes to sit there and relax and almost meditate. It was so peaceful!
Something that I found very interesting was that when Buddha died, he was cremated but some of the bigger cremated parts of him were brought to all of the different Buddhist countries. Korea has five of them and they are buried under pagodas. (Beomeosa doesn’t have one)
After our tour it was time for dinner.
Dinner was conducted in the typical way that the monks eat. We sat on the floor and had four bowls. Each bowl had a different purpose. One for water for cleaning your bowls, one for rice, one for soup and one for side dishes. We said our meal chant and then the entire dinner service was held in complete silence. We had to first clean all of our bowls then take our food and eat in complete silence. For obvious reasons, I couldn’t take any photos of the meal but I do have a photo of my empty bowls.
Buddhists don’t believe in wasting food so you had to eat every single grain of rice. After dinner we each had to take some water and a yellow radish and clean each dish, pouring the water in to the next dish and continuing until all three of the food dishes we cleaned. We then had to drink that water and the radish to ensure that we didn’t waste anything.
It was a very humbling experience and made me realize how much waste myself and Jason have in our lives.
Wow, that is a long post so I’ll continue talking about our incredible experience in a second post.
How to book a temple stay at Beomeosa:
I booked through their website which has English. It was very simple and I just had to transfer the money to them once I had booked. You can find the website here.
They get booked up pretty early so make sure to book in advance.