This weekend I went to a temple stay with Adventure Korea. A temple stay is when you sleep over night at a Buddhist temple, learn about Buddhism, have Buddhist prayer sessions and get a taste of the lifestyle Buddhist monks have.
We started our stay by picking up our monk gear. I felt like I was a badass kungfu monk or something, only difference being that I’m white, inflexible and lack agility. Besides that though, kungfu monk. We also wore these white rubber shoes during our stay. This (along with the sitting) was the most uncomfortable part of the trip. My feet are 300 in Korean sizes (I’m pretty sure it’s measured in millimeters) and these shoes were 280. So the biggest that had was 2 centimeters smaller than my feet. What this equated to was like putting a watermelon in a balloon. The shoes were constantly stretched, the soles were thinner because of this, and I was scared that they’d explode on my feet. My life (2 days) of penitence as a Buddhist monk.
So were wore the getup and went for a meditation walk. This is where you walk slowly through a forest, concentrate on your walking and zone out. It was a good time, despite the shoes, and the end scenery was amazing.
Honestly, I forgot the schedule in the pocket of my monk suit (which we regrettably had to leave at the temple), so I’m not sure of all the details, but here’s what I remember.
Later that day we were given some general Buddhist information and we watched an informative video about the temple. For supper, it was a typical Korean meal. The only difference is that you needed to finish all the food you put in your tray. I think this is a good idea, food waste is a pretty big thing here, I’m under the impression that this had to do with the beliefs of Buddhism too though, but it was never mentioned.
Anyway, later that night were watched a short display of Korean drumming and then we got a chance to bang a ceremonial bell. It was kinda freaky because we were all lined up in out monk clothes, in the dark, walking slowly towards a big bell to ring it once. Freaky.
After that we got to our luxurious sleeping quarters. I’d describe them as floor with a blanket and a pillow. Oh, and there was 12 guys in this room. Awesome. The best was that we weren’t going to bed yet. We were going to a temple to do 108 bows so a wish that we made earlier would come true. That’s right 108 bows in a warm temple right before going to bed. After 20 minutes or so, we made it and we were exhausted and retreated to bed.
4am. Wake up call. We meditated in the same temple we did our 108 bows for a bit and then had a typical monk breakfast which has as a goal to “sustain you”. We then went back to the temple to make a necklace with 108 beads to symbolize each one of our bows. Only catch was were had to do the necklace while doing bows. 108 more bows later, I’ve got a pretty cool necklace with a good story.
That’s pretty much the highlights of the weekend. Overall, it was a great experience. I’d recommend it to anyone willing to try something new for a couple days. I made a few new friends and had a great time. A successful weekend, I say.