Beomosa Temple Stay


Annyunghasayo (hello)! We are doing wonderful and finally took a weekend to relax for Jason’s birthday. As some of you may know, Korea has three main religions. One of them is Buddhism and we have always been interested in checking out some of the traditions. There is a very large temple called Beomosa that is less than 30 min. away. This temple allows people to come and stay overnight for a full zen experience. We were lucky because not only was it Jason’s birthday it was also Beomosa’s. The temple was decorated and many people were visiting.

We arrived at the temple Saturday afternoon. The temple is set up on the highest mountain in Busan so the views are amazing. The weather was perfect as we walked up to the main temple gates. The first thing you noitce is the brilliant colors painted onto the wood gates. The main gates that we walked through were over 1500 years old. The support columns don’t even look like they should be able to support the heavy roof but somehow they do.

We met up with the other temple stayers in one of many meditation halls. We were given these oohhh so flattering outfits to wear for the remainder of our visit. They were very comfortable and very simple. We did feel like MC hammer but comfortable no less. We were then given a  introduction to Buddhism and the correct way to bow. In Buddhism bowing is done often and you have to do it right. So, we had to learn half bows and full bows. The correct way to full bow goes something like this…….

Start standing with your hands in prayer position. You have to have two inches of space between your heart and fingers. Then you very ccareefully drop to you knees (you have a thin mat) and immediatly stick your arms out so you are on all fours. As soon as your arms touch the floor you need to cross your left foot over your right foot. Then, you drop your forehead to the floor while sitting your butt on your feet. This looks like child’s pose in yoga. You then place your forehead, forearms and hands on the floor for a second and then you raise your hands palms up beside your ears. Then you push up onto all fours and then push up to standing. Whew!

So we practiced bowing with a real monk and chanted in Korean. After that we went to make lotus flower lamps and prayer bead braclets. Dinner was vegetarian which was amazingly flavorfull and simple. Tofu and a mushroom stir fry with rice and miso soup.  The rest of the night we watched a huge cultural performance in honor of the temple’s 1,431st birthday. That night after the boys went to another sleeping hall, we were given large silk pads and blankets which served as our beds. We slept on the flooor (very common in Korea) and drifted off for a few hours of sleep before being woken up at 3am to go meditate.

At 3am we were woken up to go to pre-dawn services. The monks wake up the same time everyday and do this ritual. We lined up and watched as three monks welcomed the day with a large drum session. It was very impressive how good the monks were at keeping a sweet beat going on this oversized drum. Then they rang the fish bell for all those in hell and another bell for all things on earth. After that we listened to the dawn chants of the monks which was so beautiful and hypnotic. Even though we couldn’t understand what was being said, it was very calming. We then bowed a few times and were off to meditate for an hour before breakfast. After breakfast we had a question and answer with the head monk which was very interesting. We had a tough time asking questions because our translator said it was very hard to explain to monk’s deep answers. The best line we got out of it was “make your mind like the blue sky.” We will get right on that!

So the next part of our stay was the most interesting and most intense. Since it was a special weekend for Beomosa there was a very large gathering of people who attend Beomosa for a prayer/chant/bowing ceremony. We usually would do 108 bows in the morning but happy birthday to us, we did the entire heart sutra chant which turned out to be over 280! We we chanted one syllable at a time and then bowed. Right after we touched our foreheads to the ground, we sat up and wrote in Korean one or two characters of the heart sutra. Everyone had a very large piece of paper with the letters predrawn on it so we only had to trace. Still, the heat, all the bows, and the intense sun made 280 bows very intense. The monks were at the front, ringing the bell to signal when to bow. I was next to a little Korean lady who was kicking my butt and not even sweating as we bowed again and again. We felt good the whole time but both our knees were killing us by bow 200. All of this was being done in our sweet outfits which were not very light and airy! We both gained a huge respect for the monks and what they do everyday, but we won’t be shaving our heads and joining them anytime soon.

We highly recommend a temple stay just to experience something different. It was a once in a lifetime stay and it was a wonderful addition to Jason’s birthday.

3 Responses to “Beomosa Temple Stay”

  1. J and A says:

    Leslie,

    The temple stay was 50,000 won. It was a good experience. It differs slightly depending upon when you are there. The website to sign up and get info is:
    http://www.beomeosa.co.kr/templestay/eng/sub2.php

    Cheers,

    Jason and Ashley

  2. leslie says:

    hello! i am very interested in doing this.
    can you tell me how much it costs to do this for a week?
    also.. is there a website?

  3. stubbemand says:

    Wow what an experience. That is so defined and intense. My first grade mine might not have been able to handle that. It’s so cool you got to really see what it is like.
    Deb

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