Read first hand accounts of our past trips submitted by members. Members can submit their trip reports here.
Geumsansa Temple Stay
Name : adventure
Date : 2010-09-17 PM 7:59:45, Read : 4061
I wanted a relaxing weekend and that’s exactly what I received. This past weekend I joined Adventure Korea’s Geumsansa Temple Stay. It was just what I needed. I have been stressed at work lately and needed a break from the city, so off to the temple I went!
When we arrived at the temple I was amazed to see the beautiful scenery. Wow! The views were breathtaking and the air was so fresh. I knew that I was in for a treat.
First stop, changing into our temple clothes. This consisted of baggy blue Buddhist pants and a light blue vest. This outfit wasn’t very eye-catching, but it didn’t matter because I was so comfortable.
Meeting our monk was amazing. He was a cheerful man, with a smile from ear to ear. He was a bit shy at first. He told us that this was his first temple stay with a group of foreigners. He said we all looked like movie stars. He was nervous with all 32 “movies stars” surrounding him.
The first activity we did as a group was to make a Lotus Lantern. We sat in small groups and constructed our very own lantern. The head monk taught us how to paste the colored leaves, but it was up to us to decorate our lanterns with our own style. My lantern didn’t turn out so well, but I did enjoy the process.
After we made our lanterns, we headed to dinner. We walked in 2 silent lines across the temple grounds, to the cafeteria. When we reached the cafeteria, it was filled with both monks and Buddhist members. They were eating in silence and we were in line to join them. When it was my turn to obtain my food, I remembered what my guide said. She told us to only take what we were able to eat. Buddhist people don’t believe in wasting food. I made sure that I didn’t take too much, but enough to be full. Eating in silence was a different experience for me. Eating is usually a social event, so this was very foreign. I did enjoy it, however. It gave me the chance to clear my mind and focus of what I was eating.
In the pre-dawn darkness, the gentle chants of the monks broke the silence. The melodic chanting was followed by the playing of four large percussion instruments: the drum, the wooden fish, the cloud gong, and the large bell. We were given the chance to hit the large bell. Together, with the help of a monk, we hit the bell three times.
Then, we all filed into the Main Buddha Hall. This was the pre-dawn homage service. We witnessed the chanting to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Predecessors. This ritual has been performed daily in Korean temples for as long as can be remembered. The sound of the chants echoing in the hall was extremely impressive and moving.
After the service, we headed to tea time with our monk. We had the chance to ask him any questions that we were curious about. They could be questions about the Buddhist faith and/or personal questions about our monk. This was my favorite experience at the temple stay because I felt I became more educated about the faith. We were also eating delicious fruit and sipping warm green tea. There was a cool summer’s breeze blowing through the room, which made everyone comfortable and happy.
The next morning, we were woken up at for a morning service. This service was exactly the same as the pre-dawn service from the day before. I started to feel as if I was a real monk because I knew what to do!
Around we had morning meditation. Our monk taught us how to sit properly, breathe correctly, and where to look. This was so difficult because my back was in pain. Our monk said it takes some time to get used to meditating. I enjoyed it, but felt like I needed a back massage!
Next, we took a stroll through the temple to learn about the different buildings and what they represented. We walked to the “Love Tree” and took a break. The “Love Tree” was amazing. Two trees grew together and share one branch. They say if lovers touch the tree, they will have eternal love.
After lunch our temple stay came to an end. I have to say, I had a wonderful time. When I signed up for the trip, I was a hoping for a relaxing weekend, and that is what I received. I feel calm and at ease. I pushed my stress aside and looked within myself. I think this past weekend cleansed my soul.
I want to give a special thank you to the Temple staff and our amazing monk. Also, thank you Adventure Korea for giving me the special chance to experience such a lovely trip! See you again soon!