Monday, June 18, 2012

Haeinsa Temple Stay

Hello again.

So this past weekend we went on a temple stay to Haeinsa temple which is about 1 and a half hours on the bus from Daegu. We got there on Saturday around 2ish and went up to the temple where we registered and changed into our temple attire. These grey like kinda pajama looking things. After that we took a look around and then headed back to the temple at 5 to start the program.
We started off with an introduction to Buddhism and how to meditate and bow and then we went to the main temple to have the evening ceremony with the monks. It was so beautiful! All the rooms on the temple grounds are so pretty and watching the monks is fascinating! They do this chant for the morning and the evening, its called the Hartra Sutra and they sound so beautiful when the chant it.
After that we went for dinner in the main hall (vegetables and rice because Buddhists don't eat meat) and then we all made lotus flowers out of craft paper as the lotus flower is a big part of Buddhist culture so we each made one and then you give it to Buddha as an offering and make a wish.
After this we got to ask the monks some questions about the Buddhist religion. It is so interesting to hear about and definitely something I would do again!

We then headed to the sleeping quarters where we all passed out only to be awakened at 3am for the morning ceremony. You all go into the heart of the temple grounds and listen to the monks play the four different drums and gongs they have.
One represent humans, one represents plant life, one represents the sea and its creatures and the other I think represented the spiritual world... Once you have heard them play the drums you go for the moring ceremony in the temple which is a lot like the evening one and again the monks do the chant.
Once that is over you go into another part of the temple to bow in front of Buddha 108 times to repent for all 108 sins that the Buddhists believe we commit. It is so interesting to hear what they repent for and even more so to realize how many of those sins you commit daily... Some of them I was like, Hhhhmm maybe I should bow twice for this one!!
It is really hard though because you don't just bend your upper body and bow you actually have to first half bow and then go down onto your knees and touch your nose to the floor before coming back up again... So picture doing this 108 times and then you will imagine what my legs feel like today.
After that you spend an hour in meditation which is also challenging at the beginning as firstly you have to consciously keep yourself awake because if you start to nod off the monks whack you with a bamboo stick. Also I am not used to sitting in the same cross legged position for so long with my back straight so it gets a little uncomfortable after a while. It was an amazing experience though as you realize what discipline it must take for the monks to do this everyday of their lives! Also through out this whole thing we were not allowed to talk, so you can just imagine how strange that must have been for me who hardly ever shuts up.
Once meditation was over we had breakfast and then had a tour of the temple which was stunning! 

It was a very informative experience and something I would love to find out more about.