Hidden at the based of the Songni mountains lies one of Korea’s most beautiful  and culturally cherished temples, Beopjusa. There it welcomes countless hikers, tourists, and explorers looking to remove themselves from the rigors of everyday life and return to a simpler time of peace and relaxation. This temple was founded in 553 CE and has stood the test of time while offering up a number of cultural treasures that exhibit the message of Buddha. Among these cultural treasures stands the Geumdongmireukdaebul (Gilded bronze statue of Buddha) that measures 33 meters high, Palsangjeon  (five story wooden pagoda), Ssangsajaseokdeung (twin-lion stone lamp), Palsangjeon Hall, and the Lotus shaped stone fountain.

We at SeoulSync were able to make a trip out to Beopjusa during the waning weeks of spring by way of the Temple Stay program. For those unfamiliar with what a temple stay is, it’s about as simple as it sounds. Patrons are allowed to stay within the adjacent grounds of the temple for a prearranged amount of time. There they will don the simplistic garb of the Buddhist monks and learn to experience life through the shoes of these peaceful scholars.  A temple stay is a daunting task as it calls for such an abrupt lifestyle change devoid of common vices, foods, and perhaps the most difficult to manage, sleep! Despite the withdrawals, food yearnings, and fatigue, a temple stay offers many lessons that can be employed in everyday life outside of the temple.

The schedule for a temple stay proceeds as follows:

Lights out and in Bed by 8:00pm

Silence is a key factor when laying to rest. It is a symbol of a peaceful spirit free of harmful and worldly thoughts.

Awake at 3:00am for Prayer with the Monks in the Main Temple

Monks start their days early, those experiencing a temple stay shall do the same. Within the main temple guests bow along side the monks all while listening to the soothing chants of the monks.

108 Prostrations and Meditation at 4:30am

Here you will learn the meaning behind the Buddhist bowing system. Each bow is representative of a vice or worldly tie that the monk constantly attempts to release themselves from.

Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

All meals are derived from the vegetation found around the mountains. All meals are also simple and vegetarian. Once complete guests will wash their own plates and utensils and leave them to dry.

Tea Ceremony

Guests are treated to a tea ceremony led by one of the monks. Here they discuss the nature of the tea ceremony and what it represents. It is also a chance for free discussion as the monk can and will answer any questions to the best of their ability.

Afternoon and Evening Prayer

Guests will join the monks at the main temple to take part in the daily prayers and chants. Most monks will pray and bow throughout the day in addition to the larger group prayers.

Tours

These may occur at the discretion of the staff on hand but they will guide the guests around the temple explaining various statues, artifacts, and buildings. This tour gives a real sense of history and insight into the teachings of Buddha.

Free Time

Guests are free to roam the ground between scheduled events and hike the mountains of Songni. There are various trails that lead to views of lush vegetation surrounding the beautiful temple grounds. There is also a small store outside the temple gates that allows guests to buy tea and other souvenirs to take home.

A temple stay in Korea gives a wealth of knowledge and experience that cannot be experienced through written text alone. A temple stay allows for a full immersion into the Buddhist monks lifestyle while providing the freedoms to explore and enjoy the beauty of the surround mountains. For further information about booking a temple stay at the Beopjusa Temple please visit their site at Templestay.com

Photo Cred: RL of SeoulSync

About The Author

RL

An eclectic soul with a diverse background, Rob has lived in Korea for the past 5 years. An avid interest in Korean culture, high-quality media, and content led him to co-founding SeoulSync. On his down time he plays ball, visits museums, explores new places, and shoots. These days, he channels his photography into the @seoulsync IG and his own personal @rlvism account.