[[ Winter Templestay ]]

After the 4 days last winter at Golgulsa Temple, I left refreshed.

The activeness of temple life was rewarding. The junior monks were inspiring.

So this year when a similar week of vacation approached, I knew it was in my best interest to do another templestay before leaving Korea. This time I would travel to Seoul, and visit a mountainside temple called Hwagyesa Temple. It is the International Center for Zen in Korea, and there are monks for around the world that live there to study under Zen Master Seung Sahn.

I arrived Monday morning, changed into the given robes, had lunch, settled in, and then went for a wonderful hike. They provided me with an excellent tour of the grounds, and artifacts. I was given so much information about each element of the temple, and each bit was fascinating. There are bells to be rung in the morning, afternoon, and evening. There is a separate bell for the land, water, and sky animals, to send them Buddha’s truths. Then there are two bells for everyone else. I was allowed to ring one for the morning chanting. Chanting is one of my favorite parts. The voices resonate in unison, and the beauty of them fill your body. There is no other place but in the moment of it to capture that feeling. Perfect for the 1 hour meditation that follows.

I didn’t leave this time with the same feeling as last year. I felt the need for more stillness, and could see how I had taken steps backwards from where I was before. So I returned, spent a sunset on my roof trying to write out all the things I need to be aware of. The theme is turning small frustrations into ways of motivation. Letting the daily bothers become experiences in laughter, nonsense, and change. Halting gossip when it starts, and never promoting it myself. Being kind in the most genuine and compassionate way possible. Practicing that daily.