buddhist monks

Spin Kicks, Spirituality, and a Sunrise: Templestay at Golgusa Temple



It's never a bad idea to start out a new year with a few extra good karma points... you never know when you'll need them.  So, instead of spending New Year's Eve drinking too much in a crowded, overpriced bar in Seoul, I decided to ring it in at Golgulsa, a Buddhist temple located just outside Gyeongju, South Korea.
Templestays have been gaining popularity amongst tourists and usually involve a short-term stay in one of the 900 traditional Buddhist temples in Korea.  Participants follow a rather strict schedule to experience a day (or two or three) in the life of the monks that reside there.  A templestay was something that had been on my bucket list for a while, so when I found a special New Year's program on the official Templestay website, I knew I had to sign up.
It was about a five hour trek from Seoul to Golgulsa Temple that required two bus trips, a bit of waiting around, and a short walk to the temple grounds from the final bus stop.  Once I had arrived, I was given a brief introduction to the program, a map of the complex, and special clothes that I was to wear during my stay.  I was then directed to my room where I would be spending the night with about fifteen other women.  The room was a rather large common area with pillows and blankets spread out on the floor for sleeping.  There was a bathroom with a toilet, a few open showers, and sinks that were to be shared.  I've become use to this arrangement after living in Korea for a few years but wondered how other Westerners not used to copious amounts of nakedness would handle the situation.

More Monks

It’s nice to have some variety in your monks. Now the regular Korean monk wears a gray robe, gray pants, and even maybe a gray cap, over what appears to be normal clothes beneath; old flashy sneakers may be included in this sartorial design, which ultimately ruins the sacred effect. Monks are also always shaved bald.

Yesterday as I was walking about I may have seen an exception—perhaps, and I say perhaps because he was some distance away, I saw a Tibetan monk get into a taxi cab. I’m pretty sure it was a monk, because the person was wearing robes, only the robes were of a deep dark crimson color, and partially slung over his head in a kind of hood. I thought this interesting.


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