The Korea Herald


[EYE PLUS] Rediscovering inner self

By Kim Da-sol

Published : June 9, 2017 - 18:45

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In pitch-black darkness before dawn, a group of foreigners walk up the stone steps of Daewoongjeon, the main hall of Geumsunsa Buddhist temple.
(Photographed by Park Hyun-koo) (Photographed by Park Hyun-koo)

With shoes left at the door, they kneel on pillows and clasp hands. At the sound of a gong, they bow their foreheads to the floor, stand upright and then bow again. Only the crickets outside provide a dawn soundtrack. With that, another day at a Korean temple stay has begun.

(Photographed by Park Hyun-koo) (Photographed by Park Hyun-koo)

Here at Geumsunsa, located at the foot of Bukhansan, it doesn’t matter who you are, what title you hold or how fulfilling your life looks on the surface. 

(Photographed by Park Hyun-koo) (Photographed by Park Hyun-koo)

People of all backgrounds are welcome as long as they seek inner peace.

Geumsunsa draws many foreigners seeking a zen retreat. To help them immerse in the program and understand the teachings of Buddha, it provides foreign participants with interpreter devices.
(Photographed by Park Hyun-koo) (Photographed by Park Hyun-koo)

A typical day at a temple stay starts and ends with zen meditation sessions, called Chamseon.

Participants are also offered the chance to participate in, alongside monks, Balwoogongyang (communal Buddhist meal service). Dado (tea ceremony) and Yebul, the ceremonial service involving chanting. 

(Photographed by Park Hyun-koo) (Photographed by Park Hyun-koo)

But the real charm of the temple stay here is not the Korean culture or an introduction to Buddhism, rather it’s the opportunity to clear one’s mind and head through a simplistic way of life away from the bustling city. It's a chance to immerse in your true self and find inner peace, away from all the outwardly distractions.

“Abandon who you are,” a monk says in a hushed tone during Yebul. “Only that will lead you to find true happiness within oneself.”

Written by Kim Da-sol (