Korea Adventures: 동화사 Donghawa Temple Stay

By Cathy H - 4:12 AM

Just finished my first temple stay with my EPIK friend Natalie. Here is a breakdown of what we did, of which all the instructions where in Korean so it was a bit long and difficult to understand but included a lot of hands on crafts, traditional buddhist activities and even 2 fellow Korean adults that semi-translated everything said for us. There were a lot of people and children/middle school kids that were there, which I believe went to pray for their entrance exam's success and future goals and dreams.

Day 1: Me and my friend came into Daegu at 12am which we thought gave us plenty of time to explore and find the bus taking us up to the temple. Unfortunately, we rode it the wrong way and went to the opposite end of the city, which than took us back to the temple. We arrived there around 4pm tired and flustered before settling in. We were just in time for a little bowing lesson before heading to dinner. The dinner was so fresh, apparently all the veggies were organic and afterwards we all had to wash our own dishes. Than we went for a walk and striked a big bell before going for a 2.5 H bowing/meditation lecture session under the giant Buddha stone of Donghwasa. Since it's almost Budhha's birthday, a lot of lanterns were up which made up for a spectacular view. We all sat on mats and listened to the monk lecture and chant in Korean while learning proper meditation positions, before doing the ultimate 108 bow. Apparently I did very well, according to my friend and honestly fairly enjoyed as it didn't feel like that much work. When I was at the temple, I was overcome by emotion several times thinking of how I was standing there, experiencing something I had only read through books a few years ago. Suddenly realizing how much peaceful I had become at that present moment when I was stressing over small things and relationships in the past like life wasn't worth living. Anyway, than it was lights out at 9pm and off to sleep for everyone. The rooms were very simple, with thin mattresses for the floor. I had trouble falling sleeping until midnight so I managed to sleep 4H before being woken up for the next day at 4:30am. That sounds really insane..the earliest I woke up for in my life. But it wasn't that bad since I was expecting it, and being in the temple environment I wasn't complaining. 

Day 2: We went to the main temple building to study some buddha chants in Korean, which I had a small idea of what it was about because there were Chinese translations below. Than, we headed off to breakfast which was delicious and plentiful- Rice cake soup, sides, and purple grain rice. Than, we sandpapered a wooden saucer, painted that and did a intense tea ceremony of almost 2H. It literally consisted of swishing tea water, "mindfully" pouring water into porcelain bowls, into tea cups, rinsing and washing the tea set and some rice balls for sides along with the tea. It reminded me of how nice it is to be mindful and slow when doing mundane tasks- something as simple as pouring tea. went for lunch and finally painted a fan+made 108 beaded necklace. Finally, we had an closing video of all the photos taken of participants throughout the stay. It was a great experience, a little intense and confusing due to lack of communication barrier. It definitely inspired me to keep studying Buddhism. 

Afterwards, we were super exhausted so headed back to downtown to get Mcdonalds and Baskin Robbins before heading home. What a fulfilled weekend, nice and relaxing and different for a change rather than the same old clubbing/shopping life. I really liked it!

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