Buddhism already came to the Korean peninsula, at that time in Goguryeo-Kingdom, from China in the 4th Century AD. It spread out quickly through other Kingdoms and today it is still one of the biggest religions in Korea. About 15% Korean are believing and practicing Buddha’s teaching. That’s why you can find a lot of Buddhist temples, statues, arts and events in many places around the country. Did you know that in Korea you can not only visit temples, but also experience the life of Buddhist practitioner yourself? The so called “Templestay” program makes it possible.
Originally, the Templestay was offered as an interim solution for the accommodation shortage during the Soccer World Cup in 2002. Visitors could stay overnight in a temple instead of a hotel or motel. However, even after the World Cup, there were so many visitors who are interested in the program. Hence it continued and remains until today.
In general, anyone, independent on nationality, religion or gender can attend the Templestay. Herewith guests will have a chance to spend one or two days attending many activities of a Buddhist practitioner and discover many new aspects in Korean culture as well as tradition.
Additionally, in the calm temple ambience, visitors find a place to escape the busy daily life. It’s finally time for more relaxation and “finding your True-self”.
When you pay a visit at a temple in Korea, you can see its beautiful architecture and will be impressed by its atmosphere as well as tradition. Staying at a temple through the Templestay will indeed help you to feel the spirit of Buddhism, experience the teaching and be fascinated by it.
First of all, you will gain deeper knowledge about the history of Buddhism, as well as the way how the teaching is interpreted and practiced in Korea. The well-trained admin will introduce you to the history, routine, ceremonies and etiquette inside the temple.
For example, it is very important to know how to bow and when. A half-bow with palms together is used to greet the monks or nuns, as well as the Buddha statue. But a full bow, with knees, elbows and head touching the floor, is required when you pray or partake in a Chanting ceremony.
In addition, numerous temples offer special activities, in order to you can experience more Korean culture and tradition during your stay. It can be a handicraft class for making lantern, prayer bead or wood block printing. It can also be a tea ceremony or a vegan cooking lesson with the monks. You can also join a meditation session, walk or try Buddhist martial art (Sunmudo).
Having temple food is also a great part of the Templestay. Temple food is only made of vegetarian ingredients, truly vegan food. Sometimes the ingredients come directly from the temple’s garden.
In the Buddhist teaching, eating is also to achieve enlightenment. Each spoon should be relished slowly, with respect and thank to all people, who have brought you this food.
And last but not least, a templestay is a great treat to yourself. Get away from the rush and noisy city life, turn off your mobile phone, just sit down and perceive the silence. When was the last time you’ve done that? It’s time to calm down, breath in the Buddhist atmosphere around you, relax, recharge the energy and find the peace inside yourself.
All information about templestay is listed on the Homepage on Templestay (available in English and Korean). You can choose among more than 25 stunning temples around Korea various focus, length and activities for your stay. You will have to make a reservation and pay before you go.
The price for a stay varies from 10.000 to 150.000₩. Students and pupils may get discount at some temples. Some temple programs are not suitable for children. Please double check with the temple’s admin if you have any concerns.
I wish you will achieve the enlightenment…