The G.O.A.’L Culture Trip this year was a temple stay at 백련사 in 경기도. We departed Seoul around lunch time and arrived at the temple around 3PM. After dropping off our bags in our rooms, we relaxed in the forest area behind the temple. Below is a picture of our room for the evening as well as a picture of the forest area.
The two story dormitory was very clean and bright.
The forest was quiet and tranquil, great for relaxing
Next was the temple orientation where we learned how to bow as well as how to properly sit in a half lotus and full lotus position. This proved to be harder than it looked. Besides the group from G.O.A.’L there were about 10 others that were also participating in the temple stay experience.
Attempting the full lotus position
After a short break, dinner was served! Rice, soup, fruit, greens, and a variety of side dishes and tofu were on the menu. Everything was delicious! The doenjang had a very strong flavor. We washed our own dishes after every meal.
Dinner was followed by the evening ceremony which included chants led by the monks as well as bowing. A booklet was provided that had the chants the monks were saying, you could follow along if you wished.
The evening ceremony was followed by the 108 bows (백팔배). We weren’t required to do a total of 108 bows but didn’t stop our bowing as we listened to the music and chants for about 30 minutes. Our temple stay guide helped us with our bowing and also taught us some meditation techniques.
After the 108 bows, we made paper lanterns with many colorful leaves and petals. We used our mobile phone lights to simulate candlelight. Our guide said we could place a real candle underneath the lantern if we wished.
To wrap up the night, we had tea and chatted with the monk. The monk brewed two different types of tea for us. She talked about how she became a monk and also gave some life advice to the temple stay participants.
The next day an early morning ceremony was followed by breakfast. The menu included porridge, soup, rice, kim, and a variety of side dishes. Again, everything tasted great!
After breakfast we helped clean the outdoor areas of the temple. Some of us swept the temple steps and surroundings while others helped weed the garden areas.
We continued our day going on a nature walk with the monk. We did an exercise in pairs where one person closed their eyes and the other guided them up the mountain path. We also talked about some of the trees and plants located around the temple grounds.
After arriving back at the temple, we made Buddhist prayer bead bracelets.
We finished the experience with lunch and saying our goodbyes.
We hope to see you on our Culture Trip next year!