Saturday, April 04, 2015

[New & Upcoming] Templestay and Temple-hopping in Korea

Hello everyone, it has been a while since I blog about my travel experiences.  I have just returned from a 2-week templestay cum temple-hopping trip in Korea.  There is so much to share about this unique and tranquil experience visiting these temples that are more than 15-centuries old, and located in the mountains.  For a preview of the itinerary, click on this link.

A year ago, I read about the Three-Jewel temples in Korea.  The three-jewel is of great significance in Mahayana Buddhism and it refers to the Buddha, Dharma (teachings of the Buddha) and the Sangha (the Buddhist community who's role is to actively propagate of the Dharma after the Buddha's passing).  I was totally excited and had this travel plan in mind for a year and it finally came into fruition

Some background about Buddhism in Korea.  After a long journey through China, Buddhism arrived in Goguryeo, one of the three ancient Korean kingdoms, in A.D. 372.  From there, it travelled further south to another Korean kingdom, Baekje, about a decade later and then finally to Silla about a century later.  Buddhism thrived most during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. to A.D. 935) and was persecuted under the Joseon Dynasty (1392 to 1910).  Korean Buddhism has their unique and distinct features based on historical relics.  Through this journey, the uniqueness are evident from the infrastructure and culture of Korean Buddhism.

Tongdosa Temple in South Gyeongsang Province (Gyeongsangnam-do) represents the first jewel - the Buddha.  Haeinsa Temple, also in South Gyeongsang Province represents the second jewel - the Dharma.  Songgwangsa Temple, in South Jeolla Province (Jeollanam-do) represents the third jewel - the Sangha.

Having in mind the triple-jewel is an important practice for Buddhist for it is the constant reflection and reminder of the Buddha's teaching that enable us to develop compassion and wisdom.  These are the key qualities of all Bodhisattvas and Buddha which enable them to liberate the sufferings of all sentient beings.

Here's a sneak preview of the 3 key temples for this trip. 

 Tongdosa Temple (通度寺)

 Haeinsa Temple (海印寺)

Songgwangsa Temple (松广寺)

We also took the opportunity to visit 2 other UNESCO sites, the Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto (a stone-cave hermitage).  Bulguksa Temple is unique because within this temple, we can meet all the "Three Bodies of Buddhas at the Vairocana Hall, Paradise Hall and Hall of Great Hero.  The Avalokitesvara Hall is located right next to the Vairocana Hall.  As such, it was said that this temple features all the Buddhism's most celebrated "superstars".

Bulguksa Temple (佛国寺)
Seokguram Grotto (石窟庵)

And since I was in Busan, we also made a trip to visit Beomeosa Temple.  This temple is known as the temple where the fish from Nirvana play.  Elaborations about the temple will be shared in my later post.

Beomeosa Temple (梵鱼寺)

If you plan to take a route less-travelled in Korea, experience about templestay and accomodations in those cities that I visited, keep a lookout for my postings!!

Related post:
15-day itinerary in Korea (click here)
Airline promotions to Korea - Summer/Autumn 2015 (click here)
Airline promotions to Korea - Winter 2015 (click here)

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