Korean Air and sister company Hanjin Travel are offering overseas visitors the chance to experience a traditional Korean ‘Templestay’. The Templestay Program was launched in 2002 for the World Cup. Participants were given the opportunity to experience Korean Buddhist culture and stay in some of Korea’s loveliest temples.
Already popular with domestic visitors those coming from overseas can now experience the Korean Buddhist culture as part of a program designed to highlight the art of Seon meditation. In Seon meditation, monks ask themselves, “Who am I?” When they have a sufficient answer, they ask their instructor for the next question. Another aspect of Seon meditation, like other forms, is mindlessness, which is attained through the repetition of a particular activity such as bowing, chanting or copying sutras (traditional Buddhist texts).
The 24-hour overnight visit and two to three hours brief visit to the five most renowned Korean temples across the country allows participants the opportunity to relax, reflect and revitalise themselves, and find their ‘true self’, in the peaceful temple surroundings.
Over the course of 24 hours, visitors have a chance to experience and understand inner temple life and discover the day-to-day activities of a Korean Buddhist Monk. They will take part in a ‘Dado’ – an ancient ritual tea ceremony that has been taking place for thousands of years; as well as a ‘Chameson’ Zen meditation session and a tour of the Temple. And although it sounds wonderful, the typical Buddhist day starts at 3.30am for a pre-dawn Buddhist ceremony, followed by 4.00am meditation that is accomplished by either sitting or walking.
Guests will also be able to view all other aspects of the temple life including the ceremonial chanting service ‘Yebul’, the meditation and tea sessions as well as a formal Buddhist monastic meal, ‘Baru Gongyang’, a silent communal meal consisting four dishes, where not a single grain of rice is wasted.
Korean Templestays have previously only been open to individuals, and whilst popular with domestic tourists, Hanjin Travel will for the first time be taking international groups of visitors into the temples to experience this interesting and diverse culture in tight cooperation with the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism Cultural Corps of Korea Buddhism.