Temple stay in Haeinsa Temple (海印寺・해인사) - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Temple stay in Haeinsa Temple (海印寺・해인사)

Haeinsa temple is one of the most famous temples in Korea, built in 802 and home to the Tripitaka Buddhist scriptures, which earned the temple a spot on UNESCO's world heritage list in 1995.
The temple is situated up in the Kaya mountain, and getting there can be a bit complicated, but it is definitively worth the trip.
Beautiful Haeinsa temple

In our case we traveled from Busan which turned out to be a better route than expected. From the Sasang terminal we took the bus to SeoDaegu in Daegu where we changed to a bus bound for Haeinsa. It couldn't have gone more smoothly. I think the trip all in all took around 3-4 hours.

The temple stay program starts at 4:30 in the afternoon during the spring and summer time, but since we got there early we also had the chance to walk a bit around the temple grounds. After all it is quite a big place, so it might be good to have some additional time to really explore the whole area.

The main hall of Haeinsa
Lanterns and the buddhist swastika, a 2500 year old symbol for luck.

The templestay practice hall

The temples with Kayasan mountain in the background

We met up again in the temple stay training hall at the designated time, and were met by a friendly lady who assisted the monks in explaining about the temple manners and translate between us and the monks. We were taught about temple manners and etiquette, which included things like how to arrange your shoes outside the entrance, how to hold your hands while walking in the temple grounds and so on.
Learning about temple manners
The dinner was served in the big dining hall alongside with the monks, which of course meant vegetarian food. After dinner we got to participate in the evening service at the main temple building, where we got to practice some of the bowing routines we had been practicing earlier that day.
With a group of around 11 participants it was a good opportunity to talk to the monks about their life in the temple as well, and in the evening we had a tea ceremony with one of the monks where all of us got to ask as many questions as we wanted.

Tea-time with one of the monks!
Ready for a night in Haeinsa

The first day ended early; we went to bed around 9 pm. But the second day started even earlier, as we had to meet up again at 3:20 am. The morning schedule included taking part in the Dawn Service inside the main temple building, and after that we went to the temple stay practice hall where we completed the 108 Prostrations.. This practice was quite interesting, and the focus of the prostrations gave me the impression that the practitioners of Buddhism seems to be a lot more focused on finding balance in life, with others and with nature than other big religions. On a side note I have to mention that I was quite impressed that my 68 year old grandmother managed to complete all the 108 Prostrations.
The next part of the program included a very, very long meditation. As we have meditation at school every morning at 7 am I wasn't too excited about meditating to be honest, but it is of course an interesting part of the culture experience too. One of the guys fell asleep during the meditation, so one of the monks punished him by hitting his back with a long stick. This is apparently quite common practice, and it does not really hurt.

Monks doing their morning chores at the temple
After the temple breakfast we had reached the last post on the program, which was a guided tour of the Haeinsa temple. This included a short visit to the two buildings containing the Tripitaka, where we unfortunately could not take any pictures. Anyway, it was interesting to here the guide explain about the buildings, and how they had been constructed to keep the temperature inside the buildings optimal for preserving the old heritage.
This was the last part of the temple stay, and after a short farewell it was time to say goodbye to the monks and our guide. I think the templestay program was a really unique and interesting experience which will stay in our minds for a long time.

Our final ceremony
If you are interested in doing a templestay in Korea, please check out this page.

Author Image

About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

  • 0Disqus Comment
  • Facebook Comment

Leave your comment

Post a Comment

comments powered by Disqus

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
・Read more →

Recent Posts


Random Posts