The Story of…Wonhyoam Hermitage (Yangsan)

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 The stunning view from Wonhyoam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I’ve been to my fair share of Wonhyoam Hermitages throughout the Korean peninsula. But the one that this Story of… will focus on is the Wonhyoam Hermitage on Mt. Cheonseongsan in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

I had visited nearly all that Yangsan had to offer in terms of hermitages and temples, all but for the hard to reach Wonhyoam Hermitage. I had been told that you had to trek through a military base to get to the hermitage that lies 900 metres up on Mt. Cheonseongsan.

So pushing my luck one Sunday morning in 2011, I made my way towards Wonhyoam Hermitage. With a few wrong turns, I finally found the dirt road that led up to the hermitage. Fortunately, my information was wrong, because Wonhyoam Hermitage isn’t on the other side of a military base; instead, the dirt road that leads up to the hermitage skirts the military outpost. And there’s one turn, if you head in the wrong direction, that is out of bounds because it’s protected by landmines. Glad I turned left instead of right at that bend in the road.

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 The not-so-camera-shy junior monk and I just outside the main hall at the hermitage in 2011.

When I finally did arrive at the hermitage, I was pleasantly surprised by a hermitage filled with beautiful shrine halls and a gorgeous view of the town of Yangsan down below. But the true highlight to this hermitage was when the junior monk saw me walking around and took an interest in me. He waved me over for a quick coffee. With his broken English and my broken Korean, we were able to have a nice 30 minute discussion about Korea and Korean Buddhism. Just before I left, he got a volunteer at the hermitage to take a picture of us just outside the entrance to the hermitage’s main hall. With a warm good-bye, he invited me to come back the next time with my wife. With a smile, I promised that I would.

A year later, I finally lived up to the promise that I gave the junior monk at Wonhyoam Hermitage. With my wife, and in the spring of 2012, we made the long ascent up to the hermitage. I was a little surprised that the monk remembered me a year later; but then again, Wonhyoam Hermitage probably doesn’t have all that many expats visiting the hermitage. This time, with my wife as a translator, we discussed Korean Buddhism even further in depth. He explained to me the patient mind it took to become a Korean Buddhist monk. It was really informative. I was also able to ask him questions about Korean shamanism.

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 And a return visit picture of the two of us from 2012.

Once more, before we left, he got pictures of us all together. This time, however, he was the photographer. He got my wife and I to pose in front of the main hall and the bell pavilion. He also got a picture of him and I together. It was a really unique experience to have. He even showed me a picture of his previous day’s climb to the ledge where Wonhyo-daesa purportedly prayed upon when he was at the hermitage some 1300 years earlier.

It’s these encounters that I really cherish when visiting Korean temples. So many people get caught up in the daily trappings of life that they forget to stop and enjoy the experiences that life can sometimes provide. Also, some may overlook them during their time in Korea. To me, these kinds of encounters are what typify the Korean experience for me.

For more information on Wonhyoam Hermitage.

Temple Stay: Beomeosa Temple (Busan)

CSC_1987The beautiful Beomeosa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

In an all new segment on the website, and since a few of you have been asking for it, I thought I would now include the popular Temple Stay program.

Introduction to the Temple:

Beomeosa Temple (Fish Sutra Temple), in Busan, is beautifully situated on the slopes of Mt. Geumjeongsan (Golden Well Mountain). Beomeosa Temple dates back to 678 A.D., when it was founded by the famous monk, Uisang-daesa. Beomeosa Temple is filled with beautiful halls, and the gates that lead up to the temple grounds are certainly no different. The highlights to this temple are the Cheonwangmun Gate, the Iljumun Gate, and the Daeungjeon Hall (the main hall).

As for the Temple Stay program itself, it focuses on the practice of Buddhism. The way that this is practiced is through chanting, bowing, a tea ceremony and meditation. In addition to these features, hiking and bead making are also highlighted in the Beomeosa Temple Stay program.

For more information on Beomeosa Temple.

(courtesy of the Beomeosa Temple Stay website)

Directions:

You can get to Beomeosa Temple in one of two ways. In both scenarios you first have to take the Busan subway, line one, to Beomeosa station and take exit #1. Here, you can either walk a thirty minute hike up a winding road to Beomeosa Temple, or you can walk a block uphill to the bus stop where you can take bus #90 to the Beomeosa Temple entrance.

From the temple entrance gate, and to get to the Temple Stay building at Beomeosa Temple, it’ll take you ten to fifteen minutes. The name of the building for the temple stay is called the Hyu Hyu Jeongsa (휴휴 정사). You’ll make your way towards the temple buildings and gates. Just before the first gate, you’ll see a small path to your left. There will also be a sign with a red arrow pointing you towards where you should go. Follow to the left and follow the signs that read “Temple Stay.”


View Larger Map

General Schedule:

Day 1:
13:00~13:30 : Registration & Orientation
13:30~15:00 : Temple Manners/Opening Ceremony
15:20~16:20 : Self-Introduction
16:30~17:30 : Learn Traditional Buddhist Meal
17:30~18:20 : Dinner
18:30~19:00 : Evening Service
19:00~20:30 : Make 108 Prayer Beads
20:30~21:00 : Ready for Sleep
21:00~ : Sleep

Day 2:
03:00~03:30 : Wake up & Wash
03:30~04:00 : Dawn Service
04:00~04:30 : 108 Bows
04:30~06:00 : Seon Mediation
06:00~07:30 : Breakfast
07:30~09:00 : Tour of a Local Hermitage
09:00~10:00 : Dharma Talk
10:00~10:40 : Community Work & Survey
10:40~ : Closing Ceremony

(courtesy of the Beomeosa Temple Stay website)

Beomeosa Temple Information:

Address : 546, Cheongnyong-dong Geumjeong-gu Busan
Tel : +82-51-508-5726 / Fax : +82-51-508-3229
Homepage : http://www.beomeosa.co.kr/templestay/eng/sub7.php
E-mail : beomeosa@templestay.com

Fees:

Adults: 50,000 won; Teens: 45,000 won; Under 13: 40,000 won

Link:

To make a reservation for the Beomeosa Temple Stay, follow this link.

CSC_2012The gates that guide your way to the main hall.