The Story of…Unheungsa Temple

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A picture of the nun leading the funeral service at Unheungsa Temple in Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

After already having visited both Bohyunsa Temple and Munsuam Hermitage in Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do in the winter of 2013, I decided to visit Unheungsa Temple, as well. After all, I hadn’t driven all the way to Goseong to see just a couple temples.

About thirty minutes away, and up an icy valley that gets just a bit of sunlight during the day, I finally found Unheungsa Temple. When I visited, the temple was under a fair bit of construction, as the front façade of the temple was being re-organized and re-constructed.

Not knowing where I should park, I continued up the road that I first entered the temple grounds on. I had no idea that this road would become a dead end near the temple buildings. I had wanted to turn around a couple of times, finally realizing where I was headed, but there was nowhere to turn until I got to the temple. It goes without saying that I got a few dirty looks even though I never intended to park in the temple courtyard. Quickly, I made my way down the hill to get a better parking spot.

After parking, I made my way around the beautiful temple grounds. There are numerous halls like the Daeung-jeon, the Myeongbu-jeon, and the Sanshin-gak just to name a few. At first, I only peaked my head into the main hall, the Daeung-jeon, because I could hear, what I thought, was the morning prayers. I try not to interfere with people’s prayers, and I never take pictures of people while they are praying inside halls. However, I did want to at least see how the main hall looked inside.

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The beautiful and large main hall to the left at Unheungsa Temple.

Seeing my hesitation after having seen inside the beautiful main hall, an older lady invited me in. I wasn’t sure, but she insisted; so I decided to at least sit and enjoy the morning prayer. However, as soon as I stepped inside the expansive main hall, I realized that a morning service wasn’t taking place; instead, it was a funeral service. I was later to learn that the temple is quite famous for holding funeral ceremonies. If I wasn’t already uncomfortable, I definitely was now. Getting up to leave, and wanting to make as little noise as possible upon my exit, the older lady noticed me again, and waved me to politely sit. Like me, I realized, she was attending the funeral service. Not wanting to bother anyone, I sat through my first Buddhist funeral service as an attendee.

All I can say is that it was a beautiful and enlightening experience, and it was a long way from how I first started off seeing Unheungsa Temple.

For more information on Unheungsa Temple, please check out this link.

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A look up at the main altar from my cushion during the funeral service.

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