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2017-11-05 19:06
By Kim Sun-ae 



When was the last time you rested completely? With no duties and nothing to worry about?

On the last day of September, I went to Yongmunsa Temple in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province, to stay there for a day. I left home with a small water bottle and some clothes at dawn. Out of the window of the train, beautiful paddies unfolded. They were full of rice changing from yellow-green to yellow.

After getting off the train, I got on a bus and arrived at the last stop. From there to the temple, I walked a forest trail slowly and enjoyed fresh air and sunshine through the leaves. I felt abundantly alone. This freedom that I could walk as slowly as I wanted to was precious. At Yongmunsa there is an old ginkgo. The big tree is about 1,500 years old was still thick with green leaves.

I entered a teahouse in the temple. The autumn air was cool outside, but the hospitality of the tearoom staff and the hot tea made my body and heart warm. I spent a peaceful time at a table near the window. White, pink and purple cosmos were in bloom outside the window, and soft songs played in the teahouse. I hoped that people who can’t have their own time due to their responsibilities can enjoy a leisurely day sometimes.

After an evening Buddhist ceremony, Templestay participants sat around a campfire in the yard. At first, we could only see the bright half-moon in the sky. After a while, however, the stars began blinking one by one. Among the sounds of the firewood burning, we talked together. The monk gave us each a cup of tea which smelled good.

I went back to my room and lay down. The night at the mountain temple was serene. In a city, we live surrounded by the sound of cars almost 24 hours a day. Nonetheless, here the only sounds were the songs of the insects in the grass and the ticking of the clock in the room. Like that clock, life is moving.

At dawn, the sound of a bell and a wooden gong resonated throughout the temple. Participating in the early morning Buddhist ceremony, I bowed a hundred and eight times for the first time. In the recording for the 108 Prostrations of Great Repentance, I heard, “I prostrate in repentance for my lack of compassion for those who are stubborn.” At the words, I realized how stubborn I had been.

After breakfast, I took a walk on Mt. Yongmun. On a morning with few mountain hikers, a squirrel passed by. With the sound of the water flowing in the valley, the dust in my mind was also washed away a little. Walking the mountain path with soft steps, I felt free somehow.

Of course, it was not that I took an utter rest throughout this trip. After being lost in thought, I was late for the evening Buddhist ceremony, and hurried to the main hall of the temple. What an embarrassment when I entered the hall late where the monks and Templestay participants were sitting piously.

During the Templestay, I looked back on my everyday life. Didn’t I put off something important doing other things? Didn’t I spend too much time on unnecessary matters? I want to put my energy into essential things.

After coming back home from the temple, I did not use the computer for a week. My eyes were more comfortable than on days when I used it. Also, in front of the computer, I sometimes become nervous and spent a long time. Nevertheless, during the computer-free days, my mind was calmer.

May you be able to take a full rest too, both for your body and mind, and find peace again.


Kim Sun-ae wrote a book of essays, “A Journey to Myself.” Her blog address is blog.naver.com/dancinglf


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