Buddhist temple stay
Hanging with the Monks
by Sarah Zapp

Sleep, Eat, and Be Merry with a Monk. I got to see monastery life up close and personal during a temple stay in the mountains outside of Seoul. The Buddhist way of life was an eye-opener set in such serenity that I thought I was living out some novel. Here are few insights that may enlighten you.

  • Here fishy, fishy!  They symbol for Buddhism is the fish (Interesting, because it’s such a big symbol in Christianity too). The monk told me “ the fish sleeps with its eyes open”. So the Buddhist way is approach life with an “eyes wide open” approach. (Of course they’d never eat the fish, because the Korean Buddhists don’t believe in killing any animal. Although other Buddhists are meat eaters).

  • So many NUMBERS! I haven’t had this much to remember since my multiplication tables in the 5th grade.  This bell needs to be rung 33 times at night and 28 times in the morning,  There are 108 bows during the daily morning and nighttime ceremony in the temple. They have a set routine everyday, including a 4:30 am wake-up call.

  • Where’s a chastity belt when you need it? Just like the catholic priests, monks are celibate. During tea with our “assigned monk” he actually admitted that the “sexual part” was the hardest part of being a monk.  You, think? LOL! I loved his candid honesty.

  • It’s NOT easy. To become a monk it’s at least 2 years of study, physical labor and medidation. They have to pass a test. 90% drop out.And then when you pass you’re rewarded with a lifetime of having to wear one of these outfits ( I’m wearing one myself here).

 

  • There is a hierarchy to being a monk. There are 10 levels. Our monk had been there four years and he was only on level 1. (I’d conquered a lifetime with 4 years at college).

On an ending note, the next time you meet up with a friend and say ” hey, how are you?” Remember this story. During meditation monks often ponder this quandry: If you put a little bird into a vase… you feed it and nurture it… the bird slowly becomes bigger inside the vase. But then it gets so big it will break the vase to get out. So how do you get the bird out without breaking the vase? This dilemma is the thought behind how monk’s greet each other and say ” Have you gotten the bird out of the vase, yet? ”

Here’s to your enlightenment.

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One Response to Hanging with the Monks

  1. Are you allowed to heat the top of the vase away from the bird so the glass melts and reforms but does not shatter. If the opening were to become larger, the bird could get out of the vase without breaking it. The glass would just be reformed.

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