The serene grounds of Yongyeonsa Temple are not only inviting, but there is a peaceful nature that you will find because the majority of South Korean temples are built in mountains, since Buddhism was driven out of urban areas. The use of natural stone to build their steps I found to be in total harmony with the natural surroundings.
We spent the day in the company of Monk Sang and the director of culture and arts for the city of Daegu, Mr. Dae Kwon Kim. During the 10 hours we spent on the temple grounds, we were exposed to all aspects of temple life. Even having brief teachings on proper bowing, meditation and an overview of basic Buddhist tenants on the path of enlightenment.
There is a beauty in the formality of the offerings that are presented, beginning with the tea ceremony where a woman, dressed in white walks on a white sheet towards the temple.
This imposing figure is one of the "four guardians", a representational figure to protect the religion of Buddhism. On this day, we were privileged to witness a rare ceremony that honors the four guardians.
This is the image of the Triad Buddha of the Geungnak-jean Hall. This relic is from the fourth reign of King Yeongio during the Joseon Dynasty.
This drum, which is sounded normally twice a day...the first time at 3 am, and the second time at 6 pm, is sounded for the lives of all who dwell on the land. A monk is given six months of training with a four-one count, as this monk demonstrated for us. The drum is housed in the Anyangnu Pavilion, along with a cloud shaped metal tablet that is played for all of the life in the air, a huge bell that is sounded for those who are being tortured in the after-life (it is said when the bell is sounded the tortured are allowed to rest while the bell is sounded...I rang it twice for them), and a fish tablet for all the life that is water born.
This visual display of two monks performing a dance was part of the ceremony for the guardians (or warriors).
The walk looked more fatiguing that it actually was. After sitting in a lotus position (or even a half-lotus position), you are thankful that you can get your blood circulating again.
If you want to know where the bones of Buddah are enshrined...here they are, in the Stone Gyedan Altar. A Gyedan is the ceremony of receiving Buddhist commandments is performed in the presence of the bones. According to the Buddhist calendar this altar was built in 2961. Modern Buddhists will walk around this stone three times to obtain a wish...and as the priest told us, 'three times, and you are too close to heaven.'
To the city of Daegu and the temple staff of Yongyeonsa Temple...thank you for this experience.