Monday, June 1, 2009

An Intimate Viewing of Yongyeonsa Temple...

This weekend, I kept thinking about how I wanted to do something special. I not only was thinking about doing something unique and different...I was ready to do something. I was ready for the opportunity to present itself. I, along with a small group of other ex-patriot teachers, were given the honor of being granted an insider's look at temple life at Yongyeonsa Temple in Daegu, South Korea. It is a rare honor to provide you these images, since photographing the interiors of temples is rarely granted, and photographing ceremonies is usually frowned upon. Both the city of Daegu, and the temple staff extended us overwhelming hospitality that far exceeded our expectations. In fact, whenever you go to a temple area, it is best to go with an attitude of anything can happen.
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 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.


Lotus Reads said...

I'm sick in bed with a nasty and vile cold so this beautiful post with the excellent pictures could not have come at a better has not only cheered me up but also made me feel quite tranquil. The grounds of the temple are serene were lucky to be able to spend 10 hours there! HOw does it feel to be back in the city again? :)

Lotus Reads said...

BTW, your photos are gorgeous! I would encourage everyone to view them at their maximum resolution.

Kelly's Ideas said...

Beautiful pictures.

Marilyn said...

Thank you Kelly...

Marilyn said...


I hope you were at least able to visualize a tranquil walk for have a bit of a respite from your illness. 10 hours was just enough time...a mini mental vacation....but the city seems more transparent. So perhaps a moment of clarity was arrived at.

Thank you for the kind words on the images..look forward to catching up on your reviews...from Canada.


rainbowgate said...

Hola Marilyn.
This might sound strange, but...You live in a different culture! It is so apparent!! I am so engrossed and enthralled and saturated and happily swimming in my own "other" cultural experience in Mexico, and haven't seen images so consistently (with one another) different in a long time. Okay, I just saw a mind blowing presentation of photos from a tribe in Africa that was unlike anything I knew existed...but your photos really struck me...that THIS is HAPPENING, NOW, somewhere else on earth. How marvellous. How tremendous. I'm so GLAD. Such a cloudlike feeling to it all. I loved the steps...they look like feet have slipped up them for thousands of years. And the white. And the drums and bells... Thank you!! Go Earth! Still Living and Thriving in Diversity! Woo hoo!

Marilyn said...

Robin, I laugh and nod in agreement. Yes, it is happening right experience. I don't want to forget it..nor diminish it. So as it happens, what I see along the way, the lessons, mistakes...all of is here...not to be embellished.

More finds to come...

All the best to you in Mexico....