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Relax, reflect, revitalize during Buddhist temple stay

The Toronto Sun, March 30, 2010

Seoul, South Korea -- Take a journey in search of yourself by staying in a Buddhist temple which promises to change the way you see the world.

<< Temple stay in Korea. Filepic

Temple stay programs help foreigners better understand themselves as well as Korean Buddhism.

Since most temples are located in provincial or national parks featuring well-preserved natural environments, officials say, “The program provides participants with a magnificent chance to relax, reflect and revitalize themselves in the tranquility of nature”, enabling them to “find their true self.” Visitors witness and take part in the day-to-day activities and rituals of traditional Korean temples.

Temple stays offer various kinds of Buddhist practising methods.

Yebul is a ceremonial service of chanting held three times a day to praise Buddha and clear one’s mind.

A form of Zen meditation called Chamseon is practised while sitting or standing, and is designed to allow a person to reflect on oneself.

The Dahdoh (tea ceremony) provides another opportunity for self-reflection as everything is carefully observed and considered – the teapot, the type of leaf, the water temperature, the flavour and the company present.

The communal Buddhist meal service labelled Balwoo Gongyang emphasizes the importance of austerity and equality. Not a single grain of food is wasted and everyone shares equally during the meal, which is eaten in silence to allow for more introspection.

Residents and visitors work together to clean and maintain the temple grounds during Ulyeok that offers participants a chance to commune with nature, harmonize with others and do more soul-searching.

Korea tourism representatives and a Buddhists' group promise Templestay participants that “You’ll hate to leave.” But, when you do, “You'll come back home richer at heart, more fully alive, more fully awake, more fully at peace.”

For more information, visit www.templestay.com.

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