Sunday, June 26, 2005

Temple Stay

When I lived in Seoul in 2003, I say a program on Korean Temple Stay Program. It’s a program where people can go and stay at a Buddhist Temple. It looked very cool. But we just never went.
So, I stumbled on while doing some research. I decided to organize a temple stay for my fellow Yeosuers. I made the arrangements, rented a van, and headed for the temple.
In all 12 of us went on the weekend of June 18th. We had an adventure getting to the temple. Brian, a great fellow saw a short cut on the map, and changed our course mid ride. The road we took turned from Highway, to country road, to paved road, to cement road to dirt road, to goat trail. Eventually, after several hours, I turned back to abate the frustrations of my passengers. I was surprised that Brian and Jeff were still keen on breaking through to the other side of the trail. It was a short distance on the map, so kept plugging on. (Brian hiked much of the way.) They survived, and arrived about 10 minutes after we did, even though we retraced all our steps, and almost went back where we started from. It was frustrating, but in hindsight, an experience to laugh about. Here I will speak in Brian’s defense, that other than being a great guy he is not Kilchi (directionally challenged). The path we took was on both Jeff’s and my map; thus we stubbornly drove ahead. Out Seunim (monk) said it was a good sign that our Temple Stay would be enjoyable after working so hard to get there.
At the Temple, we were a little disappointed to find that they would not have traditional clothing for us to where. We endured.
We met one of the heads of the Temple who was happy to practice his English on us. He tried to enlighten us a little explaining a few things about Buddhism, and teaching us to meditate.
If you go on a temple stay, you may be told a story about a young monk who asks an enlightened monk (a Buddha) “What is Buddhism.” The Buddha, responded, “there is a tree in the garden.” End of story. Your monk may ask you what this means.
Now, you may want to respond, “It’s about awareness, and noticing that there is that tree, and that there are many aspects to the garden.” Such a response will get the attention of everyone in your group, and people will listen to you with respect. That is until the monk tells you that you are flat out wrong. Boy did that guy feel like an ass… and I thought… I mean, and he though that was a good answer. Needless to say, that guy, (the one who organized the trip) didn’t speak up a whole lot after that.
At night, we watched the playing of the four instruments (A drum, a large bell, a “gong” and a Wooden Fish) and then went to the Dharma House to bow and chant. We learned how to bow, but not chant. The chanting was especially interesting as two young boys, the sons on the shopkeeper (all temples have gift shops), we chanting along. It was an amazing sound as the deep chants of the adult monks we offset but the two young boys. It almost sounded magical. Lights out was later, 9pm, and all of us looked forward to waking up at 3am the next morning… (hard to detect sarcasm in typing.)
Waking up at 3 am to listen watch the four instruments, and listening to the chanting is really a perception changing experience. At first you don’t realize it, but you wind up changed. We ate breakfast, meditated, did chores, and went for a walk up to a hermitage (run by female monks) for a tea ceremony. Somehow, and I’m not saying that I was set up, but somehow, I wound up having to do KyByBo, (rock, paper, scissors) with all the girls to see who would carry the brooms back up to the temple. Originally all of us, guys included, were participating too, and we had been all eliminated, but somehow, and I’m not saying I was set up, somehow I managed to get drawn back into the competition. Surprisingly enough, I lost and had to carry the brooms up to the temple… hmmm…
Our little hike to the hermitage was beautiful, and a nice calming experience. As we ended our day, and prepared to leave, we ran into the throngs of people that had come to visit the temple. All of us were almost repulsed at the sight of so many people disturbing the peace we had found at three in the morning. Our view of the temple had changed.
We slowly made our way home, stopping in Suncheon to eat at McDonalds, and shop at Carrefour. I was satisfied.
I’ll post pics soon.

Check out these pics. Posted by Hello

JLP Teacher Training at the Yeonsuwon

Wow, it’s been a busy month. First, I’ve been teaching at the JLP center, near Tamyang, and then I went to a Temple Stay program. Both were great experiences.
I work for the Jeollanamdo Language Program, and one of the perks is teaching the odd workshop at the JLP Yeongsuwon. Teachers come for a month of “immersion camp,” taught by 16 different native English-speaking instructors. We instructors come in 2 groups of 8, and live at the center, along with the trainees. We teach, mark, do activities, mark, go on a field trip, and mark while we are here. Marking journals was the most time-consuming activity.
We took a 3-day trip to Seoul, visiting the Folk Village, DMZ, Insadong, Kyungbok Palace and the Kimchi Field Museum. Actually the Folk Village was the only thing new to me, and it was really interesting. I still enjoyed the rest, and was able to view them through the eyes of a “veteran” as compared to the people who were enjoying everything for the first time.
My “Home room” kicked but in the competitive aspect of the program, and won tops honors for a group, even though they had two less people than the other groups. Our group of six really worked well together. I was happy to be an official part of them.
IT was a good experience for all of us I think.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

beaches and garbage

Went to two beaches this long-weekend, it was Korean Memorial Day. I
love beaches. We played Spudz, which turned to Rockz, a horse-shoe
based came.(not a whole lot of horseshoes in Korea.) It was great; I'm
glad American Mark thought of it. Also, the weather was nice, we had a
fusion of Korean-North American style BBQ.

As I get older and crankier, one thing bugs me more an more... LITTER.
Canada is bad for it. I'd fine every smoker $25 for every butt they
throw on the ground or out the window. I'd also make them pay the
money to test the DNA on the offending cigarette, if they chose to
fight it. I've heard that in some countries people carry around
personal ashtrays. I wish they did that everywhere.
One sad thing about Korea, is that despite it actually being quite
beautiful, people throw litter every where. We were on a ferry
travelling to an island. Some kids threw a bag of garbage over the
rail into the water. The ferry man, gave them hell, not for littering,
but for getting drops of pop on the deck when they threw the bag.
At the top of mountains, you will find tonnes of discarded bottles and
other garbage, that people lugged up when it was full, but refuse to
carry down now that it was empty. There are some who respect the
planet, but far many more that don't.

Also, this week I am teaching in Tamyang. I will do a couple of weeks
worth of Teacher workshops. Today is day one, and I teach in about 10
minutes. I rode my motorbike out here, and felt lucky to make it. I
turned at the wrong exit, and only found my destination by pure luck.

Anyhow, all is good, have a great June.