Seoul is a busy city. Forget New York as the city that never sleeps. Seoul brims with life all day and night long with 24-hour shopping centers, bars and impressive light-shows. And although its business is vastly different from the way NYC is busy – somehow, it feels like a beautifully choreographed dance – it was still nice to find a place of quiet, a place for contemplation and reflection.
Bongeun-Sa (봉은사) was one of these places.
Surrounded by modern buildings and right opposite to a huge shopping and expo center, this Buddhist temple, founded in AD 794 and surrounded by trees, stands as a sharp contrast to the modern-age city – yet somehow, it doesn’t feel out of place.
Even though the entrance was under construction, the moment I found my way among the old buildings, a strange sense of peace washed over me, as if the place was guarded from the noise and business of the outside world.
Light glowed around and through the shrines in soft streams and made Bongeun-Sa look as if it wasn’t even a place on earth.
In the hill above the temple, a 23 meter tall statue of the future Buddha stands.
Fields of white and colorful lanterns hang in front of the funeral hall and above the grounds of the temple. The light filtered through them and distributed itself in the most beautiful way.
I got the opportunity to witness prayers, have a tea and a little talk in English and Korean with a monk, re-write the teachings, and got invited to come back and stay for a couple days to learn, meditate and pray with the monks. It was the most surreal experience.
With the promise of coming back one day, it was time to leave when the sun set over the temple. The taste of the tea and the promise alike still linger whenever I remember my time at the temple or sit down for a little bit of quiet contemplation.
I hope I will never lose it.
More posts from Korea are coming soon. If you’re interested, follow my blog not to miss them!