At the beginning of July I found myself on a two and half journey to Gyeongju to take part in the temple stay programme at Golgusa. I anticipated that I would enjoy the experience and the reality was just that. In fact I enjoyed it so much I am currently considering going back and staying for two night as opposed to one.
The temple itself is beautiful stretched out on a hillside with parts of it carved out in the rock. It is also proud to be home to Korea’s only cave temple. Regardless of beliefs or background it is hard not to be won over by the beauty of the area. Just a forty minute bus ride outside of Gyeongju you too can arrive in this tropical and therapeutic haven.
Of course no temple stay would be complete without wonderful uniforms and spot of afternoon traditional archery which is how we began our experience. One of the highlights of our stay was taking a Sunmudo class in the evening. Sunmudo is a medatative martial art that focuses the mind and the body. It is also one hell of a workout.
A 4am start didn’t feel as difficult as it should have done, this could be because we were out for the count by 10pm or because we were full of anticipation for the morning’s activities. Walking up the steep hill in the dark admittedly was not so thrilling. Chanting has always been something I enjoy as a way to focus the mind and the morning service at the temple was no disappointment. Morning meditation outside the temple looking out over the mountains was a moment I am desperately attempting to recreate since I returned home. The serenity, the beauty and the clear, focused mind.
My visit to Golgulsa triggered a recurring concern for me; societies attitude to waste. Most of us don’t care,or like me pretend to care and then conveniently forget when I make too much dinner or see a top I like in a shop. The meals at the temple are delicious, vegetarian and healthy. Meal times are self service with the rule that you must eat everything that you take. Waste is not an option here. How refreshing to think about the food you are taking and savour every bite graciously.
I highly recommend a stay at Golgusa.