Buddhist tourism

Travel Destinations — By on November 27, 2006 at 6:20 pm

Interested in knowing how a Buddhist monk lives?  Some Buddhist temples in South Korea are now allowing visitors to sample the lifestyle of an ordained monk through a program called Templestay Korea.  Catherine Price recently spent two days living the life of a monk and wrote about her experience for the NY Times.

Meditation and prostration, both essential parts of monks’ lives, are included in every overnight temple stay program, as are meal or tea ceremonies, lectures on Buddhism and exceptionally early wakeup calls. Beyond that, though, programs differ. … temple stays can range anywhere from a few hours to a few months, depending on your budget and enthusiasm.

They also offer different activities. Lotus Lantern’s program included walking meditations through the temple grounds, calligraphy practice, a traditional Buddhist meal ceremony and a discussion about Buddhism led by the temple’s head monk.

The experience, however, was not necessarily a relaxing one, as she notes:

But be forewarned – the point of the temple stay is not, as the pictures on its Web site might make it seem, to lounge next to a brook nibbling crackers as you consider what it means to reach nirvana. The point is to live like a monk. And monks, it turns out, keep strict schedules, are vegetarian and spend a lot of time silently meditating in positions that can become, quickly and without much warning, incredibly uncomfortable for those unused to them.

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