Buddha’s Birthday and Bongeunsa Temple

Posted on June 3, 2012

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A week ago, I wanted to go to a park that I saw from a booklet I got from Korea Tourism Organization. Originally, I was planning to visit Bongeunsa Temple on the actual day of Buddha’s birthday celebration (May 28) but I suddenly changed my mind after realizing that it might be too crowded the next day. So, after deciding out of impulse, I hurriedly look for the directions on how to get there and I was surprised to know that it is just a couple of subway stops from our dorm.

I got off in Cheongdam Station (Line 7) and went out via exit 2. From there, I thought I would see the temple immediately but I walked for a couple of minutes that it came to a point when I already doubted if I was in the right direction. But my instinct told me to keep walking straight. Then I saw a big intersection and a sign pointing where the temple is. What made me more surprised is that I didn’t expect that it was just across Coex Mall.

There were already a lot of people that day but what caught my attention was the group of elderly taking pictures with their high end cameras. It was really interesting to see them play with their cameras and teach each other on what they need to do.I suddenly hoped that the elderly  in the Philippines could have activities like that.

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I went inside the temple and saw an information counter on my right. Ever since I’ve been here in Korea it became a habit to check information counters to get some brochures or maps because they have tons of it. The man behind the counter asked me perkily where I am from and gave me a few tips about what to expect and where to go. After our little chit chat, I proceeded in going inside, people were heading straight but I saw another way on the left so I decided to take that.

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As I walked through that path, I saw the statue of Gwanseum-bosal, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. They believe that it hears and feels the sounds of suffering. While I was there, a couple arrived. The lady bowed and prayed while the man went around the statue while pouring water on its feet.

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I continued walking and saw the colorful lanterns. I’m really fond of them and I imagine these lanterns as Buddha’s balloons for his birthday.

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The biggest Buddha in the temple is Maitreya. The statue is 23 meters in height and is believed to be the future Buddha. This depicts the Maitreya coming down to save those who are suffering.

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I strolled further and saw more lanterns. Then, I saw a few people queuing for another statue of Buddha. This time they were pouring water not to the feet but on the head of the statue.

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That day there was an exhibit for pictures of temples taken in North Korea. The temples and the locations were beautiful.

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As I was about to end my tour around the temple, on my way out, a monk was ringing the bell and it was my first time to see something like that.

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Visiting the temple was a change of environment for me and it made me feel good that day. What I like about visiting temples here in Korea is you can really feel the serenity. There are a lot of trees that can help you feel calm. Bongeunsa is situated in a commercialized area but the peacefulness of the place is really remarkable. The place is huge enough that you will surely find a spot where you can have your quiet time.

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Another way to get there is to take Subway Line 2 and get off at Samseong Station and take exit 6.

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Posted in: Korea, Seoul