Sunday, August 3, 2014

Seoul: Day Three

This afternoon we went to Hwagyesa Temple near Bukasan mountain for their Sunday meditation and dharma talk.  We walked into a large building to find a group of people eating a large free meal apparently prepared by the people of the temple.  We then walked up four flights of stairs past a room packed with people chanting and arrived at the top floor.  We slide open a door to find a single person meditating in a large room and thought to turn around when the door opened again and a gentleman invited us in for a brief orientation before the formal meditation.  He instructed us how to sit and gave a simple meditation focus for the next few hours: when you breathe in, count one, and when you breathe out, empty your mind, count to ten then start over, if you become distracted, simply begin again at one.  

A one o'clock he beat the stick to signal the beginning.  We then sat cross-legged or in lotus position for thirty minutes, walked for ten, sat for another thirty, walked another ten, and sat for a final thirty.  My legs fell asleep and I practiced sitting with the pain, focusing  on the breath, staying with the count.  When the final slap came, we rearranged the cushions for the dharma talk.  Two monks told stories and discussed their meaning, stories about freedom through following the precepts of monk hood, a story of one of the lives of Buddha, about his inner courage and fearlessness.  

Incredible to be able to have this resource in English and in Seoul it was one of many similar options we could have attended today.  And so many temple stays possible as well.  Below is the approach to the outer gate of the temple and the building in which we met.

After our temple visit we took the train to Jamsil Stadium in hopes of seeing a baseball game.  The typhoon meant rain and no game so Jaehyung drove us and two other friends to see Gangnam and Hongdae.  We walked around Hongdae looking for a specific type of popular Korean soup (sondubu) but this was a place of quick foods and bars and we eventually settled for other fare that was just as delicious.  And in the meantime we took in the character of yet another part of Seoul, filled with people and umbrellas and shops.  Such an incredible and varied city.  It seems there is no end to its possibilities. 

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