Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tongdosa, on Buddha's Birthday

On Buddha's Birthday, we travelled out to Tongdosa, one of the nicest and most revered temples in Korea. 

I thought it would be a good place to bring Fina to bath the baby Buddha, since the temple represents the Buddha and has a relic beneath a small pagoda stone in the back.

I knew it would be busy, but I didn't expect there to be thousands and thousands of people in a constant stream, coming and going. The first time I visited Tongdosa, I remembered the peaceful walk through the twirling pine trees, but on this day it was like a Saturday walk through a market in Seoul. 

The first thing we did was find the little plastic, Baby Buddha, painted gold, pointing above and below, like the Mahayana legend of his birth, and dipped the bamboo ladle in the water, and poured it over him,  in three steps. 

We walked around the beautiful, old, faded halls that make up the grounds, and found another Baby Buddha, perhaps his unknown twin, and bathed him, too. 

Not long after, we met Dok Jang Sunim, a Czech monk, whom I was aware of through online circles. He told us a bit about the temple and showed us the traditional rice cookers, where they'd been busy preparing rice for all the people since about 3am (it was now close to 4pm) where he introduced us to Dok Sang Sunim, an American monk from Seattle. We then walked across to the temple tea house and talked over a couple of cups of amazing Magnolia Vine (five taste) tea. Eunbong had her favourite, date tea, which Fina was more than happy to consume most of! 

After tea, we walked back up to see the relic pagoda, then headed back home. I really hope I'll make it back on a quieter day and get some better photos of the temple grounds. One interesting thing I'd like to capture is the inside of the main Darma Hall. The is no Buddha statue, but instead a window looking out at the relic pagoda. It's one of only two Darma Halls like this in Korea, that I'm aware of, the other being Gwanchoksa, the home of my favourite Buddha!

This is me biting my tongue, but mentally impersonating Peewee Herman, "Why don't you take a picture, it'll last longer!"

You can just make out the window in the center of the  Darma hall.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Joseph. This reminds me of visiting Tongdosa in October with Heesuk. We also hung out with the two sunims. Do Sang Sunim was sweating over the rice and I have some nice photos of him hard at work.

    It's such a beautiful temple! Oh, above Shinwonsa, there's a small Buddha hall with no statuary - just a clear window into the stream bed above the hall, and the shaman shrines on boulders around the stream. Very interesting...