My Weekend as a Buddhist Nun
I’m not a Buddhist, but I am Buddhism
curious. Unfortunately, I haven’t
found Buddhism to be anapproachable religion.
Much of the literature available is translated and doesn’t flow well in English. If
you ask a Buddhist leader a question, you may hear
, “I can’t answer that for you.” After which you willbe directed to meditate and discover the answer for yourself. I’v
e found it utterly intangible outside afew broad concepts.My search for a more definitive Buddhist understanding brought me to Haeinsa, South Korea. I spent ayear living in S. Korea teaching English and I can easily say Haeinsa is my favorite place in the countryand in the top 10 for the world. The forests around the temple are spectacular, full of bubbling streams,Japanese maples & hidden hermitages. A UNESCO world heritage site, Haeinsa is over a 1,000 years oldand one of the largest monasteries in Korea. It also opens its doors to visitors and offers a weekendtemple stay.The temple stay program is an immersion into monastic life. To get to the temple, you walk for about 30minutes through the forest. This walk is a mind wash, giving an opportunity to transition out of thesecular world and into the spiritual one. Once you arrive at the temple, you are given clothes to changeinto and shown to your room. There is one room for women & one room for men. You are given a bedrole & blanket. After that there is a question & answer period followed by dinner. You eat in a cafeteriawith the monks & nuns. The meal is meatless consisting of rice, roots & vegetables grown or foraged atthe temple. You are not allowed to speak during the meal. The temple stay proceeds with shadowing
the monk’s daily practice, including chanting, prostrations and a very early meditation session.
I gained a sense of clarity from my time at the monastery. Buddhism is fundamentally different thanWestern religion and any attempt to relate the two will end in frustration. Its lack of definitive becomesits genius. Buddhism is a
humble religion that doesn’t mandate a particular path. It
encouragescuriosity and each person is responsible for their own progress. What Buddhism gives to its followersare techniques to cope with the often difficult certainties of human life, change and suffering. Itemphasizes living in each moment with full appreciation for the world and people around us. Myweekend as a Buddhist nun left me confident that there was wisdom and useful knowledge to be gainedthrough the study and practice of Buddhist principles. I was, and still am, enthusiastic to know more.
Ready to try for yourself? Here’s how