Two ways of life: bowing and bright lights.

Buddhism in South Korea is beautiful, for lack of a better word. And it’s no joke the discipline it takes to be one of this way of life. With today’s adventure to a Buddhist temple, I was able to pick up on a whole new level of Korea and the beautify it has to offer with it’s diversity of religion, in this case Buddhism. I bowed and did postures 108 times to repentance, ate a traditional organic Buddhist meal, met a Monk, and meditated – although I wasn’t very good at any of it (they made us clean our own dishes at the end of the meal! ahh. I’m horrible at cleaning) i still enjoyed it a lot, and found out people like me go away for days or weeks at a time to temples to connect with their inner selves and nature; given the chance, I would happily do such.

In the evening I took a nap from 7pm to 10pm, and then left with my rommate and two other scholars to explore South Korea. We got in a cab, used what little Korean we knew to get around, and ended up in a shopping district. We poked our heads inside shops, street food stands, bars and night clubs. The night club ended up having a promotion, where we were allowed to enter under two conditions: of age(19), and you must stay for 30 minutes! They had just opened, and the place was amazing, nothing like U.S night clubs. Lights, Music and Korean dance style! The girls danced and made faces and expressions and gestures of cute animals – they were so darn adorable!

So far I am having a great time. I’m beyond tired, and it all feels surreal. I If you have any questions about the CIEE South Korea Scholarship do not be afraid to ask! 🙂 I encourage any high school student or university student (in the U.S) to apply! The high school application should be out very soon, so you have ample time!!! The university one will be out in December.

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6 thoughts on “Two ways of life: bowing and bright lights.”

  1. Hi there! Thanks so much for all of your awesome posts about your adventures in Korea. ❤

    I have a question for you – and please don't take it as inconsiderate, prejudiced, or arrogant. 😛
    I'm curious about the postures at the Buddhist temple that you mentioned.
    If chosen for this trip, I certainly will be willing to visit the temple, meet with the monks, observe their customs, and learn about the Buddhist lifestyle.
    However, I wouldn't be willing to do the postures in repentance to their god, because of my personal beliefs. I'm wondering if this would be viewed as offensive. Was everyone in your group asked to bow? Or was it your own personal choice?

    Thanks for your insight. It's really appreciated. 🙂

    1. For starters; they are not converting you to their religion. It’s about immersion and experiencing this way of life. It’s about being tolerant, and having an open mind. we had die-hard Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians doing these postures. On top of this, you’re not bowing to any god. It’s completely and utterly personal. Buddhism is more of a way of life than a religion; most of the beliefs come from the heart. In fact many Buddhists do not believe in god(s). During it they even said that we are able to CHOOSE what we “repent” to each time. As humans, we have all made mistakes, thus in a sense we all “repent” but this is not a repentance to a god, but to your inner self.

      With that being said, if you completely cross your arms and refuse to partake in this beautiful experience then they will not fight you, they will allow you to step to the side – but I will say you will be one of few – if not the only one – sitting a corner during this. You will miss the experience and knowledge that came with this. 108 postures was not easy, and even those who had a hard time doing postures, they came out on top and happy they did it. (if someone had a health problem they could have been excused, but we had none of that)

      Their intention is not to convert you, it’s to give you a chance to immerse. immersion is all part of this trip, and i advice re-thinking intentions if you go to Korea without an open mind. You need to go there willing to experience a new culture, refusing to do such is a no-go. They will probably shrug it off with disappointment in you, but they are tolerant so I know they will respect your wishes. but with that being said it will likely be looked down upon among your peers, mentors and korean chaperon’s.

      Hope I didn’t come across as rude, but I just wanted to share my thoughts. good luck.

      1. I think maybe I didn’t convey my feelings as well as I should have, and I apologize for that.
        I am a very open-minded person, and want nothing more than to be immersed within the fullness, entirety and extremities of the Korean culture.
        I realize that the intentions of the people involved at the temple visit are not to “convert” me. 😉
        Perhaps I had an unclear perception of what the “postures” experience entailed. It is good to know that the postures are described as a “sign of personal repentance to anything.” =]
        Of course, I believe it’s very possible to be immersed within a culture by observing certain things, rather than actually actively doing them. Whenever I do get to Korea ( whether it’s through the CIEE scholarship or by other means 😉 ) I plan to use my own personal discernment to determine what sort ways I will react and interact with the situations that I find myself in.

        Thanks for your insight, though. =]

  2. I think maybe I didn’t convey my feelings as well as I should have, and I apologize for that.
    I am a very open-minded person, and want nothing more than to be immersed within the fullness, entirety and extremities of the Korean culture.
    I realize that the intentions of the people involved at the temple visit are not to “convert” me.
    Perhaps I had an unclear perception of what the “postures” experience entailed. It is good to know that the postures are described as a “sign of personal repentance to anything.” =]
    Of course, I believe it’s very possible to be immersed within a culture by observing a few choice things, rather than actually actively doing them. For instance, while the fishermen on the south coast are a huge part of the working-class Korean culture, I’d be happy to observe them, meet with them, and interact with them even if I didn’t have the chance to actively participate in their lifestyle of casting out fishing nets.
    Whenever I do get to Korea ( whether it’s through the CIEE scholarship or by other means ) I plan to use my own personal discernment to determine what sort ways I will react and interact with the situations that I find myself in.

    Thanks for your insight, though. =]

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