[REVIEW] Night time’s keep at Baekyang Temple presents extra than simply inside peace, gratifies with meals, meditation, nature’s sight

[REVIEW] Night time’s keep at Baekyang Temple presents extra than simply inside peace, gratifies with meals, meditation, nature’s sight


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Ssanggyeru Pavilion of Baekyang Temple, situated in Jangseong County, North Jeolla Province, Nov. 11 / Korea Instances picture by Pyo Kyung-min

Templestay program fulfills metropolis dwellers’ want for private introspection and nourishing delicacies

By Pyo Kyung-min

JANGSEONG — Nestled close to Mount Naejang, a famend maple spot in North Jeolla Province, the traditional Baekyang Temple in Jangseong County welcomes its guests with its wealthy historical past and tranquil ambiance.

Established in 632 in the course of the 234-678 Baekje interval, the title “Baekyang” interprets to “white sheep” in Chinese language characters. Legend has it that in the course of the reign of King Seonjo of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the temple earned its title from a fable whereby a white sheep remodeled right into a boy from heaven after listening to a monk’s sermon on the temple.

Throughout a two-day templestay press tour organized by the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism from Nov. 10 to 11, members immersed themselves within the distinctive ambiance of Baekyang Temple. The serene environment, akin to the softness of a white sheep nestled beneath vibrant autumn foliage, underscored the temple’s distinctive charms.

Baekyang Temple’s templestay applications unfold by means of three distinct experiences: the resting kind, the expertise kind and Ven. Jeongkwan’s temple meals program.

The resting kind presents members the liberty to chill out and unwind throughout the compound of the temple, offering a respite from each day life. For the expertise kind, members have interaction in curated actions that embody temple steering, meditation and enlightening tea and speak periods with the resident monks.

The spotlight is the temple meals cooking program led by Ven. Jeongkwan, a famend determine internationally acclaimed for her mastery in temple delicacies preparation. Contributors have the privilege to savor a meal ready by her throughout this program.

Upon arrival, members of the two-day press tour underwent a symbolic transformation by donning easy blue Buddhist robes.

The journey started with an orientation the place members familiarized themselves with the foundations of the temple, studying important practices such because the carrying of socks when getting into halls, sustaining silence throughout meals and holding their palms respectfully collectively when encountering monks.

In a while the identical day, members had the privilege of assembly the famend Ven. Jeongkwan at Cheonjinam Hermitage, nestled within the mountain behind the temple. Jeongkwan gained worldwide acclaim together with her look on the third season of Netflix’s “Chef’s Desk” in 2017, the place she promoted the wealthy custom of Korean temple meals to a world viewers.

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Buddhist monk Ven. Jeongkwan demonstrates her assortment of “jangdok,” or earthenware jars containing fermented sauces, as she holds up a small bowl of doenjang, Korean-style soybean paste, at Baekyang Temple in Jangseong County, North Jeolla Province, Nov. 10. Korea Instances picture by Pyo Kyung-min

Opposite to her fame, Jeongkwan exuded a pleasant and humble demeanor.

Taking members for a stroll across the hermitage, she launched her assortment of jangdok, or earthenware jars, for storing home made doenjang (soybean paste) and ganjang (soy sauce).

With a contact of satisfaction, she stated, “They’re my jewels, fermented by means of their very own course of, respiratory below the solar, the celebs and moonlight all through the years.” She proudly showcased the roughly 30-year-old soy sauce with a thick viscosity that just about resembled a balsamic glaze.

Jeongkwan, who espouses the philosophy that “meals is all caring and merciful,” demonstrated her culinary ideas that night as she served dinner to the members as a gracious host.

Vegan dishes equivalent to taro soup and tofu paste salad appeared one after one other, satisfying each the style buds and the visible senses of the members. Amongst them was her signature dish, shiitake mushrooms braised in grain syrup.

Serving the dish, the monk shared a associated story with a deeply private narrative.

Reflecting on the previous, the monk stated, “Round seven years after changing into a Buddhist monk, my father paid me a go to. He tried to influence me to return house, saying ‘there is not sufficient to eat within the temple.’ Attempting to rebut his claims, I ready and served him a pot of shiitake mushrooms braised in grain syrup.”

Through the meal, a heartfelt dialog unfolded between father and daughter. Because the speak deepened, her father’s issues melted away, changed by an appreciation for his daughter’s non secular dedication. Accepting her chosen path, he bowed thrice earlier than departing.

“After that go to, my father peacefully handed away in his sleep inside per week,” she added calmly.

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Ven. Jeongkwan prepares her signature dish, shiitake mushrooms braised in grain syrup, as she tells a private story associated to the dish, throughout a cooking program at Baekyang Temple in North Jeolla Province, Nov. 10. Korea Instances picture by Pyo Kyung-min

Jeongkwan revealed that this 12 months, she was unable to take a single day without work because of numerous occasions showcasing temple meals each at house and overseas. Baekyang Temple’s temple meals expertise program is so immensely in style that it’s totally booked inside a day or two of reservations opening.

The monk expressed her perspective on the present state of temple meals tradition, mentioning that there’s nonetheless room for enchancment regardless of its widespread acclaim.

“The introduction of temple meals to the world after the 1988 Seoul Olympics offered it in a very grand method. Not too long ago, my focus has been on re-establishing the menu to replicate conventional and easy temple meals,” she remarked.

She elaborated on her aspirations, saying, “My objective is to foster neighborhood sharing and communication by means of temple meals. The message I intention to convey is the necessity to overcome the local weather disaster, shield the pure surroundings and respect life. After I journey overseas to showcase temple meals, I deliberately serve a modest collection of about three dishes, departing from the previous observe of making ready ample varieties. My intent is to impart a non secular message — even with minimal sustenance, one may be totally nourished and put it to use as vitality.”

She additionally emphasised the non secular essence rooted within the Buddha’s teachings 2,600 years in the past, the place 1,200 practitioners shared the act of consuming from a single bowl with out leaving meals uneaten.

In 2022, a complete of two,316 people visited Baekyang Temple, with 389 of them being worldwide guests. This 12 months, because the COVID-19 pandemic subsided and journey resumed in earnest, the variety of international guests to the temple up to now has practically doubled in comparison with the earlier 12 months.

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Cheonjinam Hermitage, situated behind Baekyang Temple in Jangseung County, North Jeolla Province, Nov. 11 / Korea Instances picture by Pyo Kyung-min

Round 4 a.m. earlier than dawn on the second day, the deep mountains echoed with the resonant tolling of the temple bell, marking the graduation of early morning worship.

Underneath the huge expanse of a transparent sky adorned with stars which may not often be seen from a bustling metropolis like Seoul, the Buddha Corridor welcomed Buddhist monks and practitioners who gathered for morning prayers. Regardless of the early hour and sub-zero temperatures, their unwavering religion illuminated the sacred house.

Following the ritual, templestay members engaged in a meditation session, making use of fragrant oil and meditating to the soothing sounds of crystal singing bowls.

Seated in a cross-legged lotus place, fingers positioned neatly on their knees, the members immersed themselves in inside peace, liberating themselves from the entanglements of ideas and judgments.

The concluding phase of the templestay concerned a contemplative dialog with the pinnacle of Baekyang Temple. Surrounded by the deep aroma of tea, members sought steering from Ven. Mugong on the truths of life.

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Ven. Mugong, Baekyang Temple’s abbot, speaks throughout a tea and speak session throughout a templestay program, Nov. 11. Korea Instances picture by Pyo Kyung-min

The senior monk shared {that a} frequent concern amongst guests was the challenges arising from human relationships, notably the misery related to interacting with people they dislike.

Reflecting on this, the monk supplied profound recommendation: “After I see folks in battle, I consider essentially the most important ache arises from harboring hatred.”

He prolonged this attitude to the worldwide stage, lamenting the ideological conflicts plaguing the worldwide neighborhood that result in violence and warfare.

He recounted a second when he watched a video associated to a spiritual warfare, revealing the distressing actuality of individuals resorting to violence because of deep-seated animosities.

“I could not maintain again tears watching it. Taking a look at it, I thought of how poisonous the center turns into when people hate one another, and whether or not folks ought to be so merciless, resulting in collective unhappiness because of non secular prejudice,” he stated.

He underscored the significance of philanthropy and cultivating a superb coronary heart that transcends non secular variations.

“All of us right here could have totally different religions, however it’s of paramount significance to have a superb coronary heart no matter beliefs, equivalent to having affection for humanity, serving to the weak and figuring out find out how to replicate on one’s prejudices towards others,” he stated.


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