No sooner had the final Autumn leaves fallen to their fiery death, than Korea’s mountains were zipped up in their powder-white body bags.
Winter maybe the harshest of seasons, yet a freshly-laid bright natural blanket offers further splendor to old spiritual areas such as Bongwonsa on Mount Ahn,
It’s sad to think of how much Buddhist architecture was destroyed by the Korean war. The temples, the artistry of the tombstones, hypnotic dances and soothing chanting seem far more welcoming and conducive to general temperament than the slew of neon red crosses atop the architecturally abominable churches that dominate the religious urban landscape in Korea.
Lured by chanting within the main temple, and despite potentially going crashing a private event, we dived into the rabbit hole.
After taking a few shots from the back of the room, the eldest of the monks brought me closer and sat me down in front of the the hypnotic dance performance unfolding inside.
After the performance, he agreed to his portrait being taken after some heavy persuasion from his friends. He then went on to tell us how he had traveled to over a hundred countries with his wife.
I asked what he had learned from his journeys. “People are the same no matter what country you visit, there are some good people and some bad people.” Hardly a statement to reach enlightenment by, but maybe it sounded better in Korean.
This guy spoke next to no English, but he could say “Manchester United”. With a thumbs raised high and eyes wide open he shouted out “ROOOONEY!“. It wasn’t exactly setting a zen mood for the younger monks as they took up their prayer positions, but maybe the elder was right.
No matter the culture or country, somethings never change.
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5 replies to “Neon Wilderness”
I almost wish that I was there in the Winter. It is so beautiful. Nicely written! * proud mamma / ajjuma*
The monks keep it real at this place — that is enlightenment. I enjoyed reading this. I really have payed as much attention to what you’ve been up to this year.