Lessons from My Korean Temple Stay

Vladimir: That passed the time.
Estragon: It would have passed in any case.
Vladimir: Yes, but not so rapidly.
-Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

I’ve been trying to remain calm and patient while waiting for responses from employers and publishers with whom I’ve pitched stories lately. I’ve come to realize there isn’t much in Tokyo that I still want to see since the last time I was here (or maybe it’s that I’d rather save my money to get out of Tokyo to visit Kyoto next week).

I find myself looking down at my wrist and the prayer beads I strung together at my temple stay at Woljeongsa in Korea. At the time I just needed a break from the city, and staying at a Buddhist temple in a national park sounded like the most relaxing weekend I could have outside Seoul. One of the first lessons the temple taught the guests was to not rush to the destination and spend more time listening than speaking. Now I see these prayer beads as a reminder to remain patient when I get frustrated.

How could I be unhappy with this?
How could I be unhappy with this?

I’m also reminded of the beautiful sunrise and sunset I witnessed during my stay. I can’t be angry when I think about the experiences I’ve had over the last ten months–I’ve seen more of the world than most people, and I should consider myself fortunate.

Ringing the bell at Woljeongsa
Ringing the bell at Woljeongsa

While I await decisions about my future, wherever that may take me, I have to enjoy what I see for the moment. Usually I have more time to plan my moves, but now I have to enter the chaos that is life–sometimes I forget that this is normal.

I should also mention I have entered a photo in one of National Geographic’s Your Shot assignments. You can check it out here.

2 thoughts on “Lessons from My Korean Temple Stay”

  1. I love the idea of taking things slow, not rushing, and listening. I definitely try to live like that, though sometimes I want to see and do so much that it is tough! I’m headed to South Korea next week, I have a year to explore the country, would you recommend staying at this temple?!

    1. I definitely recommend staying at Woljeongsa–it’s beautiful and quiet. There are a lot of hiking trails and other temples nearby that I didn’t make it to.

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