Beomeosa

[pullquote align=”left”]It was a Thursday evening, and I had just walked in from a hard day of mind molding.[/pullquote] Teaching tiny tots all day makes me feel like there is a film of snot and sticky glue all over my body. I headed for the shower, and by shower, I mean the hose that hangs over my sink. While showering, I had a revelation of sorts; I realized that I have been in South Korea for a month and a half now, and with regards to the culture, all I can really tell you about is their awkward toilets and the Korean cab drivers’ admiration for Americans. In that time period, I have learned all the drink specials for bars in my neighborhood and neighboring neighborhoods, but I can’t tell you much about Korean practices and lifestyle. As a teacher, I feel obligated to share some Korean culture with you. So please, sit up straight in your computer chairs, eyes forward on your screen, and allow me to teach you a little somthin’, somthin’.

This weekend, I stepped outside the city and into nature. I hiked up a mountain to one of the most serene and tranquil places I have ever been to. Being there, I was instantly consumed with a feeling of complete relaxation. I could feel my muscles unwind and my mind clear. It feels simple, like all is right in the world. The last time I can really remember feeling that “all was right in the world” was probably in my living room in  Mill Valley back in 1994 when Tonya Harding was found guilty of conspiracy and banned from ice skating for the attack of my girl Nancy Kerrigan.

The tranquility and peace I felt when on that mountain is a tough emotion to convey through words, but I would compare it to that split-second feeling of comfort you get when you first step into a pair of Crocs (before you are overcome with embarrassment when you realize you look like an absolute jackass.) This place I speak so highly of is a place called Beomeosa Temple.

Here’s some background. Beomeosa Temple is one of the most spiritual places in South Korea. It is a traditional Buddhist temple. It dates back 1,300yrs. It is nestled inside the natural beauty of the Geumjeongsan foothills. Beomeosa is the most treasured temple in South Korea. It was constructed by legendary Korean figure and monk named Uisang Beomeosa Temple literally translates into “Fish from Heaven” or “Temple of the Nirvana Fish”.

Legend has it that a fish from heaven rode on a five-colored cloud and landed in a well on the premises of the temple before it was constructed, giving the well a golden hue and marking it a holy spot on which the temple was built.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Shannon Teacher, come on, a fish flying on a five-colored cloud and landing on a well? That sounds preposterous.” And while I would say this sounds more like a painting that hangs over Richard Simmons’ bedthan an actual historical event, let me remind you that I’m not in Kansas anymore. This is a new culture with new beliefs and traditions; all of which are very fundamental to the Korean people and their faith, a faith so extraordinarily strong, it defines their culture.

The well still exists today and is said to never be able to dry up and to have healing powers. I couldn’t find the well. Had I found it, I would have splashed some golden hue well water on a few of my one billion mosquito bites to “test the water” so to speak.

It was incredible to see the reverence and respect the Korean people have for not only the temple itself, but also for the landscape that surrounds it. A day outside the city was exactly what my liver and I needed. 

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