Naesosa is over one thousand years old temple located at the westernmost tip of Korea on the magnificent Byeonsan Peninsula. The temple’s name carries the following meaning “May anyone who comes here revives their life.” The temple was founded during the reign of Baekjae King Mu (633 C.E.) by Ven. Hyegu Duta, and was originally called Soraesa temple. No one really knows when the name was changed to Naesosa.
Once you step through the Iljoomun (One Pillar Gate), the fir trees stand towering above the forest road. They emit a distinctive fragrance that seems to purify our minds from daily drudgery. The Daeoongbojeon (Main Buddha Hall) is admired for its elaborate architectural style and it is famous for elegant decorative flowery patterns on the door frames. Inside the Main Buddha Hall there is a painting of a white-clad Gwanseumbosal figure. If you stare into its eyes, it seems to follow you wherever you go. There’s a legend saying that if you make a wish while looking straight into the figure’s moving eyes, the wish will come true.
There’s also a fascinating story concerning the colorful Dancheong (decorative painting) in the building that is quite well-known. When the construction of the Buddha Hall was completed, an artist volunteered to paint the interior, under the condition that nobody looks inside the hall for a period of one hundred days. On the 99th day, a young monk who couldn’t restrain his curiosity any longer, peeked inside the hall and saw a golden bird grasping a brush in its peak and flying around, painting the interior. Surprised at his appearance, the bird stopped painting and flew away. To this day, one side of the hall remains bare and unpainted.
What is the templestay?
Templestay is a cultural program that gives you the chance to experience the 1,700year old traditions of Korean Buddhism. This is a unique opportunity to stay for two or three days in an ancient temple and live the life of a Buddhist practitioner.
Everyone is welcome - it is not necessary to be a Buddhist to join. In fact, this program is intended for both beginners and experienced practitioners who wish to have some taste of life in a temple.
Templestay means an encounter, a place where you can both encounter yourself and get to know others. In mountain temples you will get a chance to find your ‘ True self’ as well as make new relationships with people and places you never knew before.
Templestay encourages those who want to stay, to stay for a while, and it gives those who want to go, new energy for their path.