Monday, October 4, 2010

The biggest Buddha in Korea Part 2: about Nammirueksa

    Once you survive the crazy journey to the temple, you will quickly realize that your final destination was well worth the visit. I have been to numerous Buddhist temples throughout Korea and Los Angeles, but nothing compares to the quaint location and humble surroundings of Nammireuksa.
The best part about visiting the temple is that there will not be thousands of tourists in your way. In fact, my friend Andrea and I were the only people (besides the monks) at the temple for a good hour and a half. The only other tourists that I saw were a cute Korean couple, and two old ladies that we saw drive away in their car about half an hour after they arrived.
    Of course the most popular part of the temple is the 36 meter or 118 foot tall Buddha statue. The magnitude of this statue is completely overwhelming when you reach the top of the steps at the base of the Buddha.
    Surrounding the base, are numerous prayer wheels. I learned that you should walk around the base of the statue starting from East to West while touching the wheels so that they spin. A women working at the temple who spoke barley any English said the word “hope” to us as she took us around some similar stationary wheels inside one of the temples. I learned from Wikipedia that the wheels are the equivalent of reciting a sutra or prayer. The detail on each wheel is beautiful, and they bare the words “Om the Jewel in the Lotus Hum” which is a mantra of the god Avalokitesvara.

A video of the Prayer Wheels.

    There were many worship halls throughout the grounds of the temple. I could enter about six different prayer rooms, but there were also some that were closed off. The only hall which had someone monitoring is pictured to the left. Unfortunately, I could not take pictures inside of this room. The experience of standing with thousands of golden Buddha’s surrounding me literally took my breath away. The detail inside of this temple is unbelievably ornate, and just being in the room was calming and inspiring.
     One of my favorite halls (picture no. 2) had hundreds of golden lanterns hanging from the ceilings. The room was not open, but there was a round handle on the ornate doors and so I carefully snuck inside to take a peak. Being in that room alone and bowing in front of the altar gave me the most peaceful and memorable feeling.
    Another one of the temples high points are the three pagodas. There were no English explanations so I had a hard time knowing any history about them. But from my knowledge of Buddhism I know that each pillar on the pagoda has a symbolic meaning.
     Overall, the temple is absolutely stunning. I could go on and on for hours about the beauty of this place, but there is simply no was to describe its elegance correctly. This is truly one destination that has made me realize and see fully the beauty of this world. There will be a Part 3 of this blog displaying numerous photos from the temple.

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