Monday, May 08, 2006

Post 20: 080506 Heung Guk-sa Temple

When not rehearsing on the weekends, Suk-he and I like to take Sunday drives. This usually results in us stopping in a national park or walking the grounds of an ancient Buddhist temple. This Sunday gone, with permission from my director, we drove out into the country and joined the throng of cars enveloping many other avid escapists, seeking respite and solitude.

Turning off from the main drag where the traffic had slowed to a crawl and the cars air conditioning was giving me a headache, we wound our way up a narrow road and found ourselves at the footsteps of Heung Guk-sa (흥국사) temple. A predominantly empty car park allowed us a place in the shade and from there we eagerly dawdled between restored buildings that had first found their feet in 599A.D.

What I usually feel when standing in the threshold looking into the interior of these buildings is a mix of longing and disappointment. Longing, as I would dearly like to be familiar with the mechanics of this belief system. I know rudimentary belief structures such as the desire to live in harmony with ones environment rather than at its antithesis but not the means of showing ones respect for its multi-millennia history. Disappointment because what I usually find is reconstruction or the hope of reconstruction after what once stood on these grounds had been pulverized but an occupying force.

Here I found reconstruction but void of the tackiness of other examples. This was older and treated with more respect. Well, treated with respect by some but not the local bloke who thought the wood dangling from chains and used to ring the eight foot high bronze cast bell was the perfect place to sit. No residents were within sight which is usually the case but their presence was felt and numerous candles burnt solemnly along the walls. I was pleased to share, for an all too brief spell, their charismatic setting of respite and devotion.

Here are a few photos so you get the idea.


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eye-catching photos Craig. Love the different shapes and colours of Korea. Very bright and vibrant.

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