Korean Temple
Buddhist monks, those shaven-headed figures in gray robes, choose to leave this
earthly world (that is, mundane society) in favor of an ascetic existence based
on prayer and self-denial. But now their unworldly lifestyle is becoming a
tourist product... with the monastics\' approval! Monastic life as a tourist
attraction? It\'s part of a global craze for monasticism. From the Himalayas to
the Hudson River, monks are in. Japanese salarymen are chucking their jobs and
fleeing to monasteries. In Taiwan last year, monasticism become big news.

Hundreds of families were shocked when their promising sons and daughters opted
for Buddhist monastic life instead of comfy careers in business. Meanwhile, in
the United States, at least one monastery finds it necessary to turn away
would-be novices. we are not soliciting vocations, the monastery says gently The
worldwide renewal of interest in monasticism has reached out to Korean Buddhists
too. People are interested in Buddhist monks and how they live. Many people,
whether seeking enlightenment or just fed up with the noise and glitz of
consumer society, would like to try the monastic way of living. So why not give
them a taste of it? That is precisely what monasteries in Korea are doing. They
offer tourists a brief but revealing look inside Buddhist Monasticism. Western
usually think of Buddhism as a religion of vegetarians who expect to be
reincarnated after leaving this world at death. Buddhists aim to correct this
oversimplified image. Buddhism has a long and complex history. It originated in

India some 2,600 years ago and was introduced to Korea in about the fourth
century A.D. Since then, Buddhism has exercised a tremendous influence on Korean
culture and produced many widely admired works of art. Pulguksa Temple are

Sokkuram Grotto, built in the eight century, are two of the most famous examples
of Buddhist art and architecture. Those two attractions, along with the

Tripitaka Koreana ( a collection of woodblock texts of Buddhist scripture, made
in the 13th century), were added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in

1995. Today Korean Buddhism involves more than 10,000 temples and 20,000 monks,
and is the belief system of 15 million Koreans (about one-third of the
population). More than 900 of those 10,000 temples are greater than 50 years
old. Buddhism accounts for more than 80 percent of Korean cultural resources
designated as national treasures. Now that foreign visitors are taking an
interest in Buddhist monasticism, Korean Buddhists are starting to market
traditional Buddhist ceremonies and ascetic practices as cultural products.

Already, some temples admit tourists for a close look at what goes on inside a
monastery. The Buddhists think they can encourage tourists to look beyond the
tangible side of Buddhism, namely its temples and pagodas, and experience

Buddhist culture on a more intimate level. Unique Korean Buddhist ceremonies for
tourists are planed, such as traditional dining rituals of Buddhist monks. Plans
also call for the tea ceremony to become a tourist attraction. Many temples are
opening tea houses to draw tourists. Most of these temples sell traditional teas
made by monks themselves.Actually, this opening of Buddhist monasteries to
outsiders is not a new phenomenon. For some time, major temples have admitted

Koreans and foreign visitors to a summer training course that lets guests
withdraw from the chaotic earthly world for a while. Though physically
strenuous, and very brief (only four nights and five days), this experience is
seen as an opportunity for participants to recharge themselves by sampling the
monastic lifestyle. Worship before the image of Buddha, sitting in meditation,
lecture and tea ceremony Sokkuram Grotto is 3 km away from Pulguksa Temple by a
short cut along the mountain ridge and 9 km away by a paved road. Based on a
balance between squares and circles, straight lines and curves, and planes and
globular shapes, the grotto is structured in a perfect harmony. The 38 figures
carved on the wall of the chamber are all masterpieces. The Sokkuram was modeled
after the stone cave temples of china, but in china these were cut into the face
of natural rock cliffs, whereas the Sokkuram is a man-made stone grotto designed
as a setting for the worship of a principal statue of Buddha. The Sokkuram has a
rectangular ante chamber and a circular interior chamber with a domed ceiling
formed from carefully cut blocks of stone. this domed ceiling shows not only
great technical skill but also a solidity reflecting sophisticated knowledge of
the mechanics of stress. Yet it is its sculpture that makes the Sukkuram unique.

Most prominently the large stone statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha in the center of
the interior chamber,