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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Buddha's Birthday

                                       "Material wealth is not life's ultimate goal."
                                                              From Buddha's teachings

It's a national holiday here, the birthday of Buddha. Buddhist temples are like ubiquitous jewels. They are found everywhere one goes in Korea. Siddhartha Gautama Buddha...Nepal is said to have been his birthplace, India his final resting place.

Though it is hard to be definitive, approximately 23% of Koreans practice Buddhism-the single largest religious following in Korea. Many more Koreans visit buddhist temples and respectfully partake in rituals.

I visited Bulguksa (불국사) Temple in Gyeongju (경주) on the occasion of the birthday of Buddha (563 BCE - 483 BCE). Waves of people filled the thousand year-old complex. Parking spots were hard to come by and public buses were packed. Vendors sold food and trinkets, from sunglasses to tantalizing paper umbrellas.

An old woman was selling fresh berries in paper cups.

Middle-aged women were dressed proudly in their finest traditional clothes. I couldn't help but stare at one woman who, with quiet dignity, wore a light grey, 2-piece outfit with tiny, finely sewn patches of pink and blue pastels.

The air was filled with a rainbow of colors as far as the eye could see. An important ritual I observed was the pouring of water over a small golden statue of the buddha. Followers would take turns pouring and bowing.

                                       "Nothing which comes to be is ultimately satisfying."
                                                                   From Buddha's teachings

My memories replay the mental films of buddhist monks selflessly leading resistance to military thuggery in Burma, to Chinese authoritarianism in Tibet and in countless other places in Asia and throughout the world. As I depart the temple grounds I hear an enchanting sound--a simple knocking on hollow wood--a monk's call for alms.

                                              "All things that come to be have an end."
                                                                    From Buddha's teachings


  1. Thanks for a lovely and colorful post!

    1. Greetings Ms. Jamie.
      You are welcome! These paste few months have been a magic carpet ride of colors, smells, sounds and sighs-all provocative. My adventure transitions to one back on Peaks. See you on the other side in very early July.