Naksan Temple Field Trip with the Ven. Pomnyun Sunim
On May 6, the Ansan Diverse Cultural Center of JTS (Join Together Society) hosted a field trip with JTS Chairman, the Ven. Pomnyun Sunim to Naksan Temple located in Yangyang County of Kwangwon Province. 126 people of diverse cultural backgrounds along with 31 Korean volunteers attended the trip consisting of a pilgrimage to Naksan Temple, a Dharma Q&A session with Pomnyun Sunim, and a stroll through the Naksan Beach.
There was concern about the rainy forecast. However, the light rain ended up blessing the attendees with fresh and clean air during the field trip.
After a delicious lunch of a vegetarian mixed rice, the group toured Naksan Temple guided by Seung-Yong Lee, the president of the Peace Foundation. Delegates from Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Nepal interpreted President Lee’s explanations through an electronic device. The participants enjoyed themselves looking over the temple’s architecture, the statues, and the scenery, as well as taking photographs with their friends.
After the pilgrimage to the Naksan Temple, a Dharma Q&A with Pomnyun Sunim was held in Inwalryo Building. Pomnyun Sunim stated that because most South Koreans have not lived abroad, they are not cognizant of the prejudice and difficulties that foreigners living in South Korea face. He apologized on behalf of South Koreans for their lack of assistance and hospitality. He also stated that despite the reality of living among Koreans who don’t fully understand them, foreigners in South Korea also had the right to live a happy life and free of suffering. He encouraged the attendees to talk about the difficulties they faced living in South Korea and ask him any questions they had on how to live a happy life.
One participant inquired about the ways in which a person could treat emotional wounds. The inquirer said that he was working hard but couldn’t save much money and that he felt pressured by his family to become rich. Pomnyun Sunim answered that the perception of being rich or being poor exists only when people compare themselves to others. He said that people are whole beings as they are and advised the inquirer to not be cowardly but confident, not arrogant but humble. After listening to Pomnyun Sunim’s response, the inquirer’s face lit up.
After the Dharma Q&A session, the group went down to the beach and had a wonderful time. During the trip back home, a participant commented that it has been difficult working long hours every day, but the trip has given him a lot of comfort. Another participant remarked that he liked being introduced to Korean history and culture. Another declared that he would like to learn Korean in the Korean class offered by the JTS Ansan Diverse Cultural Center.
A volunteer and her two sons held up signs and guided the attendees during the field trip. Another volunteer did not hesitate to run around in the rain without an umbrella to assist the attendees standing in line for their lunch meal. It was heartwarming to see the volunteers take good care of the attendees who got lost because they couldn’t speak Korean. The effort and dedication of the numerous volunteers helped to make the trip a success.