"Mihwangsa is an elegant temple located at the southernmost tip of the Korean Peninsula, in the so-called “Land’s End Village.” You can see at one time both the beautiful mountain Dalmasan and the cool, refreshing West Sea.

Mihwangsa was founded during the reign of Shilla King Gyeongdeok (749 C.E.), and the story of its foundation is quite interesting. One day a stone boat appeared in the sea in front of the village. People heard beautiful sounds, a heavenly hymn glorifying the Buddha’s virtue, coming from the ship. But when they approached the stone ship to investigate, the ship moved back away from the shore. However, when they gave up and turned their backs to leave, the ship would return closer to the shore again. This went on for several days. When Ven. Uijo heard this news, he started chanting and praying, and the boat reached land safely. Inside the boat was a box made of gold and a black rock. The monk found a Buddha statue and sutras inside of the golden box, and when he broke open the rock, a black cow leapt out. That night, the monk saw a golden man in his dream, who told him that the boat had come from India, and that he should build a temple wherever the cow stopped.

The next day, the Buddha statue and sutras were loaded on the back of the cow, which started to climb up the foothills of Dalmasan. About halfway up, the cow loudly mooed, fell down and didn’t get up again. So the monk built a temple in that place and called it Mihwangsa. The temple is named Mi (beautiful) after the unusually pleasing, strangely musical bellow of the black cow, and Hwang (yellow/gold) after the golden robes of the man in Great Master Euijo’s dream.

Mihwangsa is a temple as beautiful as its name. The rocky ridge of Dalmasan surrounds Mihwangsa, as if the landscape is from a panel on a folding screen. Also the glow of the setting sun, as seen at dusk from the temple, has been a wondrous sight for many people, since long ago.”

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Waking up at 4am at Mihwangsa for morning meditation, still raining outside. Deep bright colours in the forest, walking to monk graveyard, some more outstanding simple vegetarian temple food, and then it’s already time to head back. A brief but a very special experience.

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From Gwangju to templestay at Mihwangsa temple. Bus driver speeding through heavy rain like crazy before dropping us off at a small one-street town where numerous taxis sit in the rain with nobody in. Finally, arriving at the peaceful, almost empty temple grounds (most monks are out helping at the ferry accident searches only an hour away). After simple but delicious supper and some temple etiquette orientation, meditation and comparing our countries with a local monk at a tea ceremony, falling asleep on the warm ondol floor to the sound of rain.

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