Maggie H is a Global Explorer and Wellness Guru from Hong Kong. Among many spiritual endeavors, Maggie practices and leads Qigong meditation to help people around the world find their inner balance. Find out more about this and other Eastern Philosophy & Meditation practices every Monday on the ICBRKR blog.

Photo credit: Korea Cultural Heritage Administration

I have a special story with the picture Treasure #1818 at the Botasa temple in Seoul.

In 2011, I visited the Gaeunsa temple — a 14th-century temple right at the back gate of Korea University, only 30 minutes away from the city hall by subway. It's not known to the public, but the temple serves the seasonal vegetable Bibimbab with temple-made chili paste for lunch. So, yes, this took place at the dining hall of the temple. The lady who happened to share our table strongly suggested that we — my sister, brother-in-law and I — visit the temple next door, and even volunteered to take us there herself. It is only one hundred steps away, she emphasised!

The Botasa temple was, in fact, right around the corner. It was built in the 14th century, around the same period as the end of the Koryo dynasty and the beginning of the Joseon dynasty. According to the kind lady, the temple is located in the womb of the dragon, so whoever visits it will be blessed with a happy family. Coincidentally, my sister was eight months pregnant at that time.

As we walked in, the tiny main hall was occupied with a group that was meditating, so we were taken to the other smaller rectangular building, which was about 300 square feet — barely big enough to hold a few people. As soon as we sat down in the dimly lit room, the abbot who was supposed to lead the meditation in the main hall walked in.

So we began a casual conversation over tea and snacks, and then the abbot asked me to turn around. When I did, I noticed a statue of bodhisattva, which seemed similar to many other statues at first but looked very unique because of her hair being down on her shoulders. Unlike most statues of bodhisattva in Korea, it was distinctively feminine. It is believed to have been commissioned by a family of very high stature or the royal family at that time. They had kept it low profile because they didn’t want tourists to overwhelm the tiny, peaceful temple. I wasn't quite sure what I was feeling in that moment, except that I just wanted to stand there gazing at the pretty statue for as long as I could.

I came back to Hong Kong and continued practicing the Great Compassion Mantra. A few months later, I was having my own silent retreat at a temple over Christmas holidays. I was reciting the Mantra from early morning till late evening, and was getting close to reaching half a million counts. At one point, everyone was gone and I was left alone, so it must've been in the evening. Suddenly, I noticed that everything disappeared, but the sound of the mantra.

Then, I realized this sound seemed too familiar, and the thought that I used to practice this mantra in my past life crossed my mind. I opened my eyes and there I was sitting alone in that rectangular room in front of the statue. I looked down and noticed that the way I was holding the prayer beads wasn't how I would normally do, but it seemed to work better somehow. Then, my eyes moved up and I was wearing a dark blue silk robe; not quite Joseon period, more the Koryo style with beautiful embroideries. Meanwhile, I was still reciting the Mantra and closed my eyes again, continuing with the meditation.

Later, I returned to the temple to see the statue. There was a big signage outside celebrating the statue officially becoming the Treasure #1818. I shared my story with the abbot and asked if I could take a picture of it so I could keep it at home. She kindly offered me the last official picture in a frame as a gift.

What this story tells us: The past, present and future are all connected and we are circling around the same karmic connections wearing different outfits and playing different roles.

Maggie H is a Life Cartographer, Eastern philosopher, Qigong master, Buddhist and Taoist meditator, Feng Shui practitioner, and researcher of Buddhist scriptures. She lives in Hong Kong, and regularly travels to both India and South Korea to further her spiritual growth and development. Her lifelong motto is: "benefit to all humankind."


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