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The ultimate purpose of Zen practice is to realize the true nature of life and death, and to find the correct direction for human life. Through this practice, you can get mental clarity and wisdom that will benefit your everyday life, and help others and society with compassion.

What you SHOULDN’T expect from this practice

Some people have wrong expectations and/or fantasies when they participate in Zen programs, and retreats. Please quickly review the following to see if they match your expectations of correct Zen.

  • Zen is not a ceremony based on blind faith; nor should it be considered a means to gain some merit.
  • Zen is not intellectual and/or philosophical entertainment. Zen practice does not help you to improve on such skills.
  • Zen programs are not an opportunity to have some fun away from work, socializing with others.
  • Zen is not a means to run away from life.
  • Zen is not a cure-all for serious mental health issues. We have seen lots of people participating in Zen retreats, hoping for their conditions to improve. If you already have mental health issues that require treatment, we are sorry to say that we do not recommend Zen as a treatment. For those who have had psychiatric treatments before, practicing Zen may even complicate their previous treatments.

Kyol Che

 “Kyol Che” literally means “Tight Dharma” in East Asia (“結制”). It is a time when monastics have intensive Zen practice for three months, twice a year (in summer and winter). Every day during the Kyol Che, there’s sitting Zen that lasts nine to ten hours. Total silence is kept throughout retreats: no speaking. In traditional Korean temples, bikkhus, bikkhunis, laymen and laywomen each use separate Zen halls to sit. At Musangsa, however, we all practice together in the same Zen hall, as is the international tradition at Kwan Um School of Zen, established by Zen Master Seung Sahn. Only the living quarters are separated from each other.

What is Kyol Che?
-Zen Master Dae Bong-

First, Kyol Che is a dry-cleaning machine.
Our brain and body is a No.1. best computer but it has lots of dust. Desire, anger and ignorance dust, also many opinions dust. So we use this don’t know soap, put down our opinion, desire, anger and ignorance, only follow situation together and keep a big question, just don’t know mind, and that’s cleaning, cleaning, cleaning our consciousness. After Retreat our consciousness is cleaner. So, Retreat is a big dry-cleaning machine.

Second, Kyol Che is a Dharma gasoline station.
Our life has energy. That’s karma energy, karma gasoline. But karma means ‘I, my, me.’ Put down ‘I, my, me,’ then you and the universe become one. Then Dharma energy, universal energy comes into you. So, when we do retreat together, we put down all our opinions; my opinion, my situation, my condition. Then the correct opinion, correct situation and correct condition appears, so we and the universe are one, and then Dharma gasoline comes in. Then after retreat, you have Dharma energy. Having Dharma energy means being in harmony with the universe and being able to follow the correct way. You come to retreat with many karmas’ gasoline, then take out this karma gasoline so that Dharma gasoline comes in. So, we say retreat is also a Dharma gasoline station.

Next, many people in this world are hungry.
There are two kinds of hungry people; body hungry and mind hungry. Body hungry people cannot get enough food, then starve and die. They have suffering but not so much make suffering for others. Mind hungry people have enough but want more, ‘I want more, I want more.’ So mind hungry people have suffering but also make much suffering for others. So when we come to retreat we attain Dharma, then when we go home we make Dharma food. Make Dharma candy, Dharma cookies, Dharma cake, Dharma rice and Dharma bread, and all kinds of great Dharma food. Then share Dharma food to take away people’s mind hunger and make world peace. So, retreat is a Dharma food factory. Come to retreat, clean your consciousness in our dry-cleaning machine, get Dharma gasoline, Dharma energy, then in your life make Dharma food, give to others to take away their mind hunger, and take away this world’s suffering. That’s our practice and our job.

2024 Summer Kyol Che in person

2024 Summer Retreat

May 22nd, 2024 to August 18, 2024

  • 2024 Summer Retreat May 22nd, 2024 , to August 18, 2024
  • Minimum participation period: 1 week (entrance and exit days are always on Saturday)
  • Entry Dates for in-person Summer Kyol Che 2024:
  • 2024 Summer Kyol Che entry date is every Saturday.
    Please arrive at Musangsa’s office between 12:30PM and 1:00PM on Saturday on the entry date you applied for.

Kyol Che (90 day Zen retreat) at Musangsa

Kyol Che at Musangsa follows a schedule that is comprised of focused formal practice, work practice, hiking and other communal retreat activities in a traditional Zen temple setting. All are welcome to join and benefit from this unique opportunity of practicing together with an international community of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen practitioners, and receiving regular teaching from the guiding teachers.

Kyol Che at Musangsa can be a valuable experience in making a foundation for Zen practice when returning to your respective home country. Teaching at Musangsa is conducted in English. Please read carefully the following information before submitting your application.

Basic Requirements (minimum one-week participation)

The retreat is open to all who have had some experience of meditation in a Kwan Um School of Zen center and can sit for a minimum of one week.
(Monks and nuns are required to sit for the full 90 days.)
– Applicants must be over 18 years old and are expected to stay for the complete period for which they have applied.
– Retreat accommodation is in simple, shared rooms, sleeping on the floor (heated in winter) with mattresses.

How to Apply

If you wish to join the Kyol Che retreat, please complete and return the Kyol Che Application form by submitting the online application directly. All applications should be submitted a minimum of 1 week before your entry date. Seats are limited for the retreat and applications will be considered on a first come, first serve basis with approval from the guiding teachers, so apply early to avoid disappointment. All applications need to be reviewed and approved by the Musangsa Guiding Teachers. This also applies to former retreat participants. Please ensure that you:
– indicate the period that you wish to sit with exact dates
– provide full information about your meditation experience
– attach a recent photograph (recommended)
– any medical conditions

complete the application form fully with signature (check the Declaration box in the online form, and make sure all the required fields are filled out completely, or your application will not be processed. If you do not receive a reply within one week, please re-submit your online application or email office@musangsa.org)

Arrival & Registration

– International participants entering MUST arrive at Musangsa on entry date between 12:30 noon to 13:00
– Participants traveling locally from Korea MUST arrive at Musangsa on entry date between 12:30 noon to 13:00
– Designated entry dates are on Saturdays ONLY except where indicated.
– For each designated Saturday entry date, please arrive at Musangsa by 12 noon promptly.
– If you miss the arrival time above, ***PLEASE MAKE SURE TO ARRIVE NO LATER THAN 4PM ON YOUR ENTRY DATE.*** An important orientation will take place thereafter.
– Exit from the retreat is after lunch on your designated exit date.

Kyol Che Fees

Adult: 1 week 300,000 won, 1 month 1 million won
Student: 1 week 150,000 won, 1 month 600,000 won
*The above student rate is a 50% discount for students under 25 years of age. Rates are based on the best options for participants; please bring your current student ID upon registration. Please allow the temple to keep a copy of your ID for our records.

Basic Rules

Participants who join the retreat should agree to the following:
– Follow the Retreat and Temple Rules of Musangsa and the Kwan Um School of Zen
– Observe silence during the retreat according to program
– Participate fully in daily scheduled practice
– Not shave your head if you are a layperson – you should keep at least 1 cm of hair
– Take care that your actions do not disturb others and conform to the behavior and etiquette required at a Korean temple – participants will be instructed during orientation on this as part of their practice.
– Not to have any outside communications during the retreat
– Not to use mobile phones, personal computers, tablets, and any personal telecommunication or entertainment devices during the retreat. Upon arrival, your devices will be taken for safekeeping at the temple until you exit from the retreat.

Travel

Due to the fluctuating Covid -19 pandemic conditions, for international participants, please check with the South Korean embassy in your home country for travel regulations, visa eligibility and quarantine rules prior to submitting your Kyol Che application to Musangsa. If you are coming from overseas, we can provide you with travel directions from Incheon Airport to Musangsa. If you are joining the retreat on an entry date after the start, plan your arrival at least one day or more before your entry date to adjust to the local situation, especially if you are coming from abroad. You can stay in a hotel/motel accommodation outside the temple until the entry date, in the town near Musangsa called Eomsari, or in Seoul.

Documents Required

Please make sure you have a valid passport. Also, please check with the Korean embassy in your country whether the type of visa you will receive is of sufficient length for your stay at Musangsa. It is very difficult to obtain a long-term visa for Korea and it is not permissible for any participant to overstay the allotted time on their visa. If you plan to sit the full 90-day retreat, it will actually be necessary to stay longer than 90 days in Korea, including your arrival date, departure date, orientation, etc. Since most tourist visas are for 90 days or less, please make sure to refer to the Korea Immigration website for details on your visa arrangements and your retreat entry/exit dates prior to making your travel plans.

KOREA IMMIGRATION WEBSITE https://www.hikorea.go.kr/Main.pt

Musangsa DOES NOT service applications for visa extensions as current Korean Immigration law is stringent on short term extensions. Kyol Che participants are recommended to schedule their retreat participation dates to within their visa limit dates to avoid hassles or denial of future entry into Korea. For those who qualify for temporary extension of stay (such as day trip to Japan) Musangsa can provide information and help you to arrange such short trips during the Kyol Che schedule. This may not be possible due to COVID-19 fluctuating changes.

KOREA IMMIGRATION WEBSITE https://www.hikorea.go.kr/Main.pt

* Citizens of countries which automatically receive 6 month tourist visas to Korea (such as Canada) are able to sit the full 90 day retreat without a visa extension.

No Outside Contacts

Participants must remain inside the temple area for the entire duration of their retreat. Telephone calls, chats, e-mail, letters and contacts with visitors are not allowed, except in case of an emergency. If this occurs, the temple Director can be contacted by e-mail, fax, or telephone and you will be notified.

Clothing

While participating in Kyol Che, all participants should wear traditional meditation clothes. This means grey meditation pants, working jacket and bowing robe. Meditation clothes can also be borrowed from the temple upon your arrival, but sizes are limited. Shirts with collars should not be worn. Round-neck shirts, T-shirts and sweaters are best. These should be white, grey or a dull color. Personal clothing brought to the retreat, including socks, etc. should be of muted, dull colors such as grey, brown or white, to blend in well with the grey-colored robes. Please check the temperature chart below and prepare your personal clothes accordingly. General retreat attire etiquette in a temple: wear socks in any public area; wear short or long-sleeved top under the bowing robe, jacket or vest at all times regardless of season. Bring your own outdoor coat, hiking shoes, hat, scarf and gloves. If you have taken five precepts or more in the Kwan Um School of Zen, please bring your ojo kasa and long robe (as appropriate) for chanting practice.

Food

It is not possible to satisfy the special food requirements of all participants. All participants are requested to accept the simple, vegetarian diet provided. Supplementary foodstuffs are not permitted.

Personal Health and Insurance

You are expected to take responsibility for your own health. The temple does not assume responsibility for personal medicines, medical and dental expenses. It is not possible to visit a doctor during the retreat except in cases of serious emergency. If you have any existing illness or physical injury that requires ongoing medical treatment, please do not apply for this retreat.

Transportation Costs

All participants need to bear their own personal transportation costs. This may include:
– Round-trip airfare from your home country to Seoul
– Round-trip fare by ship, between Busan and Japan if a visa renewal trip is needed (approx. US $300)
– Transportation costs to and from the airport
– Cost of overnight accommodation in a hotel or motel (yeo-gwan) if necessary, due to late flight arrival in Korea (approx. US $40 upwards).
– Please take into consideration COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine requirements when planning your trip.

Kyol Che Retreat Fees (KRW)
Week Standard KUSZ members/5P/DTIT(90%) Dharma Teachers(85%)
1 300,000 270,000 255,000
2 600,000 540,000 510,000
3 900,000 810,000 765,000
4 1,000,000 900,000 850,000
5 1,300,000 1,170,000 1,105,000
6 1,600,000 1,440,000 1,360,000
7 1,900,000 1,710,000 1,615,000
8 2,000,000 1,800,000 1,700,000
9 2,200,000 1,980,000 1,870,000
10 2,400,000 2,160,000 2,040,000
11 2,600,000 2,340,000 2,210,000
12 2,800,000 2,520,000 2,380,000
13 2,800,000 2,520,000 2,380,000
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