Kyol Che

Kyol Che means 'Tight Dharma' and refers to the three months during the summer or winter when Zen monks traditionally spend their time on meditation retreat, concentrating on formal sitting practice for at least nine or ten hours a day in the Zen room. The retreat is held in silence and the intensive schedule allows one to completely devote oneself to formal practice.

Sitting meditation, chanting and bowing are the core of our formal practice during kyol che at Musangsa. Weekly Dharma talks and kong-an interviews are given to all retreat participants by the guiding teachers.

In traditional Korean Zen temples, monks, nuns and laypeople all sit retreat in different meditation rooms. At Musangsa, all four groups (monk, nuns, laymen and laywomen) do formal meditation practice together following the teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn. If you are interested in participating in kyol che at Musangsa, please go to Kyol Che Information & Application below.

2021 Summer Kyol Che Information

Summer Kyol Che

May 26, 2021 to August 22, 2021

Please apply after carefully reviewing the differences from the previous Kyol Che information due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

Minimum participation period is 3 weeks.
The entry dates are not set yet. Please inquire ahead if the date you desire to start kyol che is open for entry.
If the number of participants is small, the Kyol Che daily schedule may change slightly depending on the situation.


1. Domestic participants must submit confirmations of two negative COVID-19 PCR tests;
The first test should be done 14 days before your entry date.
The second test should be done one day before the approved entry date.

Example: Take your first COVID-19 test 14 days before the date of entry.
--> If the result is negative --> On the 13th day after your first COVID-19 test, take a second COVID-19 test in the morning one day before your entry date.
-->You can get the results the next morning by phone on the day of your entry.
--> submit or notify Musangsa of the test results right away by taking a screenshot of your result on your phone (text message) and send to the temple retreat organizer’s email: office@musangsa.org.
If both tests are negative, arrive at the temple by 4:00 p.m. on your entry day.

2. Overseas participants will have to quarantine in a government designated facility or a self-arranged place for two weeks (14-days) upon their arrival in Korea (this currently includes two or three COVID-19 tests. If there is any change, you can follow the guidelines in effect from the Korean government at the time of your arrival in Korea.) Please contact the temple with any questions or for further instructions if the Korean Government guidelines for new arrivals have changed.

● If the Korean government enforces strong restrictions on the COVID-19 epidemic, the in-person participation for Kyol Che may be canceled. In that case, we will notify you individually as soon as possible as well as make a public announcement.
What is a Retreat?

What is a Retreat?

Zen Master Dae Bong

First, retreat 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 kyol che our consciousness is cleaner. So kyol che is a big dry cleaning machine.

Second, retreat 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 kyol che 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 kyol che, 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 kyol che with many karma gasoline, then take out this karma gasoline so that Dharma gasoline comes in. So we say kyol che 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.
Kyol Che Rules

Musangsa Kyol Che Rules

1. Kyol Che is held in silence. Zen Master Seung Sahn says, "Silence is better than holiness". Bodhidharma sat silently in Sorim for 9 years. Silence deepens your practice and benefits you and others. If your job does not require talking, keeping silence will help you. You should also keep silence in your room.

2. Be on time for all practice periods, Dharma talks and meals. Always go to the Buddha Hall, Zen room, or Dining room punctually when the moktak is hit.

3. Do not enter or leave the Zen room after the chukpi (bamboo clapper) is hit for sitting meditation unless you are going to or returning from an interview.

4. Walking meditation is a continuation of sitting meditation. You may leave the Zen room during walking meditation when necessary. When re-entering the Zen room, do so quietly at your proper place in the line. Always walk softly in the Zen room, especially when walking on the stairs.

5. Everyone must come to all practice periods. If you are sick and cannot attend, please write a note to the Head Monk before the practice period that you will miss.

6. Everyone must come to all formal meals.​ They are a part of our practice. If you do not wish to eat a meal, you should still attend.

7. Do not enter the kitchen unless you have been given work to do there.

8. Do not use the small kitchen under the staircase in the Zen building during chanting or sitting meditation.

9. Mobile phones, personal computers or any communication equipment may not be used during the retreat.​ Please deposit your mobile phone with the temple office during registration. All outside communications are suspended for the duration of the retreat. In the case of an emergency, contact the Head Monk.

10. Do not walk up the mountain alone if you do not know the way.

11. Men and women should not go for walks outside alone with each other. ​That is, one man with one woman. You should go in groups of three people or more.

12. Men and women should not go into each other’s rooms.​
The exception to this rule is when teachers need to give private interviews or consultations to students.

13. Do not come to the temple office unless you have been asked by one of the Directors.

14. Do not talk to visitors to the temple.​ If they approach you, please direct them to the temple office or the Director.

15. The head monk will control the opening and closing of windows in the Zen room.​ If you have a problem or request, let the head monk know.

16. Do not feed or play with any animals.

17. Do not shave your head if you are a layperson.​ If you wish to keep your hair short, it should be at least 2 cm long (about 1 inch).

18. Bowing robes or working jackets and socks are to be worn whenever you are outside of your room.

19. Do not wear brightly colored clothing during the retreat.​ Do not wear hats in the Zen room.

20. The use of tobacco and alcohol are detrimental to our practice. ​Retreat participants should not consume alcohol or smoke tobacco while on retreat.

21. Personal books should not be read during the retreat.​ Only the books provided by the Zen Center may be used. Read them in the tea room during breaks and return them to the bookshelf.

22. Everyone will have a job during the work period each day, mostly cleaning the temple and working in the kitchen.​Work period is part of formal practice. Please attend to your work period assignment with mindfulness.

23. Do your laundry during the scheduled times. ​Don't work on your laundry during walking meditation. If you hang your laundry on the lines outside, take it down before evening practice.

24. Do not bring your watch into the Zen room if it makes a beeping sound.

25. Bedroom lights should be switched off by 9.20 p.m.

26. If you have a health problem, inform the Health Master.

27. If you need something, write a note to the Head Monk, House Master, or appropriate director.

28. If these rules are consistently broken by any participant, they will be given two formal warnings by the Head Monk and a third warning by the Guiding Teacher.​ If the rule concerned is still broken, the person may be asked to leave.

29. All exceptions to these rules or any temple guidelines can only be made at the sole discretion of the Guiding Teacher, Joshil Zen Master Dae Bong Sunim and Seon Won Jang Vice-abbot Hye Tong Sunim JDPS.

Guidelines for basic Korean temple etiquette * Always allow teachers, monks and nuns to go ahead of you when leaving the Buddha Hall or Zen Room.
* Always walk behind people seated in meditation.
* Learn the correct bowing form and be mindful of bowing correctly.
* Always use both hands while serving food or giving or receiving something to anyone.
* Do not sit at any place with your legs and feet sticking out, pointing at a Buddha or any person.
* Do not blow your nose in the Zen room or during meals. Please wipe your nose quietly with a tissue or handkerchief instead.

Musangsa • Chungcheongnam-do Gyeryong-shi, Eomsa-myeon Hyangjeoksan-gil 129, 32816 South Korea • +82-42-841-6084/1293 • office@musangsa.orgDirections
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