Hwa Um Sa (Whaum Temple)

Submitted by Pierce Salguero on Mon, 02/12/2018 - 00:52
10 Layle Ln, Doylestown, PA 18901

40.3153417, -75.1821007

Geographic Origin(s) of Institution
Date Last Visited
Main Cultural/Linguistic/Ethnic Affiliation(s) of Members or Participants
Major Sectarian Affiliation(s)
Other Basic Information

Jogye Order Korean Buddhist temple, established in 2001. One monk in residence.

Local Setting, Neighborhood, Demographics

Located in a sparsely-populated exurban area with a very small Korean population. Temple-goers primarily come from 30 minutes or more away — including Philadelphia and New York areas. Main altars are dedicated to Kṣitigarbha and Avalokiteśvara.

Best Time to Visit

The resident monk grows vegetables and herbs. He prepares teas with the latter, which he distributes to the community on the Buddha’s birthday (and to a lesser extent throughout the year). One herbal specialty he grows is wormwood (Kr. suk; Artemisia absinthium), which is grown from seeds imported from Korea. He also grows mulberry, and dozens of other plants. He provides instructions on how to prepare tea from these, as well as on health benefits.

The monk denies that he is involved specifically in sickness and health (“I’m not a doctor,” he says). But, he does offer different teas for different types of ailments or constitutions, and always teaches about their effects and/or contraindications. My interpretation is that the monk is participating in the general Korean health culture, which prioritizes the knowledge of the health benefits of herbs, plants, and foods. However, his handouts and health advice seem to be primarily framed in terms of biomedical rather than traditional Korean concepts and terminology.

Grounds of the temple include vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and East Asian style rock gardens. The grounds include walking paths lined with pebbles, which he says are good for health when one walks barefoot.