Near the Regional Garden in Gyeongju, the old capital of Korea, there is a Buddhist temple decked with statues of Buddha and symbols. My attention was drawn to two footprints with enigmatic figures.

A plump monk in his seventies stood in the yard of the temple. I motioned him to come closer. He was very kind, cheerful, and satisfied my curiosity.

He said, “While traveling to India, I stumbled upon these footprints and took the cast. Then, I reproduced them in the yard of this temple.”

“Could you tell me the meaning of the symbols carved on the feet?” I asked.

He replied: “Fish never close their eyes. It denotes how important alertness and mindfulness is; the wheel represents the cycle of life: birth, life, death, and rebirth; the lotus flower thrives in muddy and stagnant water, however it doesn’t merge with the mud. This means that although we live a worldly life, we shouldn’t merge with worldliness, but we should be free to follow our own spiritual path. As for the other symbols, open you heart, and then you’ll understand the meaning.”

I left the temple, shaking hands with the monk. Once again, by traveling, I have learned something new!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

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