Muse Xuyoni

An Interview with Grhapati Hyangjuk

Grhapati Hyangjuk practices tea and meditation deep in Jiri Mountain where silence is perfectly ordinary.


In July 1845, at 27 years of age, American poet and thinker Henry David Thoreau (b.1817) built a cabin on Lake Walden near Concord, Massachusetts and began living in solitude. For about two years and two months, he bid farewell to all things material and led a self-sufficient life. His writing in this cabin in the woods was published in 1854 in the book, “Walden.” We live with the benefits of a civilization that has advanced by leaps and bounds, but we still long for nature. On weekends, we try to get away from the city to get as close as possible to the untouched environment that each season presents in nature. Perhaps this is the most instinctive and natural human desire.
Deep in Jini Mountain, there is a place called Dancheonjae, which is not even marked on the map. Grhapati Hyangjuk who coincidently created this place about 20 years ago enjoys tea and meditates here with those whose paths cross his own. Xuyoni managed a visit to this hard-to-locate mysterious place, located in Mokab Village of Jiri Mountain and had a conversation with Grhapati Hyangjuk who once led a more fierce life than anyone else in the competitive civilized world but now practices daily meditation befriending silence.





This place is unexpectedly bountiful with beautiful scenery. How did the Dancheonjae come to be?


I am a longtime friend of the husband of Xuyoni’s CEO; we have decades of memories together. The two of us have a common hobby of enjoying tea and incense. It was with this friend that I stumbled upon Mokap Village in Jiri Mountain and fell immediately in love. I was introduced to the centuries-old Jackseol tea and decided to continue the tradition of tea farming in the area. Shortly after, this house became available for sale, so I bought it. Then I met my neighbor Soam- the author of "Introduction to Jackseol Tea”- and earnestly learned traditional tea farming from him. Together, they started farming Jackseol tea in 2001. Naturally, I ended up residing here for tea and meditation 23 years ago.





How did you become interested in tea?


It was probably in 1983 when I was preparing to study abroad in the States. I spent that summer studying quietly at the temple. My conversation with the monks there introduced me to tea. That was my introduction to the world of tea. The same goes for incense. When I traveled to the United States, a monk gave me a bucket of incense, which was some Japanese incense. Although untrained, I was always surrounded by tea and incense for decades, and people started to recognize it.



I heard that you don't live in Dancheonjae anymore. How often do you come here?


Nowadays, the business of my work is keeping me away for coming here more than once or twice a season. Just like when I first met this place, I come to Dancheonjae to refresh and recharge. Simply lying down on the hot Gudeuljang(Korean traditional heating stone for floor) and warming up the body is enough to relax. Sometimes I visit Bulil Falls, which is an hour away from here. There are many beautiful places around.



How do we define this space?


A place to drink tea. A place to unwind and relax. In addition, I would describe it as a place where you can harmonize with nature.





What usually does on at Dancheonjae?


Many things happen here. First of all, during the Chinese New Year, people gather to pray, drink tea, and meditate - all as a way of relaxing. It also becomes a place for those who like tea or are curious about tea to come and enjoy tea and discuss it. Sometimes monks come, and we serve them tea. Sometimes I lend it out to those who need a break, but it's a space for myself first and foremost.





Can you recall any memorable events?


Looking back, there have been many strange occasions, but one of the most memorable is with Nawang Khechog, the widely-known meditation musician from Tibet. About 20 years ago, I was given a CD of his by chance and was listening to it every day. I loved the music so much that I couldn't stop listening to it, and I had been recommending it to everyone I knew. Then one day, Khechog contacted me. He wanted to perform at Dancheonjae. He told me the landscape was similar to his hometown and that he would like to perform for children here. Of course, I accepted, and we invited the villagers and held a small concert. It was really a dreamlike moment, even thinking about it now.



It certainly is a place of precious memories. It's not open to all anymore, I hear?


There was a time when it was open to everyone. It was with the pure intention of sharing the experience of tea and meditation with more people. It would’ve been great if all who came here understood and respected this intention, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Some caused a nuisance to neighbors. As a result, we now only open the doors of Dancheonjae to people who adequately understand the purpose of the space. I want Dancheonjae to be a good place as it is, not a place that lacks something. I want to share Dancheonjae with those who can truly enjoy the beauty of Mokap Village and its calm atmosphere. Mokap Village itself is a friendly and quiet place with nice neighbors. I welcome those who want to experience true tranquility here at Dancheonjae.



What was your life like before Dancheonjae?


I was working in an advertising company and keeping really busy. I was a PM in charge of overseas projects, which was stressful. Even then, I was interested in things spiritual like meditation.
Tell us about the allure of Mokap Village, the home of Danchonjae.
It's been 20 years since we built Dancheonjae because we fell in love with the charm of the village. It is still beautiful. When you spend time here, the hustle and bustle of the world turns into something very trivial, like a speck of dust. It is a serene place that makes you feel calm. Nowadays, Many come here in search of tranquility. Dancheonjae stands as a small soil house with a panoramic view of Mokap village. I want to enjoy this scenery as long as possible.





You've also grown your own Jackseol tea. Do you have a special way of drinking tea?


I started purely because I love tea, so I'm still very enthusiastically learning about it. I'm always trying new things rather than following a professional recipe. I enjoy the act of experiencing tea.





You seem to be practicing Xuyoni’s way of life.


I been close to tea and meditation for a long time. While it's impossible to escape the hecticness of everyday life, taking time to consciously connect with your inner-self is a much-needed practice in contemporary society. Through Xuyoni, I wish to share this way of life with many people. It’s how I've been running Dancheonjae and will continue to.



Editor: Juhwa Moon

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