Sunday, 29 June 2014

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple (부석사)

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple (부석사) | by Meheartseoul Buseoksa is one of the 10 largest temples in Korea. According to Teacher Jeon, Buseoksa has these 3 elements that make it a perfect temple: 
1. Sarira / Buddha's Relics  (사리 = 舍利)
2. Buddha's Sutras  (장경각 = 藏經閣)
3. Nice Sangha / Monks

There are five national treasures in Buseoksa Temple:
1. Muryangsujeon (무량수전) Hall - National Treasure No. 18
Constructed in 1376, the temple’s main hall, Muryangsujeon, is is the second oldest wooden building in Korea that survive until now. Most others were destroyed in the Japanese invasions or accidental fires over the centuries. 

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
Muryangsujeon Hall and Stone Lantern (부석사무량수전앞석등)

Muryangsujeon boasts its beautiful curved lines of the building structure. It has 5 rooms at the front and 3 rooms at the side that radiates an effortless grace of elegance and dynamism, that make it one of the most beautiful wood building in Korea with its simple adornment.

2. Sojo Yeorae Seated Statue (National Treasure No.45) inside Muryangsujeon hall

3. Stone Lantern in front of Muryangsujeon - National Treasure No.17
In the courtyard, this 2.97m tall stone lantern is a very typical relic of the Unified Silla period (668 - 935). I's considered to be the most beautiful granite lantern in Korea, thanks to its magnificent sculpture and artistic shape. 

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
Stone Lantern and Three-story Stone Pagoda

This octagonal stone pole has 4 windows designed for better lightning, decorated with inverted lotus petals and flowers on the top of the pedestal, which also serves as the base of the light chamber. The sculpture of Bodhisattva finely crafted on four sides of the light chamber make it more elegant and artistic. 

4. Josadang (조사당) Shrine - National Treasure No.19
Josadang is a shrine for the great Monk Uisang. It said that in this Josadang, Monk Uisang taught the Avatamska Sect to his students until his death after the construction of Buseoksa Temple.

Outside the shrine, there is a tree called 'Seonbihwa'. Click here for the photo and story about this tree which grew up from Monk Uisang's walking stick.

5. Josadang Wall Painting - National Treasure No.46
On the wall inside of Josadang, there are 6 images of the Four Guardian Kings and two Bodhisattvas. These were painted in 3rd year of King Woo of Goryeo Dynasty (1377) when Josadang was first built.

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
The oldest mural painting of Buddhism.

Followings are cultural assets and remaining heritages that can be found in Buseoksa:
1. Three-story Stone Pagoda (부석사 삼층석탑) Treasure No. 249
This 526 cm high of 3-story stone pagoda was built during Unified Shilla Dynasty period. The pagoda has the double foundation. 

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
When the pagoda was dismantled for restoration in 1960, 
they found an empty space on the 3rd story that should have 
Sarira casket to enshrine relics, but it was being stolen...

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
There is no pagoda in the main courtyard in front of the Main Hall...

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
instead there are twin small stone pagodas in the lowest courtyard

2. Goryeo Sutra wood printing blocks  (부석사 고려목판 = Buseoksa Goryeo Gakpan )
Three kind of Daebanggwangbul Avatamsaka Sutra were engraved on these 634 woodblocks, which each line has 34  characters on it:
~ 40 volumes (122 blocks) of Avatmsaka Sutra Jeongwonbon
~ 60 volumes (239 blocks) of Jinbon
~ 80 volumes (273 blocks) of Jubon . 

These blocks are thought to have been made by importing scriptures from the Kitan people in the 13th to 14th century. This is an important relic as it is the only remaining wood blocks from the Kitan line. 

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
Daebanggwangbul Avatamsaka Sutra... (photo source

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
Woodblocks are being kept in Buseoksa's Library.

3. Buseoksa Buddhist Hanging Scroll (부석사 괘불)
This 9m x 6m was painted for Buseoksa Temple in 1684, making it one of the earliest of its kind. The figure at the center of the painting is Sakyamuni Buddha, who is preaching the Lotus Sutra on Mt. Gridhrakuta. In the upper part, a Buddha triad is shown preaching, with Vairocana in the middle, Bhaisajyaguru on the left, and Amitabha on the right. The latter two Buddhas also form another triad with Sakyamuni below, as the Buddhas of the three realms.

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |

This painting will be hang outside the courtyard if there's a celebration or congregation, otherwise it's stored in Museum. We didn't have chance to visit the museum, as it's closed on Monday.

4. Avatamsaka (화엄일승법계도 = 華嚴一乘法界圖)
The main essence is “One is all, all is one. One is identical to all. All is identical to one.” The Middle Way is the teaching of no distinction. That is, as all things do not have Self Nature, each one unites with the other without obstacles. Therefore, each one consists of elements of everything else. As each one involves all in each, there are no obstacles. In the realm of dependent origination, the unchanging does not exist and nothing has an independent nature. All individuals exist by and through each other and through the relationship of dependent origination. This is the world of dependent origination.

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
Avatamsaka (Flower-Garland Sutra)

The characteristics of dependent origination according to Uisang are the theory of “the revelation of Buddhahood,” in which all phenomena represent the Awakened One. The relationship of one and all is ultimately equal and is then further equalized to the rational world and to the world of varied phenomena. As far as the theory of the revelation of Buddhahood is concerned, all phenomena themselves are the Awakened One, everything implies a deeper meaning. Therefore, phenomenal identity can be considered to be a theory symbolizing the equality and the harmony of all of the components.

Monk Uisang solved the conflicts and the difficulties of worldly life through religious harmony and by reconciling the extremes based on this philosophy. (Source: Koreanbuddhism)

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
Monk Uisang explained the essence of the Huayan (화엄 = Hwaomdoctrine   
in this practical Haein-do (Ocean Seal Diagram), which consists of  210 
Chinese characters in an unbroken maze-like line with 51 angles.

"If you go through this diagram maze, you'll ended up at the same point where you started", Teacher Jeon told us... I tried few times from different points, and it really stopped at the same place. Amazing!

5. Flagpole Support (부석사 당간지주) - Treasure No. 255
We didn't notice this 428 cm flagpole support when we walked to Buseoksa. Only when Teacher Jeon showed us the photo of the flagpole, we remembered that we saw the similar flagpole outside Sosu Seowon (previously Suksusa Temple). 

He also highlighted that  flagpole support  is important to mark the temple site, to indicate the sect, to announce temple events, to hang different flags or banners, to commemorate the virtues of  Buddhisattva and to expel evil spirits and symbols of the temple being a sacred place of Dharma.

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
It's located between One Pillar Gate and 4 Heavenly Kings Gate

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
Buddha Statue sitting beside floating rock

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
It's time to say goodbye to this old temple that surrounded 
with so many treasures~!

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
to this wishing stones I whispered... "we're fated to be here, therefore till we meet again~!"

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
Really honor and thankful to Teacher Jeon from Korean Culture & Tourism Guide 
for sharing his knowledge and passionately explained every single details 
of this beautiful Buseoksa temple to us.

Now, I know that why they asked us whether we'd visited Buseoksa Temple... and we thought that we need to go to Buseoksa in order to take bus to Busan. Really thank you for this unforgettable trip to Buseoksa... to be frank, we were quite frustrated at first on our way to Buseoksa. 

But after explanation and knew so many stories in this temple, enjoying the spectacular and serene views after climbing up went up to Anyang Pavilion... yes, that's where all the troubles gone with the wind~~~ Just a grateful feeling that we arrived at the correct place to see with our own eyes of unbelievable and unexplained things in this temple, 1400 years old of Korean architecture that still standing charmingly,... We love Buseoksa Temple! 

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
신기하다~! 진짜 대박!!!

Treasures in Buseoksa Temple 부석사 |
but, I'm really sorry too, as I don't have good memory ㅠㅠ
I just couldn't recall what are these 2 pictures about... I didn't record them.
Maybe something related to Lady Seonmyo? Another treasure?

If you're interested to know more about Buseoksa, you can read these blogs:
1. => Poems of Kim Sat Gat about the view from Anyang Pavilion and Teogye Yi 
    Hwang (when he was a magistrate of  Punggi  country) about Uisang's Seonbihwa Tree,...

2. => Goryeo Sutra wood printing blocks and Avatamsaka,...

Travel Info:
북도 영주시 부석면 부석사로 345
Yeongju Intercity Bus Terminal: Bus 27 or 55 to Buseoksa Temple
Punggi Station: Bus 27 to Buseoksa Temple. 

Adults: 1,200 won / Youths: 1,000 won / Children: 800 won 

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사)

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) | by Meheartseoul
Buseoksa, the jewel of Korean architecture was built by Monk Uisang during King Munmu's reign (676) of Silla Dynasty. 

Teacher Jeon brought us to the courtyard in front of Muryangsujeon and stated to tell us the legends pf Buseoksa temple:

1. Monk Uisang and Lady Seonmyo 

King of Silla Kingdom asked Monk Uisang (의상대사) to go to Tang Dynasty in China to study Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Garland Sutra).

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
Lady Seonmyo took care of Monk Uisang during his stay in her house.

He was invited by a local Buddhist lay-family to stay in their home. His daughter, SeonMyo (선묘), fell deeply in love with UiSang. But, Uisang could not accept her love, as he was a monk, who took his precepts seriously. Seonmyo respected and understood his position, and she became his faithful disciple and made a vow of eternal devotion to him as her mentor.

Monk Uisang heard that Tang is going to invade, therefore he need to go back to Korea and report to the king about the war. As he didn't find Lady Seonmyo at home, he left without saying a word...

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
 When Lady SeonMyo found out that Uisang was leaving, 
she quickly wrapped a robe and bowl as souvenir to Uisang, 
but when she rushed to the harbor, the ship left... 
(Sad story! suddenly my tears rolled down my face) 

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
Lady Seonmyo prayed to Buddha, jumped into the sea and became a dragon,
She wanted to protect and follow him on his way back to Silla...
(my tears flowed crazily and unstoppable!!!)

Because of the timely news about the invasion, Silla won the war against Tang. King Mummu asked Uisang to build as many temples as he could. He built about 10 important temples in Korea. 

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
~Floating Stone~

However, this place belongs to Goryeo, about 500 locals stood against him and tried to kick him out from Goryeo. Lady SeonMyo turned to a big rock and flew over the 500 locals, and they were killed. 

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
Therefore, the temple named as Buseok (부석 = floating stone).

This huge floating stone stands on the left side of Muryangsujeon. According to I Jung-Hwan's Taekriji written during King Sejong of Joseon Dynasty noted: "There is a slight gap between the two filed rocks, so puling the thread proves that the upper rock is floating above the lower rock." 

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
Lady Seonmyo turned herself to stone dragon,
 and was buried in the courtyard of Muryangsujeon.

However, the dragon was cut into half by Japanese during their occupation in Korea, as they heard that the dragon was guarding the temple.

2. Monk Uisang's cane

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
Famous 'Seonbihwa' tree In front of Josadang

When Priest Uisang was leaving for India, he planted his walking stick into the ground. He said that if the stick grow to be a tree, means that he's still alive. This tree is still growing and blooming flowers in every May for 1,300 years!

There's another story where the Japanese officer cut the tree and moved it to his own garden. And, he had bad luck after that, and eventually sentenced to death.

Too bad that we'd no time to see this legendary tree with our own eyes... 

3. Blueprint of Buseoksa Temple

Buseoksa is an outstanding example of mountain temple, and counted as the epitome of Korean architecture.

Lady Seonmyo told Monk Uisang to fast for 7 days before building the temple. At the end of the 7 days, he envision this blueprint, Chinese character of Hwa (華).

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
Layout of Buseoksa Temple based on Chinese letter 'Hwa'
 that embodies the belief of the Hwaom (화엄Buddhist Sect.

Buseoksa is famous of its structural beauty, the scenery that encompasses the Any­angru Pavilion and Muryangsujeon Hall that actively engages the different ground levels provide different views on each platform achieving unification over various spaces. 

There are 108 steps from Heavenly King Gate (Cheonwangmun) to Paradise Gate (Anyangmun). Strong will is needed to make to Nirwana, as visitors must climb a series of 108 stepping stones to achieve Nirvana. It represents that you need to win over earthly temptations or troubles to arrive at Anyangmun!
We're finally here... 'The Entrance to Heaven'

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
Can you see Boddhisatvas sitting on the Any­angru Pavilion?

Isn't it awesome?! Various methods by aligning pillars in gradually ascending height, inward-slanting of the last pillars on both sides were applied to have these optical illusions.

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
refreshing and beautiful scenery from Anyang courtyard...

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
 over the mountainous landscape. 

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
spectacular sunset scene from Anyang Pavilion

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
Kim Sat Gat once visited Buseoksa, sat on Anyang Pavilion 
admiring the view and composed the above poem.

Teacher Jeon recited the poem in English version. I couldn't recall it, but somehow the poem described my mind at that point of time...

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
I shredded tears while listening to the poem ㅠㅠ
(... I'm already at my middle age, how many times more can I see this beautiful scenery...?)

Legends of Buseoksa Temple (부석사) |
Teacher Jeon also told us the background of Kim Sat Gat...
(click the link for the photo source)

His real name was Kim Byeong-yeon, but known as Kim Sat Gat (김삿갓). He was a great scholar, but he found out that his grandfather was a traitor. Therefore, Kim spent most of his life traveling and wandering around Korea for more than 30 years, wearing his Bamboo Hat (Sat Gat). The hat represented his guilty feeling and even ashamed of the sunlight.

He became famous after composed numerous poems praising the beauty of nature and humanism, but sarcastically criticizing human greed or materialistic class-conscious society. Really admired his righteous mind and adventurous spirit!

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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Korean Buddhist Temple

Yeongju Museom Hanok Village - a must visit Tourist Attraction in Yeongju | by Meheartseoul
Buddhism was introduced to the Korean peninsula in the 4th century. The ancient kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla respectively acknowledged the religion officially. Buddhism was prospered as the national religion for over 1,000 years. 

Buddhism suffered after Goryeo Dynasty, as Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) adopted Confucianism. A lot of temples in were forced to closed (including Suksusa Temple that functioned as Seowon), only those located in mountainous areas were able to survive. 

Korean Buddhist Temple |
It's our destiny... unbelievable landed in 'Nirwana' 

Well, we planned to go to Busan after Sosu Museum, so Buseoksa was not in our itinerary. I went to Tourist Information counter outside of Seonbichon to check whether there's intercity bus to Busan from Yeongju Bus terminal.

One of the ladies called the interpreter as they didn't speak English. Then after I asked the interpreter, passed the phone back to the officer, then passed here and there. Finally,...

Korean Buddhist Temple |
"부석사 까지 갑니다"
we followed the instruction on the note to go to Buseoksa

Korean Buddhist Temple |
arrived in front of KTO office, then showed the note to the officer...
"전영수 선생님께 통화하게 해주세요"

After she searched the phone list and called, she told us to follow the path, and walk to Buseoksa...

Korean Buddhist Temple |
Yeah, you're on the correct way... it's along
the hiking course of Sobaeksan Mountain...

Korean Buddhist Temple |
 Yes, finally arrived at ticket counter...

Showed the same note, and the ticket officer also searched his phone list and called 전영수 선생님 (Teacher Jeon). Teacher Jeon said he waited for us on the stone stairs... Another mission to complete?!

Korean Buddhist Temple |
Pole to hang the door or window...

Korean Buddhist Temple |
One Pillar Gate - 太白山浮石寺

It is called the One Pillar Gate not because there is only one pillar but rather because the pillars are in the shape of the numeral one and are straight and upright. Written on this gate might be the mountain and temple names

Korean Buddhist Temple |
I only found out that when you entering this gate, you need to have 
a deep bow from the waist with hands folded at the chest.
I'll remember this and do it next time...

A roof connects these pillars to symbolize single-mindedness. This is a reminder to forsake one’s wandering mind and go forth resolutely. 

The only gate we could see after about 8 minutes walk, but a bit relieved to see Buseoksa (浮石寺) wording on it. Actually, at the same time I started to regret... why did I go to the tourist information counter? Why we left our luggage in the tourist officer counter? If the bus use another route to Buseoksa means we need to walk down and come back again?!! 안돼~~~!!!

This reminded me on our first trip to Korean temple, Bulguksa Temple... We walked in the forest. It's quite far from the entrance too, located on the slopes of mount Toham.

A lot of Korean Buddhist temples are often nestled deep in the mountains, the traditional belief of revering mountains formed a combination with Buddhism.

Korean Buddhist Temple |
Heavenly King Door (사왕천 = 天王門)

After about 5 minutes walk from 太白山浮石寺 gate, finally we saw stone stairs leading to 天王門. 

Korean Buddhist Temple |
I found nobody, only Four Heavenly Kings. 

Four Great Heavenly Kings (사대천왕) are the guardians of the four corners of the heavens. They are often found at Korean temple gates:
1. Damun Cheonwang (다문천왕 = 多聞天王) = He who hears everything.
2. Jeungjang Cheonwang (증장천왕 = 增長天王) = He who causes to grow
3. Jiguk Cheonwang (지국천왕 = 持國天王) = He who upholds the realm
4. Gwangmok Cheonwang (광목천왕 = 廣目天王) = He who sees all  

They are presented two on each side of the corridor. Check this link for better photos showing them clad in armor and flowing robes, each trampling a demon and carrying an object such as a sword, stupa or pipa...

Korean Buddhist Temple |
an elderly man sat on the stone stairs...

Teacher Jeon asked whether we're looking for him? I passed the memo to him, and he introduced himself and showed his name tag to us...

Korean Buddhist Temple |
Teacher Cheon guided us around Buseoksa...

Extremely surprised... He didn't sound 'old' on the phone, and secondly he spoke English fluently! Just unable to stop my surprise after apologies for long waiting as we're taking so long to walk there.

I told Mr Cheon that I was so amazed by his fluency in speaking English. He explained that he was a retired English teacher with more than 30 years of teaching experience!

For this posting, I'll emphasis more on characteristic of Buddhist Temples in Korea, that maybe some of you might interested to know. And, I want to share as much as possible of what Teacher Jeon shared to us...

Korean Buddhist Temple |
Four instruments (Samul) that usually found in Korean Buddhist Temple
to announce the time for monks to practice their daily rites. 

Each percussion instrument is used for the purpose of liberating all sentient beings in the universe: 
1. Mokeo - Wooden Fish (목어 = 木鱼) => for all sentient in the water.

Teacher Jeon started to tell us the story of this Mokeo. Long time ago in China... there was a monk that had many disciples. But  one of disciples didn't obey him. Eventually, this disciple died and was reborn as a fish with a tree on its back. One day when the monk's old master was crossing the river, the fish came to him sadly. The monk recognized his disciple. Then the fish asked the monk to cut the tree from his back and make a fish-shaped instrument and tell this story as a lesson for others disciples.

The monk usually carry 'moktak' (목탁), which is like the miniature of Mokeo. It shaped like the wooden fish, but is smaller and rounder. 

Korean Buddhist Temple |
The Dharma Drum

2. Beopgo -  Dharma Drum (법고 = 法鼓) => for all sentient in heaven and hell.

The sound of the beating drum is considered to echo the sound of Buddha's teachings. Thus, to beat the drum means to spread Buddha Dharma as its sound diffuses in the air. At the same time, it is intended to liberate the sentient beings in heaven and hell by its sound. 

The body of the drum is made of well-dried wood and both surfaces are covered with leather hides of both bull and cow. Using the male and female cattle implies the symbolic of harmonizing the cosmic dual forces, Yin and Yang. 

Korean Buddhist Temple |
The Brahma bell 

3.  Beomjong - Brahma Bell (범종 = 梵鐘) => for all sentient beings living on Earth.

The character of 梵 means Brahma (the truth of the cosmos)This great bell is struck 28 times in the morning (03:00) imply the incessant lineage of Buddhist tradition from Sakyamuni Buddha to the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng (638-713). And 33 times in the evening (18:00) signify the Buddhist realms of 33 celestial worlds.  It is believed that the sound of the bell will deliver all beings in the heavenly realm, and all beings in hell are released from their suffering.

Korean Buddhist Temple |
There's a Dragon (Po) on top of the bell.  

A long time ago many dragons lived in the sea. One of them was named Po. This dragon cried often and was afraid of whales.  A whale shaped  instrument is used for striking the bell. The bell's sound is said to be like Po's cries.

Korean Buddhist Temple |
The Cloud-shaped gong

4. Unpan - Cloud shaped Gong (운판 = 雲板) => for all sentient in the sky

The Unpan is made of metal forming a cumulus cloud and usually image of Buddha or phrase of sutra is inscribed on it. and represents all the  It is believed to serve for liberating all sentient in the sky. 

To strike the gong holds the additional meaning that the sound helps the hovering spirits of the dead find the Buddha’s Pure Land for rebirth. Some temples hang this gong in the kitchen or the dining room to announce mealtime.

Samhwasa Temple is another good example of Korean Buddhist Temple near Mureung Valley. 

Korean Traditional percussion music, Samulnori (사물놀이), was said to be derived from Buddhist Temple. It's comprised of the four Korean percussion instruments: Buk ( = big barrel drum), Janggu (장구 = hourglass-shaped drum), Jing (징 = large gong), and Ggwaenggwari (꽹과리 = small gong). This four instruments are called, 'Un-u-pung-roe(雲雨風雷)' because people say that the sound of Buk (resemble to wind), Janggu (resonate the rain), Jing (echo the wind) and Ggwanggari (thunder).

Please check this link if you're interested for Temple Stay in Buseoksa. 

Ok, stay tuned~! will let you know why Buseoksa is one of the best temples in Korea on next posting... 

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