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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