• Jeollabuk-do

    Seonunsa Temple – 선운사 (Gochang, Jeollabuk-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Seonunsa Temple, which is located in Gochang, Jeollabuk-do, means “Seon [Zen] Cloud Temple,” in English. The name of the temple implies how profound wisdom is found by staying in the clouds in the boundlessness of Seon meditation. Seonunsa Temple was first built in 577 A.D. by the monk Geumdan-seonsa of the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. to 660 A.D.). There are three myths about the founding of Seonunsa Temple. The first myth centres around the idea that King Jinheung of Silla (r.540 – 576 A.D.) spent the night in a cave on Mt. Dosolsan, which is where Seonunsa Temple is located on the northern foot of the range.…

  • Artwork

    Universal Salvation Pavilion – Boje-ru: 보제루

    Hello Again Everyone!! The fifth and final entry gate at a Korean Buddhist temple is actually a pavilion/entry gate. This pavilion/entry gate is sometimes referred to as the Boje-ru Pavilion, which means “Universal Salvation Pavilion,” in English. The pavilion is a two-story structure that is positioned between the Beopdang (main hall) and the Bulimun Gate (The Gate of Non-Duality). Specifically, Boje means “universal salvation,” which is a reference to the casting of a net across Samgye (Realm of Desire), and the desire in Mahayana Buddhism to rescue all sentient beings. “Ru,” on the other hand, simply means “pavilion” in Chinese characters (Hanja). Typically, the first story of the structure acts…

  • Artwork

    Bulimun – The Gate of Non-Duality: 불이문

    Hello Again Everyone!! The fourth potential gate at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Bulimun Gate, which means “The Gate of Non-Duality,” in English. At some temples, instead of being called a Bulimun Gate, it’s called the Haetalmun Gate, or the “Gate of Liberation,” in English. And even rarer, it’s sometimes called the Yeolbanmun Gate, or the “Nirvana Gate,” in English. These gates are usually adorned with beautiful pastoral paintings. Also, the structure itself can look similar in design to an Iljumun Gate in its open-pillar design like at Beomeosa Temple; however, it can also resemble the enclosed design of a Cheonwangmun Gate like at Tongdosa Temple. The greatest indicator…

  • Jeollabuk-do

    Tapsa Temple – 탑사 (Jinan, Jeollabuk-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Tapsa Temple, which is located in Jinan, Jeollabuk-do, means “Pagoda Temple,” in English. The story of Tapsa Temple begins with the enigmatic layman Lee Gap Yong (1860-1957). Lee first came to Mt. Maisan (687 m), or “Horse Ear Mountain,” in English, at the age of 25. And for the next thirty years, Lee not only spent time meditating, but he single-handedly built one hundred and eight spherical stone pagodas. Of the one hundred and eight pagodas that were originally constructed, eighty of these pagodas still stand to this day at Tapsa Temple. Much later in life, Lee Gap Yong became an ordained monk with the Jogye-jong Order…

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    Geumgangmun – The Diamond Gate: 금강문

    Hello Again Everyone!! The Geumgangmun Gate is one of five entry gates that can potentially be found at a Korean Buddhist temple. The Geumgangmun Gate is the second of these entry gates, and it’s placed between the Iljumun Gate (the first entry gate) and the Cheonwangmun Gate (the third entry gate). The name of this gate, Geumgangmun, means “Diamond Gate,” in English. The name is Hindu in origin. Geumgang means “diamond,” in English, which is the hardest substance on Earth. It can’t be harmed or broken by any other matter, but it can cut through or break other material. As such, it’s a symbol of the Buddha’s teachings. The Dharma…

  • Jeollabuk-do

    Geumsansa Temple – 금산사 (Gimje, Jeollabuk-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Geumsansa Temple, which means “Golden Mountain Temple,” in English is located in a flat river valley on the western slopes of Moaksan Provincial Park in Gimje, Jeollabuk-do. Geumsansa Temple was first established in either 599 or 600 A.D., depending on the source, during the reign of King Beop of Baekje (r. 599-600 A.D.). When it was first built, it was rather unassuming and nothing like it is today. It wasn’t until 762 A.D., under the guidance of the monk Jinpyo (8th century), that Geumsansa Temple was rebuilt. Geumsansa Temple was rebuilt over a six year period. Numerous buildings at the temple were rebuilt at this time including…

  • Artwork

    Iljumun – The One Pillar Gate: 일주문

    Hello Again Everyone!! So we’re going to be starting a new series here on the blog. We’re going to be talking more about Korean Buddhist temple architecture. What does it mean? What does it look like? Why is it there? And first on the list is the first gate, which is also typically the first structure that will greet you at a Korean Buddhist temple, is the Iljumun Gate. Iljumun translates into English as the “One Pillar Gate.” The Iljumun Gate is very simple in its design. It consists of a tiled roof that’s supported by either two or four pillars that stand in a straight line. A wooden name…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Hyangiram Hermitage – 향일암 (Yeosu, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! The coastal temple of Hyangiram Hermitage is located on the very southern tip of Dolsan-do Island in Yeosu, Jeollanam-do. Hyangiram Hermitage is perched in and among the cracks, crags and crevices of Mt. Geumosan (320.8m), which means “Iron Turtle Mountain,” in English. The hermitage was first founded in 644 A.D. by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). It was here, at Hyangiram Hermitage, that Wonhyo-daesa had a vision of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Another interesting story pertaining to Wonhyo-daesa relates to a rock called Gyeongjeon-bawi, or “Buddhist Scripture Rock,” in English. This rock is precariously placed on top of other rocks to the rear of the…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Unjusa Temple – 운주사 (Hwasun, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Unjusa Temple is located in rural Hwasun, Jeollanam-do. The name of the temple, Unjusa Temple, means “The Place Where Clouds Stay Temple,” in English. The exact date of the founding of Unjusa Temple is unknown; however, it’s widely believed to have been established sometime during the beginning of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) in the late 10th century or early 11th century. Circumstantial evidence indicates that the temple was created by the monk Hyemyeong. And the temple prospered until the 12th century. The oldest historical record about Unjusa Temple is found in the book “Sinjeung Donggukyeojiseungnam” (“A Revised Book on Geography and Scenic Sites in Korea,” in English, from…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Songgwangsa Temple – 송광사 (Suncheon, Jeollanam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Songgwangsa Temple, which means “Spreading Pine Temple,” in English, is situated on the western slopes of Mt. Jogyesan (884 m), in Jogyesan Provincial Park. Songgwangsa Temple was first built in the waning years of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.) in the 10th century by the monk Hyerin-seonsa. Hyerin-seonsa also built a neighbouring hermitage and lived there, as well. At this time, there were between thirty to forty monks that lived at the temple. However, since so little is known about the founding of Songgwangsa Temple, and Hyerin in particular, it’s believed by some scholars that Hyerin might have been invented. Songgwangsa Temple then fell…