• Gyeongju

    Yongjangsa-ji Temple Site – 용장사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple Site History Yongjangsa-ji Temple Site is located up the Yongjanggol Valley in Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The valley, which is named after the former temple, is the longest and deepest of the valleys on Mt. Namsan. The exact date of the temple is unknown. However, and because of archaeological evidence, we know that Yongjangsa Temple must have existed during the early Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.). We also know that it existed until at least the 15th century because it was where the scholar and poet Kim Si-seup (1435-1493) lived and wrote the Geumo Sinhwa, or “The New Stories of the Golden Turtle” in English. As for Kim Si-seup, he was one…

  • Korean Buddhism Orders and Sects

    Other Early Gyo Sects

    In addition to the five main Gyo sects that thrived during the Three Kingdoms Period in Korea (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.), there were lesser known Gyo sects that were also established at this time. And while they might have been less popular than the other five major Gyo sects, they survived up until the end of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). These sects are: 1. Chongji-jong (Esoteric Sect) Jineon, which is also known as Chongji-jong, is a form of Esoteric Buddhism (Vajrayana). The primary text of this sect were the Dharanis. The Dharanis are Buddhist chants, incantations, and/or recitations. And they are Sanskrit or Pali phrases. These phrases can, and…

  • Daegu

    Biroam Hermitage – 비로암 (Dong-gu, Daegu)

    Hermitage History Biroam Hermitage is located on the famous Donghwasa Temple grounds on Mt. Palgongsan (1193 m) in Dong-gu, Daegu. Biroam Hermitage is the closest of the hermitages directly associated with Donghwasa Temple on the main temple grounds. Biroam Hermitage was first founded in 863 A.D. during Later Silla (668 – 935 A.D.). The Donghwasa Historical Chronicles – 동화사사적기, which is a historical document that describes the history of Donghwasa Temple, has an entry about Biroam Hermitage. Interestingly, the entry describes Biroam Hermitage as Biro-jeon Hall. The Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall, which is the main hall at Biroam Hermitage, is believed to have been built in the late 18th century. What makes…

  • Korean Buddhism Orders and Sects

    Yuga-jong – Consciouness-Only Sect: 육아종

    There are two primary texts that the Yuga-jong sect follows. They are the Yogacarabhumi-sastra (Treatise on the Stages of the Yoga Masters) and the Vijnaptimatratasiddhi (Treatise on Consciousness Only). This sect is also known as Yusik-jong – 유식종, or the Consciousness-Only sect in English. The reason for this is that in yoga, and in the mind, there are manifestations of various dharmas. Another name this sect goes by is Beopsang – 법상종, which focuses on the Dharma Laksana. The founder of this sect in China was the Dharma Master Xuanzang (602-644 A.D.), or Hyeonjang in Korean, who started to teach this doctrine at the Cien Temple. That’s why this sect…

  • Korean Buddhism Orders and Sects

    Samnon-jong – East Asian Mādhyamaka: 삼론종

    The Beopseong sect, as the name hints at, attempts to clarify the meaning of various dharmas. The Beopseong sect used the Three Treatises as their primary texts. These three texts are: 1. The Middle Treatise – Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, 2. The Treatise on the Twelve Gates – Dvādaśadvāraśāstra, 3. The Hundred Verse Treatise – Śataśāstra. As a result, the Beopseong sect is also sometimes called the Three Treatises School, or the “Samnon-jong” in Korean. One of the main focuses of the Samnon-jong sect, which is known as the “Buddha Nature” in English, focuses on how it’s possible for sentient beings to attain the state of a Buddha. This is a central topic…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Gunwi Grotto (2nd Seokguram) – 군위 석굴 (제2 석굴암) (Gunwi, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Grotto History The Gunwi Grotto in Gunwi, Gyeongsangbuk-do goes by a few names that include the 2nd Seokguram Hermitage and the Samjonseokgul Cave. The Gunwi Grotto is located on the northern side of Mt. Palgongsan (1,192.3 m). The Buddhist temple founded on this site was believed to be first established during the early part of Unified Silla (676-935 A.D.). The stone cave is located twenty metres above ground, and the height of the cave is 4.25 metres tall. Additionally, the cave is 4.3 metres deep, and the floor of the cave is flat. What makes the Gunwi Grotto so important is that it precedes the founding of the renowned Seokguram…

  • Korean Buddhism Orders and Sects

    Yul-jong – Vinaya Sect: 율종

    The word Vinaya is derived from a Sanskrit word which means to lead, take away, tame, train, or guide. It can also mean to educate or teach. The Vinaya is a division of the Buddhist Tripitaka (canon) that contains the rules and procedures that govern the Buddhist monastic community, which is known as the Sangha. In total, there are three Vinaya traditions that remain in use in modern monastic communities throughout the world. These communities are: 1. The Theravada (Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia), 2. The Mulasarvastivada (Tibetan Buddhism and the Himalayan region), 3. The Dharmaguptaka (East Asian Buddhism). In addition to these communities, there are Vinaya texts from several…

  • Korean Buddhism Orders and Sects

    Hwaeom-jong – Huayan Sect: 화엄종

    The Hwaeom sect is the name of the Korean transliteration of the Huayan school of Chinese Buddhism. Huayan uses the Avatamsaka Sutra, or “Flower Garland Sutra” in English, as their primary text. In Korean, this sutra is known as the Hwaeom-gyeong – 화엄경, which is a reference to the idea that the Flower Garland is meant to be the crowning glory of the Buddha’s understanding of ultimate reality. The founding of the Huayan school is traditionally attributed to the Five Patriarchs, who were instrumental in the development of the school’s teachings. These five are: 1. Dushun (557-640 A.D.), 2. Zhiyan (602-668 A.D.), 3. Fazang (643-712 A.D.), 4. Chengguan (738-839 A.D.),…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Bulyeongsa Temple – 불영사 (Uljin, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Bulyeongsa Temple is located in the very scenic Uljin, Gyeongsangbuk-do to the northwest of Mt. Cheonchuksan (653.3 m). Bulyeongsa Temple means “The Reflection of the Buddha’s Shadow on the Pond Temple” in English. The temple was first established in 651 A.D. by Uisang-daesa (625-702 A.D.). According to one legend, Uisang-daesa built Bulyeongsa Temple near Mt. Cheonchuksan because it resembled Mt. Cheonchuksan in India, which is where the image of the Buddha was reflected on the water. Another legend behind the creation of Bulyeongsa Temple is that Uisang-daesa saw five Buddha images hovering above a pond in the area. So Uisang-daesa drove out the dragons that were residing there,…

  • Korean Buddhism Orders and Sects

    Yeolban-jong – The Nirvana Sect: 열반종

    As the name of the sect already hints at, the Nirvana sect, or Yeolbang-jong (열반종) in Korean, follows the Nirvana sutra as its primary source of teaching. The main interpretation of this sutra is that beings have a Buddha-nature. And that Nirvana is obtained and expressed by acquiring the Buddha-nature that exists within all of us. It’s believed by scholars that the sutra dates back to around the second century based upon physical evidence and Chinese canonical catalogs. As for the Korean Buddhist form, it was transmitted by the Korean monk Bodeok-hwasang during the reign of King Muyeol of Silla (r. 654 – 661 A.D.). Before Bodeok, there was a…