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    Myeongbu-jeon – The Judgment Hall: 명부전

    Hello Again Everyone!! Another prominent figure in Korean Buddhism is Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Next to the Gwaneum-jeon Hall, the Myeongbu-jeon Hall is the most popular Bodhisattva shrine hall at a Korean Buddhist temple. At major temples, Jijang-bosal is housed in his own hall, which is called the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, or the “Judgment Hall,” in English. It’s meant to symbolize a “dark court” or “underworld,” where the souls of the dead are being judged. The Judgment Hall is one of the more unique looking buildings at a temple because of its gruesome depictions of the afterlife, the uplifting paintings of salvation, the ominous judges, and the serenely redemptive…

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    Mireuk-jeon – The Future Buddha Hall: 미륵전

    Hello Again Everyone!! According to tradition, Mireuk-bul, or the “Future Buddha,” in English, will achieve Buddhahood in 5.67 billion years after the death of the historical Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul. So Mireuk-bul is seen as both a Buddha and a Bodhisattva, which can sometimes be a bit confusing when you visit a temple and see that Mireuk-bul is Mireuk-bosal, or vice versa. They are one in the same, just at different stages of their spiritual journey. Mireuk-bul is the next in a long line of Buddhas much like Seokgamoni-bul (the Buddha we all know). Until then, Mireuk-bul resides in Dosol-cheon (Tusita Heaven) as a Bodhisattva, Mireuk-bosal. Currently, he passes his time by…

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    Gwaneum-jeon – Hall of Avalokitesvara: 관음전

    Hello Again Everyone!! Perhaps the most popular shrine hall at a Korean temple, outside the Daeung-jeon main hall, is the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. The Gwaneum-jeon Hall is a hall dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Compassion, in this sense, is often associated in Korean Buddhism with the unconditional love of a mother. This hall is typically packed with worshipers all hours of the day and days of the week. Gwanseeum-bosal means “the hearer of cries,” in English. Gwanseeum-bosal was born from a ray of light emanating from Amita-bul’s right eye. As a result of her origins, Gwanseeum-bosal is closely associated with Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). In fact,…

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    Daeung-jeon – Great Hero Hall: 대웅전

    Hello Again Everyone!! When you visit a Korean Buddhist temple, you’ll see numerous halls dedicated to various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and deities. The diversity at a Buddhist temple comes from Korean shamanism, as well as Mahayana Buddhism. Within Mahayana Buddhism, there are literally hundreds of Buddhas (fully enlightened beings) and Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings, who through compassion forgo nirvana in order to help save other beings). And while Mahayana Buddhism has hundreds of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Korean form of Mahayana Buddhism usually only worships a select few. The central figure to Buddhism is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Inside the Daeung-jeon Hall sits a centrally located statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha)…

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    Cheonwangmun Gate – The Heavenly Kings Gate: 천왕문

    Hello Again Everyone!! The third potential gate at Korean Buddhist temple is the Cheonwangmun Gate, or Sacheonwangun Gate. This means either “Heavenly Kings Gate,” or the “Four Heavenly Kings Gate,” in English. This gate houses four figures that have intimidating stares, bulging eyes, and gnashing teeth. These four figures represent the Four Heavenly Kings that are Hindu in origin. They are said to stand in the four cardinal directions on Mt. Sumeru, and they serve King Sakra. King Sakra resides on the summit of this mighty mountain in a palace called the Palace of Correct Views. This area, at least according to ancient Buddhist cosmology, is the centre of the…

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    Nahan-jeon – The Arhat Hall: 나한전

    Hello Again Everyone!! One of the shrine halls that you’ll see at larger temples is the Nahan-jeon Hall, which is also sometimes called the Eungjin-jeon Hall. So what is a Nahan-jeon Hall? What does it look like? Why is it at a Korean Buddhist temple? The Nahan-jeon Hall is dedicated to the historical disciples of the Buddha. The Korean word Nahan is a transliteration of “Arhat,” a Sankrit word. And while less accomplished than a Bodhisattva, Nahan are still an exulted and important part of the Buddhist pantheon of religious figures. Nahan carry on the tradition of the Dharma (Buddhist teachings) from generation to generation. Furthermore, the Nahan were instrumental…

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    Yaksa-jeon – The Hall of Yaksa-bul: 약사전

    Hello Again Everyone!! Another hall that you might find at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Yaksa-jeon Hall. This type of hall is dedicated to Yaksayeorae-bul, who in Korean Buddhism is the Medicine Buddha, and the Buddha of the Eastern Paradise. Yaksayeorae-bul lives in the Eastern Paradise, which is called “Jeongyuri,” in Korean. When Yaksayeorae-bul was in human form, he made twelve vows to free sentient beings from sickness and disease. Not only did this mean their physical well-being, but this also meant the nourishment of their spiritual well-being, as well. This aid would hopefully help people towards liberation. So not only does Yaksayeorae-bul provide relief from disease, suffering, and…

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    Daejeokgwang-jeon – The Hall of Ultimate Silence and Light: 대적광전

    Hello Again Everyone!! A type of shrine hall that you can find at a Korean Buddhist temple is dedicated to Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). Birojana-bul is also commonly referred to as Biro-bul. The name of the hall that Birojana-bul occupies is called the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall. In English, this translates as “The Great Luminosity Hall,” in English. The reason why this hall has such a name is that Bironjana-bul spreads the light of Buddhist Truth in every direction. He is also the Buddha that embodies the Wisdom of the Universal Law. Expanding on this, the name Birojana-bul literally means “Great Sun Buddha,” in English. The idea behind this is the…

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    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…

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    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…