• Artwork

    Dokseong-gak – The Lonely Saint Hall: 독성각

    Hello Again Everyone!! Another shaman deity that you can find at a Buddhist temple in Korea is Dokseong, or “The Lonely Saint,” in English. The reason he’s called this is because he’s away from the Historical Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul. Dokseong is also sometimes referred to as Naban-jonja. It’s believed that Dokseong was a Nahan, one of the original disciples of the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul. It’s even been suggested that Dokseong was one of Seokgamoni-bul’s original disciples: Pindola. Dokseong will remain on Earth to help those in need of his support as a form of punishment for his careless performance of miracles. As a result, Dokseong will remain on Earth until Mireuk-bul (The…

  • Gyeongju

    Girimsa Temple – 기림사 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Girimsa Temple, which means “Sacred Forest Temple,” in English, is located in eastern Gyeongju. The name of the temple is a transliteration of one of the two main temples that the Buddha and his disciples were active in during Seokgamoni-bul’s (The Historical Buddha) lifetime: Venuvana and Jetavana. Of the two, it’s Jetavana that Girimsa Temple is named after. The reason that Jetavana was so important is that it’s where the Buddha spent twenty years of his life and taught the majority of his teachings. In fact, of the forty-five vassas (three month retreats), the Buddha stayed at Jetavana for nineteen of them. In Korean, the name for…

  • Artwork

    Yongwang-dang –The Dragon King Hall: 용왕당

    Hello Again Everyone!! Another shaman deity that you can find inside a Samseong-gak Hall or a Yongwang-dang Hall is Yongwang, or “The Dragon King,” in English. Of the four shaman deities commonly found at a Korean Buddhist temple, Yongwang is usually the least common to find. Yongwang comes from Chinese Taoism with Hindu and shaman influences. Traditionally, Yongwang is the deity of lakes, rivers, ponds, waters, seas, stream, or pretty much anything to do with water. There’s a belief that there’s a world beneath the sea. And in this world, Yongwang rules in his Dragon Palace called “Yonggung,” in Korean. As a shaman deity at a Korean Buddhist temple, Yongwang…

  • Artwork

    Sanshin-gak – The Mountain Spirit Hall: 산신각

    Hello Again Everyone!! At a Korean Buddhist temple, you will often find shaman deities. Usually, you can find these shaman deities housed inside a shaman shrine hall called a Samseong-gak Hall. Housed inside this hall are Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and/or Yongwang (The Dragon King). These shaman deities are also sometimes housed in their own shaman shrine halls like a Sanshin-gak, a Dokseong-gak, a Chilseong-gak, or a Yongwang-dang. Or there can be a combination with two shaman deities housed in the same shrine hall like inside a Sanshin/Dokseong-gak. The first of these shaman deities I’ll be talking about is Sanshin, or “The…

  • Jeollabuk-do

    Songgwangsa Temple – 송광사 (Wanju, Jeollabuk-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Songgwangsa Temple, which is located in Wanju, Jeollabuk-do, is situated south of Mt. Jongnamsan (608.3m). This Songgwangsa Temple, however, shouldn’t be confused with the more famous temple with the same name in Suncheon, Jeollanam-do. This Songgwangsa Temple was first founded in 867 A.D. by the monk Doui-guksa. Originally, when the temple was first constructed in 867 A.D., it was known as Baekryongsa Temple. Eventually, the temple would be renamed by the famed monk Jinul (1158-1210) during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). After years of neglect, Jinul asked his disciples to renovate and rebuild the temple. Unfortunately, this wish wasn’t fulfilled by his disciples. The temple was largely destroyed…

  • Artwork

    Geukrak-jeon – Paradise Hall: 극락전

    Hello Again Everyone!! A Geukrak-jeon Hall is dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). Amita-bul is a transliteration of the Sanskrit “Amitabha,” which means “Immeasurable Life,” in English. Amita-bul is the overseer of the Western Pure Land, or “Jeongto,” in Korean. This idea is rooted in the very name of the Geukrak-jeon Hall, which means “Paradise Hall,” in English. The hall also goes by a couple other names like Mita-jeon or Muryangsu-jeon like at the famous Buseoksa Temple in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The name Muryangsu-jeon means “Immeasurable Life Hall,” in English, which again, is another parallel to Amita-bul. Amita-bul was born from the meditation of the first Buddha. That’s…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Gwanryongsa Temple – 관룡사 (Changnyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Gwanryongsa Temple is located in Changnyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do. The temple is in fact located south of Mt. Gwanryongsan (753.6m) in Hwawang District Park. The name of the temple, Gwanryongsa Temple, means “Sighting Dragon Temple,” in English. There are two differing dates as to when Gwanryongsa Temple was first built. One is in 349 A.D., during the reign of King Heulae of Silla (r.310-356 A.D.). And the other date of when Gwanryongsa Temple was first established is in 583 A.D. by the monk Jeungbeop-guksa. As for the name of the temple, it comes from Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). On the last day that Wonhyo-daesa was praying on the neighbouring Mt.…

  • Artwork

    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…

  • Chungcheongnam-do

    Gapsa Temple – 갑사 (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Gapsa Temple is located in Gyeryongsan National Park in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do. Gapsa Temple is the most important temple in the Gyeryongsan National Park area. Originally, the temple was known as Gyeronggapsa Temple, which means “Rooster Dragon Foremost Temple,” in English. The temple was then called Gyeryongsa-sa in the early Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The first “sa” in the name meant “fundamental,” so the temple was called “Rooster Dragon Fundamental Temple,” in English. It was at the end of the 18th century that the name of the temple changed once more to Gyeryongsan Gapsa. Now the temple is known as Gapsa Temple, which simply means “Foremost Temple,” in English.…

  • Artwork

    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…