• Chungcheongbuk-do

    Yeongguksa Temple – 영국사 (Yeongdong, Chungcheongbuk-do)

    Temple History Yeongguksa Temple is located in Yeongdong, Chungcheongbuk-do on the eastern slopes of Mt. Cheontaesan (715.2 m). Yeongguksa Temple dates back to the late Silla (57 B.C. – 668 A.D.) or early Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.). One theory states that the temple was first founded during the reign of King Jinpyeong of Silla (r. 579-632 A.D.), while another theory states that it was first constructed during the reign of King Munmu of Silla (r. 661-681 A.D.). Either way, it does seem like that it dates back to around this time period in Korean history. Originally, the mountain where the temple is situated was first called Mt. Jiruksan; however, when…

  • Korean Buddhism Orders and Sects

    Gajisan Sect – Borimsa Temple (Jangheung, Jeollanam-do)

    The Gajisan sect was located out of Borimsa Temple in Jangheung, in present-day Jeollanam-do. The sect was first established during the reign of King Heonan of Silla (r. 857-861) by Master Doui. Master Doui’s family name was Wang. Doui’s father dreamed that a white rainbow entered into the sleeping chamber of where his mother was sleeping. His mother also had a dream. Her dream was of a saintly monk sitting down. After these two dreams, Doui’s mother became pregnant. And rather remarkably, which goes against everything we know about biology, Doui’s mother gave birth to him after thirty-nine months of pregnancy. Master Doui would eventually become a monk and be…

  • Daegu

    Cheongryeonam Hermitage – 청련암 (Dalseong-gun, Daegu)

    Hermitage History Cheongryeonam Hermitage, which means “Blue Lotus Hermitage” in English, is located to the east of the main temple, Namjijangsa Temple, in Dolseong, Daegu. Both the temple and the hermitage are situated to the south of Mt. Choijeongsan (905 m). Like Namjijangsa Temple, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was first constructed in 684 A.D. by the monk Yanggae. Both were built on the behest of King Sinmun of Silla (r. 681-692 A.D.). And like the neighbouring Namjijangsa Temple, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was completely destroyed by the invading Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-1598). In fact, and during the Imjin War, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was used as a training centre for monks that were led…

  • Korean Buddhism Orders and Sects

    Silsangsan Sect – Silsangsa Temple (Namwon, Jeollabuk-do)

    The Silsangsan sect was headquartered out of Silsangsa Temple, or “True Nature Temple” in English, in Namwon in present-day Jeollabuk-do in the northern part of the famed Jirisan National Park. The founding patriarch of the Silsangsan sect was Hongcheok-guksa (fl. 830 A.D.), who built Silsangsa Temple to help spread the teachings of Seon Buddhism. Hongcheok-guksa learned under Zhizang (735-814 A.D.). The sect was first founded in 828 A.D. Hongcheok-guksa was posthumously named Jeunggak. Both Hongcheok-guksa’s stupa and stele can be found to this day on the temple grounds of Silsangsa Temple. In the early 800’s, Hongcheok traveled to Tang China (618–690, 705–907 A.D.). He did this to help further his…

  • 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…