• 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…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Oeosa Temple – 오어사 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple History Oeosa Temple is located in southern Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do to the east of Mt. Unjesan (479.5 m). Oeosa Temple was first founded during the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.) during the reign of King Jinpyeong of Silla (r. 579 – 632 A.D.). At first, the temple was named Hangsasa Temple. The temple gained its current name through a rather interesting tale about the monks Hyegong and Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). One day, while attempting to revive two fish that had been swimming in the neighbouring lake, one of these two fish came back to life. Both claimed that they were the one to revive the fish, so from…

  • History

    The Age of Renewal – The Republic of Korea (1945-Present)

    Since the liberation of South Korea from Japan, and much like the nation as a whole, Buddhism in Korea has undergone a modern day revival. After liberation in 1945, the celibate Korean monks that were marginalized during Japanese rule were able to return to their roles of authority at temples and hermitages. Also, a large number of men and women became ordained monks and nuns after liberation. In addition, a countless amount of new temples opened in the centre of cities and towns, which was unheard of during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). However, the regaining of Korean independence hasn’t always come without its problems for Korean Buddhism. Just as society…

  • History

    The Repressed – Colonial Korea (1910-1945)

    The Japanese annexation and colonial rule over Korea is one of the darkest moments in Korean history. Not only did the Korean population suffer terribly as a whole, but this suffering was mirrored in every facet on Korean Buddhism. Colonial rule by the Japanese began in 1910 and continued until the end of the Pacific theatre campaign of World War Two in 1945. With the ushering in of colonial rule in 1910, it brought to an end the five hundred years of Joseon Dynasty rule (1392-1910). The repressiveness that befell Korean Buddhism during the Joseon Dynasty would continue during Japanese colonial rule. Japan attempted to suppress traditional Korean Buddhism for…

  • Gyeongju

    Janghang-ri Temple Site – 장항리사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple Site History The Janghang-ri Temple Site is located in eastern Gyeongju at the base of Mt. Tohamsan (745.7 m) to the south. And it gets its name from the local village where it’s located in Janghang-ri. The temple site is also located to the southeast of the famed Seokguram Hermitage, which is situated near the top of the mountain. Of all the National Treasures in Gyeongju, the Janghang-ri Temple Site, alongside Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site, is probably the least well known of the twenty-six. The temple at the Janghang-ri Temple Site was first founded during the Unified Silla Kingdom (668-935 A.D.). Unfortunately, the exact date of when it was first…

  • History

    The Dark Ages – The Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910)

    Early Joseon (1392-1468) During the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), the main purpose behind Buddhism was to ward off natural disasters, protect the nation from foreign invaders, and to bring good fortune to the Korean people. However, at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty, Korean Buddhism had become extremely corrupt both socially and economically. As a result, monks and nuns, as well as temples and hermitages, profited from this corruption. It was due to this corruption that Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism in Korea started to gain ground on Buddhism with court officials. It was in July, 1392 that the Goryeo Dynasty came to an end, and with it, over five hundred years of…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Seongdeokam Hermitage – 성덕암 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hermitage History Seongdeokam Hermitage is located in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do. More specifically, it’s located on the north-eastern slopes of Mt. Daegoksan (516.8 m). Seongdeokam Hermitage was first built in 1933 by the monk Baekyongseong – 백용성. The hermitage was built for the well-being of local fishermen and townspeople, which makes sense, since it’s located so close to the Masan harbor. Currently, Seongdeokam Hermitage is home to ten different buildings, gates, and shrines spread throughout the entire grounds. Like most new temples, Seongdeokam Hermitage continues to expand and grow. Hermitage Layout After navigating your way down some local side-streets, you’ll finally be welcomed to Seongdeokam Hermitage by a three-in-one modern shrine hall.…