• 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

    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…

  • 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.),…

  • 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…

  • History

    The Exporter of Buddhism – The Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.)

    The Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.) was a strong kingdom that existed for well over six hundred years. The Baekje Kingdom controlled a vast area of land at the height of its power. The Baekje Kingdom mostly controlled the western portion of the Korean peninsula from north of Pyongyang, North Korea down to the southern-most portions of modern day Jeollanam-do. It was founded by King Onjo (r. 18 B.C. – 28 A.D.) at Wiryeseong (present-day southern Seoul). Also, the Baekje Kingdom became a significant maritime power with political and trade relations with both Japan and parts of China. A full twelve years after Buddhism arrived on the Korean…

  • History

    Origins – The Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.)

    The ancient Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.) was once located in present day southern Manchuria, the Russian Maritime Provinces, and the northern part of the Korean peninsula. Just before Buddhism was introduced to the Goguryeo Kingdom, and during the reign of King Gogugwon of Goguryeo (r. 331 – 371 A.D.), it was devastated by several natural disasters. In 365 A.D., there was a large earthquake. And in 368 A.D., there was a severe drought, which resulted in a massive famine, and reported cannibalism, in 369 A.D. It was under these circumstances that people lost faith in the indigenous religion of Korean shamanism. Also, the Goguryeo Kingdom had been…