- Woljeongsa Temple
- Feel the unlimited freedom on the fir tree lined forest!
The temple Woljeongsa is located on the mountain Odaesan, and is a mere two hours from Seoul. High above the temple is the legendary Jeongmyeolbogung, the “Jeweled Palace of Stillness and Extinction”, which holds some Sarira (true relics) of the historical Buddha. One route that visitors love to take when they hike on the mountain is the path through the temple’s Fir Tree forest. Especially if you hike the nine kilometer unpaved path from Woljeongsa up to the temple Sangwonsa, you can really get a feeling for the area’s natural surroundings.
Woljeongsa was founded during the reign of Shilla Queen Seondeok (643 C.E.) by the Precepts Master Ven. Jajang (590-658 C.E.) While practicing Buddhism in Tang Dynasty China, the Ven. Jajang had an encounter with Manjushri, and received transmission of some Sarira of the historical Buddha. As soon as the monk finished his training in China and returned to the Shilla Kingdom, he came to Odaesan, where Manjushri was said to reside. He then proceeded to build a hermitage to house the relics, and continued his practice. Later during the reign of Joseon King Cheoljong (1856 C.E.) the temple was greatly enlarged. However, during the Korean War, due to its strategic importance, the temple was completely destroyed, and then later rebuilt.
Woljeongsa’s best known cultural property is the octagonal, nine storey stone pagoda directly in front of the Jeokgwangjeon (Hall of Stillness and Light). It was said to have been erected by the Ven. Jajang, but the pagoda’s style suggests that it was actually from the Goryeo Dynasty. Directly in front of the pagoda is the figure of a seated, stone Bodhisattva, with two hands outstretched together, making offerings to the Buddha. This is the so-called Bodhisattva Heegyeon, who appears in the Lotus Sutra as someone who burned his own body in pursuit of Enlightenment.
Towards the end of the Goryeo Dynasty, while he was practicing at the hermitage Bukdaeam, the Ven. Naong (1320-1376) used to offer Biji (bead-curd residue) to the Woljeongsa Buddha every single day. However, one day some snow which had built up on a pine branch fell down and struck the offering for the Buddha. So the monk scolded the pine tree for failing to recognize the Buddha’s kindness, whereupon the mountain god drove pine trees away from Odaesan and made Fir Trees the lords of
- Geumsansa Temple
- A Templestay program you’ll never forget…
The temple Geumsansa is quietly perched in the western foothills of Moaksan. Like the mountain Gyeryongsan, Moaksan, the so-called “Mother Mountain”, is the cradle of many different indigenous religions. The mountain’s shape looks like a mother cradling her baby, just as Moaksan embraces Geumsansa. During the Baekjae reign of King Beop (599 C.E.), the temple was built to pray for the king’s prosperity and good fortune. Later during the reign of Shilla King Hyegong (766 C.E.), the Precepts Master Ven. Jinpyo (718-752 C.E.) enlarged the temple and established it as the Head Temple for the worship of Maitreya. Maitreya is the future Buddha, who will appear countless eons from now, but to his faithful followers he is a compassionate Buddha who is always with them. Wherever you step in Geumsansa there are valuable relics and cultural assets. But among them all, without a doubt the most eye-catching is the three storey Mireukjeon (Maitreya Hall), the only one in Korea. If you look at the structure from the outside, it seems like a three storey building, but when seen from the interior, it’s completely open all the way to the high ceiling. Inside this enormous hall, there’s a triad of statues, Maitreya in the middle, with a height of 11.82 m, and two Bodhisattvas on either side with a height of 8.79 m each.Geumsansa’s Templestay ProgramGeumsansa runs a Templestay program that is extremely popular and participants often come back to stay and run the volunteer team. Administrative staff and volunteers number almost 20 people at times. The program enables people to speak with the monks and ask them anything they may have been wondering about Buddhism, or for advice on how to solve some of the problems in their life. There are three kinds of standard programs run at Geumsansa. The basic program is called “Templestay: Whispering Together…” and features Seon Meditation, 108 prostrations, tea and conversation with monks, and walking meditation. A one week program, with more of a focus on actual practice, is called Seon: Understanding Myself. It is a freestyle program that gives participants a chance to examine themselves by doing practice according to their own schedules. Finally, once a year there is a special program in which former Templestay participants get together again, called Me
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