- Seonunsa Temple
- A place where the spirit of practice is even brighter than the crimson Camellia Flowers…
When the Camellia Flowers are blooming at Seonunsa, the place is packed with people. Since the flowers usually come out at the end of a long winter, when there is still snow on the ground, they are called “Winter Tree Flowers.” However, the exact time when the flower blooms differs from shrub to shrub and from region to region. While the Camellias at Seonunsa do indeed bloom in the winter, they don’t reach their peak until around the middle of April. So some people joke that the flowers shouldn’t be called Dongbaek (Winter Flowers) but Chunbaek (Spring Flowers).
Seonunsa was built during the reign of Baekjae King Wideok (577 C.E.) by Ven. Geomdan. The monk reformed a thief who lived in the valley and taught him how to earn his livelihood by roasting salt. In order to repay the monk’s kindness, the thief sent some roasted salt to the temple. The temple really prospered towards the end of the Joseon Dynasty, with 189 temple buildings and 89 different hermitages.
These days Seonunsa has 13 temple buildings remaining, including the central Daeoongbojeon (Main Buddha Hall). The temple buildings stand in a long line, with the Camellia shrub forest as their background. One of the most notable buildings is the Manseru, which was made of left-over lumber after the other buildings were built. The tree trunks were just left as they were, not trimmed at all, and used to make the columns and crossbeams of the building. If you make it to Seonunsa, you should also make the extra effort to visit the hermitage Dosolam on Dosolsan, the scenery is really well worth it.
Seonunsa’s Templestay ProgramSeonunsa runs regular two, three and four day templestay programs, featuring monastic formal meals, Dado (tea ceremony), and making Lotus Lanterns. Most programs are run on the weekends, but people who wish to take advantage of the freestyle templestay program can come during the week. Participants in the freestyle program are only required to attend community meals and evening chanting services. They can also have tea and talk with the monks i
- Mihwangsa Temple
- A beautiful temple in the village at land’s end…
Mihwangsa is an elegant temple located at the southernmost tip of the Korean Peninsula, in the so-called “Land’s End Village.” You can see at one time both the beautiful mountain Dalmasan and the cool, refreshing West Sea.
Mihwangsa was founded during the reign of Shilla King Gyeongdeok (749 C.E.), and the story of its foundation is quite interesting. One day a stone boat appeared in the sea in front of the village. People tried to approach the boat, but it would recede, and then when they pulled back and stood there, it came closer. When Ven. Uijo heard this news, he started chanting and praying, and the boat reached land safely. Inside the boat was a box made of gold and a black rock. The monk found a Buddha statue and sutras inside of the golden box, and when he broke open the rock, a black cow leapt out. That night, the monk saw a golden man in his dream, who told him that the boat had come from India, and that he should build a temple wherever the cow stopped.
The next day, the Buddha statue and sutras were loaded on the back of the cow, which started to climb up the foothills of Dalmasan. About halfway up, the cow loudly mooed, fell down and didn’t get up again. So the monk built a temple in that place and called it Mihwangsa. The name of the temple was taken from the cow’s beautiful (Mi) “Moo” sound, and from the golden man’s enchanting color (Hwang).
Mihwangsa is a temple as beautiful as its name. The rocky ridge of Dalmasan surrounds Mihwangsa, as if the landscape is from a panel on a folding screen. Also the glow of the setting sun, as seen at dusk from the temple, has been a wondrous sight for many people, since long ago. If you continue to walk towards the Budojeon (field of relic pagodas), you’ll find a good chance to look inside at yourself.Mihwangsa’s Templestay ProgramMihwangsa’s Templestay program is always open, 365 days a year, and offers a variety of special activities. For example, in the freestyle program called Sound of Silence, participants can enjoy tea and conversation with the monks, mountain hiking and, at any time, they are free to take a rest in nature. However, another program, called The Spirit of a True Person, is more systematically designed with practice as its central focus. The eight day schedule of this program gives the participant some experience of Seon Meditation. There is a Chinese character program that enables kids to make good use of their school holidays by learning about Chinese characters and the culture of a mountain temple. Also offered is a program called the Hwaeom Hwesang, which is designed for groups. Other programs, such as The Glow of the Evening Sun, Walking the Path of Dreams, display Mihwangsa’s beauty and feature the camellia flowers of winter and the azaleas in the spring. Every year in October, on the fourth Saturday of the month, a gigantic painting of the Buddha?only shown in public once a year?is displayed during a festival. This highly attended event also features a musical concert. Mihwangsa has prepared separate room facilities for people who are not used to commun
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