In Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Sanskrit: बोधिसत्त्व, bodhisattva; Bengali: বোধিসত্ত্ব, Bodhishotto, Tibetan: བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་དཔའ་; Wylie: byang chub sems dpa; Burmese: ဗောဓိသတ် Bawdithat, Vietnamese: Bồ Tát; Pali: बोधिसत्त, bodhisatta; Thai: โพธิสัตว์, phothisat; Japanese: 菩薩, Korean: 보살(bosal), satsu; simplified Chinese: 菩萨; traditional Chinese: 菩薩; pinyin: púsà) means either “enlightened (bodhi) existence (sattva)” or “enlightenment-being” or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, “heroic-minded one (satva) for enlightenment (bodhi).” Another translation is “Wisdom-Being.”[1] It is the name given to anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated bodhichitta, which is a spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all living beings.

Vairocana Buddha

Vairocana Buddha  

Seated Vairocana Buddha (National Treasure #26). Unified Silla period, late 8th century; gilt-bronze, h. 1.77 m.; Bulguksa Temple  South Korea.

Vairocana (also Vairochana or Mahāvairocana; Sanskrit: वैरोचन, Bengali: বৈরোচন, Indonesian: Dhyani Buddha Wairocana, Chinese: 大日如來 Dàrì Rúlái or 毘盧遮那佛 Piluzhenafo, Korean: 비로자나불 Birojanabul or 대일여래 Daeil Yeorae, Japanese: Dainichi Nyorai, 大日如来; Tibetan: རྣམ་པར་སྣང་མཛད། rNam-par-snang mdzad; Mongolian: Teyin böged geyigülügci; Vietnamese: Đại Nhật Như Lai) is a Buddha who is the embodiment of Dharmakaya, and who therefore can be seen as the universal aspect of the historical Gautama Buddha. In Sino-Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana is also seen as the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of shunyata or Emptiness. In the conception of the Five Wisdom Buddhas of Vajrayana Buddhism, Vairocana is at the center. His consort is White Tara (for every dhyani Buddha there is an affiliated female Buddha).

Sakyamuni Buddha


A small but noble pantheon of divinities symbolizing Buddhist philosophy and aestheticism, Seokguram is a structure of sublime beauty culminating religious belief, science and fine arts which flowered in the golden age of Asian art

Overlooking the East Sea far ahead beyond the mountain ridges from the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula, Seokguram stands as a proud testimony to Korea’s brilliant tradition of classical Buddhist sculpture. A small but noble pantheon of divinities symbolizing Buddhist philosophy and aestheticism, the eighth-century cave temple is a structure of sublime beauty culminating religious belief, science and fine arts which flowered in the golden age of Asian art. Seokguram is located near the tummit of Mt. Tohamsan, east of the historic city of Gyeongju, capital of the Silla dynasty (57B.C.-A.D.935).
It is reached after an hour-long walk up a steep, winding mountain path over some 4km from Bulguksa, another famous temple dating to the eighth century when Silla was at the peak of its strength. The capital of Silla rivalled in splendor the Dang capital of Jangan and its culture shared in the international character of Dang at this time when all of East Asia enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity.
Buddhism first reached Korea in the fourth century through China but it truly flowered only after the court of Silla officially recognized it as the state religion.
After Silla unified the peninsula in the mid-seventh century by conquering the rival states of Goguryeo and Baekje, Buddhism not only served a religious function but was looked upon as a protective force. Temples of magnificent scale were erected in and around Gyeongju as they were regarded as a supernatural defense against external threats and bastions of national consciousness. According to the scant historical records available today, both Seokguram and Bulguksa, the two supreme accomplishments of Silla Buddhist architecture, were built under the supervision of Kim Dae-seong, who came from the royal family and served as prime minister under the reign of King Gyeongdeok.
The construction began in 742, the year after Kim resigned from his top position in court. He died in 774 without seeing the completion of the historic projects several years later under the reign of King Hyegong. As a complement to Bulguksa, which was dedicated to the present generation, the granite temple of Seokguram is said to have been intended to honor those who had been Kim’s parents in his previous life. Whoever the patron or whatever the motivation, Seokguram was apparently designed as a private chapel for royalty considering its scale, philosophical depth and aesthetic standard, whereas Bulguksa, a grand complex of various worship halls and pagodas, was intended as a state monastery to serve the public.
Too small and cozy to have been conceived as a place for congregation in spite of the enormous resources required for its construction, the grotto shrine represents a pinnacle of religious sculpture not only in Korea but in all of East Asia.
One of Korea’s most popular tourist destinations drawing thousands of visitors from home and abroad daily, Seokguram recalls the long journey Buddhism made from its homeland of India through central Asia and China to Korea. A gem of ancient Buddhist architecture punctuating the eastern terminal of the Silk Road, the shrine testifies to the enthusiasm and sacrifice of early Korean monk pilgrims who risked their lives to experience firsthand the exotic traditions of their faith in the faroff land of India. Buddhist grottos are generally believed to have originated in ancient India.
They are divided largely into two Kinds according to form and purpose: caitya, literally a “sanctuary” or a hall containing a sacred object to be worshipped such as a small stupa or a Buddha image; and vihara, a monastery or shelter for monks, often with chapels for images or a stupa placed in the central court which also served as a place for instruction. Grottos in th caitya style were later adopted by the chinese in the hundreds of caves stretching over a mile along the cliffs of Dunhuang and the sandstone hills of Yungang. Seokguram, with a rectangular antechamber leading to a circular domed main chamber, resembles ancient Indian cave temples.
Though inspired by the cave temples of ancient India and China, Seokguram differs in construction to its prototypes which were mostly built by digging into hillsides and carving on natural rocks. korea’s topographical features comprising solid rock beds probably made it impossible to import the idea of the sculptors of Karle or Ajanta, who carved thousands of figures, stupas and apse ends out of the soft conglomerate rock and clay. Instead, an incredible artificial cave was assembled with granite on the heights of a mountain some 750meters above sea level, an architectural technique without precedent the world over.

Apex of Korean Buddhist Sculpture
Highlighted by the majestic seated Buddha with a serene, all-knowing expression as the primary object of worship, Seokguram enshrines an impressive assembly of 40 different divinities embodying various aspects of Buddhist teaching. The grotto chapel, in spite of the diversity of the icons ensconced, has a unique feeling of peace and unity resulting in an intense spiritual impression. The prominent skill for handling solid granite aside, modern scientists investigating the source of this rare sensation of sacred harmony discovered that the Silla architects employed the geometric theories of the golden rectangle and symmetry.
Seokguram is meticulously designed to guide the faithful into the holy and of the Buddha, a mysterious spiritual journey to the realm of nirvana in a limited span of time and space. In ancient times when there was no transportation, everybody was supposed to walk up the rugged, serpentine mountain path. The journey was to begin at the foot of Mt.Tohamsan which was considered a holy mountain by the people of Silla, or, symbolically, it begin from Bulguksa which straddles the mountain’s western midslope. After climbing up the mountain for an hour or so, the pilgrim was to quench his thirst with the icy cold water gushing up from a fountain in front of the shrine
Passing the arched entrance into the rectangular antechamber and proceeding through a slightly narrower corridor, their walls decorated with a legion of bas-relief images of various guardian deities, the worshiper would leave the secular world behind and abe prepared to face to Buddha in the main rotunda. An image of serenity and power, the Buddha is seated cross-legged on a lotus throne, with his eyes half-closed in meditation and a faint smile on his lips.
The Buddha is surrounded by bodhisattvas, arhats and ancient Indian gods carved in high relief on the wall of the circular hall. Here the ancient Silla architects probably borrowed the concept of the early Indian stupas and the mounded graves of Gyeongju but in a reversed form to create a “hollowed stupa.” Inside the shrine, with the dim light making subtle changes to the texture of the granite carvings as he moves, the worshiper could walk around the Buddha and possibly face himself and experience nirvana to realize that life and death can be one in the void of nothingness.
The construction method of Seokguram remains a wonder for modern architects. Hundreds of granite pieces of various shapes and sizes were assembled to form the cave. No mortar was used; the stones are held together by stone rivets. Natural ventilation was provided to control the temperature and humidity inside the cave, though the wisdom of ancient architects failed to be conveyed in the process of its preservation in modern times.
The main rotunda, believed to stand for heave in contrast to the earth which is represented by the rectangular antechamber, measures 6.84 to 6.58 meters in diameter. It has a drum built of 10 granite slabs, upon which 15 granite panels with sculpted images of bodhisattvas, arhats and ancient Indian gods form the circular wall. Above these icons and separated by lintel, there are 10 niches, each containing miniature statues of seated bodhisattvas and faithfuls. Slightly tilted toward the back from the center of the rotunda is a round lotus pedestal, on which th Buddha sits facing the antechamber across the corridor. The domed ceiling is capped with a round granite plate decorated with a lotus design.

The Buddha and Other Deities
The elegant and majestic main buddha of Seokguram epitomizes the aestheticism of Korean Buddhist sculpture. An enigmatic combination of masculine strength and feminine beauty and a personification of divine and human natures, the Buddha represents Korean Buddhist sculpture at the zenith of classical realism.
Chiselled out of a single granite block, the 3.5-meter-high Buddha image envisages Seokgamoni, the Historic Buddha, at the moment of enlightenment. He is seated in a cross-legged position on a 1.34-meter-high lotus pedestal, with his right foot exposed as it lays across his left knee. His hands are poised in a mudar touching the earth to call it to witness his realization of enlightenment.
The Buddha has tightly curled hair and a distinct usnisa, the protuberance on the top of the head symbolizing his supreme wisdom. Beneath the broad forehead the double eyebrows are shaped like crescent moons and the eyes are half-shut gazing vaguely ahead in deep meditation. He wears a faint smile and his body is rounded and voluminous as though inflated by an inner force.
The robust torso is draped in a flowing robe with gentle folds exposing the right shoulder in respect of early Indian customs. The drapery is obviously a Korean interpretation of the Indian prototype of a tightly-clinging robe. The fan-shaped folds about the legs also indicate the Gupta-period Indian influence. The details of the robe covering the right arm and chest are realistically portrayed.
The lotus pedestal on which the Buddha sits consists of three sections. The upper and lower sections are round and decorated with lotus petals, while the narrower central section is octagonal with eight small pillars supporting the upper section at each point of the octagon. The pedestal is place on a round foundation. A big granite roundel a adorned with lotus petals around the rim is set on the wall behind the Buddha, creating the illusion of an aureole around his head. This is one of the distinct features of Seokguram. The nimbus is normally attached to the back or the head of most other Buddha images
The Buddha lord it over an assembly of three bodhisattvas, ten disciples and two Hindu gods carved in relief on the wall of the rotunda as well as the ten miniature statues of bodhisattvas, saints and faithfuls seated in the niches above, at the level of his eyes. On the two wall of the corridor leading out to the antechamber are relief figures of the Four Heavenly Kings, two, on each side, Two powerful bas-relief images of Vajrapanis, the fierce guardians of temples, stand vigil on either side of the entrance to the passageway and the Eight Guardian Deities decorate the walls of the antechamber, four on each side.
Aside from the main Buddha, the Eleven-faced Avalokitesvara, or the Bodhisattva of Compassion, standing at the center of the back wall of the rotunda, probably draws the greatest admiration among all the deities in the shrine. This graceful Avalokitesvara, standing 2.18 meters high on an opulent lotus base, wears a crown decorated with the heads of ten bodhisattvas and a central Amitabha, or the Buddha of Boundless Light. He is dressed in flowing robes and decked with resplendent jewelry. He holds a vase containing a single lotus blossom in his left hand and a long beaded necklace in his right hand, Standing right at the back of the Buddha, this is the only figure facing straight ahead while the faces of all other images are portrayed obliquely.
Ten arhats, or the disciples of Seokgamoni, are lined up beside the Eleven-faced Avalokitesvara, five on each side. They have distinctly different countenances with sharp noses and deep-set eyes and bony bodies that are easily traced to the Indian ascetics depicted under Greek influence. Wearing ankle-length saris, each of the shaven-headed arhats holds a small object like a book, a bottle or an alms bowl, or has hands poised in a symbolic gesture.
Two elegant bodhisattvas stand next to the arhats, one on either side. They are the popular Manjusri, the representation of divine wisdom, who holds a small cup in his hand, and his companion Samantabhadra holding a book. Next come the two famous Indian devas, Mahabrahmanah(Brahma) and Sakradevanam Indra(Indra), with their egg-shaped haloes.
Standing to the left of the entrance of the rotunda, Brahma holds a whisk in his right hand and a small bottle in his left hand. Indra, standing on the opposite side to the right of the entrance, holds a whisk in his right hand and a ritual thunderbolt in his left hand The corridor leading to the main hall features the Four Heavenly Kings, the guardians of the four corners of the heavens who are often found at Korea temple gate. They are presented two on each side of the corridor. They are clad in armor and flowing robes, each trampling a demon and carrying an object such as a sword or a small stupa. The demons vary in shape and posture. Traces of paint remain in the recessed portions of the demons.
Two horrific Vajrapanis guard the rotunda on the outside of the corridor, one on each side of its entrance. Deriving from Indian mythology, the fierce temple protectors with bulging eyes and big mouths, look intimidating, each raising one arm with the hand clenched in a tight fist. The muscular torsos are naked and a skirt is hung at the waist. Exhibiting terrifying strength, they are carved in deep relief and almost appear to stand apart from the wall.

Legend of a Filial son
In the small village of Moryang-ri on the western outskirts of Gyeongju, there lived a poor woman named Gyeongjo who had an odd-looking son. The villagers made fun of the child as he had a big head and a flat forehead, that looked like a wall. They called him Dae-seong, meaning “big wall.”
The boy’s mother was too poor to feed him so she gave him to a rich neighbor named Bogan as a farm hand. Dae-seong worked so hard that his master was moved and gave him a small piece of a rice paddy. About this time , a virtuous monk named Jeomgae from Heungnyongsa temple, visited Bogan and asked for a donation for a big ceremony at his temple. As Bogan handed him fifty rolls of hemp cloth, the monk bowed in appreciation and said that the Buddha would repay his generosity by blessing him ten thousand times the worth of his donation.
Dae-seong overheard this and ran home and told his mother, “Now we are poor, and if we do not give something to the temple, we will be poorer in our next lives. Why don’t we give our little rice field for the ceremony so that we may have a great reward in our afterlives?” His mother readily consented and donated their rice field to the temple.
Dae-seong died a few months later. On the night of his death, a voice from heaven was heard above the house of Prime Minister Kim Mun-ryang. The voice said that Dae-seong, a good boy from Moryang-ri, would be born to Kim’s family. Kim’s wife conceived at the time the heavenly voice was heard and gave birth to a boy. The child kept his left hand tightly clenched for seven day after his birth. When he opened his fist at last, they found the two characters for Dae-seong written in gold on his palm. They gave him his old name and invited his mother of his previous life to take care of him.
Dae-seong grew up into a strong man who loved hunting. One day he climbed Mt.Tohamsan and there he killed a big bear. As he was sleeping in a village at the foot of the mountain that night, the bear’s ghost appeared in his dream and threatened to kill and eat him unless he built a temple for him. Dae-seong built a temple on the spot where he killed the bear and named it Jangsusa, meaning the Temple of Long Life. From that time he gave up hunting.
Dae-seong was moved by the heavenly grace. He built the beautiful Bulguksa in memory of his parents of the present life and the wonderful cave temple of Seokguram for his parents of the previous life. He invited the two distinguished monks Sillim and Byohun to supervise these temples. He had his fathers and mothers represented among the icons at these temples in gratitude for bringing him up as a useful man.
After the great stone Buddha for Seokguram was finished, Dae-seong was working on a large piece of stone for the ceiling of the main hall when it suddenly broke into three pieces. He wept bitterly over this and fell into sleep. During the night, gods descended from heaven and restored the stone to its original condition. Dae-seong awoke with joy and climbed the southern peak of Mt.Tohamsan, where he burned incense and worshiped the deities. People called the place Hyangnyong, or Incense peak, thereafter.
The erudite monk historian lryeon(1206-1289) had the wondrous skill of interweaving legend and fact in his book which serves as an invaluable source of information for students of early Korean history. While most readers of his book today would find it difficult to believe in the reincarnation of Kim Dae-seong, visitors to Seokguram can see crack dividing the round capstone on the main rotunda’s domed ceiling clearly into three pieces. South of the temple, there also exists a peak called Hyangnyong.
Another important history book, Samguk Sagi(History of the Three Kingdoms), compiled by Kim Bu-sik in 1145, identifies the founder of Bulguksa and Seokguram as Kim Dae-seong who served as prime minister in 745-750 under King Gyeongdeok. He was the son of Kim Mun-ryang who was also prime minister in 706-711 under King Seongdeok, according to the oldest extant book on Korean history.

The Unsolved Questions of Preservation
Seokguram has had its share of turmoil in Korea’s history over the centuries. It lost much of its religious and artistic splendor during the Joseon period (1392-1910) when its Confucianoriented rulers suppressed Buddhism. The remote mountain grotto was left seriously damaged toward the turn of the century. It underwent repair three times earlier this century under the japanese colonial government.
The first round of repairs was carried out from 1913 to 1915. Without sufficient study of its structure, the cave was almost completely dismantled and reassembled and a fatal mistake was committed in the process. The entire structure was encase with cement about two meters thick, which resulted in water leaks and erosion of the sculptures because the cave could no longer “breathe.”
Seokguram went through considerable “torture” in the name of preservation in the following decades. In 1917, drainage pipes were buried above the dome to channel rainwater out of the cave. As the leaks continued in spite of the pipes, however, another round of repair was conducted in 1920 to 1923. Waterproof asphalt was applied to the surface of the concrete mass this time. But water continued to leak and dew formed, and in 1927 the Japanese government-general eventually employed the unthinkable method of spraying hot stem on the granite surface to get rid of moss.
As the preservation of Seokguram continued to pose serious problems with high humidity inside the shrine, the government of the late President Park Jeong-hui instructed an in-depth investigation of its structure to be carried out in the early 1960s. Extensive renovation was undertaken based on the study from 1962 to 1964. The problem of temperature and humidity control was resolved to a remarkable extent by using mechanical systems.
Nevertheless, the wooden superstructure built over the antechamber remains a mind-boggling question for many who believe Seokguram originally did not have such a structure blocking the magnificent sunrise over the East Sea from the view of Seokgamoni, aside from cutting off the air flow into the cave. A glass wall keeping the visitors from the main chamber is another point of debate regarding the contradiction concepts of the preservation of the shrine and its availability for religious worship and aesthetic appreciation.
Two statues in the niches of the wall of the main chamber and a miniature marble pagoda which is believed to have stood in front of the Eleven-faced Avalokitesvara at the back of the Buddha image remain missing. They disappeared in the early years of Japanese occupation.
geographically removed from China by Goguryeo to the north and Baekje to the west, Silla was the last of the three ancient Korean Kingdoms to accept Buddhism. But as soon as King Beopheung recognized it as the state religion in 528, it spread quickly through out the country, The 13th century historian monk, lryeon, wrote that, by the mid-sixth century in Gyeongju and its vicinity, “the golden roofs of temples glittered against the sky like the Milky Way and lotus-crowned pagodas stood in unending lines like flights of wild geese.”
All these temples vanished in the turbulent course of history, but the description vividly conveys how enthusiastically the early Buddhists erected temples and pagodas around the capital of their thriving kingdom. Today, Bulguksa offers a glimpse of the splendor of Silla’s state temples, although all of its present wooden shrines are in the much later Joseon style and much of its antique flavor was lost in massive rehabilitation work carried out in the 1970s.




  • Burmese: ရဟန္တာ (yahanda; IPA: [yahá̃ dà]; MLCTS: ra. hanta)
  • Chinese: 阿羅漢/羅漢 (āluóhàn, luóhàn); rarer terms: 應供 (yinggong), 應真 (yingzhen), 真人 (zhenren). “真人” normally refers to a respected Taoist, and the term comes from the book Huangdi Neijing.
  • Hindi: अर्हन्त (arhant)
  • Japanese: 阿羅漢 羅漢 (arakan, rakan)
  • Korean: 나한 (nahan), 아라한(arahan)
  • Tibetan: dgra bcom pa
  • Thai: อรหันต์ (arahant)
  • Vietnamese: la hán
  • Mongolian: найдан


Anthology Teachings of Zen Buddhist Priests

“Baegunhwasang Chorokbuljo Jikjisimcheyojeol” contains the essentials of Zen Buddhism compiled by Priest Baegun in the 21st year of King Gongmin(1372) at the age of 75. It is apparent  that the ideas inherited from his teacher Seogok Cheonggong, a Zen(Buddhist Mediation) master, continue and transmit to this work. It was printed into the metal type by his students Seokchan and Daldam under the auspices of Myodeok, who was a Buddhist nun, in the seventh lunar month of 1377 at Heungdeoksa Temple of Cheongju city.

Jikji comprises of historical biographies such as Gyeongdeok jeondeungnok and Seonmun yeomsong, which were to be studied by the student monks after completing the study of the teachings necessary to understand the essence of Zen, including Buddha’s sayings from his last moments, letters of praise, letters and poems on drawings, educational phrases and sentences, songs, writings, orthodox teachings, and dialogues. It introduced all kinds of literature for providing an understanding of Buddhism, and one hundred and forty-five Priests and Monks of India, China, and Korea are related in the contents of the book.

The key words of the title of the name of the book, “jikji simche” were derived from the famous phrase about attaining enlightenment through the practice of Zen, “Jikji insim gyeonseong seongbul” meaning the attainment of an enlightened state by direct appeal to the mind. It also means that when we come to see through Zen what the mind is, then we come to understand that mind to be that of Buddha. Because human nature is pure from the beginning, when the mind sees that it is pure and practices asceticism, one becomes a part of Buddha and one’s mind becomes that of Buddha. In other words, when one is enlightened through Zen, one’s mind becomes Buddha. The old priest put together a book of high standard by selecting only the essentials of Zen to teach and propagate to pupils.

Priest Baegun, who was an author, was born in the 24th year of King Chungryeol(1282) in Gobu, Jeollabuk-do province and passed away in the 23rd year of King Gongmin(1374) at the age of 77 at Chwiamsa Temple of Yeoju-gun. Priest Baegun entered the priesthood when he was young and devoted to religious ansterities. He inherited the ideas from Seogok Cheonggong, a Zen(Buddhist Mediation) master, and learned doctrines from Priest Jigonghwasang of India. After returning home from abroad, he stood abreast with National Preceptor Taego Bowoo and Priest Naonghwasang Hyegeun as Royal Mentor.

The circumstances under which the book left Korea were as follows. It had been in the collection of Collin de Plancy, a charg d’affaires with the French Embassy in Seoul in 1887 during the reign of King Gojong. The book then went into the hands of Henri Vever, a collector of classics, and when he died in 1950, it was donated to the National Library of France, where it has been ever since. Although Buljo jikji simche yojeol consists of two books, the first volume has not been found yet and only the second volume is currently kept at the National Library in France.

It originally consisted of 39 chapters, of which the first chapter is missing. Although we do not know the year Cheongju Heungdeoksa Temple was built or its size, there is an inscription on the last page that the second volume of Jikji was printed with movable metal type at Cheongju Heungdeoksa Temple during the reign of King U in 1377. The time was about 70 years earlier than the Gutenberg Bible printing in Germany. It was introduced in one of the articles of the UNESCO Courier in 1972 that the work is the oldest extant example of printing with movable metal type in the printing history of the world.

However, no one knew the exact location of Heungdeoksa Temple until a drum and Buddhist bowls made of bronze and inscribed with the word Heungdeoksa Temple were unearthed. The location of Heungdeoksa Temple, where the book was printed, was confirmed when the museum of Cheongju University excavated the site in 1985.

The book was printed using metal type, which makes printing technology more convenient, economic, easier correcting, and makes production of books quicker. Also, it served as momentum to invent an oiled ink which is appropriate to print metal type. This practical printing method invented by Korea influenced the history of Oriental printing, and it is thought that it was spread to Europe. It is the world’s oldest movable metal type printing evidence available and shows us an important technical change in the printing history of humanity. According to these values, the book was registered as Memory of the World in September 2001

Overview of Korean Buddhism

History of Korean Buddhism: Its Transmission and Development
Korean history usually is divided into four periods: the Three Kingdoms (?-668 A.D.), the Unified Silla Kingdom(668-935 A.D.), the Goryeo Dynasty(935-1392 A.D.), and the Joseon Dynasty(1392-1910 A.D.). Although there is evidence of earlier contact with Buddhism, the official date for the introduction of Buddhism to Korea from China is 372 A.D. Since that time Korean Buddhism has been spread throughout the world and developed for 1,600 years. Korean Buddhism developed its distinctive characteristics and shaped its unique form of Buddhism based on social and political circumstances in each period.
Buddhism was first introduced in the Three Kingdoms period. According to the name of the Three Kingdoms, the land was composed of three different Kingdoms: Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla. Each kingdom accepted Buddhism at a different time and by a different route. First, the kingdom of Goguryeo -located in the northern area- invited a monk from China with Chinese Buddhist texts and Buddha statues in 372 A.D. Later, Buddhism was introduced to the kingdom of Baekje, located in the southwestern area- from Goguryeo in 384 A.D. In the case of the above two kingdoms, the royal families first practiced Buddhism. However, in the kingdom of Silla, the common people were attracted to Buddhism. After Lee Chadon’s martyrdom, King Beopheung officially recognized Buddhism in 527 A.D.
in the beginning of the Three Kingdoms period, the teaching of Buddhism was not of high quality Buddhist philosophy and thought. However, the spread of Buddhism produced a significant effect on the development of many aspects of national culture. Because of various invasions and careless preservation, only a few records- archaeological sites, historical remains, and books- exist. But it can be considered that Buddhism at this time not only contributed to the development of spiritual civilization, but also flourished in the development of art: bells, pagodas, architecture, and paintings.

In 668 A.D., the kingdom of Silla conquered the other two kingdoms and this period came to be called the Unified Silla period. Throughout the Unified Silla period, Buddhism continued to prosper, and grew both academically and culturally. Various rituals were developed and performed as spiritual requests for protection from foreign invasions. During this time some of the finest Korean Art was created. In particular, the famous rock statue of the Buddha in Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju was carved in 732 A.D. It still evokes a sense of beauty. Towards the end of the Unified Silla period, Zen Buddhism was introduced from China and this added a new dimension to Korean Buddhism because the Zen school emphasized meditation and direct experience rather than concentration on studying Buddhist texts.

The Goryeo Dynasty assumed power in the 10th century and Buddhism continued to be a national religion. The main focus of Goryeo Buddhism was based on rituals and this created an unfavorable atmosphere for spiritual development. In order to struggle against the ritualistic trend, several monks emphasized the importance of combining Contemplative Zen and Textual tradition. The formation of the cheontae school gave new life to Goryeo Buddhism.

Buddhism slowly declined as the new rulers of the Joseon Dynasty adopted Neo-Confucianism. The new interest in Confucianism led to the oppression and restriction of Buddhism by some Joseon kings. Temples could not be built near towns. Instead, the government permitted Buddhist monks to stay in the mountains. While the government persecuted Buddhism, politically and socially, the common people continued to believe in it. Today, many new temples have opened in towns. Approximately half the population of Korea is Buddhist. Most Koreans, even though they may not call themselves Buddhists, maintain a Buddhist view of life.
Ⅱ. The basic character of Korean Buddhism

▶ Songgwangsa Temple on Mt. Jogyesan, the headquarters of the Zen sect for over 300 years

Throughout the history of Korean Buddhism, the Korean style of Buddhism could be understood both academically and practically. The Avatamsaka Sutra and the Lotus Sutra were the main focus of study in Buddhist academic study. As for the practice, Pure land and Zen Buddhism have been the most popular and effective ways of practicing. Pure land Buddhism concentrates on Amitabha, the Buddha of Universal Light, and Avalokitesvara, the Boddhisattva of Compassion. The Zen Buddhism (Chan in Chinese and Seon in Korean) emphasizes meditation and direct experience over concentration on studying the texts.

Although Buddhism was first introduced to Korea during the Three Kingdoms period (?-668 A.D.), the distinctive character of Korean Buddhism emerged during both the Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.) and the Goryeo (935-1392 A.D.) periods. During these two periods Korean monks continually traveled to China to study new Buddhist ideas. After mastering their study, some Korean monks remained in China, but most of them came back and tried to introduce new Buddhist ideas to Korean culture and people.

The study of Avatamsaka Sutra and the practice of Pure Land Buddhism were popular during the Unified Silla period. Masters Wonhyo and Uisang were important monks who introduced and adopted these two ideas in Korea. Wonhyo wrote many important treatises in which he explained ‘One Mind,’ the interrelatedness of everything in the universe. The development of this view was due to an event in his life.

▶Wonhyo and Uisang
Wonhyo and his friend, Uisang, departed for China to study Buddhism. One night during the journey, Wonhyo awoke thirsty. Searching around, he found a container with delicious cool water in it. He drank the water. The next morning, he realized that the water was in a skull. Suddenly he attained enlightenment. Then instead of going to China, he came back home.

Master Uisang arrived in China and studied for ten years under a great master. When he returned home, he presented a poem to his teacher. This poem, which is the shape of a seal, contained the essence of Avatamsaka Sutra.

Towards the end of the United Silla period, the Zen school was introduced from China and this added a new dimension to Korean Buddhism. Nine different schools emerged. They were known as the Nine Mountains of Zen.

During the Goryeo period master Jinul (1158-1210), known as Bojokuksa, founded Songgwang-sa Temple on Mt. Jogyesan, which remained the headquarters of the Zen sect for over 300 years. The nine schools of zen were unified by Master Taego (1301-82) under the name of Jogye, which has remained the main sect to this day.

▶ Jinul


Ⅲ. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in Korean Buddhism
In the Buddhist world there are various kinds of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This phenomenon originated within Mahayana Buddhism. Theravadin Buddhists only recognize the Buddha Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha, as their spiritual teacher. Sakyamuni was born prince Siddhartha Gautama in northern India in the fifth century BC. However, Mahayana Buddhists conceive of Buddha as a Universal Buddha with an infinity of forms. As such, they worship not only the historical Buddha but also the universal Buddha, following the conception of three kinds of Buddha: the cosmic Buddha, the dharmakaya; the historical Buddha, Sambhogakaya; and the transformation Buddha, Nirmanakaya.

Among the many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism, various Buddhist nations emphasize different Buddhas and Bodhisattvas based on their own Buddhist philosophy and way of practice. In the case of Korean Buddhism, Buddha Sakyamuni, Buddha Vairocana, Buddha Amithabha, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha are important and can be seen in many Korean temples.

Buddha Sakyamuni (석가모니; Seokamoni-bul in Korean) is the essential statue in most Korean temples. Korean Buddhists consider this Buddha as their main spiritual teacher, whose teachings can end human suffering in this world and lead toward the highest spirituality, namely Nirvana. The representative sculpture of the Buddha Sakyamuni is of a seated Buddha, the right hand hanging over the knee, palm inward, sometimes pointing with one finger, but usually with the whole hand, towards the earth. This mudra, or hand position, represents “calling the earth to witness,” and is most often associated with the Buddha Sakyamuni.
Vairocana Buddha (비로자나불; Birojana-bul in Korean) is the Cosmic Buddha who spreads the light of Buddhist Truth in every direction, the Buddha who embodies the wisdom of Universal Law. Vairocana is sometimes enshrined in his own building called the Great Light Hall, as can be seen in Haeinsa temple. This sculpture generally stands alone in the hall, but sometimes it is the central figure of a trinity attended by Majusri and Samantabhadra Bodhisattvas.

Vairocana is usually depicted with his mudra. This is called the “knowledge fist,” and is made up of the right-hand “diamond fist” and the left-hand “diamond finger.” The diamond represents the supreme strength and durability of Buddhist knowledge. This mudra is a divine representation of the passions, and a comment on the intensity with which one aspiring to wisdom pursues this goal. Thus, the left index finger represents the world of sentient beings, and the surrounding right hand is the protection of the world of Buddhas.

Amithabha Buddha (아미타불; Amita-bul in Korean) is the Buddha of infinite light and governs the pure land, the Western Paradise. Because the faces of Amithabha and Sakyamuni are so similar and their symbolic hand gestures are the same, it is difficult to distinguish between them. One way to identify Amithabha Buddha is that he is associated with Avalokitesvara and Mahastamprapta (Taesaeji Bosal, in Korean), two important bodhisattvas.
Avalokitesvara (관세음보살; Gwanseum Bosal in Korean) is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The meaning of her name is “Hearer of Cries,” and she is often pictured with her head slightly inclined as if listening to the pleas of the suffering. She is frequently pictured with a vase and willow spray. The vase contains amrita, the nectar of her compassion, or the waters of life. The willow branch represents her ability and willingness to liberally sprinkle “sweet dew” on the afflicted. The willow, which has long been considered to have medicinal value, also symbolizes her role as a healer.
Ksitigarbha (지장보살; Jijang Bosal in Korean) is the Bodhisattva of relieving the suffering of the nether world. He vowed not to become a Buddha until there are no more people suffering in hell. He is usually bald, or has closely-cropped hair, and holds in one hand a staff or a sistrum, and in the other, a jewel. This is the “wish-fulfilling gem,” a magical jewel which grants all selfless requests.

Most Korean temples have a shrine, housing pictures of Buddhist hells and heavens, to Ksitigarbha. This building serves for the benefit of the dead, and installed photos or memorial tables of recently deceased persons can be found here.

Ⅳ. The spirit of Korean Buddhism
Since being brought to Korea in the late fourth century, Buddhism has evolved under the influence of the Korean spirit. Based on Buddha’s enlightenment and teachings of wisdom and compassion, ‘Korean Buddhism’ was created on the Korean soil by the Korean people. It has three unique characteristics compared to Indian and Chinese Buddhism.
Firstly, Korean Buddhism is universal and liberal, especially in solving cultural problems. When Buddhism first encountered Korean culture, the relationship was reciprocal and peaceful. On the one hand, Korean Buddhists accepted the traditional Korean culture; but on the other hand, they developed new meaning and value from the culture. Accordingly, Korean Buddhism has adjusted to the spirit of the Korean people and has become one with them.

◀ Three Buddhas on Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju

Secondly, Korean Buddhism protects the nation and the people. From the beginning, it has played a vital role in times of turmoil. While searching for its religious goals and ideologies, it has always been concerned with national glory and peace. Throughout its long history, Korean Buddhism has helped to protect the nation on many occasions. For example, during the fifteenth century, Buddhist monks became soldiers and rose up to protect the nation against the Japanese invasion. As a result, Korean Buddhism was called ‘protector of the nation.’

▲ Tripitaka Koreana woodblocks are testimony to the pious devotion of king and people, hoping to repel the Mongolian invasion by the divine providence of Buddha from 1236 to 1251.

Thirdly, Korean Buddhism symbolizes harmony. It has not only reconciled conflicting religious ideas and schools, but also harmonized religious disagreements between theory and practice. Overcoming philosophical conflicts, Korean Buddhism has developed through the deeds of a long line of eminent Korean practitioners. This harmonious character was started by Master Wonhyo (617-686). With a philosophy of reconciliation, he harmonized various doctrines at a higher stage. Later, Master Daegak Uichon (1055-1101) and Master Bojo Jinul (1158-1210) continued in the same manner. Uichon recognized the logic and value of Wonhyo’s conciliatory philosophy and tried to unite Korean Buddhism by combining theory and practice. Jinul also combined theory and practice in his creative movement of practicing meditation and wisdom together.
Ⅴ. 1. Life of Korean Buddhist Monks and Nuns
 Qualifications of becoming a Korean Buddhist monk or nun

Those who would like to be ordained in a Buddhist monastery in Korean Buddhism should have strong faith in living for themselves and others like Buddha and Bodhisattvas. This strong faith in attaining enlightenment and helping other beings is essential so that aspirants to the Buddhist Sangha can endure all difficulties during training as well as during lifelong practice. Korean Buddhist monasteries must welcome all aspirants who have a good mind and health. However, in practice, there is a restriction in terms of education. Aspirants must have completed high school. This restriction is not for attaining enlightenment, but for proving the qualification of the Buddhist monk and nun. Being a Buddhist monk or nun is to be a spiritual leader. Therefore, candidates must have common sense and basic education.

In order to become a Buddhist monk or nun, there are three stages that must be completed, aspirant, student, and full ordination. One who joins a monastery in the very beginning becomes an aspirant. Upon entering the monastery, one abandons all relationships with relatives and friends for some period. Male aspirants shave their hair and beards and wear gray or brown clothes, while female aspirants do not shave their hair in the beginning. The reason for this is that at the time of being an aspirant they can still chose to either remain in the temple or return home. About six months after entering the monastery, the female aspirants shave their hair. During this period the aspirants learn all manners for living in the monastery harmoniously with other members as well as chanting for daily worship. They also work for the monastery and care for the senior monks and nuns while gradually learning what Buddha taught and the spiritual path through both body and mind.

After about one year, it is determined whether or not the aspirant is suitable for monastic life, and if so, he or she chooses a teacher. For some period teachers take care of the disciples. As a teacher’s disciple, the aspirant receives ten precepts, the first set of basic training rules, and is also given ordination. From this point, male disciples are referred to as samis and women are called saminis (the prefix ni in Sanskrit means female).

In order to study Buddhist scriptures, Samis and saminis should enter into one of the Sangha Colleges, a traditional style of Buddhist monastery institute, for four years. Sangha Colleges are special institutes where samis and saminis separately study Buddhist scriptures more deeply through the learning of ancient Chinese characters. When they study Buddha’s teachings they rely on the ancient texts as well as commentaries written by practitioners through the ages. During this study period they also learn chanting and all the other skills required of a fully ordained member of the Buddhist monastery. In addition, as Korean society has become more complex, there are also several modern subjects such as English and Psychology included in the curriculum. The most important learning is the art of living. From the first year, all the members should stay together in one large room for the next four years, the purpose of which is to strive toward living harmoniously.

After a total of five years, novices who have completed their training and study period are sent for a second ordination whereupon they become bhikkhus, or bhikkhunis in the case of female students. Before the novices are fully ordained, five days of extra training and lectures are given for the higher qualifications demanded of Korean Buddhist monks and nuns.

Ⅴ.2. Korean Buddhist monks and nuns’ daily schedule
In a Korean Buddhist monastery, the day begins at 3 o’clock in the morning. One monk wakes up earlier than the others and puts on his ceremonial robes. The monk then silently starts to beat a Moktak, a wooden and bell-shaped percussion instrument, and chant Buddhist sutras. He walks to each part of the monastery and chants as he proceeds.

This wake-up ceremony is performed every day of the year regardless of the weather. Upon hearing the sound of the Moktak, the other monks get up and prepare to join the morning ceremony. After a short time, the large bell, followed by the huge drum, gong and wooden fish, are sounded and all monks proceed to the main hall for chanting.

Before the morning ceremony, monks beat four subjects, the large bell, a drum, a gong and a wooden fish. These each represent a group of living beings in the world. The large bell is for the descendent. The drum made of animal skins is for animals. The cloud shaped gong is for living beings of the air. The log carved into the shape of a fish is for living beings in the water. When every living being listens to the chanting and beating of the subjects, they are liberated by Buddha’s wisdom.

After the morning ceremony, the monks continue their own practice according to their level; the students go to the study hall, and senior monks go to the meditation hall and the working monks cook the morning meal.

At about 6 a.m. breakfast takes place. Breakfast in a Korean temple consists of rice porridge and fermented vegetables in a formal style from a set of four individual bowls.

The most important part of the day is the time after breakfast, because this time is very calm for practice. As such, most monks continue to study or meditate in their place.

At 10:30 a.m., in order to remember Buddha’s custom of eating once a day, monks chant and offer rice in the main hall. After the ceremony, it is lunchtime. Monks chant before and during the meal because they should remind themselves that eating food is for sustaining the body, not for greed or the desire for food itself.

“Let us reflect upon the human efforts that have made this meal possible, and ask ourselves whether we deserve this offering. Let us rid ourselves of greed and regard this meal as medicine to help us to see the truth and to reach the great wisdom beyond.”

After a short period of free time after lunch, monks return to practice until 5 p.m. This is suppertime. The suppertime hour depends on the season; winter supper is one hour earlier than that of summer. Approximately one hour later, the large temple bell announces chanting:

“May all living beings who hear this bell be relieved from suffering, develop wisdom and attain enlightenment. May we all live in peace.”

When monks hear this bell sound they proceed to the main hall, and evening chanting and meditation follows. Then around 9 p.m. the monks can go to bed and all lights in the temple are switched off.

Ⅵ. 1. Art and culture in Korean Buddhism
 Representative Korean Buddhist Temples

The 2,500 year history of Korean Buddhism has given rise to many large temples. Among them, the Three Jewel Temples are the most famous and largest Korean Buddhist temples. The three jewels in Buddhism are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The Three Jewel Temples represent each aspect: Tongdosa Temple represents the Buddha because there is a famous stupa (or pagoda) housing relics of Buddha from China; Haeinsa Temple represents the teaching or Dharma, because there is a large number of Buddhist scriptures; and Songgwangsa Temple represents the Buddhist community or Sangha, as about fifteen Korean patriarchs have come from this temple.

Tongdosa Temple

Tongdosa Temple was built in 646 by Master Jajang during the reign of Queen Seondeok. One of the great monks in Korean Buddhism, Master Jajang, carried Buddha’s relics from China and he enshrined them at Tongdosa Temple. As a result, unlike other temples, there is no statue of Buddha in the Main Hall. Instead, Buddhists worship the Stupa.

Tongdosa Temple

The Diamond Precepts platform is behind the Main Hall. On the platform is a bell-shaped stupa surrounded by a stone barrier. The gate is finely decorated with dragons, clouds and two protector guardians. There are protective deities on the four corners of the platform. The ball-shaped stupa is decorated with lotus patterns, lotus blossoms, lotus petals, the Four Virtues and gods on the base and upper parts. In front of the stupa lies the lovely Nine Dragons Pond. Originally very large, the pond was home to nine dragons.

▲ The Stupa(or pagoda) in Tongdosa Temple

Haeinsa Temple is the second representative temple. Its name means “reflection on a smooth sea.” It is the description of deep meditation in the Avatamsaka Sutra. Originally, Haeinsa Temple was a small hermitage built by Master Sunung and Master Ichong at the time of their return from China in 802. The wife of King Aejang was sick, and the two monks had helped to cure her. The King built Haeinsa Temple in honor of the monks. The temple has since been enlarged. Behind the Main Hall are two buildings that were constructed in 1488 housing the wooden blocks of the Tripitaka Koreana and the Buddhist scriptures. The Tripitaka Koreana was originally carved in the 11th century in a temple on Ganghwa Island. The possession of these wooden blocks was said to protect the country against invasion.
However, the blocks were burnt by Mongol invaders. In the 13th century, production of a new set of blocks was undertaken at the order of King Gojong. It took about 16 years to carve 52,330,152 characters on 81,258 blocks. These were transported from Ganghwa Island on the heads of nuns to Haeinsa for safe-keeping.

▲ Songgwangsa Temple

Songgwangsa Temple means “Spreading Pine Temple” and it was established on Mt. Jogye by Master Jinul (1158-1210). In 1190, Jinul created a “Concentration and Wisdom Community” for practicing Buddhism together. Searching for the ideal location, he carved a crane out of wood, which he then released. The crane flew away and finally landed in the place where Songgwangsa Temple is today. The Master’s Portrait Hall was built and the temple came to represent the Sangha, the followers of Buddha.
Jinul’s Buddhist philosophy created an ancient Buddhist debate that continues today. He believed that enlightenment could be quite easily reached, but that practice must continue afterwards in order to get rid of the habit energies. This is called the Sudden Awakening and Gradual Cultivation as opposed to Sudden Awakening and Sudden Cultivation, wherein after a struggle to reach the difficult stage of enlightenment, cultivation is no longer necessary.
Ⅵ. 2. The beauty and structure of Korean Buddhist Temples

Most Korean temples are located in mountain valleys. Each temple has several buildings; these include the gate or gates, halls and shrines, stupas, bell pavilions, academies, living quarters, etc.

Most large temples have several gates before reaching the Main Hall. These gates delineate the land of Buddha and the secular world. The One-Pillar gate is the first gate in the temple. While the gate actually has two pillars, from a Buddhist point of view, it is referred to as a “One-Pillar” gate as it symbolizes that one who enters into the temple should have one mind and take the first step towards the Pure Land.
▲The one-pillar gate at Hwaeomsa Temple
The second gate is the Four Guardians’ gate. These guardians are in charge of the four cardinal directions; North, South, East, West, and the four seasons. The guardians are of ancient Indian religious origin. After listening to the Buddha’s teaching, they became deities. Their duties include defense of the temple and crushing demonic opponents. They carry a lute, sword, dragon or pagoda, respectively, in one hand.

▲The Four Guardians’ gate at Tongdosa Temple

▲ The main hall
The Main Hall is the temple’s architectural and spiritual center. The name of the Main Hall is determined by the Buddha’s image that is enshrined inside. An image of Buddha usually stands on the main platform, which is adorned with carvings of many animals and flowers to represent Mount Sumeru. On the wall to the right of the Buddha image is a painting of the guardians. They serve to protect the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Usually Buddhist paintings are drawn on the outside wall of the Main Hall. One series of paintings is entitled “Eight Scenes of the Life of the Buddha,” and the other is called “the Ox-Herding Paintings.” The “Eight Scenes of the Life of the Buddha” are eight scenes that include the most important events of his life.
The Ox-Herding paintings originally came from China, and depict a profound metaphor for Zen (Chan in Chinese, Seon in Korean) Practice. The pictures depict a young man searching for an ox. The young man represents the practitioner and the ox is his mind. The paintings are usually divided into ten stages, and thus they are called the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures.

▲ The stupa, “Seokgatap” at Bulguksa Temple
In front of the Main Hall, there is usually a stupa. Before Buddha’s images were created, the stupa was the object of worship and was regarded as Buddha and his teachings. As such, there are two types of stupas; one is for Buddha and the other is Dharma, Buddha’s teachings. Over the centuries, stupas were built of various materials in East Asian Buddhist countries. Stupas in Korean Buddhism are usually made of stone, and on the surface of the stupa figures are carvings of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and Devas.

On the left side of the Main Hall there is a two-story tower-like structure, which is the Bell Pavilion. There are four instruments inside, the Dharma Drum, the Wooden Fish, the Cloud-shaped Gong and the large Brahma Bell. These are used to announce the temple’s daily schedule and regulate monastic life.

Academies and living quarters are located off to the side of the temple. These places are not open to the public. Academies are used by student monks who study and practice daily. Living quarters include such facilities as dormitories, a kitchen, an eating area, and a storage house.
Ⅶ. Tea and Food in Korean Buddhist Temples
Tea in Korean Buddhism was first introduced in the sixth or seventh century, likely by Buddhist monks who had returned from China. There are early reports of tea in Samguk-yusa and Samguk-sagi, which are famous ancient Korean history books. Reports noted that Queen Seondeok of Silla (ruled 632-47) drank tea and King Munmu, in 661, ordered tea.During the Goryeo Dynasty, between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, tea was offered not only in the ancestral ceremonies but also Buddhist ceremonies. One such Buddhist ceremony was known as Hon-ta, in which green tea leaves were offered in front of Buddha statues in the temples. The tea culture was closely related with Buddhism, but when Confucianism became the dominant philosophy at the end of the fourteenth century, both consumption and ceremonial use of tea was prohibited.

During the Joseon Dynasty there is little evidence of tea culture surviving in Korea, until the great restorer of tea culture in Korea came along, a young Buddhist monk known as Cho Ui (1786-1866). In 1836, Cho Ui stayed at the Iljiam hermitage above Daehungsa temple near Haenam in the far south of Korea; it was here that he composed a great poem celebrating a tea known as Dongdasong. Unlike the Japanese tea ceremonies, Korean tea etiquette focuses on remaining natural while partaking. Korean style preparation of green tea requires a tea set consisting of three or five cups as needed. In a tea set there is a Korean tea pot, which is little larger than Chinese ones, and a smaller bowl for cooling the hot water with a lip for pouring.

Korean Buddhism also has a long and storied history on the topic of food, as well as a distinguished view on its role and value. Buddhist scriptures indicate that practitioners should take the minimum amount of food for maintaining a meditative life, and the food must be made of clean materials.

Korean Buddhism developed a unique concept on how food should be prepared, developing five precepts – the first forbidding harm to animals. In order to keep this precept Korean temples do not use animal products or even oils, but only use vegetables. Among vegetables strong stimulants such as garlic, green onion, scallions and wide rocambole (a type of garlic) are avoided. It is because these kinds of vegetables make one’s mind stimulated.
Korean temple food consists of various delicacies made of mountain vegetables, seasoned with seaweed, and simmered in soy sauce. Temple food is well-balanced nutritionally due to the inclusion of perilla oil, a healthy substitute for animal fat, and tofu and soy beans, both rich in protein. Such a diet is useful for the prevention of geriatric diseases.
Ⅷ. Korean Buddhist Ceremonies
Korean Buddhist rites can be divided into two groups, one for the living and one for the deceased. The Buddhist offering Bul-gong falls into the first class of ceremony.The Buddhist offering is usually held between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. It is called ‘Sa-si-ma-ji’ or ‘Sa-si-gong-yang.’ Sa-si indicates the time 9-11 a.m. It originated in the period of the Sakyamuni Buddha’s life. In India, the Sakyamuni Buddha had only one meal a day at Sa-si. From this origin, Korean Buddhists offer food, fruit, incense, candles, and money to Buddha and Bodhisattvas at Sa-si.

The Buddhist offering has two meanings; one is to take refuge in Buddha, his teachings, and his disciples (the Three Jewels), and the other is to devote oneself to making promises, and to transfer all positive aspects to other beings for happiness and spiritual wealth.

There are a variety of Buddhist ceremonies among the second group, including funerals, Cheon-do-jae, Su-ryuk-jae, and Ye-su-jae. Buddhist funerals are based on Buddhist doctrines of living and dying. In Buddhism, after a person dies, the body is separated from earth, water, fire, and air, but the results of karma, which are made by actions of the body, speech and mind, continue. This is called rebirth or reincarnation.

After someone dies, his or her consciousness remains in a stage of ‘Jung-yu’ or ‘Jung-eum.’ This is a middle stage between the present life and the next life. At this time, Si-da-rim, a Guiding Ceremony comprised of Buddha’s teachings, is held to guide the spirit to the Pure Land or back to Earth.

Traditionally, Buddhists are cremated. This ceremony is called ‘Da-bi, ‘the monastic funeral. The platform for cremation is set up with wood, charcoal, and a straw mat. After burning the platform, people collect the bones of the cremated person and then crush them into powder. People choose either to scatter the powder around a temple or mountain or to keep the ashes in the charnel house.
After cremation, the 49 days Guiding Ceremony takes place in the temple. The purpose of this ceremony is to yield a good rebirth in the next life.
Cheon-do-jae is another guiding ceremony to guide the spirits of ancestors to the Pure Land. In this ceremony, descendants make offerings and pray to Buddha to purify their ancestors’ karma so that they may be reborn in the Pure Land.
Su-ryuk-jae is the Guiding ceremony for Earth and Water. It is a special offering for the hungry ghosts in the Earth and Water. It stems originally from China. In the Yang Dynasty in China, King Mu dreamt that a monk called on him to hold a ceremony for the hungry ghosts in the Earth and Water. The monk told the King that this would be his most worthy contribution. The King adhered to the monk’s request. Thus originating in China, Su-ryuk-jae is practiced nationwide in Korea.
Ye-su-jae is the Preparation Ceremony. It is held to practice cultivation and merits for the next life after death. It is considered to be one’s own 49 days Guiding Ceremony in advance. People can be reborn in a good realm by repenting bad karma, keeping the precepts, and practicing charity.
Ⅸ. Buddhist Instruments and Symbols in Korean Buddhism
Korean Temples generally have a two-story tower, which visitors can see upon entering the gate. There are four major Buddhist instruments to announce the time for monks to practice their daily rites. The four instruments are the dharma drum, the wooden fish, the cloud-shaped gong, and the large brahma bell. The sound of each instrument has a function in saving beings of other realms.The dharma drum beats to save all beings living on earth, from humans to animals to ants, and so on. The sound of the beating drum is considered to echo the sound of Buddha’s teachings.

The wooden fish is for saving all fish. Monks strike both sides of the fish’s hollow center with two sticks in order to produce sound. The origin of this instrument can be traced to an edifying story. A long time ago, there was a monk who committed many unwholesome deeds. Eventually, he died and was reborn as a fish with a tree on its back. One day when the monk’s old master was crossing the river, the fish came to him sadly. The master looked into its past life and held a memorial ceremony to save the fish. That night, the fish appeared in the master’s dream, appreciative of his master’s kindness. He asked his master to please cut the tree from his back and make a fish-shaped instrument and tell this story as a lesson for practitioners.

The cloud-shaped gong is for saving the beings of the sky. It is made from bronze. Some temples hang this gong in the kitchen or the dining room to announce mealtime.

The brahma bell is for saving the beings of hell. The bell is struck 28 times in the morning and 33 times in the evening. As the bell is struck, all beings in hell are released from their suffering. A whale shaped instrument is used for striking the bell. A long time ago many dragons lived in the sea. One of them was named Po. This dragon cried often and was afraid of whales. The bell’s sound is said to be like Po’s cries.

Besides the above four instruments, the mok-tak and juk-bi are also very important instruments in daily Korean temple life. The mok-tak is shaped like the wooden fish but is smaller and round. It is used in all Buddhist ceremonies when chanting and reciting sutras.
The juk-bi is made from a single bamboo shoot cut down its center. A monk will slap the juk-bi against his palm to elicit sound. It is a useful instrument to signal the start and end of meditation.
Another interesting small figure is the wind chimes, found on the eaves of Buddhist Halls and pagodas. The wind rings the chimes, awakening the monks. The explanation for the chimes’ role lies in the fact that fish live without closing their eyes, even while sleeping. Thus, monks and practitioners, like the fish in the sea, practice to continuously cultivate themselves, even in their dreams.
In Korean Buddhism there are many symbols to represent Buddha’s teachings. The Buddhist cross is called man in Korean. The original meaning in Sanskrit is a good omen. Since Buddha’s time it has been a symbol of good fortune and it represents Buddha’s compassionate mind.
A circle and a circle with three dots inside are also symbols found in Buddhist paintings and temple wall paintings. They represent the mind. The circle is a fundamental form of the whole universe, without worldly distinctions such as good or bad, like or dislike, high or low, and so forth.
Concerning the three dots, the inside of each dot symbolizes one of the three jewels of Buddhism. The three jewels are Buddha, Dharma (the teachings of Buddha), and Sangha (Buddha’s disciples).

Finally, the Lotus Flower is a well-known symbol of Buddhism. This flower has two meanings. First, the lotus flower blossoms in mud ponds, but it is not tainted and keeps its purity always. It is like Buddha and Bodhisattvas, who lived in the world but remained pure.
Second, it bears a flower and fruit at the same time. It reflects the law of cause and effect. Therefore, when Buddhists act in everyday life, they keep in mind that their actions are followed by results.

Ⅹ. Temple Stay for Foreigners
Through the temple stay program, several Korean temples are opened to foreigners in order to offer opportunities to experience the traditional culture of Korean Buddhism. This program was originally implemented during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and garnered many positive reactions from participants.
The temple stay program offers visitors the chance to stay in a Korean temple for several days and experience the daily life there. The temple becomes active at 3 a.m. and various ceremonies and daily activities continue throughout the day until 9 p.m. During one day there are several programs that introduce the culture of Korean Buddhism, such as Yebool (Buddhist ceremony service), Cham-seon (meditation), Da-do (tea-ceremony), Balwoo-gongyang (eating manners), as well as others.
Prior to starting this program, all participants learn basic manners in the Buddhist temple and the Buddha Hall. Dress in the temple should be clean and conservative and visitors should avoid revealing clothes and bare feet as well as heavy makeup. Inside the temple they should be quiet and calm. Visitors should not speak loudly, run, or sing. Smoking is not allowed and drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden. Men and women should also avoid intimate physical contact.
At the time of entering the Buddha Hall, of the three entrances, visitors can use either side entrance, but must avoid using the front or center entrance. Before entering the hall, visitors must remove their shoes. Among the available programs, is Yebool, a Buddhist ceremony service. Korean temples perform Yebool three times a day; at 3 a.m., 11 a.m., and 6 p.m. Yebool pays respect to Sakyamini Buddha and his disciples. During the act of Yebool, participants maintain a calm and quiet composure, in body and mind. Even without understanding the chanting of Yebool, participants will hear and experience this totally harmonious ceremony.

Cham-seon is another wonderful experience during the temple stay. It is a form of Seon meditation, which is the Korean style of Zen meditation. Cham-seon means contemplation or intuition, and through this one finds one’s own true self. There are two forms of Cham-seon, sitting and walking.
Before starting Cham-seon, one assumes the most comfortable position, while holding his or her back straight. Walking meditation is a break after long sitting meditation. One slowly walks around the Meditation Hall with harmonious steps and breathing.
Da-do is a tea ceremony. Rather than just drinking tea, this is a form of meditation. While drinking tea one should sit quietly.
Balwoo-gongyang is a Buddhist meal with traditional bowls. In Buddhism, gongyang means eating, and balwoo are bowls containing a moderate amount of rice and vegetables. The spirit of the Balwoo-gongyang is equality, cleanliness, thrift, and togetherness. Equality means everybody shares the same food equally, and cleanliness means the food is cooked in a clean environment. Thrift means there is no waste, and togetherness means social unity and harmony can be enhanced through this eating style.
Balwoo-gongyang is performed three times a day. During this time, one sits in the lotus position and remains quiet, as talking is not allowed.
Before Balwoo-gongyang, there is pre-meal chant. This chant also presents the spirit of Buddhist harmonious life and thinking of others. Calculating how much effort went into producing the food, one contemplates where it came from. One also reflects on whether their own virtue is worthy of this offering. The main task is to guard the mind and leave behind faults like craving and so forth. One should receive this food in order to complete the task of enlightenment.