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[Sanctuary Adventures] The story of adoration and winged serpent sorcery behind Buseok Temple’s creation

By Dale Quarrington

It’s generally expected expressed that the more things change, the more they stay the very; that is, with the exception of Buseok Temple.

At the point when I originally visited Buseok Temple back in the mid year of 2011, the sanctuary parking area was simply toward the east of the sanctuary grounds. So when I returned this previous summer, I just a little of a shock.

As of late, Buseok Temple chose to return the sanctuary grounds to their unique state by re-adding the Iljumun (One Pillar Gate) and Cheonwangmun (Heavenly Kings Gate). So rather than a basic minimal side-passage from the eastern parking area, Buseok Temple’s format is currently planned so guests need to advance up a 500-meter-long pathway on a mountain. I’m in support of a decent climb, however with the temperature increasing to 35 degrees Celsius and with my vivacious five-year-old little girl next to me, the new sanctuary design made for a remarkable experience.

Buseok Temple is situated in the somewhat distant Yeongju, North Gyeongsang Province. The sanctuary was first settled in the year 676 by the acclaimed priest, Uisang-daesa (625-702). Buseok Temple was worked under the imperial announcement of King Munmu of Silla (r. 661-681) to assist with advancing the thoughts of Hwaeom (Flower Garland) school of Buddhism. It was likewise worked during a wild time in Korean history, when Silla had quite recently crushed the adjoining Baekje (18 B.C. ― 660 A.D.) and Goguryeo (37 B.C. ― 668 A.D.) realms. The sanctuary was worked close to an essential pass, which was the previous limit among Goguryeo and Silla. By building Buseok Temple, it would assist with getting the country’s new lines.

Uisang-daesa and Lady Seonmyo, found in workmanship at Naksan Temple in Gangwon Province/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington
Woman Seonmyo/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington

There is a legend about the establishing of Buseok Temple, and the sad romantic tale of Uisang-daesa. While he was in Tang China contemplating, he met a lady that he knew as Lady Seonmyo (Virtuous Mystery). At the point when he got back to Korea and abandoned her, Lady Seonmyo, being either troubled or attempting to get his boat, bounced into the ocean and suffocated. After her demise, she was renewed as a mythical beast. As a mythical beast, Lady Seonmyo was said to have followed Uisang-daesa back to Silla to assist with safeguarding him.

Uisang-daesa and Lady Seonmyo, found in craftsmanship at Naksan Temple in Gangwon Province/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington
Woman Seonmyo/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington

At the point when Uisang-daesa’s development of Buseok Temple met obstruction with local people who were supporters of conventional Korean shamanic convictions, Lady Seonmyo, presently showing up as a mythical serpent, suspended an enormous stone over the tops of local people multiple times. The group was lowered by the phenomenal powers of Lady Seonmyo. Presently, purportedly, this rock rests to one side of the fundamental lobby, Muryangsujeon (Hall of Immeasurable Life). Furthermore, this is where the sanctuary gets its name, which means “Drifting Rock Temple.”

Uisang-daesa and Lady Seonmyo, found in craftsmanship at Naksan Temple in Gangwon Province/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington
The “drifting stone” is as yet seen at Buseok Temple which is said to have been suspended multiple times by Lady Seonmyo as a winged serpent/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington

Clearing your path through the sanctuary grounds at Buseok Temple, you’ll initially go through both the recently developed Iljumun and Cheonwangmun. At last, you’ll go through the Hoejeonmun (Entry Gate), which will acquire you permission to the principal sanctuary patio. What will strike you most about Buseok Temple is the terraced slope where the sanctuary is found. Altogether, there are three of these stone stages that house sanctuary structures at Buseok Temple.

Uisang-daesa and Lady Seonmyo, found in craftsmanship at Naksan Temple in Gangwon Province/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington
Beomjonggak at Buseok Temple/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington

As per “The Secret Spirit of Korean Architecture” by Bongryol Kim, there are two primary hypotheses with regards to the emblematic significance behind the stone stage plan at Buseok Temple. The hypothesis that appears to be legit is that the three stages are intended to address the “Nine Levels of Paradise in the Pure Land.” Of these three stone stages, they can be partitioned into three relating groups found at the Hoejeonmun, Beomjonggak (Bell Pavilion), and Anyangnu (Peace Bright Pavilion).

Uisang-daesa and Lady Seonmyo, found in workmanship at Naksan Temple in Gangwon Province/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington
Anyangnu at Buseok Temple/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington

Every one of these three regions have three relating slants. Of these nine complete slopes, which connect with the nine absolute levels in the Pure Land where one can be renewed, it finishes in the 10th level which is the most significant level of heaven. What’s more, coincidentally the 10th grade at Buseok Temple is where you’ll track down Muryangsujeon.

Uisang-daesa and Lady Seonmyo, found in craftsmanship at Naksan Temple in Gangwon Province/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington
Muryangsujeon at Buseok Temple/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington

The present Muryangsujeon traces all the way back to 1376, which makes it one of Korea’s most established surviving wooden designs. Notwithstanding its age, the sanctuary sanctum lobby is likewise National Treasure No. 18. Dissimilar to such countless other wooden designs on the Korean Peninsula, Muryangsujeon kept away from obliteration during the overwhelming 1592-98 Imjin War. The corridor is more modest in size, and it’s normal of Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) engineering.

Uisang-daesa and Lady Seonmyo, found in craftsmanship at Naksan Temple in Gangwon Province/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington
Stone lamp and Muryangsujeon at Buseok Temple/Courtesy of Dale Quarrington

At the point when you initially go into the patio that houses Muryangsujeon through Anyangnu, you’ll see a stone lamp marginally to one side with the primary corridor as a background. This stone lamp is National Treasure No. 17, and there’s a motivation behind why it’s found somewhat askew. Its position powers guests to one side and toward the east. Housed inside Muryangsujeon is a sculpture of Amita-bul (the Buddha of the Western Paradise), which is National Treasure No. 45. However, rather than being halfway situated inside the fundamental corridor like all things considered other Korean Buddhist sanctuaries, this sculpture of Amita-bul is situated toward the west (or left of focus). The justification for this is profoundly representative. Since guests enter both Muryangsujeon and its yard from the east, and Amita-bul is situated toward the west, Muryangsujeon is intended to represent heaven. What’s more, the sculpture of Amita-bul in the west peers out over the universe of enduring toward the east.

To the back of Muryangsujeon, you’ll find Seonmyogak, which is an extended altar corridor devoted to Lady Seonmyo. The inside and outside of this sanctuary sanctum lobby are a recognition for this defensive gatekeeper. As indicated by one more sanctuary legend, after Lady Seonmyo the mythical beast kicked the bucket, her bones were covered underneath Muryangsujeon.

There are a few other wonderful sanctuary sanctum lobbies at Buseok Temple, as Josadang (Founder’s Hall). Josadang is situated past the Three-Story Stone Pagoda east of Muryangsujeon and up a forested path. This more modest sanctuary lobby is nearly basically as old as Muryangsujeon, and it’s committed to Uisang-daesa. Josadang is National Treasure No. 19, and it was first worked in 1377.

Altogether, Buseok Temple is home to an astounding scope of National Treasures

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