The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Tag: Buddhism

Encyclopedia of Korean Buddhism

The Ven. Hyewon and friend (and sometimes MH poster) David Mason have recently released the first-ever encyclopedia of Korean Buddhism.

David’s got a ton of info about the book and how to purchase it at his website, so please, click on over and give it a look.

2nd Wonhyo Pilgrimage Trek Launches on Saturday Sept 1st

The second trial-run of the Wonhyo Pilgrimage Trail will kick-off with a dinner in Gyeongju Friday evening, and an early-morning start from Bunhwang-sa on Saturday — finishing that day’s trek at Gogul-sa and then pressing onward north then west. This is a religious-tourism project a few of us woiguks have been planning & pushing since 2007, with support from some Korean friends. This time the pilgrims will be making a pro-quality video as they go, recording the landscapes, temples & villages along the way, and interviewing monks about Wonhyo’s philosophy & other Buddhist ideas. Should be some adventurous fun, again!

Here is Tony’s recent press-release:
Second Wonhyo pilgrimage aims to re-enact Korean saint’s journey of 1,300 years ago

SEOUL – On September 1 a group of seven pilgrims will leave Bunwhang-sa temple in Gyeonju to re-enact the famous journey the Korean Buddhist saint Wonhyo made from Gyeongju to the area of Gaya-san Wonhyo-bong near the west coast port of Dangjin, more than 1,300 years ago.

This is the second Wonhyo pilgrimage. The first one, an exploratory trip, took place in December of last year. In that journey, the pilgrims covered just shy of 500 km, much of which was walked along back roads and mountain tracks. The journey took them from Gyeongju, ancient capital of the Korean Shilla kingdom, to what is known as Wonhyo’s cave near Dangjin, on the west coast of South Chungcheong Province. The second pilgrimage is expected to finish in the same place.

Tony MacGregor, one of the organizers of the pilgrimage, said the first journey was an inspiring experience. “We saw a side of Korea that is usually hidden – a wonderful kindness, and a profound spiritual culture that is very open. In fact, we were so impressed that this time we decided to make a documentary film of our journey, interview the monks we meet on the way and record their way of life.”

Wonhyo’s journey resulted in his enlightenment. Legend has it that he and fellow spiritual seeker Uisang, took shelter from a storm in an old tomb they thought was a cave. During the night Wonhyo became thirsty and began searching on the ground for a gourd of water. He found one and picked it up and drank deeply from it. The water was sweet and refreshing and he slept deeply until dawn. In the morning he discovered that the vessel he had drunk from was not a gourd but a human skull. It was not filled with sweet, clean water but instead was full of dirty rainwater, rotting meat and maggots. He was so revolted by what he had drank that he fell on his knees and vomited. At that moment, the question came to his mind “Why? Why was the water so sweet and refreshing in the night and yet so revolting in the day?” The answer came to him that it was his mind that determined the difference between the water at night time and in daytime, not the water itself. He realized that truth is created by the mind. At that moment, he attained enlightenment.

On the first pilgrimage, after their arrival at Wonhyo’s cave on December 18, the pilgrims celebrated the saint’s enlightenment by drinking pure spring water from vessels they took to the cave during a brief ceremony. “It was a wonderful way to finish what had been a series of incredible hikes from temple to temple to minbak (family inn) across the Korean Peninsula,” said Tony MacGregor, who conceived the idea of the pilgrimage in 2007 when he was working in Korea as a journalist. “We plan to do the same thing at the end of this second pilgrimage.”

The cave, he said, is an unpretentious place, a dark hole gouged into a huge rock, a good place to shelter from rain but not a comfortable place to spend a night. It was once venerated as the home of a mountain spirit before Wonhyo meditated in it , after which it became a Buddhist shrine honoring him. The cave provided a symbolic end to the journey, he said, and was not the actual tomb where Wonhyo attained enlightenment, a spot about which there is no consensus.

MacGregor said the pilgrimage was a joint effort between him and his friends and was inspired by the kindness and goodwill from Koreans that he and his friends had experienced during their stays in Korea. “We wanted to say thank you to Korea and Koreans in a special way, and what better way than through a pilgrimage to honor Korea’s most beloved and respected Buddhist saint, Wonhyo.”

MacGregor thanks the Templestay Program and the Jogye Order for their help and cooperation with the project.

More information about the pilgrimage can be found at www.inthefootstepsofwonhyo.com

Media attention and any othe support or interest is welcome!
CONTACTS:     Tony MacGregor, tony.macgregor@gmail.com 010-8694-1250.        Chris McCarthy, inthefootstepsofwonhyo@gmail.com
David A. Mason, mntnwolf@yahoo.com http://www.san-shin.org 82-10-9734-9753, in Seoul

Photos from the launch of the first trek last December.
I’ll post the schedule in the comments…

길상사: A Modern Temple, Art and Tea . . .

There is one temple, hidden away, here in Kwanak-gu (Nakseongdae — Naksongdae Subway Station), called Gil-sang Sa (길상사) that is a fair, modern representative of how Buddhist temples are changing with the times in terms of building materials as well as reflecting a more modern sense of aesthetics in Buddhist artwork. The temple interior and the journey therein is a sort of experience that is different from the usual progression, from the gate guardians, to the various buildings found in a temple complex. Instead, one encounters images and a subtle combination of materials that are deliberately chosen so as to enhance meditation and the interior visualization that accompanies one on their inward journey.

Gil-sang Sa is a modern, working temple that houses a handful of female monks who perform various services for adherents as well as provide a social gathering place (art space) called 문화공간 지대방 (Ji-dae-bang) for people of all faiths and nationalities that wish to discuss art, philosophy or would just like to hang out after having hiked down Kwanak-san, where one trail ends right behind the temple. Their art space is a quiet place, designed for art showings and performances as well as serving various teas and coffee.

As a part of their performance series, the artspace recently featured the renowned classical Indian sitarist Ustad Usman Khan and Prakash Kandasamy on tablas. The Ji-dae-bang also features concerts of Korean music, as well as Jazz. Their artspace also periodically hosts artists, in a variety of media, and includes some very nice embroidery by the monks.

The temple also uses part of their artspace for tea or coffee, thus there is always something to enjoy when stopping by. For more directions to Gil-sang Sa, you can call 02-883-7354.

© 2014 The Marmot's Hole

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑