2019-05-23 12:19 KST  
Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
Embraced Warmly By the Mountain Slopes
Citizen reporter Park Do describes the beauty, history and philosophy of Korea's Silsang Temple
Park Do (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2004-09-11 19:32 (KST)   
Silsang Temple셲 Bogwang Hall
©2004 Park D.

"Silsang" means...

The dictionary defines the Korean term "Silsang" as "that of everything as it is, the true nature of things as they really are." If so, does that make Silsang Temple the "Zen temple that reveals in detail the true nature of everything"?

Rev. Dobeop, whom I met in Silsang Temple's mediation hall, says, "Only when we search for life's truths and solve that problem can we free ourselves from anxiety." They say, however, that even Zen masters who have spent their entire lives meditating cannot find "life's truths" or "true nature of life," so how was an everyday person like myself, with my "five desires and seven emotions," going to learn the true nature of life within a short period of time?

The mantra below is one I like; if I repeat it when I'm ill at ease, I soon grow peaceful.
Life is a snatch of drifting cloud appearing
Death is a snatch of drifting cloud disappearing
As a passing cloud originally has no real substance
The coming and going of life and death is like that.

Classroom for making Korean clothes
©2004 Park D.
This summer, I followed my wife to the "Four Seasons of Ecological Farming Experience Summer Camp," run by the Indramang Life Community. Indramang, or "Indra's Net," refers to the Buddhist philosophy that all phenomena exist only interdependently on other phenomena, and the movement is one that seeks an alternative means of living through returning to the soil and ecological awareness.

For a couple of years, my wife has been teaching a yearly class on making Korean clothes at Silsang Temple as part of the camp program. This year, that position had been handed down to her junior, so we were on our way to the temple because my wife had received requests to come down the day before the class finished to examine the clothes the students had made and enjoy some of the post-class discussion and entertainment.

These days, the highways are well connected, like lines of ants crisscrossing the nation. Even though we ate breakfast at our home in Anheung, Hoengseong Country, Gangwon Province and leisurely departed, by 2:30 p.m., we had arrived at the Inweol Interchange, the entrance to Silsang Temple. At that time, being mid-summer, there was as much daylight left as one full winter day.

Baemsa Ravine, in the Jiri Mountains
©2004 Park D.
I had been to the Jiri Mountains several times, but never to the Baemsa Ravine, and as we exited the interchange, there was a road sign pointing toward it. I asked my wife, who was in the driver's seat, to go in that direction, and so we did, if just to give the place a hurried glance from the car.

Baemsa Ravine, just as it had been rumored, was quite deep with great scenery. With cars backed up along the road leading up to the unexplored ravine, however, and the clear-water stream packed like a downtown swimming pool with people in bathing suits, it did bring a frown to this traveler's face.

After a brief stop, we turned back the car from this point, from which you begin the ascent to the Nogo-dan. After spending the night at a special school teaching people how to go back to the soil, which was somewhat removed from Silsang Temple, we made our way to the temple in the morning. The following is what is written at the entrance of Silsang Temple:

Cheonwang Peak, as seen from Silsang Temple
©2004 Park D.
Rev. Heungcheok first founded the temple, which faces the Jiri Mountains' Cheonwang Peak, in the third year of King Heungdeok of the Unified Silla Period. In the late Silla period, a number of sects of the Zen school, which emphasized meditation over scholastic learning, set up temples on famous mountains across the country; Silsang Temple was one of them.

The temple was burnt down in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's second invasion of Korea in 1597, and rebuilt during the reign of Joseon's King Sukjong (1674-1720) as a 36-building complex. Another fire struck in the reign of King Gojong (1863-1907), and it was restored as the smaller complex it is currently.

As many outstanding monks were sent to Silsang Temple, its prestige within Korean Zen Buddhism rose greatly. Within its precincts, there remain many cultural treasures that speak of the temple's historical significance and character, including the Baekjang Hermitage 3-storied stone pagoda, which has been designated a National Treasure.

The mountain ridges that gracefully descend from Cheonwang Peak like an East Asian folding screen softly embrace and protect the temple as if there were the mercy of the Buddha. The clean, clear water of the Banseon Ravine, which originate from the Jiri Mountains, meanders down next to the temple, as if to wash away the anxiety of this mundane world...

Life and death is just one snatch of drifting cloud...

My wife did work preparing food early, and after lunch, we listened to Dobeop's dharma lecture. His speech was a good one; I regret not having brought a tape recorder or note pad.

Statues of the four guardians of the cardinal direction at Silsang Temple's Four Guardian Gate
©2004 Park D.
I'm 60 and I understand whatever is said to me, but on the other hand, my memory is starting to slip. Of the many things the Zen master said, however, two things still remain with me:

"People say that feces and urine are dirty, but who made them?"

"If you try to solve life's fundamental problems with economic logic, all you do is create more places to fight."

His words were good ones, but as the trip back home would be long, we furtively slipped out of Silsang Temple and started our way back north.

Life is a snatch of drifting cloud appearing
Death is a snatch of drifting cloud disappearing

Panorama of peak of Jiri Mountains
©2004 Park D.

Principal Buddha statue
©2004 Park D.

Three-story pagoda of Silsang Temple (Treasure No. 37)
©2004 Park D.

Iron-cast sitting Buddha (Treasure No. 41)
©2004 Park D.

Truth-seekers listen carefully to the Seon (Zen) master's lecture.
©2004 Park D.

©2004 OhmyNews

Add to :  Add to Del.icio.usDel.icio.us |  Add to Digg this Digg  |  Add to reddit reddit |  Add to Y! MyWeb Y! MyWeb

Ronda Hauben
Netizens Question Cause of Cheonan Tragedy
Michael Werbowski
[Opinion] Democracy's Downfall
Michael Solis
Arizona's Immigration Bill and Korea
Yehonathan Tommer
Assassination in Dubai
[ESL/EFL Podcast] Saying No
Seventeenth in a series of English language lessons from Jennifer Lebedev...
  [ESL/EFL] Talking About Change
  [ESL/ EFL Podcast] Personal Finances
  [ESL/EFL] Buying and Selling
How worried are you about the H1N1 influenza virus?
  Very worried
  Somewhat worried
  Not yet
  Not at all
    * Vote to see the result.   
  copyright 1999 - 2019 ohmynews all rights reserved. internews@ohmynews.com Tel:+82-2-733-5505,5595(ext.125) Fax:+82-2-733-5011,5077