One of the temples that I have wanted to go to since I got here is Bongeunsa. Luckily, I got the chance to explore it last week!
|In one of the first areas I walked into, |
the ceiling was completely covered with white lanterns.
It was an astounding sight.
This picture does not do it justice.
|All of the walls were covered with paintings.|
This building is Seonbul-dang, also known as the Tangible Cultural Property of Seoul #64. In English, its title means "building for selecting Buddhas". During the Joseon Dynasty, this building was used as a national examination center for monks. It has been here for over a thousand years!
One of my favorite things at temples are these little rock piles. It's like seeing a prayer take a corporeal form. Creating these little prayers take a certain presence of mind, and it feels like perhaps minute pieces of the spirit are left behind. I like thinking of the people that came before me and what their thoughts and intentions might have been.
|Could be a lonely hearts ad.|
|This one too!|
Below is a picture of the Great Statue of Maitreya Buddha. Matreya is the future Buddha who vows to save sentient beings in the era after the lifetime of Sakyamuni Buddha. It is 23 meters tall, and is a depiction of him coming down to earth to save all people who are suffering. There was a large marble area in front of the statue, with cushions provided, so that people could offer their prayers to this Buddha. One of the most adorable things I saw here were a mother and grandmother helping a two-year-old to pray as she was giggling uncontrollably.
|The Boddhisattva of Compassion.|
You might not be able to tell,
but this statue was enormous.
This is from the stairs leading into the Main Buddha Hall. Dragons are typically reserved for use in the palaces of kings, which shows how important this hall was. This temple is a very important history. It was built in 794 C.E. by Ven. Yeonhoe. It became the head temple for the Zen sect during the Joseon dynasty, and served as the main temple for recruiting monks and training them.
These two pictures are statues of the four celestial kings. According to Indian tradition, these kings protect both the Buddha's teachings and the places where they are practiced. Each king protects one of the four directions. The kings at Bongeunsa are unique because they have kind and compassionate facial expressions -- usually these statues look absolutely terrifying. They are constructed from wood, so they are regarded as artistic treasures.