[One Million Vows Assembly]2. Raising Buddha Properly in Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju City
Pages InformationWriter Jogye Date28 Feb 2020 Read4,170 Comment0
Highlighting Four Long-cherished Projects of the Power of One Million Aspirations
2. Raising Buddha Properly in Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju City
“The Miracle of 10 cm”Lighting the Work of Buddha – the Vocations of Buddhism and Buddhists of the Time
The Buddha-work of assembling one million aspirations is a grand plan to reignite the flame of hope for Korean Buddhism. By organizing long- and short-term taskspresently needing to be done by Korean Buddhism and the Jogye Order and moving forward with them, we hope to secure the growth engine for the future. For starters, we shall hold the Three Jewels of Buddhism, the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddha’s teaching), and the Sangha (the Buddhist community), properly above all. In particular, the four major plans have been selected as the culmination.
Founding the temple Bunhwangsa in Bodhi Gaya, India, “the Land of Enlightenment,” and erecting the Buddha statue ofYeolamgok Valley in Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju City (the capital of an ancient kingdom from 57 B.C. to 935) are the parts of the plans for upholding ‘the Jewelof Buddha.’ Establishing the temple Hoguksa in Gyeryongdae, the Republicof Korea Army Training and Doctrine Command in Gyeryong City, is the part of upholding the Jewel of Dharma. Setting up a Buddhist hospital and a sanatorium is for the Jewel of Sangha. Among these four long-overdue projects, raising the Buddha statue of Yeolamgok Valley is considered the most challenging task of all.
A Maaebul or arock-carved Buddha statue known as the Buddha of Yeolamgok Valley was discovered fallen with its face down in 2007. The statue became celebrated as “the miracle of 10 cm” because none of the features were damaged though it was only 10 cm away from the hard-rock surface. The overall structure of the Buddha of Yeolamgok Valley is about 5.15 meters tall while the actual Maaebul is about 4.48 meters. Made of granite on the oddly shaped rock, it is believed to be created around the late 8th Century during the Unified Silla Period (668-935 CE)
According to several studies done by the Cultural Heritage Administration, they conjecture that the rock carved with the Maaebulmight have fallen and buried due to an earthquake with a magnitude of seven and a flood in 1430. However, the problem here is that the task to erect the Maaebul has continuously met with obstacles, and the project halted shortlyafter its first discovery13 years ago.
Along with the Cultural Heritage Administration, the local government of Gyeongju City of Gyeongsangbuk Province was preparing fora simulation of erecting the Buddha statue but couldn’t come up with enough funding for it, so the project came to a total halt, making no progress since then. Though the entire area of Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju City has been designated as the Historical Site No. 311, the Buddha Statue of Yeolamgok Valley hasn’t been appointed as a cultural property. Reluctantly, acquiring the needed funding for the project isn’t easy. Because the Cultural Heritage Administration recognizes the Buddha of Yeolamgok Valley as a mere cultural property and one of many Buddhist or religious cultural properties, they have been very passive about the project so that is another reason that it is at a standstill.
Consequently, that is why the Jogye Order has chosen this task as one of the four long-cherished projects of the power of one million aspirations. They have decided that raising the Buddha of Yeolamgok Valley is the duty of Buddhists of the period.
During the four major riversrestoration project led by former President Myung-bak Lee in 2011, they discovered a Maaebul buried in a construction site of Nakdan-bo Reservoir in Danmil-myeon, Uiseong-gun, Gyeongbuk Province. At that time, the whole Jogye Order exerted every effort for the preservation of the Maaebul. As a result, a facility to preserve the Maaebul was set up where people can pay homage to the Buddha and now the place is a popular praying spot for many devotees. Raising the Buddha of Yeolamgok Valley to an upright position is not only about carrying out the work of Buddha but also about upholding the first Jewel of Buddha.
Starting from March 2020 to 2021, the city government of Gyeongju is planning to close the site of the Buddha of Yeolamgok Valley in order to secure safety on the ground and develop the surrounding area to improve tour facilities for visitors. Prior to this temporary shuttingdown of the site, there will be an aspiration ceremony held for “Erecting the Maaebul,” attended by teachers and officials from the Central Directorate of Religious Affairs and its affiliated organizations. Afterwards, an aspiration group for the cause will form.
Secretary General Venerable Ilgam ofthe Grand Centennial Project Headquartersemphasized, “It has been 600 years since the Buddha Statue of Yeolamgok Valley fell onto the ground, yet the Buddha emergedin this time period without any damage. When we think about why it happened, we may be given a historical mission to raise the Buddha to flourish Korean Buddhism.” Thus, he stressed that raising the Buddha of Yeolamgok Valley through the project of the Buddha-work of assembling one million aspirationsis pavingthe roadfor restoring Korean Buddhism.