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One Pillar Gate (일주문)

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The One Pillar Gate and the Gate of Non-Duality  일주문, 불이문


The One Pillar Gate, which is called "Iljumun" or "Sanmun" in Korean, is the first gate to encounter when visiting mountain temples. The One Pillar Gate is named after the fact that its pillars are lined up in one straight line. It symbolizes entering the temple with a oneness of mind toward the world of truth while putting aside worldly desires. It is considered a boundary between the secular and the Dharma world, and is the first gateway which crosses from “this shore” to the “other shore.”

The Gate of Non-Duality (Kor. Burimun) is the last gate to pass before approaching the Dharma hall where the Buddha resides. It is also called the Liberation Gate as one can attain liberation after washing away all afflictions with the truth of non-duality. Non-duality refers to the state of "not being two," which means acknowledging neither identity nor difference, but rather embracing non-dualism in which the relative aspects of things such as you and I, birth and death, and afflictions and enlightenment are not two. 

"What is the way for bodhisattvas to enter the Dharma gate of non-duality?" The layman Vimalakirti answered the question by remaining silent. Then, Manjusri Bodhisattva said, "Well done! Well done! There is neither letters nor words in this (Vimalakirti’s silence), which is the way to enter the Dharma gate of non-duality." -Vimalakirti Sutra

- excerpt from Buddhist English (Elementary 2) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism




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