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Songgwang-sa, the Sangha Jewel Temple (송광사)

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Writer Jogye Date22 Jul 2015 Read5,798 Comment0


Three Jewel Temples, ​

Songgwang-sa, the Sangha Jewel Temple

​승보사찰 송광사

Songgwang-sa is called the Sangha Jewel Temple as it has produced many great monks throughout its history. National Preceptor Bojo Jinul (普照知訥; 1158-1210), an eminent monk of the mid-Goryeo era, instituted a  “Concentration-Wisdom Practice Community” (定慧結社; Jeonghye Gyeolsa) at this temple. Originally established at Geojo-sa Temple on Mt. Palgong-san, Bojo Jinul later moved this community to Songgwang-sa. Since then, 16 National Preceptors have originated from Songgwang-sa Temple, beginning with Jinul’s disciple, Ven. Hyesim, up through the early Joseon era. Hence Songgwang-sa is referred to as the Sangha Jewel Temple.

Not unlike the spirit of its former resident Ven. Beopjeong, Songgwang-sa is the "mountain temple of non-possession." Songgwang-sa is better known for what is not there rather than what is there. Unusually for a Korean temple, at Songgwang-sa there are neither stone pagodas nor any stone lanterns. There are also no wind chimes, which are normally found at any Buddhist temple. The reason for this unusual absence can be found in the principles of geomancy, or feng shui. Geomantically Songgwang-sa forms the shape of a lotus flower. It is said that stone pagodas and stone lanterns were not constructed here as it was believed that, geomantically speaking, these structures would symbolically “sink” the flower.

When the comprehensive monastic training complex, named the “Jogye Chongnim,” was established at Songgwang-sa in 1969, the temple’s Spiritual Patriarch, Ven. Gusan, made a vow to construct a sanctuary befitting the Sangha Jewel Temple. Thereafter, from 1983 to 1990, he ordered the reconstruction of more than 30 buildings in the compound, including the temple’s Main Buddha Hall. In addition, he founded the Research Institute for Bojo Jinul's Thought, which has worked to propagate the philosophy and teachings of Bojo Jinul. This institute has published the Bojo jeonseo (The Collected Works of Bojo Jinul), holds annual academic conferences and continues to publish the Bojo Sasang (Journal of Bojo Jinul's Thought). 


 excerpt from Buddhist English (Intermediate 1) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

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