Friday, October 5, 2012

Yongcheonsa, the Dragon Fountain Temple

Since Cello was born in the year of the Black Water Dragon, we've made the dragon a popular theme in our lives this year (I'll be sorry when it ends, I'm enjoying it!).

Our most recent journey brought us to Youngcheonsa, the Dragon Fountain Temple. The Chinese character used here for fountain, 泉, can also be understood as spring, or a spring fountain. According to legend, a dragon was once seen flying out from a small spring here in the corner of the temple. There is now a small pagoda over the the spraing, which is covered with a large wooden pallet.

The temple was originally founded in 670 AD by Uisang Seunim, one of the great monks in Korean history and friend of Wonhyo Seunim. It was destroyed 900 years late and rebuilt. The current Dharma Hall was built in 1631and is Tangible Cultural Property #295.

Though there's little left of what the temple formerly was, when about one thousand monks studied here, more and more I'm learning to appreciate these humble little mountain temples, less infected with tourist mind.

Not long after arriving, the monk became tolling the bell for evening ceremony. A temple bell reverberating in the mountain penetrates your chest, straight to your heart. I joined the monk in the hall for the calling of the spirits and tried to follow him through the Heart Sutra, but his mumbled and slurred chanting style, along with his Gyeongsan dialect, was difficult. What was nice, though, was the lack of a mic and speakers now common in most larger temples. I know, the lack of a mic doesn't make chanting any more sincere, but it sort of feels that way.

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The Dragon Fountain, where the dragon once emmerged.

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  1. I appreciate the "non-tourist" nature of this temple - looks like a *real* place. Great pics, Joseph.

    1. That said, I walk a fine line between tourist and layman, lugging my camera everywhere. In a sense, it's a desire to show people back home what there is in the world, so it's not entirely selfish, but I do get a kick out of it! ^_^

  2. I totally agree about the mic.
    Here in Tokyo there is an English-language JodoShinshu meeting once a month, on a Saturday night. Average attendance is about 12 people. I've asked if it would be possible for everyone just to sit a little closer and we turn the mics off (or at least the volume down), but this constant noise seems to be the Asian way. It reminds me of all the hundreds of ear-splitting temples I've visited in my life, places where you couldn't hear yourself think for all the speakers lined up everywhere, and all the services I've attended where mics are placed right next to the moktaks and the place is literally thumping with unnecessary noise.
    So then you'll find me the next morning, Sunday, sitting with the Tokyo Quakers. In a circle, no mic, no lighting even, just the birdson outside the window, the occasional quietly spoken testimony, and deep deep peace. Lovely.
    May the temple you've featured here long resist the mic!