|Bulam-sa [Buddha-Rock Temple] 불암사
of Bulam-san / Cheonbo-san in Namyangju City, Eastern border of Seoul
Bul-am-sa [Buddha Rock Temple] (also spelled Buramsa) has been located in a deep valley on the southern
foot of Bulam-san (at its juncture with Cheonbo-san) for over 1300 years, said to have been founded in
the mid-800s as a Seon meditation temple in the late Shilla Dynasty, and said to have been refurbished
by Doseon-guksa in the late 900s Kingdom (although evidence for this is lacking). It is believed that great
geomancer-monk Jacho Muhak-daesa stayed here awhile and rebuilt it while he was designing Hanyang
(Seoul) to be the new capital of the Joseon Dynasty around 1390. Wooden printing-blocks of the lives of
prominent monks created under King Yeongjo were stored here. History beyond that is quite sketchy up
until about 1800. Bulam-sa was mostly destroyed during the Korean War, but has now been fully
restored by the Jogye Order, and its Main Hall and Samseon-gak are historic buildings. It's located in
Namyangju City of Gyeonggi Province, just NE of the Taeneung area of Seoul, and just north of the
border with Guri City.
|On the Ilchul-mun Front Gate, unusually made with
natural tree-trunks, the signboard reads
R to L: Cheon-bo-san Bul-am-sa [Heavenly-
Treasure Mountain Buddha Rock Temple].
|Two white Budo funerary-stupas are found behind a
gigantic boulder once used for San-shin worship
|From humble beginings and severe damage during the Korean War, Bulam-sa has
resurrected as one of the largest and most important temples of far-eastern Seoul.
Today it is devoted to worship, community services and scriptural studies.
|The Four Heavenly Kings Gate features them painted in 4 separate pannels on the outside, very unusual,
and a phoenix carrying yeomju prayer-beads under Bohyeon-bosal, the Bodhisattva of Benevolent Action
For most of Bulam-sa's long history,
the idea that the mountain itself, or
actually its spirit, is an incipient
enlightened being (a Buddha) was
enough to ensure its sacred reputation
and popular patronage. Better
explanation of this concept can be
found here. But just in the 1980s, the
monks here decided to create a literal
manifestation of the theme behind the
name, and had this triad of Amita-bul
Buddha of Western Paradise flanked
by the Bodhisattvas of Benevolent
Action [Bohyeon-bosal] and
carved on the prominent gigantic
boulder resting behind their Main Hall,
formerly their site for San-shin worship.
But the most notable and extraordinary stonework in this small temple is this Sanshin-biseok mounument.
Its age is unknown, but it was on the San-shin altar at the above huge rock behind the temple on which
the Buddhas are now carved -- now displayed in front of it, off to the side, little-noticed by most vistors.
Written on the stone in Chinese characters is "Nam-u San-wang-dae-shin eui-bi" [Monument of I Take Refuge
in Mountain-King-Great-Spirit]. That "Nam-u" is a very common and famous Buddhist statement, used for
"taking refuge in" Amita-bul [Amibitha Buddha of the Western Paradise] or the holy triad of Buddha, Dharma &
Sangha. Almost all Buddhists around the world recite such prayers frequently, as a declaration of faith or
stimulous to practice. It is amazing to see them appended to the common chant in praise of San-shin! This
elevates the San-shin to the status of a Buddha -- implied all over Korea these days, but rarely made so
explicit as this. The abbot of Doam-sa on the other side of Bulam-san copied this inscription on his own cliff.
the modern pagoda above/behind
the Buddha-rock, a painting of a
sage visiting Bulam-san, and dol-
tap stone pagodas in the garden