Seven Buddhas Temple of Beob-wang-gol [Dharma-King Valley]
at about 800m, below Toggi-bong (1534m)
in the Central-South Sector of Jiri-san (West of Samshin-bong)
one of Korea's best Meditation-Retreat Temples
This small but important monastery
was founded around 560, when the
Shilla Kingdom gained control of
this region, conquering the Gaya
Federation and overthrowing its last
ruler Suro-wang. It is said that the
seven sons of King Suro realized
that further resistance was futile,
and so retreated to this sacred site
and built a hermitage. They all
intensively meditated here without
distraction and reached full enlight-
enment -- people said that the Seven
Princes had become Seven Living
Buddhas -- thus the name Chilbul-
sa was adopted, and its fame grew.
Above: the Main buildings in October.
Right: Chilbul-sa monks playing the
Big Drum for the Evening Service.
Both from KNTO
Chilbul-sa was tragically burned during
the "partisan" battles following the
Korean War. It was reconstructed
along its original forms in 1984.
Chilbul-sa's remote and quiet location 800 meters high up
on a ridge 7 km behind Ssanggye-sa and a 3-hour hike
below Toggi-bong 토끼봉 Peak (1534m) makes it ideal
for intensive meditation. This site is said to be excellent
for spiritual development according to Pungsu-jiri-seol.
I took these photos of pictures posted at the Main Gate
Despite its location and character -- or
perhaps because of them? -- Chilbul-sa
contains no San-shin shrine, altar or
painting (this is rare in a Jogye temple).
|Mystical Chilbul-sa on a foggy day in April 2006
the Front Gate Signboard proclaims it as "the #1
Meditation-Temple in the Eastern-Nation", while a
view back down the valley shows Samshin-bong
[Three Spirits Peak] almost lost in the clouds.
the Main Courtyard -- the Bell-Pavilion, Nahan-jeon, the famous Aja-bang, and the Main Hall (modest, but
with excellent intricate woodcarvings). Aja-bang may be Korea's most-renowned Seon [Meditation] Hall; it is
built in the shape of an equal-armed cross, and boasts what may be the thickest ondol heated-clay/stone
floor -- it takes three days of firing to warm it fully up, but then it stays warm under the meditators for six
weeks! For every summer and winter gyeolchae [traditional Korean intensive meditation sessions, at least two
months], there is a long waiting-list of monks applying for the honor and privilege of sitting in this building.
|the spectacular altars of the Main Hall -- note the Seven Buddhas on the eastern wall
(that's Sakyamuni Buddha enshrined on the Main Altar, flanked by Munsu-bosal and Bohyeon-bosal)
|my shot of Chilbul-sa in October 1993
|Great Seon (meditation, Zen) Master "Jinjong" Baek Yong-seong (1864-1940) became the
Banjang [Spiritual Master] here in 1910, after his 20 years at nearby Sangseon-am (see page)
and a famous trip to China representing Korean Buddhism in 1907. In 1919 he went to Seoul
and became one of the top leaders of the 3.1 Korean Independence Movement against
Japanese colonialism, and still remains a national hero. Chilbul-sa honors his memory.