|Guided Tour to the 2005 San-shin-je Ceremony
at Samgak-san Hyeongje-bong Wangryeong-sa
By the kindness of the Venerable Ja-in, the opportunity came up for an unusual and interesting R.A.S.
tour to watch the ceremony for the Mountain-Spirit here on Sunday, April 24th, 2005. the Third Full
Moon of the lunar calendar fell on a weekend this year, giving us an unusually good opportunity to
observe the ancient rites of shamanic origin, adapted to Buddhism, that take place around that time.
18 foreign guests joined this guided visit on the
southern slopes of the Bukhan-san National
Park. The tour started with me lecturing about
the complex relationships of Korea's folk-spirits
with its Buddhism, at the Dragon-king Shrine
(left) and in the front courtyard (below).
The friendly abbot of Wangryeong-sa welcomed our presence to watch his one-hour San-shin-je
[Mountain-Spirit Ceremony]. The crowd of about 35 middle-aged Korean women filled the Main Hall,
facing toward the adjoining San-shin-gak. We sat behind them. It opened with a series of standard
Korean Buddhist scriptural chants, in which everyone joined while the Abbot kept time.
The Abbot switched to a big drum for the
traditional chants devoted to the San-shin.
This climaxed in a long chanting of the basic and oft-used praise
"San-wang-dae-shin" [Mountain King (is a) Great Spirit]. During
this, the women repeatedly stood and then bowed in the Korean
style. One by one, they went up to the altar and donated money,
performing three full formal bows in respect and supplication.
I was the last one to do this, donating an envelope full of money collected from all the tour members,
then performing the three bows on behalf of us all, while chanting "San-wang-dae-shin". After this part
was over, the Abbot gave a short lecture to the crowd about the significance and importance of the
Mountain-spirits, both for Korean culture & society and in personal spirituality. He then introduced me
and the two editions of my book to the crowd, with enthusiastic praise; then we had lunch.