|Guided Tour to the 2006 San-shin-je Ceremony
at Samgak-san Hyeongje-bong's Wangryeong-sa
By the kindness of the Venerable Ja-in, we were once again able to hold this special R.A.S. tour to
watch the ceremony for the Mountain-Spirit here on Thursday, April 13th, 2006. the Third Full Moon
of the Lunar Calendar fell on a Wednesday this year, not very convenient; still, we had an opportunity
to observe the ancient rites of shamanic origin, adapted to Buddhism, that take place around that time.
The crowd of about 40 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 on a moktak.
The Abbot switched to a buk [big drum] for the traditional
chants devoted to the San-shin, with his Brother-Monk
keeping the beat on large gong and moktak.
This climaxed in a 45-minute 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.
This year I was one of the first ones to do this, donating an
envelope full of money collected from all the tour members,
lighting incense then performing the three bows on behalf
of us all, with Jeremey, while chanting "Sanwang-daeshin".
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.
Left: the Altar on that day, featuring long
Ginsaeng roots and fruit.
Above: we had sanchae-bibim-bap [wild-mtn-veggies
mixed with rice], rice-cakes and green tea for
lunch in a room of the temple, then gathered
in the Abbot's office for final chat.
Only 4 foreign guests joined myself,
Ja-in Seunim and his Brother-Monk
out on the southern slopes of the
Bukhan-san National Park this year.
As usual I showed then the unique
shrines and lectured a bit about the
complex relationships of Korea's
folk-spirits with its Buddhism.