Dr. Lee Chi-Ran
Baekdamsa monastery(백담사 百潭寺) is located in Mt Inner Seorak(내설악산 內雪嶽山) in Inje county, Gangwon Province North-East from Seoul, capital city of Korea. Generally speaking when we mention a Buddhist temple's name, we just say temple;s name as local name. Baekdamsa can be Baekdam(sa) monastery in English. Sa(寺) means temple. Sa(寺) is a chinese character. Sa(사) is reading chinese character Sa(寺) by korean pronounciation. In Korea we call Sa(寺) as Jeol(절) which means a buddhist temple in Korean. If we say Baekdamsa, it means Baekdam temple or monastery. I would like to call Baekdamsa monastery than Baekdamsa temple. In Korea there are many temples and some Monasteries. In this case temple is just a Buddhist temple but a monastery is larger than a temple. There are about twenty seven monasteries in Korea. Here i mention twenty seven monasteries which belong to Jogye Order of korean Buddhism including a monastery occupied by Taego Order and a monastery in Cheontae Order. Baekdamsa is not a main monastery. It is a branch monastery under Shinhungsa monastery which is the 3rd diocese of Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. However Baekdamsa monastery is a very important monastery among monasteries and temples historically in Korea. Now Baekdamsa monastery is a scheduled monastery by Jogye Order of the Korean Buddhism as a basic Seon(meditation) Hall to train novice monks who had higher ordination(Upasampada) under the Diamond Vinaya alter of Jogye Order in the year. Novice monks should practice meditation and some Seon curriculums for three months in the same Seon meditaion hall eight hours a day. There are two retreat periods such as summer and winter retreat in the year. That is why Baekdamsa is very important monastery in Jogye Order.
Master Manhae Han Yong-un
Baekdamsa was erected in 647 CE by master Jajang in the Silla Dynasty. At first the monastery was built in Hange valley pass(Hangyeryeong 한계령 寒溪嶺). But the temple was burnt down. Later on Baekdamsa monastery was rebuilt in 1455 CE in the present post. This is the 6th construction. The temples were burnt in five times in different places. Finally Baekdamsa monastery was built in this spot. Baekdamsa monastery is well know to the public because of Manhae (만해 한용운 卍海 韓龍雲, July 12, 1879 – May 9, 1944) who became buddhist monk here and wrote a poem Nimui Chimmuk (님의 침묵 The Silence of Lover). Manhae Han Yong-un was a twentieth century Korean Buddhist reformer and poet. Manhae was his pen name; his birth name was Han Yu-cheon, but he is universally known by the name he was given by his meditation instructor in 1905, Han Yong-un (Korean: 한용운). In 1905 he received the robes of an order of monks at Baekdam Monastery (Baekdamsa). In 1908, he went to Japan and visited several temples and studied Buddhism and Eastern philosophy in Jodongjongdaehaglim(曹洞宗大學林 university) for six months. In 1919 he was one of the patriot signatories to the 1919 Declaration of Independence.
Han Yong-un's bust sculpture
Han Yong-un's masterpiece, Korean buddhist reforming essay, <Joseon Bulgyo Yusin ron(조선불교유신론 朝鮮佛敎維新論 The Reformation of Korean Buddhism> is Korean Buddhist modernization in Korea. Some scholars think that Han Yong-un's notion of Buddhism and his understanding of the role in modern society might brought from the ideas underpinning Buddhism of Meiji Japan, also to the ideas on Buddhism formulated by such pro-Japanese collaborators of Japan in colonial Korea as scholar monk Kwon Sang-no(權相老) and lay scholar Yi Nung-hwa(李能和).
Song of Sudden Enlightenment
by Manhae Han Yong-un
For a man, any where he goes, it's his native place;
Many wonderes are full of heavy griefs
Once I shout loudly, the whole world shakes;
Peach blossoms begin to fall in the white snow.
남아란 가는 곳 어디메나 고향인 것을
나그네 시름에 걷힌 사람 그 얼마나 많나.
한 마디 버럭 질러 삼천세계 뒤흔드노니
눈 속에 점점이 복사꽃 붉게 흩날리네.
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