Buddhas, Buddhas, y Mas Buddhas

One of my favorite things to do here has been to visit Buddhist temples and Buddhas. If you have been visiting this blog with any frequency you have probably figured that out. No shortage of them here, luckily. Shake a stick and there is a temple worth visiting and a Buddha worth admiring.

I have some Buddha images that haven't yet appeared on Nunal I have been meaning to post, so here is a surfeit of big Buddhas in Seoul. If I really get a chance I will post some photos of myriad little Buddhas.

Well, maybe just one photo of little Buddhas. This is from Samseongsa (there are two sets of these flanking the main Buddha image:

Now on to the big Buddhas

This one is actually in our neighborhood, just north of where we live on a parallel street, at the base of a mountain that is really one of the foothills of Bukhansan. As I have developed a more complete understanding of the bus system (which is entirely in Korean, unlike the subway, so a bit mysterious), I have a new appreciation for how close and connected the southern end of Bukhansan National Park is to our neighborhood and how fascinating the neighborhoods are heading north from here.

Anyway, this is called the White Buddha of Bodo Pavilion, the Avalokitesavara Buddha. It is about 15 feet tall. The white color is made from burned clam shells, the gold is gold. This Buddha was painted white when the Japanese invaded Korea in 1592.

There may not be a more important Buddha than this in Seoul. In fact, the city was founded because of this Buddha. Yi Seonggye, founder of the Joeson Dynasty, prayed here when he was thinking of choosing Seoul (Hanyang) as his capital.

I've been over to the White Buddha a bunch of times and there are always people praying to him in the small space before him.

For such an important Buddha, it does not have a very auspicious position in modern Seoul. It is tucked in against a mountain across from a stream, but there is a large elevated highway, a busy street, and a tunnerl there as well. So, not the most peaceful spot, unless you are standing right in front of or next to the Buddha. To get down to the stream you have to ask the wizened old lady in a small storefont Buddhist shrine nearby to unlock a chainlink fence. Or you can walk over it on a bridge that takes you right to the temple.

Here is a view from the road, across the stream.

A bit closer

One of the coolest things about the white Buddha is how it was carved onto the rock, which is concave:

Here is another great Buddha, this one is further in Bukhansan, reachable only after an uphill hike for a few kilometers. It is a huge off-white Buddha carved from stone. You can see it from the next ridge over. I think it must be at least as large as the one from Bonguensa I posted pictures of back at Christmastime.

Here it is from a distant ridge. I saw this Buddha (and took this picture) while on a hike once and was determined to go find the route to it the next time, which took a bit of doing but did happen.

Here closer

Here in the temple complex, for scale

This is a nice temple, part of it is built into a cave.

In yet another part of Bukhansan is this famous and very old rock carved Buddha at Seungga Temple. The temple was founded in 756 and then destroyed a few times, most recently during the Korean War.

This temple, which is stunningly huge in scale, is about an hour's hike up the mountain on a path like this:

Then you get to the base of these stairs:

which leads to this huge pagoda.

Then more stairs to the really gorgeous main temple

then from there yet more stairs, steep, steep stairs:

and finally you get to National Treasure Number 215, the seated Buddha carved into this huge rock


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