The Hall of 1,000 Buddhas

Seokbulsa

The 1,000 bronze coloured Buddhas from Seokbulsa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Another one of the halls, amongst the dozen or so halls at a larger Korean Buddhist temple, is The Hall of 1,000 Buddhas. This hall is easy to identify with the one thousand Buddha statues, but the meaning behind it isn’t all that clear. So why are there a thousand smaller Buddha statues in this hall, and why is this hall at a temple anyways?

The practice of worshipping these one thousand incarnations of the Buddha is strictly based on the Mahayana teachings, which Korean Buddhism largely ascribes to.

When you first walk into the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas, you’ll be overwhelmed by the beauty of the various incarnations of the Buddha. These smaller sized statues can be made up of jade, granite, wood, or any number of raw materials. Originally, the number one thousand referred to the total number of Buddhas that will appear, or have appeared, during each of the “three Kalpas.” These Kalpas consist of three countless eons that stretch from the past, into the present, and well into the future. Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) is said to be the fourth incarnation of the present Kalpa.

Girimsa1

The exterior of the massive Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at Girimsa Temple in Gyeongju.

Girimsa

And a look at just one of the walls inside The Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at Girimsa Temple.

So why exactly is there The Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at a Korean temple? Well, the one thousand Buddhas are prayed to for the power of protection or perfection. It is also believed that the myriad of Buddhas that appear inside the hall are there to help sentient beings towards liberation and Buddhahood, and they will appear in countless incarnations to make this happen. And while The Hall of 1,000 Buddhas is limited to just one thousand Buddhas, the number of the Buddha’s different manifestations is infinite. The reason for this need for an infinite amount of Buddhas is that human beings having cravings and appetites that are unending.

These one thousand Buddhas shouldn’t be confused with the five hundred Nahan that were the disciples of the Historical Buddha. The easiest way to differentiate between the two is that the Nahan are in various positions and postures, while the Buddhas inside The Hall of 1,000 Buddhas are almost always serenely seated in a mudra of Touching the Earth.

Great examples of The Hall of 1,000 Buddhas can be almost exclusively found at larger Buddhist temples throughout Korea. Such examples can be found at Girimsa Temple in Gyeongju, Jikjisa Temple in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and Seokbulsa Temple in Busan.

Jikjisa

The very impressive Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at Jikjisa Temple.

Interestingly, it’s said that if you look at any one of the Buddhas, and you count out your age in any direction, that the Buddha that you land on will resemble you.

So the next time you’re at a larger Korean Buddhist Temple (or even a smaller one for that matter), have a look for The Hall of 1,000 Buddhas, because you certainly won’t be disappointed with the beauty of the hall. Also, you can say a little prayer asking for protection, or count out your age among the Buddhas to find a Buddha that looks a little like you.

Haeunjeongsa

Finally, inside The Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at Haeunjeongsa in Busan.

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