The Story of…Beopcheonsa Temple

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 The temple courtyard at Beopcheonsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

The very last major temple I had yet to visit in Yangsan was Beopcheonsa Temple. The first time I attempted to visit this nunnery in the mountains of Mt. Geumjeongsan, which borders on Busan to the south, I thought I was going the wrong way down a dirt road. The road simply seemed to be headed to nowhere. I hadn’t brought a map with me, and the prospect didn’t look all that promising, so I turned around.

A week later, and with map in hand, I headed back to Beopcheonsa Temple. Upon second look, if I had in fact followed my instincts, and the road that appeared to go no further than a farmer’s field, I would have ended up at the beautiful Beopcheonsa Temple.

After arriving at the temple parking lot, I was greeted by a beautiful Cheonwangmun Gate and stone lanterns. After passing through the gate, and coming out on the other side, I was nicely surprised with the unique main hall that had windows behind the main altar statues that looked out onto the mountain, as well as a Samseong-gak joined by twisting read pines.

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 The pair of ducks that walk around the temple grounds.

As I walked the grounds, I was able to see a beautiful pond where a pair of colourful ducks were swimming, as well as an area for some stone statues of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). Amazingly, the entire grounds were populated by stray cats that the nuns at the temple took care of. It was only when I got to the north side of the temple grounds, and was walking around the Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) shrine that a nun called me over. I thought, oh no, now I’m in trouble for trespassing on a part of the temple that I shouldn’t have been visiting.

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 The Jijang-bosal shrine where I thought I was going to get in trouble.

But when I got to her, she invited me in to the temple’s visitors’ centre. I thought, okay, why not. When I entered, they offered me a coffee and tangerines. We talked exclusively in Korean. They asked me questions about my time in Korea, whether I was married, and why I was so interested in Korean Buddhism. As we were talking, a half dozen cats came in to have a drink of milk that the nuns had provided inside the visitors’ centre. After about 30 minutes, they gave me a Buddhist CD and wished me well upon my way.

The offering up of coffee to me is a bit funny. It’s a bit funny because I never have coffee unless a Buddhist monk or nun offers it to me, which upsets my coffee-loving wife to no end.

For more on Beopcheonsa Temple.

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 Inside the main hall as one of the nuns I had coffee with conducts the morning prayer service.

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