New Temple to Memorialize Rev.Seung-chul"A mountain is a mountain, a river is a river."
This is a famous phrases written by the late Reverand Seung-chul, one of Korea's most prestigious buddhist priests. Rev. Seung-chul, who died back in 1994, was born in Sanchung County in South Kyungsang Province, a place where the mountains and rivers are in beautiful harmony with nature.
Rev. Seung-chul led an ordinary life as a farmer and was happily married until age 25 when he met a mendicant monk. The monk gave him a book called 'Jungdo-ga,' which means literally 'bestowing enlightenment by song,' in gratitude for Seung-chul's benevolence. Seung-chul had a flash of enlightenment and immediately left his home to persue his beliefs.
People who follow the teachings of Rev. Seung-chul along with the Sanchung County Office have set out to restore the house that he was born in as a memorial site.
The construction of the temple complex to contain Rev. Seung-chul's old house has already been completed and is open to the public. As for the house itself, it will be opened by October once the finishing touches are finished.
The reconstruction occupies about 909 squre meters, going from Mount Chiri to the Nam River, and cost about $4,400,000. The government donated about $1,000,000 for the project and the remaining $3,400,000 came from Rev.Seung-chul's pupils and followers.
Rev.Seung-chul's home is a traditional Korean house with 3 rooms. One room will be used to display relics from his life that are currently in the Baekryeun (White Lotus) temple on the grounds of the Haein Temple where Rev. Seung-chul stayed just before he passed away.
All his belongings, such as his Buddhist robes, cane, and handwritten manuscripts, will be moved to his birthplace. In the main room of the house there will be a portrait of Rev. Seung-chul to allow visitors to pay homage.
On the temple grounds, there will be a main temple, temples for meditation, a building for guests, and a building to admit visitors. The finishing touches to the grounds are currently being completed. The Disiples of Rev. Seung-chul, led by his daugther Rev. Bul-phil, will act as caretakers of the complex.
Rev.Won-taek, a pupil of Seung-chul who played a central role in the restoration, said, "It all started 5 years ago. In the wake of Rev. Seung-chul's death and the spread of his teachings, more people became interested in his birthplace. By then, the place was simply falling apart and I found this a great pity. With Sanchung County Office, which also intended to transform the place into a cultural site, we started to push forward our restoration project with the help of some other followers of the Reverand."
One Sanchung official stated that the site had its own significance apart from the Reverand. It is the spot where Mun Ik-jom cultivated Korea's first cotton crops to provide clothes to his people, and it is also the location where the remains of the great scholar Cho Shik (pen name, Nam Myung) can be found. It was for these historical facts that they decided to help in the restoration.
by Oh Byung-sang