Snowfall in Seonunsa Temple – North Jeolla, South Korea
Seonunsa Temple (Korean: 선운사, Chinese: 禪雲寺) is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It stands on the slopes of Dosolsan in Asan-myeon, Gochang County, near the Yellow Sea coast in western Jeollabuk-do province, South Korea. Jeollabuk-do, also known as North Jeolla Province, Jeonbuk for short.
The temple was established by Seon Master Geomdan in 577. Several stories have been passed down concerning its establishment. One legend says there used to be a large pond occupied by dragons where the temple is now located.
As Ven. Geomdan was filling the pond with rocks to drive away the dragons, an eye disease spread through the village. The monk told the villagers that anyone who poured one bag of charcoal into the pond would be healed. People rushed in with bags of charcoal, and the pond was soon filled. Ven. Geomdan named the temple Seonun (禪雲; literally “Seon clouds”) to convey his vision of cultivating Seon dwelling in the clouds.
According to the Seonunsa sajeokgi (Seonunsa Temple Records), compiled by Im U-sang in 1794, King Jinheung of the Silla Dynasty came here and established Seonunsa Temple after abdicating the throne.
It also says that King Jinheung established Jungae-am Hermitage for the eternal repose of Princess Jungae, and Dosol-am Hermitage (or Dosoram) for the eternal repose of Queen Consort Dosol, but these stories lack credibility.
Seonunsa Temple was rebuilt in 1318 by Seon Master Hyojeong, and again in 1474 by Seon Master Haengjo. The temple was reduced to ashes during the second Japanese invasion (1597-1598). Its reconstruction was undertaken again in 1614 by Seong Seok-jo, then governor of Mujang County, and took five years.
There is a camellia forest behind the main hall (daeungjeon) of the temple. The trees are roughly 500 years old, and are designated by South Korea as a natural monument. The temple is known for its worship of the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, and for its annual camellia festival.