Songgwang-sa is located, snugly like a nest, in the lower edge of Mt. Jogye,
Songgwang-Myeon Sooncheon Jeollanam-Do.The name of Songgwang has several legends.
First, it means a temple in which 18 great monks will spread the teaching of Buddha.
In other words, ‘Song' indicating ‘18 great men' means 18 great monks, and ‘Gwang' indicating the wide spread of Buddhism means a temple in which 18 outstanding monks will expand the Buddhism extensively.
Second, there is a legend related to Jinul, the national master Bojo. In other words, as the master selected a site for moving Jeonghyegyeolsa, he flied a black kite made of wood in Mt. Mohu, and it landed at the back of the current Guksajun. Hence, the name of the back was called Chirakdae(the place where a black kite landed). Based on this legend, Yookdang Nam Sun Choi expounded Songgwang-sa as the Solgaengee temple by paraphrasing the meaning of Songgwang as Solgaengee(the dialect of a black kite).
Last, it was previously called ‘Pine Hill' due to many pine trees(Solgaengee), and Mt. Songgwang stemmed from it so that the name of the mountain was changed to the name of the temple.
According to the remaining records, Songgwang-sa was founded by Zen Master Hyerin in the latter part of the Shilla dynasty. The temple some one hundred kan size, firstly called Gilsangsa on Mt. Songgwang, was of relatively small size, housing 30 or 40 monks. Afterwards, Saint Seokjo tried and prepared to expand the temple extensively in the Injong era of the Koryo dynasty but couldn't achieve it because of his passing away.
From the date when Jeonghyegyeolsa was moved to this place by Jinul, the national master Bulil Bojo, Gilsangsa having been deserted for more than fifty years has been reconstructed and spotlighted as the center of the Korean Buddhism.
Jinul established a new tradition of the Korean Buddhism by having undergoing a complete change of the temple with holding the Buddhist reconstruction service for 9 years(the 27 th year of Myeongjong(1197) ~ the 1 st year of Heejong) and teaching the numerous people participating in Jeonghyegyeolsa movement.
Since then, Songgwang-sa has been spotlighted as the center of the Korean Buddhism. Even though it underwent many disasters such as Jeongyoojaeran and the Korean War, the persistent Buddhist reconstruction service has enabled it to present a magnificent appearance.
Three things are counted as extremely precious and valuable jewels. Therefore, they called three jewels. They are Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Buddhist faith is to understand these three jewels as precious and valuable ones and to take refuge in them.
Buddha is the person opening his eyes to the truth, and Sakyamuni Buddha born in India 2,600 years ago can be thought of. And then Dharma, a content elucidated for us after Buddha comprehended, has been handed down with the name of Tipitaka Koreana at present. Last, Sangha represents a religious community composed of monks and lay people.
Indeed, Dharma has been handed down ceaselessly through Sangha until now. Henceforth, Buddha is the spiritual guide leading the way kindly for us as the person having comprehended by searching for truth, Dharma is the map or milestone showing the way, and Sangha is the community of fellow travelers searching together for truth.
However, three jewels don't die down and represent the true mind we have naturally. Even Monk Wonhyo surely said, “Turning around, the single mind(Ilsim) is just three jewels.” In other words, our innate mind is nothing but Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Why were Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha called the most precious jewels?
The reason is that we can reach the eternal and true world through it and return to real and true “me” which is the origin of our existence. Hence, they are priceless jewels and are too precious to be exchanged with the world. Faith in Buddhism is geared toward the jewels. We take refuge in the Buddha. We take refuge in the Dharma. We take refuge in the Sangha. They are so called The Three Refuges. The Three Refuges are the expression of intention to fully commit to the most precious and valuable three jewels in the world. Therefore, saying of doing three refuges is an oath and a pledge to confess the direction and goal of life as “I live my life this way.”
Likewise, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are three pillars supporting Buddhism and three factors enabling Buddhism to be itself. Hence, there have been three monasteries representing the three jewels in Korean Buddhism for a long time, and they are called The Three Jewel Monasteries. They are Tongdosa in Yangsan, Kyongsangnam-Do, Haeinsa in Habcheon, Kyongsangnam-Do, and Songgwang-sa in Sooncheon, Cheolanam-Do.
Tongdosa keeping Buddha's relics is called Buddha-Jewel Monastery, Haeinsa keeping the sutra panels of Tipitaka Koreana inscribing Dharma is called Dharma-Jewel Monastery, and Songgwang-sa inheriting the Buddhist spirit of Korean Buddhism is called Sangha-Jewel Monastery.
The woohwagak of Songgwangsa temple
is a tall building which is located on the
arched bridge across the pond in front of the main Buddha hall.
It is known as Nungheogyo and has Paljak roof style at the entrance and Matbae (gable) roof style to the exit.
* 12, sinpyeong-ri ,songgwang-myeon, suncheon-city , jeollanamdo,korea
* tel : korea 061-754-5247