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다(가) 말다(가) 하다 Stopping and Starting | Live Class Abridged

This is a summary of the grammar forms 다(가) 말다, and 다(가) 말다(가) 하다, which are intermediate level forms.

This video is edited from a full 1+ hour live class on YouTube, so if you feel it's moving too quickly then I recommend watching the original full version.

The post 다(가) 말다(가) 하다 Stopping and Starting | Live Class Abridged appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

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Sibiji-shin – The Twelve Spirit Generals: 십이지신

A Sibiji-shin Painting from Myeongbeopsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.


One of the more common things to greet you at a Korean Buddhist temple, in one form or another, are the twelve Zodiac animals; which, in Buddhism, they’re known as The Twelve Spirit Generals. In Korean, they’re known as the Sibiji-shin – 십이지신. And they come in many forms at a Korean Buddhist temple. They can appear as shrine hall paintings, statues, or even adorning pagodas. However, the way that they appear at a Korean Buddhist temple are special to Korean Buddhism. So what are they? What do the Twelve Spirit Generals look like? And why are they located at Korean Buddhist temples?

The Twelve Spirit Generals

While the Korean Buddhist Zodiac animals are the same as the Zodiac in the West, they are known as the Twelve Spirit Generals in Korean Buddhism. Each of the Twelve Spirit Generals are distinguished by their own Sanskrit names. Below, you will find a table distinguishing each Zodiac animal, Sanskrit and Korean names, as well as each Zodiac animal personality trait.

Zodiac AnimalSanskrit NameKorean NameAnimal Personality Traits
RatCatura쥐띠 (Jwi-ddi)Quick-witted, smart, charming, and persuasive
OxVikarala소띠 (So-ddi)Patient, kind, stubborn, and conservative
TigerKumbhira호랑이띠 (Horangi-ddi)Authoritative, emotional, courageous, and intense
RabbitVajra토끼띠 (Toggi-ddi)Popular, compassionate, and sincere
DragonMihira용띠 (Yong-ddi)Energetic, fearless, warm-hearted, and charismatic
SnakeAndira뱀띠 (Baem-ddi)Charming, gregarious, introverted, generous, and smart
HorseManera말띠 (Mal-ddi)Energetic, independent, impatient, and enjoy traveling
SheepSandila양띠 (Yang-ddi)Mild-mannered, shy, kind, and peace-loving
MonkeyIndra원숭이띠 (Wonsungi-ddi)Fun, energetic, and active
RoosterPajra닭띠 (Dak-ddi)Independent, practical, hard-working, and observant
DogMahoraga개띠 (Gae-ddi)Patient, diligent, generous, faithful, and kind
PigKinnara돼지띠 (Douiji-ddi)Loving, tolerant, honest, and appreciative of luxury

The History of the Twelve Spirit Generals

The Zodiac signs have a long history in many cultures. In China, where the Zodiac is believed to have originated, evidence supports the claim that they predate Buddhism in China. The Zodiac took the form of local animals that were familiar to the Chinese people. The Zodiac were based on Chinese cosmology; and as a result, they grew more elaborate in time, as well as, in popularity. The Zodiac were used to count the years, months, days, and hours to help predict the future, tell fortunes, and to determine a person’s personality based upon the year one was born and the animal assigned to that given year. And because of its importance in China, it helped allow the Zodiac to spread to other neighbouring countries like Korea and Japan. For many centuries, the Zodiac served as the preeminent calendar in Asia.

There are a couple stories as to how the Zodiac came to be and in which order they would be designated. One tale describes how there was a contest between the twelve animals to determine their order. It was decided by the King of Heaven that there would be a contest. In this contest, the twelve animals would swim across a river. Each final placement of the twelve animals would be based upon which order they reached the opposite side of the riverbank. The ox, who was the most diligent among the twelve animals, had the rat jump onto its back unbeknownst to the ox. However, according to other tales the ox generously agreed to give the rat a ride across the river because it was the smallest and weakest of the twelve animals. Either way, as they approached the opposite riverbank, the rat jumped off the ox’s head and gained first place among the twelve animals with the ox coming in second place. And less surprising, the pig came in last.

Statues of the Zodiac animals at the entrance to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Gijang-gun, Busan.

Another tale describes how the King of the Heaven had never visited Earth before, having ruled over Heaven and Earth for many years. Growing curious, the King of Heaven wanted to see the animals that populated Earth. As a result, he asked all the animals to visit him in heaven by first arriving at the celestial gate. So after considering the way in which the King of the Heaven would see the animals on Earth, he announced that each position would be determined by when the animals first arrived at the celestial gate on the first day of the first lunar month. Upon hearing this, each animal started to train to become faster. The ox worked the hardest. The rat, on the other hand, knowing that it was the smallest and weakest among its fellow animals, knew that it couldn’t be first at the celestial gates. So instead, the rat decided to attach itself to the body of the ox. When the day came for the great race, all of the animals raced towards the celestial gate. The ox, because of its hard work, was first. But just before arriving at the celestial gate, the rat jumped off the ox’s body and passed through the celestial gate first. The ox was really angry, but it still second place.

And yet another legend about the twelve Zodiac relates to the different animals anatomy and the different personality traits that they possess. There’s another tale relating to the order of the Zodiac animals, which is based, supposedly, on the number of toes of each animal. And yet another tale describes the order of each of the animals based upon the most active part of the day for the given animals. So, for example, the hour of the rat falls between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., which is when these nocturnal animals are most active.

Originally, the Eastern Zodiac was first based upon the constellations. This helped to record the patterns of the natural cycle of the Earth including the changes in the season. During the mid-Han Dynasty (202 B.C. – 220 A.D.), there was a shift in meaning. Instead of being closely related to the stars, the Zodiac now became focused on the idea of time and direction. This new arrangement was first written down in the Lunheng, or Discussion and Examination in English, which was written by Wangchong of Later Han. It was also at this time that the twelve Zodiac animals came to be organized with personality traits associated with each of the Zodiac animals.

Traditionally in Korean culture, the Zodiac were related to the New Year. Koreans would put up paintings and/or drawings on the inner or outer walls of their homes or businesses to help protect them against evil spirits. Also, Koreans would make their New Years resolution based on the Zodiac sign for the upcoming year. So, for example, if it was the year of the tiger, Koreans would pray to be courageous.

A Korean folk painting depicting the Twelve Zodiac Days. (courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture website)

Furthermore, and according to the Dongguk Sesigi – 동국세시기, which means A Record of Seasonal Customs in Korea in English, it discusses how the Korean people of the late Joseon Dynasty (17th century to 1910) performed several seasonal customs according to the days of the twelve Zodiac animals. This text was written in 1849, and one of the days it discusses is Sanghae Sangjail – 상해․상자일, which means High Pig and High Rat Day in English. Another day it discusses is the Myoil Sail – 묘일 사일, which literally means Rabbit and Snake Day in English. There are a couple other days that the text describes like the Mochungil – 모충일 (Days of Fur and Furless Animals), and Sinil – 신일 (The Day of Restraint).

An example discussed in the book relating to the High Pig and High Rat Days describes “In the old Korean festival several hundred court eunuchs walk in a line around the place dragging the torches behind them and shouting ‘Let the pig be scorched! Let the rat be scorched!’ The king prays for a good harvest by presenting Pig Pouches and Rat Pouches filled with singed grains to the ministers and secretaries. On the first Rat Day, there is a practice among the common people in which rats are actually burned with a torch. There is also a belief that washing one’s face with bean powder would help whiten it.”

Another example discussed in A Record of Seasonal Customs in Korea is Rabbit Day and Snake Day. During Rabbit Day celebrations, people would make cotton thread, which they called “rabbit thread.” They would then carry it around with them in the belief that it would help prevent misfortune. It was also considered bad luck if they had a visitor from outside the family on that day, or if a female entered a house first, or if a wooden object was brought to their home. And on Snake Day celebrations, people would refrain from combing their hair. It was feared that if they did in fact comb their hair, a snake would enter into their homes.

Historically, and according to A Record of Seasonal Customs in Korea, once more, the people of the ancient capital of Unified Silla (668-935), Gyeongju, would behave on the year’s first Rat Day, Dragon Day, Horse Day, and Pig Day with the greatest care. According to historical records, this custom grew out of a historical event. One day, King Soji of Silla (r. 479-500) was able to escape his own murder on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month in the 10th year of his reign thanks to the omens given by each of these four animals.

The Zodiac played an integral part in the daily life of the Chinese. And as it moved eastwards, it became an integral part of all those that this ideology and belief system came into contact with like the neigbouring Koreans and Japanese. It would play a central role in the calendar, harvesting, and one’s luck. It’s no wonder, and much like the absorption of Korean shamanism, how the Zodiac would soon become an integral part of Buddhism, and Korean Buddhism in particular. Buddhism, as it traveled eastward, attempted to curry favour with the locals. And the Zodiac would be no different.

The Zodiac and Buddhism

There are twelve Zodiac animals. And of these twelve, there are eight Buddhas or Bodhisattvas that protect the twelve Zodiac animals. Each Buddha or Bodhisattva protects either one or two of the Zodiac animals. This grouping most likely first took form in China. And it gained in popularity in Japan during the Edo Period (1603-1867). Not only does each animal represent a given year like 2021 being the year of the Ox, but each animal represents one of the four compass semi-directions or directions. They also represent a day in the twelve day cycle, as well as a two-hour period of each day. For example, the day starts at twelve midnight, which corresponds to the Rat. As for the compass, the Rat represents the north. And every thirty degrees clockwise, the Zodiac animal changes to a new one.

As for which Zodiac animal is protected by which of the eight Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, here is a corresponding list of each:

Zodiac Sign (and compass direction)Buddhist GuardianYear
Rat (north)Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion)1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Ox (north-east)Heogongjang-bosal (Boundless Space Treasury Bodhisattva)1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Tiger (north-east)Heogongjang-bosal (Boundless Space Treasury Bodhisattva)1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Rabbit (east)Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
Dragon (south-east)Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power)1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Snake (south-east)Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power)1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Horse (east)Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul)1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Sheep (south-west)Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy)1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Monkey (south-west)Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy)
1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
Rooster (west)Budong-myeongwang (The Immovable, Messenger of Birojana-bul) 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
Dog (north-west)Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise)1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
Pig (north-west)Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise)1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

The Twelve Spirit Generals and Korean Buddhism

As for how this specifically pertains to Korean Buddhism, the Twelve Spirit Generals (The Zodiac animals), not only are they armed with physical power, but they are also armed with compassion and virtue through Yaksayeorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha, and the Buddha of the Eastern Paradise). In Korean Buddhism, the Twelve Spirit Generals are, in fact, depicted as incarnations of the teachings of Yaksayeorae-bul. Because Yaksayeorae-bul isn’t just the Medicine Buddha, but he’s also the Buddha of the Eastern Paradise, Yaksayeorae-bul is also committed to relieving humans from suffering, pain, and disease. In addition to relieving people’s pain, Yaksayeorae-bul is also committed to helping people overcome their ignorance on their road to enlightenment. That’s why Yaksayeorae-bul promised to fulfill the Twelve Great Vows. These vows are:

Yaksayeorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha, and the Buddha of the Eastern Paradise) inside the historic Yaksa-jeon Hall at Girimsa Temple in Gyeongju.
  • 1. I vow to radiate brilliant light on myself and all beings in this infinite and boundless world.
  • 2. I vow to make my body like pure crystal, brightening up the world and enlightening all beings.
  • 3. I vow to grant all sentient beings with the inexhaustible things they require.
  • 4. I vow to lead those who have gone astray back to the Mahayana path.
  • 5. I vow to enable all sentient beings to observe the “three sets of pure precepts” for spiritual purity and moral conduct.
  • 6. I vow to restore the bodies of the physically disabled.
  • 7. I vow to relieve all physical and mental pain and enable the attainment of the “supreme enlightenment.”
  • 8. I vow to help women become men in their new rebirth.
  • 9. I vow to free all beings from the entrapments of false teachings so that they will walk the Buddha way.
  • 10. I vow to save those in prison and the victims of tyrants and evil.
  • 11. I vow to save all sentient beings who suffer from starvation and thirst.
  • 12. I vow to provide beautiful clothes to those too poor to afford them.

From these promises, Yaksayeorae-bul directed the Twelve Spirit Generals to uphold the vows that he had given. So not only do these fierce figures guard Korean Buddhist temples, but they are also teachers.

What Do They Look Like?

So what exactly do the Twelve Spirit Generals look like? Well, they have one of the twelve Zodiac animal faces, and they have human bodies. These human bodies are covered in armour or the robe of an aristocrat. In addition to the armour they wear, the twelve are usually shown carrying a weapon of some sort. These weapons help to highlight the role that these Twelve Spirit Generals have in protecting the Buddha’s teachings, the land, and all sentient beings from misguided ideas and beliefs.

A dragon Zodiac statue from Cheongryeonam Hermitage at Beomeosa Temple in Geumjeong-gu, Busan.
Gwangcheonsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Where to Find the Twelve Spirit Generals at Korean Temples

There are numerous places that you can find the Twelve Spirit Generals at a Korean Buddhist temple. One of these locations, especially when you first approach the temple grounds, is twelve statues forming fierce poses. Like all forms of the twelve figures, they have human bodies and one of the Zodiac animal faces. Located where they are, they act as protectors of the Buddha’s teachings at the temple. Great examples of these statues can be found at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Gijang-gun, Busan, and Yongjusa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Another way that the Twelve Spirit Generals can manifest is in paintings. These paintings can appear either inside or outside temple shrine halls. A great example of this can be found around the main hall at Seonjisa Temple in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do. Here, they Twelve Spirit Generals act as protectors of both the Buddha and the Nahan around the Yeongsan-jeon Hall at Seonjisa Temple.

And yet another place that you can find these twelve teachers and protectors is adorning a temple pagoda. The twelve will typically appear around the base of the pagoda with three figures on each of the four sides of the pagoda. In this example, the Twelve Spirit Generals act as either a protector of the Buddha’s remains that are traditionally housed inside a pagoda, or they act as a beacon for the teachings of the Buddha to shine forth into the world. One of the finest examples of this incarnation can be found at Samgwangsa Temple in Busanjin-gu, Busan.

The three examples above certainly don’t exhaust the different forms that the Twelve Spirit Generals can take at a Korean Buddhist temple. In fact, these twelve teachers and protectors can appear nearly anywhere at a Korean Buddhist temple.


So the next time you’re at a Korean Buddhist temple or hermitage, and you see the set of Zodiac animals, know that the Twelve Spirit Generals are there not only to protect the Buddha’s teachings, but they’re fulfilling the vows that Yaksayeorae-bul made to help assist sentient beings.

A row of Sibiji-shin on the bottom and a row of Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha) on top at Yongjusa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Liberty, good governance

“Your room’s not going to clean itself”. When we have privileges taken away when we are younger from parents showing us good governance, when we’re older and become successful, we learn to govern ourselves well or we either wind up in jail or the hospital. I’m thinking of Johnny Knoxville or any of the mafia leading lives of excess. 

Here in Canada we have to wear a helmet for riding a motorcycle, electric scooter in whatever province or territory. In Canada we have an entire government ministry devoted to getting the facts on climate affects by region and industry, water quality and fish and also vehicle safety; things like fatalities and injuries prevented by whatever the invention per vehicle, (helmets, airbags, a better designed steering wheel). These things also help the government to set standards for what must be the minimum requirements to have in a helmet. 
We Canadians like having our government study, prove and tell industry “this is the least you will do for people and no less”. 
Vampire prevention.
The proud preying upon a population prevented.

With an increasing number of people on wellfare or financial assistance instead of companies paying their workers more we have companies replacing their farm workers with robots instead. 
Anything to not pay more? In Canada our country assists. The American President FDR made sure a certain number of workers were hired to do a job. In some cities there is a required number of people to do repairs to the cities infrastructure. No less. The least the city will do but what of workers who don’t work for the city? Robots instead of better pay? Thousands, millions becoming unemployed replaced by a person with a tablet watching the data accumulated on the harvest.
The government doesn’t tell us how to run our businesses nor how to make cars but it does tell us the definition of a motorcycle helmet. It has told car manufacturers to improve airbags to prevent injuries earlier ones were casing. Good government, we in Canada believe in that. 
It tells companies how much to pay workers. 
Cities have rules for how many hired to do a job. Several working together. There must be at least 5 people hired and paid no less than X to _____. 
Companies need to be told too.  

Monasteries are self sufficient. They are different from companies employing thousands of people who ensure a thriving economy of businesses the employees support on their weekends and days off.
The Franciscans are devoted to service in farms and cities. Food and clothing for the poor. The least someone can do for those on welfare or worse.  

In Romania there was a man called Vlad of Romania who lived in Castle Bran who grew up into a man who put people on spikes along the road leading to his castle. 
Eventually the townspeople called in the priests and had him taken in so the story goes. Back then there were no police.

Around the same time in a monastery beside the Rhine River there was an Abbess named Hildegard von Bingen. She wrote books and songs. 
She also wrote letters to a wild partying Prince who was on a collision course with becoming inconsiderate to the farmers and tradespeople. She wrote to get him to see how he would be respected by the people for ensuring people lived well. 
An early form of vampire prevention. 
Good governance to ensure the economy grows instead of cheap fruit in our bread that is produced by 2 or 3 workers managing robots and machines.

We need these things even today. For our leaders to tell company owners so we and our neighbours may be employed with a wage we can live on. 
It’s the least the government can do. It’s the least company owners can do. 

The heroes of our day are the company owners who pay enough to go to football games and eat well. Money for us to be free to choose what to do with without influence.  
Paid with enough money to go to restaurants and pubs? That’s called building an economy. 

About the Author

Matthew William Thivierge has abandoned his PhD studies in Shakespeare and is now currently almost half-way through becoming a tea-master (Japanese,Korean & Chinese tea ceremony). He is a part time Ninjologist with some Jagaek studies (Korean 'ninja') and on occasion views the carrying on of pirates from his balcony mounted telescope.

About Tea Busan  *   Mr.T's Chanoyu てさん 茶の湯   *  East Sea Scrolls  *  East Orient Steampunk Society

Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site – 굴불사지 (Gyeongju)

The Amazing Four-Sided Stone Statue at Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site in Gyeongju.

Temple Site History

Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site is located in the centre of Gyeongju at the base of Mt. Sogeumgangsan (176.7 m). According to the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), a 13th century text, King Gyeongdeok of Silla (r. 742-765 A.D.) was making the short trek to the neighbouring Baeknyulsa Temple. Baeknyulsa Temple is located a little further up Mt. Sogeumgangsan. However, as King Gyeongdeok of Silla was making his way towards Baeknyulsa Temple, he inextricably heard Buddhist invocations coming from the ground around his feet. King Gyeongdeok of Silla believed that these invocations were the sound of a Buddhist monk reading Buddhist sutras, so he immediately ordered his servants to dig up the spot where he heard these sounds. As his servants dug up the ground, the image of a four-sided Buddhist statue appeared. King Gyeongdeok of Silla was so moved by this experience, and the resulting statue, that he decided to build Gulbulsa Temple. Unfortunately, the temple no longer remains; instead, all that remains of the former temple is the object of the story: the Stone Buddhas in Four Directions at Gulbulsa Temple Site, Gyeongju. Gulbulsa Temple means “To Dig Up an Image of the Buddha” in English. The statue dates back to the early part of Later Silla (668-935 A.D.), and the statue is Korean Treasure #121.

Temple Site Layout

The Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site, and the famed four-sided statue that’s all that remains of the Silla-era temple, is a few metres away from the Baeknyulsa Temple parking lot and up a bit of an incline along a path. It’s along this pathway, and in a clearing, that you’ll find the Stone Buddhas in Four Directions at Gulbulsa Temple Site, Gyeongju. At its highest point, this large rock measures 3.9 metres in height. And the large rock is meant to symbolize the Buddhist Paradise in all four directions. In the four cardinal directions, you’ll find Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) to the west, Yaksayeorae-bul (The Buddha of the Eastern Paradise, and the Buddha of Medicine) to the east, Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) to the north, and Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) to the south.

The first of the four cardinal directions you’ll encounter as you cross over a bridge, and the nearest to you past the protective fencing, is the west side of the stone statue. On the west side of the large stone, you’ll find three stone statues. Two of the three stone statues stand separate from the central image. The central image is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This statue is joined by a large, crowned statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right and a rather mangled image of Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul) to the left. The reason I say mangled when describing the statue of Daesaeji-bosal is because very little of the face of the statue still remains intact. In fact, all that remains of the face and head is a gnarled stump at the end of his neck. Amita-bul is the largest figure in the triad and also of the entire four-sided statue. Amita-bul stands 3.9 metres in height. Interestingly, the head of Amita-bul was carved separately from the rest of his body and then later attached to the rest of the statue. And just as interesting is the statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. The statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion appears to be placing all her weight on her right leg. This posture is called Sam-gul, where all the weight of one’s body becomes balanced. This type of posture was popularized during Later Silla (668-935 A.D.).

To the left, as you move clockwise around the large stone structure, you’ll appear on the north side. Here, you’ll find two images. The first, to the right, in high relief, is an image dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). The right hand of the high relief of Mireuk-bul has its hand raised upwards towards the sky. And to the left, and very faintly, is an image of Gwanseeum-bosal with eleven faces and six hands.

Continuing counter clockwise around the large stone, you’ll now be facing the eastern portion of the statue. Looking back at you is a high relief of Yaksayeorae-bul (The Buddha of the Eastern Paradise, and the Buddha of Medicine). The legs of Yaksayeorae-bul are crossed underneath him, and his body is tilted forward. A medicine bowl is held in Yaksayeorae-bul’s left hand, while the right hand appears to be striking the gesture of fearlessness mudra (ritualized hand gesture).

The final side of the Stone Buddhas in Four Directions at Gulbulsa Temple Site, Gyeongju is the southern side, which was once home to a triad. In the centre of this triad is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). The central image of Seokgamoni-bul stands 1.6 metres in height. However, Seokgamoni-bul’s head is missing. The Bodhisattva to the left is completely missing and the Bodhisattva to the right is the only relief in the triad that’s still intact. This extensive damage took place during Japanese Colonization (1910-1945). Both the face of Seokgamoni-bul and the Bodhisattva to the left were taken by the Japanese.

How To Get There

The easiest way to get to Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site is to take a taxi from the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal. It’ll take thirteen minutes, and it’ll cost you around 5,000 won. The cheaper way to get there is to take Bus #70 from out in front of the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal. However, the bus ride will take you about forty minutes to get to Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

It’s usually pretty hard to rate a temple site like the neighbouring Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site. However, unlike Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site, Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site still has something occupying the former religious site. And the Stone Buddhas in Four Directions at Gulbulsa Temple Site, Gyeongju certainly is impressive. The diversity of artistic approaches are beautiful, including the statues of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) triad, the high reliefs of Yaksayeorae-bul (The Buddha of the Eastern Paradise), Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha), and Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), as well as the light relief of Gwanseeum-bosal on the north side of the historic stone. The only other time I’ve seen artwork like this is at Chilbulam Hermitage on Mt. Namsan also in Gyeongju.

The amazing Stone Buddhas in Four Directions at Gulbulsa Temple Site, Gyeongju, as you first approach it.
The west side of the statue. Here you’ll find an image of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) in the centre. To the right is a separate statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), and to the left is the battered image of Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul).
The north side of the large stone. Here you’ll find a high relief of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).
Still on the north side of the large stone, and next to the high relief image of Mireuk-bul, is the faint image of Gwanseeum-bosal with eleven heads and six arms.
A different look at the Silla-era artwork.
The high relief image of Yaksayeorae-bul (The Buddha of the Eastern Paradise, and the Buddha of Medicine) on the east side of the Stone Buddhas in Four Directions at Gulbulsa Temple Site, Gyeongju.
The southern side of the historic Buddhist artwork.
A closer look. In the centre is the image of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) with its head missing. To the right is a somewhat damaged Bodhisattva. And to the left is the completely missing high relief image of another Bodhisattva.
One more look at the amazing 8th-century stone artifact.

Grading your Korean #1 – How to sound more native | Billy Go

Starting today we'll be getting a new series of "Grading Korean," but this time I'll be grading YOUR Korean - my subscribers.

The first subscriber I'll be grading in this first episode is Maria from Sweden.

I'll grade what she does well, how she can improve, and everything between. I'd like to keep this series going for a while, so please let me know if you have suggestions for who to grade next.

The post Grading your Korean #1 – How to sound more native | Billy Go appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Gameunsa-ji Temple Site – 감은사지 (Gyeongju)

The East Pagoda at Gameunsa-ji Temple Site in Eastern Gyeongju.

This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support!

Temple Site History

The history of Gameunsa-ji Temple Site is inextricably linked to King Munmu of Silla (r. 661-681 A.D.). King Munmu of Silla is considered to be the first king of Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.). And it’s this link to history, and the defence of the kingdom that he unified, that the course of Gameunsa-ji Temple Site and King Munmu are forever connected.

King Munmu of Silla (626-681 A.D.) was the oldest son of King Taejong Muyeol of Silla (r. 654-661 A.D.). During his father’s reign, Prince Beopmin (as he was known before he ascended the throne) held a governmental office that oversaw maritime affairs. He was also an envoy to the Tang Dynasty, and Prince Beopmin visited China on the behest of his father. Prince Beopmin became the Crown Prince after serving as the minister of defence during part of his father’s reign. As the minister of defence, Prince Beopmin contributed to the defeat of the Silla peninsula rivals, the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.).

After ascending the throne and becoming king, King Munmu worked hard to reconcile any and all differences with their former rivals. And as king, King Munmu formed an alliance with the Tang Dynasty of China through the relationships he had formed as an envoy to defeat the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.).

After the Goguryeo Kingdom was defeated, and the peninsula had been unified under Silla rule, the Tang Dynasty moved quickly to occupy the former territory of both the Baekje and Goguryeo Kingdoms. They did this by launching an expeditionary force to the Korean peninsula. As a result, King Munmu worked hard to unify and embrace the people of the Baekje and Goguryeo Kingdoms. So with the support of these former rivals, the Silla Dynasty was able to unify as the Unified Silla Dynasty and expel the Tang Dynasty forces.

King Munmu, after the unification of the peninsula, worked hard to stabilize his newly founded kingdom. He created lesser capitals in Pungwon in Wonju, Gangwon-do and another in Kumgwan in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do. He did this in an attempt to overcome the limitations of having the capital city of Unified Silla, Gyeongju, in the southeast portion of the peninsula. King Munmu also attempted to heighten royal authority by sending inspectors to each region of the Korean peninsula. He also raised the ranks of junior officials.

It’s in the midst of all that this Gameunsa Temple (now Gameunsa-ji Temple Site) was created. Gameunsa Temple was built to defend Unified Silla from the invasion of Japanese pirates. By building Gameunsa Temple, King Munmu was attempting to secure the divine support of the Buddha to resist Japanese aggression. But before the temple could be completed, King Munmu died. As a result, his son, King Sinmun (r. 681-692) completed the construction of Gameunsa Temple in 682 A.D., one year after the passing of his father.

Gameunsa Temple was one of seven Administrative Organizations of the Royal Memorial Monasteries that were in charge of religious rites for the royal families. King Munmu asked to be buried in the East Sea so that he could become a dragon to protect the newly formed nation. King Munmu was cremated and his remains were buried under a rock under an islet called Daewangam, or “The Rock of the Great King” in English. The wide flat rock that houses the remains of King Munmu is 3.7 metres long and 2.06 metres in width. Alongside other Gyeongju temples like Hwangnyongsa Temple and Sacheonwangsa Temple (both of which no longer exist), Gameunsa Temple was built to protect the Unified Silla nation.

Gameunsa Temple remained as an operational and fully functioning temple until the late Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). But it fell into despair and abandoned during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). In 1959, the first extensive excavation took place on the Gameunsa-ji Temple Site. It was at this time that the Golden Hall (main hall), a lecture hall, a middle gate, and corridors were discovered. It was also at this time that extensive repairs took place to fix the West Three-Story Stone Pagoda. The base of the historic pagoda had severely been damaged. Then in 1996, the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage repaired the East Three-Story Stone Pagoda. Together, these two pagodas are National Treasure #112.

In total, there’s the aforementioned national treasure on the temple site, as well as two Korean Treasures, and the temple site is recognized as Historic Site #31 by the Korean government.

Temple Site Layout

When you first approach Gameunsa-ji Temple Site, the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s situated on an elevated plateau, as though it acts as a sentry for the valley. Up a long set of wooden stairs, you’ll finally come face-to-face with the historic temple site.

Obviously, the two most noticeable things you’ll first see are the East and West Three-story Stone Pagodas at Gameunsa Temple Site, Gyeongju. These pagodas date back to 682 A.D., and they are National Treasure #112. These twin pagodas are a departure from the traditional solitary pagoda that stood out in front of the main hall like at Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site. This transition is best epitomized in the design of Bulguksa Temple, which was built in its current form in 751 A.D. The pagodas are identical in size at thirteen metres in height. Unlike other pagodas at this time that were made of one solid slab of stone, the twin pagodas at Gameunsa-ji Temple Site are put together using eighty-two stones. Of the three expansive body sections to the pagodas, which were made from one single stone, it’s the third story of the pagoda that houses a compartment to house the sari reliquaries. The Reliquaries from the West Three-story Stone Pagoda at Gameunsa Temple Site is Korean Treasure #366; while the Reliquaries from the East Three-story Stone Pagoda at Gameunsa Temple Site is Korean Treasure #1359. The stones used for adorning the finial of both pagodas are now missing. All that now remains is the finial pole which is now exposed to the elements. The finial pole alone is a staggering 3.9 metres in height. Stylistically, while the body of the pagoda reflects a wooden pagoda’s design, the terraced roof is more emblematic of the brick pagoda style. And the overall size of the pagoda is symbolic of the temple’s original intent: that of a national protecting temple.

A little more on the sari reliquaries. First, they can now be found at the Gyeongju National Museum. Of the two, it was first the West Pagoda, alongside the Golden Hall (main hall), a lecture hall, middle gate, and corridors that underwent an extensive excavation in 1959. The Reliquaries from the West Three-story Stone Pagoda at Gameunsa Temple Site was first discovered in 1960. It consists of two parts. There’s a bronze rectangular box with a sari reliquary inside it. The bronze rectangular box is adorned with the Four Heavenly Kings, and it measures thirty-one centimetres tall. The Four Heavenly Kings seem to be protecting four decorative doors to the walls of the bronze box. As for the sari reliquary, it consists of three parts: the square base, the body that holds the sari, and the finial made from crystal. The base and the body of the sari reliquary are relatively well preserved; however, the upper part of the body is severely eroded and nearly unrecognizable. The Reliquaries from the West Three-story Stone Pagoda at Gameunsa Temple Site is Korean Treasure #366.

As for the Reliquaries from the East Three-story Stone Pagoda at Gameunsa Temple Site, it’s Korean Treasure #1359. The reason for this higer number is that the East Pagoda wasn’t dismantled and repaired until 1996. Much like the West Pagoda at Gameunsa-ji Temple Site, the sari reliquary is divided into two parts: the bronze box and the inner sari reliquary. Much better preserved than the West Pagoda’s bronze box, the protective casing is also adorned with the Four Heavenly Kings, as well as cloud patterns. As for the inner sari reliquary, it’s far more ornate than its West Pagoda counterpart. The inner sari reliquary also consists of a base, a body, and a canopy. The image of four lions are placed on each of the four corners of the platform. And each side of the platform is adorned with lotus petals. As for the sari reliquary, it’s shaped as a lotus bud, and it’s placed under a beautifully ornate bronze canopy.

As for the rest of the temple site, you’ll notice the elevated foundation for the Jungmun Gate, or “Middle Gate” in English, out in front of the twin pagodas. Behind the twin pagodas, you’ll see the elevated foundation stones and stone floor that are all that now remains of the Golden Hall (main Hall) at Gameunsa-ji Temple Site. Rather interestingly, the stone slats of the floor are elevated over top of stone pedestals. The reason this was done was so King Munmu, as a dragon, could return to visit the temple underneath the main hall at Gameunsa Temple. In fact, King Sinmun of Silla ordered that a hole be made to the east under the stone entry of the Golden Hall so that a dragon could come and go from the main hall. Also, a connecting tunnel to the East Sea has been discovered connecting the former temple to the underwater Tomb of King Munmu of Silla.

To the rear of the Golden Hall is the temple’s former lecture hall. The dimensions and size of the temple are better understood by the elevated corridors of the former temple site. And the entire temple grounds are backed by beautiful bamboo forest. Finally, there’s a cluster of stone artifacts to the right of the main temple site grounds.

How To Get There

From the Gyeongju Train Station, there’s a bus stop at the neighbouring post office. You’ll need to take either Bus #150 or Bus #150-1 to get to the Gameunsa-ji Temple Site stop. The bus ride from the Gyeongju Train Station to Gameunsa-ji Temple Site will last thirty-eight stops, or one hour and twenty minutes.

Overall Rating: 7/10.

A temple site is always difficult to rate like Hwangnyongsa Temple Site and Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site. Like Gameunsa-ji Temple Site, they can be found in Gyeongju. Gameunsaji- Temple Site is more similar to Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site in that it has something for visitors to see. Not only does Gameunsa-ji Temple Site have parts of the main hall intact in the form of the foundation and stone floors, but it has the massive twin pagodas that are national treasures, as well. And if you visit the Gyeongju National Museum, you’ll find the amazing contents of these pagodas. Both sari reliquaries are Korean Treasures, and are definitely worth a separate trip to the neighbouring national museum in their own right. And the entire temple site is a Historic Site.

The elevated temple site grounds for Gameunsa-ji Temple Site.
A look up towards the elevated grounds.
The amazing twin pagodas at Gameunsa-ji Temple Site. They are National Treasure #112 with the East Pagoda to the right and the West Pagoda to the left.
The view that the pagodas have enjoyed for centuries.
The bronze box that houses the sari reliquary to the East Pagoda. (Picture Courtesy of the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration)
The ornate sari reliquary inside the bronze box. Together, they are Korean Treasure #366. (Picture Courtesy of the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration)
The bronze protective box inside the West Pagoda. (Picture Courtesy of the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration)
The decorative sari reliquary inside the bronze protective box. Together, they are Korean Treasure #1359. (Picture Courtesy of the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration)
The stone floor to the Golden Hall that can still be found at Gameunsa-ji Temple Site. Notice the stone floor’s elevated position on top of the pedestal stones.
A better look at the stone floor of the Golden Hall at Gameunsa-ji Temple Site.

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Psalm 119 and the Way of Tea

To end the winter well this Easter I thought of my time in Asia visiting different Zen and Seon Buddhist Temples in South Korea and Japan. I also thought of my time in a Catholic Monastery in the United States. I’ve been happily reminiscing about my inwardly formative times there. And, this being COVID-19 time with plenty of lockdown times, starts and stops I thought living monastically somewhat in schedule and structure would be fun to return to lifestyle wise. I’ve never been a full monk but enjoy the causal practice of striving to maintain a “drink when you are thirsty” type of generally once or twice a day or luxuriating in prayer more than twice a day on weekends. To make use of this time in building myself up spiritually, to be a better listener and better person. 
Thus, to get back into spiritual shape I have brought back an old monastic practice of mine. It is something I started doing back in my Bacchelors degree days when I was studying monasticism in the midst of a degree in Literature and more earnestly after spending some time in a monastery. It’s called Lectio which is prayerful reading and it often works best with the shortest of passages to deepen oneself spiritually and emotionally. I’ll describe the mechanics of it in more detail later. 
For today’s Lectio I found via the online daily monastic prayer site I use called Universalis. It’s the kind of several times daily prayer that the Roman Catholic Church uses for mostly priests, nuns, monks and those monastically inclined like myself.  I don’t pray quite so often but pray on occasion as a means of becoming edified or spiritually strengthened as one would a wall or a good pair of shoes. 
Today’s quote that struck me for Lectio was from Afternoon Prayer. None/Afternoon Prayer for March 27. It comes from Psalm 118/119. 118 is the Latin, 119 is from the New Revised Standard Version though most English Bibles would have it as 119.  I was struck by line 37. Lectio is reading but listening to yourself for something that speaks to you as useful in an area that needs improvement. Much like how Mike Holmes on the TV Home Repair show looks for areas in a house that are in need of improvement. As I say, don’t attack your bible but use it as building material. An edification can refer to a building. Edifying is being spiritually strengthened or improved like edifying music. Suffice to say, my heart quickened at line 37:
37Avérte óculos meos, ne vídeant vanitátem;*
  in via tua vivífica me.
Turn my eyes away from frivolous things:
  let me live by following your path.

"Frivolous things" struck me as how humour can be spiritually edifying, can bring us together, build us up morally and spiritually it can be inclusive. However frivolous humour is a different and less considerate one and can be destructive and hurtful causing us to “lose our brother” in the words of the Desert Fathers; the early Christian monks of Egypt. 

Frivolous things I say flippantly make me quickly wish I wasn’t so quick to speak and wish for a decent editor. Turning my eyes, to disregard and focus on the good; not editing my brother but trying to be positive in suggesting positive alternatives instead of merely saying Thou Shall Not / No / Don’t etc.
"Turn my eyes from the things I cannot change" as St.Ignatius says. A good answer to the flippant : "meh" and give little regard to. 

The second part of Lectio is for me to contemplate and apply these thoughts and words :
1) for what I have done or failed to do to feel compunction or grieve for my past less wise self. This grief is part of moving myself like a moving movie would be; inspiring. 
2) contemplating now, silence, slowness the moment of an absence of frivolity; a down to earth weighty earnestness and this is the meditation part of Lectio. 
3)Future focused I now apply line or verse 37.5. (Yes, Lectio, can be taken word by word or even a simple expression can be fruit for spiritual growth.

37.5 in the Latin confused me. I have a thing for finding opposites or antonyms for Gothic Necro cutlture. The opposite of dead or trying to paste up your face pale to look deathly sick or morbid. Vivifying : bringing life to.

Part of Lectio is sometimes looking up words. Vivifica. Hmmm. As its Latin I started by looking up different translations, I started by doing Psalm readings and comparing them.

37 Turn away my eyes that they may not behold vanity: quicken me in thy way.

I got from a parallel English Latin Psalter (on Psalm prayer book) from
Quicken me; to speed up.
I found some sources that listed Vivifica as a woman’s name from which Vivian and other names were derived from. 
Then I turned to one of my favorite tactics, studying parts of a word and its history using an etymological dictionary. Etymology is the history of words. It gives a sense of where words came from, how they evolved into the words and meanings we have now. Many words have a prefix and a suffix we might not be aware of. Often I’m not so aware and I _love_ history! So I looked up invigorate on and got this :

In + vigor+ate from the French Envigorer 1610  

So I looked up vigor : 1300s "Physical strength, energy in an activity" from Old French vigor "force, strength". Latin vigorem/vigor liveliness, activity, force.

What struck me here was the last line : from PIE root *weg- "to be strong, lively." 
Looking up Weg I got: 

Weg: Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to be strong, lively". and that it forms all or part of the words awake; bewitch; bivouac; invigilate; reveille; surveillance; vigil; vigilant; vigilante; vigor; waft; wait; wake (v.) "emerge or arise from sleep;" waken; watch; Wicca; wicked; witch.  

The hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by the Sanskrit vajah "force, strength," vajayati "drives on;" Latin vigil "watchful, awake," vigere "be lively, thrive," velox "fast lively," vegere "to enliven," vigor "liveliness activity;" Old English wacan "to become awake," German wachen "to be awake," Gothic wakan "to watch." 

After all this intellectual reading I contemplated. Part of Lectio is finding connections to what we already know, what is a part of ourselves and applying what we’ve just learned to ourselves. Bite sized pieces of knowledge because they are more easy to apply to ourselves. 

Vivifica mei : invigorate me, enliven me, life-force, strengthen me. The Latin coming from the French back to possibly Sanskrit Or Old English wacan to become awake and even part of the word bivouac.  

Bivouac reminded me of American author Henry David Thoreau writing of why he went into the woods to live, a quote mentioned in the movie “Dead Poets Society” with Robin Williams. In his work Thoreau writes of how we can, in living monastically we can learn and grow more and become more enlivened. He says ‘in inventing the bivouac’ Napoleon was able to conquer Europe. 
Bivouac was from the Italian and German meaning to stay up late and watch but to the French it meant leaving your pack and equipment behind in order to go forward or camp out elsewhere further forward, to be alert like a soldier in the early morning. When I was in a Buddhist Temple in Korea the monks had green tea or barley tea available for us just before morning meditation which was before breakfast to invigorate us enough to stay awake in our meditation. Like the second part of 119:37 or 119: 37.25 “In via tua vivifica me”: In your way enliven me.  

37Avérte óculos meos, ne vídeant vanitátem;*
  in via tua vivífica me.
Turn my eyes away from frivolous things:
  let me live by following your path.

 Like following a path to a bivouac : a camp with no tents or equipment, where monks keep vigil. A monastic park in a way. We can do that for even a weekend to a temple or a monastery. Path like the Chinese word do for Daoist, a way a way of the ninja, samurai or in China Korea or Japan a way of tea.
In solitary meditation in via/ in your path/ vivifica me / enliven me that I may not grow drowsy but instead alert like the Gothic word wakan to watch. To not regard vain or frivolous things but be more down to earth. To live by meeting others over tea, away frivolous things ! We will be earnest and speak frankly with each other.  Chado the way of tea. 
Later I’ll post some of my writings on different ways of staying alert during meditation without the use of caffeine, that require internal work only from the Manual of Meditation I’ve been working on.


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