Haein Temple: A Sanctuary of Spiritual Reflection and Cultural Treasures

The Buddhist Channel, 8 July 2023

Daegu, South Korea -- Haein Temple, nestled in the serene surroundings of Gayasan National Park near Daegu, South Korea, has stood as a testament to Buddhist heritage for over a millennium.

Despite its remote location, this temple has attracted countless visitors seeking solace and spiritual enlightenment. With its intricate architecture, fascinating legends, and most notably, the awe-inspiring Tripitaka Koreana, Haein Temple remains a revered destination for those in pursuit of inner peace and cultural enrichment.

Established in the ninth century, Haein Temple has long intrigued visitors with its name, which juxtaposes the words "hae" (ocean) and "in" (stamp or imprint). The metaphorical meaning behind this combination is revealed through the practice of mudra, hand signs used in Buddhist meditation. Symbolizing the vastness and tranquility of the ocean, the temple invites visitors to delve into their spiritual selves and experience a profound sense of calm.

While the original structures of Haein Temple may have succumbed to the ravages of time, continuous repairs and new constructions have ensured its preservation. Visitors are greeted by a series of gates leading to the main hall, pavilions with distinct purposes, numerous halls, and a historic three-story stone pagoda. Notably, the temple's renowned Hakkadae fir tree once served as a meditative retreat for Choe Chi-won, a prominent scholar and poet of the Silla era.

Among the most treasured possessions of Haein Temple is the Tripitaka Koreana, a collection of over 80,000 wooden printing blocks. These blocks, carved in Classical Chinese and arranged in almost 1,500 titles and 6,568 volumes, comprise an unparalleled Buddhist scripture. The scale of this project, undertaken during a national crisis in the 13th century, is staggering.

If lined up, the blocks would stretch 60 kilometers, with a combined weight of 280 tons. Remarkably, despite their age, the blocks remain in impeccable condition and produce clear imprints, a testament to their enduring quality. The digitization of the entire collection has made it accessible for scholarly examination.

Haein Temple remains a place of profound spiritual reflection, attracting visitors from around the world. Its tranquil atmosphere, awe-inspiring architecture, and the unparalleled Tripitaka Koreana make it an indispensable cultural and historical treasure.
Through its temple stays and occasional printing experiences, Haein Temple continues to share its rich heritage and provide a sanctuary for seekers of wisdom and serenity.
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