In Korea, Guanyin is known as Gwaneum or Gwanse-eum, and is seen as the embodiment of compassion and kindness.
Guanyin was already present in Korea in the 6th and 7th centuries.
Guanyin, also known as Kwan Yin or Guan Yin, is a revered figure in East Asian Buddhism and is often depicted as a compassionate and caring deity. In Korea, Guanyin is known as Gwaneum or Gwanse-eum, and is seen as the embodiment of compassion and kindness.
In Korean Buddhism, Guanyin is often depicted as a female figure, and is revered as the goddess of mercy and compassion. She is believed to be able to hear the cries and prayers of those in need, and to offer her help and support to those who call upon her.
Guanyin is also known for her ability to bring peace and harmony to the world, and is often depicted holding a willow branch, which is a symbol of her ability to bring tranquility and calm to troubled situations.
In Korea, Guanyin is often depicted in artwork and statues, and her image can be found in temples and shrines throughout the country. Many people in Korea pray to Guanyin for guidance, strength, and protection, and she is a popular deity among those seeking solace and comfort in difficult times.
Guanyin is a beloved figure in Korean culture and is seen as a source of inspiration and hope for those seeking guidance and support in their lives.
In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva is an inherently compassionate being that knows how to achieve enlightenment but stays here to help us mortals get there. Many people consider the Bodhisattva to be very Korean because of how prevalent he was in the 6th and 7th centuries. The Korean versions of the Bodhisattva are so approachable, even if you don't know them. There's something about them that's immediately appealing, and perhaps that's one of the reasons I identify with the Bodhisattva.
Many of these small statues were made as individual devotional pieces, sometimes to be carried around to spread the faith. This is in some ways the antithesis of the Rococo or oak statues from Europe, which are all about outward expression. The Bodhisattva is a figure that is contemplating and invites me to come and think with it.
For me, being a non-Buddhist, it's more about contemplating the notion of a being or a world that is beyond the one I'm inhabiting, to really release worldly concerns and try to attain a state that I imagine this figure is at. The Bodhisattva is seated, leaning slightly forward, with his head tilted to the right. I feel like he's thinking and drumming his fingers and toes. It is a very calming and peaceful figure, at the same time full of energy and dynamic quality.
There's also something about the act of walking around the piece and looking at him or her from different angles. I see the piece from slightly above, where you fully appreciate it in its pensive mode. But then as I change my perspective, his face just sends the expression that it bestows on me. What I really try to do is kind of empty my mind when I'm standing in front of him, and I don't think that's actually too far from one of its objectives as a religious icon.
Guanyin in Korea - Gwaneum or Gwanse-eum
Where are the main Guanyin temples in Korea?
There are many temples in Korea that are dedicated to Guanyin, the deity of compassion and mercy in East Asian Buddhism. Some of the most well-known temples in Korea that are dedicated to Guanyin include:
1. Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁) in Seoul: This famous palace in the heart of Seoul is home to a beautiful temple dedicated to Guanyin. The temple is known for its intricate details and peaceful atmosphere, and is a popular place for visitors to pray and meditate.
2. Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul: This iconic cathedral in the bustling Myeongdong neighborhood of Seoul is home to a small shrine dedicated to Guanyin. Visitors can stop by the shrine to pray and leave offerings for the deity.
3. Bulguksa Temple - 불국사 in Gyeongju: This ancient temple, which is located in the city of Gyeongju, is home to a beautiful statue of Guanyin. The statue is known for its intricate details and peaceful presence, and is a popular place for visitors to pray and meditate.
4. Haein-sa Temple (해인사) in Gyeongsangnam-do: This famous temple, which is located in the province of Gyeongsangnam-do, is home to a stunning statue of Guanyin. The statue is known for its serene and peaceful presence, and is a popular place for visitors to pray and meditate.
These are just a few of the many temples in Korea that are dedicated to Guanyin. There are many more throughout the country, so you can visit a temple near you to pray and seek guidance from this beloved deity.