A Study on the Feng Shui Placement of Traditional Temples

Focusing on the Cases of Tongdosa and Hoeamsa

한국학회 승인 2020.10.02 12:33 의견 0

Shim, Jaeyeor

Department of Buddhist Studies

Graduate School of Buddhist Studies

Dongguk University

Ph.D. Shim, Jaeyeor


This study compares the location of Tongdosa Temple and that of the ruins of Hoeamsa Temple from a feng shui perspective.

Tongdosa was founded in 656 by Jajang. Zen Buddhism was introduced into Korea at the end of Silla, and feng shui was introduced along with Zen Buddhism. The location of Tongdosa was selected according to feng shui theory. The Dark Turtle peak of Tongdosa is a part of the Azure Dragon ridge that extends from the left side of Yeongchuksan Mountain. The site of Tongdosa is located on the southern foot of the Dark Turtle peak. In harmony with right and left ridge, the hidden central ridge of Dark Turtle peak gives the vital energy to the lair at the end of approaching ridge.

The lair of Tongdosa is the site of Daeungjeon and Geumgang ordination altar. The lair is encircled by water, and it forms a harmony of yin and yang. This is left-handed lair going against the current of water. The water encircling the lair functions as lair-proof.

The Blue Dragon ridge, which extends from the front of Dark Turtle peak, passes through Yeongchuksanmun and stops when it meets White Tiger ridge.

The White Tiger ridge extends from the right side of the top of Yeongchuksan Mountain and continues low, surrounding Daeungjeon and Geumgang ordination altar.

The mountain in front of Tongdosa is a part of White Tiger ridge. The ridge make Wite Tiger structure of the geographical features of Tongdosa.

One stream originating from Yeongchuksan flows from the west and another stream flows from the south to Tongdosa. The two streams join in front of upper area of Tondgosa and encircle the lair. As a gate blocking the waterway, the rounded mountain at the water gate forms a structure of getting water where the vital energy is accumulated.

The lair of Tongdosa is located in a place with a mountain behind and a stream in front. Moreover it is a place where the water energy of stream flowing in a bow-shaped curve and the earth energy of ridge extending from Yeongchuksan are in harmony. Daeungjeon and Geumgang ordination altar are located in this place.

Tongdosa is located in an auspicious site which catches wind and gets water. It has the shapes and the contours of geographical features where water flows encircling mountain.

With opened front and closed back, it combines the yin and yang of heaven and earth and satisfies all the requirements of feng shui.

Hoeamsa was founded in 1328 by Jigong after the Arananta Temple of India. Originally, Hoeamsa was a huge temple whose building area was over 1200 square meters.

The Dark Turtle peak of Hoeamsa turns it's back on the lair.

The liar is not on a flatland, but on a terraced field made of slopes.

The White Tiger ridge also turns its back on the lair. The Azure Dragon ridge has no vital energy because it runs straight. The stream penetrating the lair splits into two, and the two streams originating from Cheonbosan flow straight along the mountain. Wind is also strong on the site of Hoeamsa. For this reason, in the lair of Hoeamsa, the vital energy is not gathered but distributed. Though there is a mountain shaped like jade belt in front of Hoeamsa, it is too weak to form a structure which catches wind.

Hoeamsa prospered from the end of Goryeo to the early Joseon Dynasty as the headquarter of all the temples of Korea and as the temple for the honor of the nation and royalty. However, since Hoeamsa was founded without consideration of feng shui conditions, it has not continued until today.

The temples built before the advent of the feng shui thought were located in a sacred place or in the downtown of the capital where the king resides. Such are Mireuksa Temple in Iksan, Hwangryongsa Temple, Bunhwangsa Temple, and Heungryunsa Temple in Gyeongju. These temples were built on a plain where there are no mountains. The land on which these temples are located does not have enough earth energy, for it does not meet the feng shui requirements such as "There should be mountains on the back and water on the front", "The front side should be low and the back side should be elevated" and "Water must flow encircling mountain". The reason why these temples became ruined temples can be explained through feng shui factors.

The temples built on land that meets feng shui requirements have become famous temples that have been around for a millennium. However, the temples built on land that did not meet the feng shui requirements have become ruined temples. This shows that feng shui factors influence the rise and fall of temples.

The essential goal of feng shui is to minimize environmental problems such as destruction of nature and contribute to the selection of eco-friendly locations. Incorporating feng shui location factors in nature-friendly location factors will not only help improve the quality of life of individuals, but also help to develop sustainable land development plans. Therefore, this study aimed to prove that feng shui can play a significant role in modern society.

저작권자 ⓒ 요산풍수학회 심재열, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지