Feel the spirit of practice, as you ascend the mountain Deoksungsan…
If you mention the name Sudeoksa, something comes to the mind of most people, even those who don’t go to the temple. There is a popular folk song that has to do with Sudeoksa, and also there’s the famous “Sudeok Hotel”, which looks like it could almost be part of the temple. It was at this hotel that the painter Eungno Lee (1905-1992) drew a painting on a rock. Because of these kinds of memories, the name Sudeoksa has certain fond associations for many people. The exact date when Sudeoksa was established can’t be known, but in the academic world, it is assumed to have been founded during the reign of the Baekjae King Wideok (554-598 C.E.). From the Goryeo Dynasty through the Joseon Dynasty it was a large temple, but the important role that Sudeoksa has today in Korean Buddhism is really the legacy of two Great Monks, Ven. Gyeongheo (1849-1912) and Ven. Mangong (1871-1946). Ven. Gyeongheo was a great Seon (Jap: Zen) Master who helped revitalize the Seon school in the latter part of the Joseon Dynasty. While he was staying at Sudeoksa, Ven. Gyeongheo did a lot to enliven the spirit of Seon in Korea. Later his disciple, Ven. Mangong, continued his efforts and enlarged the temple, producing many great disciples himself. Because of this long, steady tradition of practice within the Sudeoksa family, in 1984 the temple was awarded the distinction of becoming a Chongnim Temple, officially called the Deoksung Chongnim. A Chongnim Temple includes a Seon (Jap: Zen) room, Sutra school and Precepts school, all functioning together as a unified place of practice. At the moment in the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order, there are five Chongnim Temples: Haeinsa, Songgwangsa, Tongdosa, Baekyangsa, and Sudeoksa. There’s one more figure in Sudeoksa’s history who can’t be forgotten, Ven. Ilyeop (1876-1971). Before she ordained, Ven. Ilyeop was a famous writer among modern women of her day. Together with the female artist Hyeseok Na, she played an instrumental role in pioneering the feminist social action movement, during the gloomy period of the Japanese occupation of Korea. She ordained in 1933, and became a disciple of Ven. Mangong. There are many cultural properties at Sudeoksa, which confirms that it was indeed a great temple in both the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties. The Daeoongjeon (Main Buddha Hall) was built during the reign of Goryeo King Chungryeol (1308 C.E.), and is one of the few extant Goryeo Dynasty buildings in Korea, together with Buddha Halls from Bongjeongsa in Andong, and Buseoksa in Yeongju. Especially when seen from the side, the geometrical beauty of the Main Buddha Hall is famous.
Sudeoksa’s Templestay Program
Sudeoksa’s Templestay Program is very popular with international visitors. The program features monastic formal meals, communal work period, tea and conversation with the monks, and a variety of other activities that give the participants some experience of temple life. In particular, there is a good chance to appreciate the area’s beautiful scenery if you take a walk up to the top of Deoksungsan (also called The Little Diamond Mountain of Chuncheongdo) to visit the temple Jeonghyesa near the peak.
: 20, Sacheon-ri, Deoksan-myeon Yesan-gun Chungcheongnam-do