Saturday, September 20, 2008

2008 Sept 20 Soyang Dam and Cheongpyeong temple Part 4

Looking back as we leave the dock and start walking up the path to the temple.

This is a pretty common site when hiking in Korea, and especially near temples.

Along the path to the temple there are several areas with pockets of restaurants. I know that some of them cook chicken dokgalbi . . . the others had Korean vegetarian pancakes, etc. There are also pop and coffee vending machines sitting along the path.

This tourist map seems to be missing something--oh yeah, English!

There are two or three bridges along the path . . .

Also, you'll find several places along the path that you can climb down from it onto the rocks to take pictures.

The woman is holding a snake . . . I'm not sure what the significance of this is in (Korean) Buddhism . . .

I did about 20 minutes of searching on Google and found some interesting things, but no answers . . .

"In The Power of Denial, Bernard Faure takes an important step toward redressing this situation by boldly asking: does Buddhism offer women liberation or limitation? Continuing the innovative exploration of sexuality in Buddhism he began in The Red Thread, here he moves from his earlier focus on male monastic sexuality to Buddhist conceptions of women and constructions of gender. Faure argues that Buddhism is neither as sexist nor as egalitarian as is usually thought. Above all, he asserts, the study of Buddhism through the gender lens leads us to question what we uncritically call Buddhism, in the singular . . ."

This is something that in spite of my attraction to the general philosophy of Buddhism, and also its psychology, I have always had a problem with. Why has there never been a female Dalai Lama? Why are women incapable of achieving Nirvana? Etc . . . I have not read this book but after looking at it on Google Books I'm very interested in trying to find a copy in Korea.

Sacred Snakes: Orthodox Images of Indian Snake Worship
By Laurie Cozad

"Buddhist Nagas and the Resignification of Naga Rituals: The ... servants ready to fulfill every need, and a harem full of beautiful, sensual snake women. ..." This quote comes up on Google search with the title of the book.

I realize that the statue of the woman holding a snake is in KOREA. So even if I spend hours searching the Internet with "buddhism and snake and woman" as my key words, and also trying different combinations, it's likely that Korean Buddhism also has it's own socio-cultural meanings that could be different.

While I was doing a little of research on "Buddhism and snake and woman" I found the word "Naga" kept coming up.

Naga Kanya (The Snake Woman)

"Traditions about nāgas are also very common in all the Buddhist countries of Asia. In many countries, the nāga concept has been merged with local traditions of large and intelligent serpents or dragons. In Tibet, the nāga was equated with the klu (pronounced lu), spirits that dwell in lakes or underground streams and guard treasure. In China, the nāga was equated with the lóng or Chinese dragon.

"The Buddhist nāga generally has the form of a large cobra-like snake, usually with a single head but sometimes with many. At least some of the nāgas are capable of using magic powers to transform themselves into a human semblance. In Buddhist painting, the nāga is sometimes portrayed as a human being with a snake or dragon extending over his head. One nāga, in human form, attempted to become a monk; when telling it that such ordination was impossible, the Buddha told it how to ensure that it would be reborn a man, able to become a monk." (from

The woman holding a snake statue could also be connected to Korean Shamanism . . . "The role of the mudang, usually a woman, is to act as intercessors between a god or gods and human beings" ( Obviously if I want any answers I'm going to have to sit down and invest some time on the Net.

Walking up the path towards the temple there are lot of nice places to take pictures . . .

Julianne and I climbed down from the path to take pics of this waterfall . . .

Sorry Julianne, I couldn't resist . . .

This pavilion is not a part of the temple. It sits alongside a cluster of restaurants.

I saw this man through the doorway of one of the small restaurants. I found it unusual to see a man helping to prepare food so I had to take this picture--I don't think I've seen many Korean men (especially OLDER) working in a kitchen . . . ever.

Julianne saw this poor chipmunk in a cage. We considered 'kidnapping'/rescuing him but resisted the urge. I hope they take him indoors at night . . .


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