The true appearance of the world can’t be seen through the delusions and dreams that cloud the mind. When these dreams and illusions come to a stop, then the true face of the world can be seen for the first time. In a similar way, nothing can be reflected on the water that is agitated, but everything is reflected, just as it is, on the water that is still. The ancients expressed this state of mind which has left all delusion behind as being like still water reflecting anything in front of it. This can be one origin of the name Haeinsa, which implies a seal or impression (In) on the sea water (Hae), as if the temple is pointing towards this original tranquil mind with its name.
Haeinsa was founded during the reign of Shilla King Aejang (802 C.E.) by Ven. Suneung and Ven. Ijeong, who were carrying on the teaching of Ven. Uisang (625-702 C.E.)
After that, when Ven. Heerang rejected Gyeonhweon and assisted Goyreo King Taejo, the king repaid him by designating Haeinsa the Goryeo National Temple.
During the Joseon Dynasty, a great set of sutra tablets from the Goryeo Dynasty were enshrined at Haeinsa, which is why the temple is known as the “Dharma Treasure Temple.” Since the number of wood blocks in this collection of sutra tablets totals 81,258, the entire set is known as the “Eighty Thousand Tripitaka Sutra” collection in Korean, but is often called simply the “Tripitaka Koreana” in English.
The creation of the Tripitaka dates to the Goryeo Dynasty reign of King Gojong (1237 C.E.), when the ruling government created the collection over a period of 11 years in order to repel the invasion of the Mongol hordes, using the power of Buddhism. The building in which the collection is stored is called the Panjeon, and it has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, while the collection itself has been designated as a UNESCO World Record Heritage. After been repaired during the Joseon Dynasty reign of King Seongjong (1488 C.E.), it looks today as it once did in ancient times.
The Panjeon Hall housing the tablets is famous for its natural design, which features different sized windows facing north and south to allow air circulation, and an earthen floor made up of layers of ash, lime, salt and sand in order to control humidity. Haeinsa is also considered a “Chongnim Temple”, featuring a Seon (Jap: Zen) Room, Sutra School, and Precepts School, which are called together the “Haein Chongnim.” Haeinsa is also known for being the temple where the legendary Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order, Ven. Seongcheol (1912-1993) resided for many years, until he entered Nirvana.
Haeinsa’s Templestay Program
Haeinsa offers a regular two- day Templestay program, a no-limit period freestyle program, and a five day and four night training program in the summer. The standard program is called Live Like the Wind and Water, then Leave Your Body! , and features monastic formal meals, Seon Meditation, and a variety of programs that allow a deeper feeling for the teachings of Buddhism. Participants in Haeinsa’s program can have the unforgettable experiences of hearing the sound of the throbbing Dharma drum pierce the crisp, clear, early morning air, and visiting the mountain hermitages above the temple, where many great old monks live.