About Mu Ryang Sa:
The temple’s name, Mu-Ryang-Sa, means “Broken Ridge Temple.” You may have noticed on your drive up that the top ridge of the temple is broken. What appears as a flaw of the temple has both a story and a significant Buddhist teaching. The construction of the first temple building began in 1980, but during the temple’s construction, it was discovered that the roof of the main hall exceeded City and County height limitations. As a result, the roof was lowered to its present height. In Buddha’s teachings, he speaks of shattering our inner ridge-poles of ignorance, greed, and craving in our “house of illusion.” The shattering of the ridge-pole of ignorance by wisdom results in the demolition of illusion and the attainment of liberation, or nirvana. As with the enlightenment of the Buddha, may the shattering of own ridge-pole remind us of the structures of ignorance that can be let go to reach the true heights of our inner liberation.
Abbott Do Hyun
MuRyangSa’s abbot Do-Hyun first came to Hawaii in 1979 when MuRyangSa was first laying its foundations. After a four-year stay, he went on to pursue his undergraduate degree in Psychology, Chinese Literature and Sanskrit from Berkeley University then his masters at Beijing University. Completing his studies, Abbot Do Hyun returned to Honolulu in 1996 and began his stewardship of MuryangSa.
Abbot Do-Hyun envisions MuRyangSa to be more than beautiful temple grounds for monk retreats and meditation. As the largest Korean temple outside of Korea, MuRyangSa aspires to be a cultural community center that can promote and share the teachings of the dharma through educational, cultural and monastic programs. MuRyangSa is constructed in the true architectural style of historical Korean temples and holds replicas of pagodas and statues dating to the 5th century. Sitting on the mountainside of Palolo Valley, one can breathe in the valley’s fresh air while overlooking the ocean. This humble location makes for a sacred setting for cultivating the mind, body and spirit. To further its role in the community, MuRyangSa will establish two important programs–a four-year college that is devoted to Buddhist studies in English and the first joint nursing home and hospice care facility for Korean elderly in Hawaii. The four-year college, Hawaii Start College, will host various programs for credit and non-credit in Korean Buddhism, language and culture including Korean dance, music, calligraphy and tea ceremony. The Palolo Nursing Home and Hospice will provide high quality health care to the Korean elderly community who currently do not have a Korean nursing home facility in Hawaii. At the Palolo Nursing Home, Korean elderly residents will be able to enjoy the comforts of Korean food, traditional medicine and receive care surrounded by the Korean architecture of their homeland. These ambitious aspirations are currently underway will renovate adjacent six homes within the next few years. With generous support from patrons from Korea as well as from the local community, MuRyangSa has begun its efforts to grow as a strong community center.
Enter through The Gate of the Four Heavenly Kings
The main entrance gate to the temple represents one of the many levels of the Buddhist spiritual plane. At this first gate, the Four Heavenly Kings stand guard over the four directions (North, South, East & West). The role is to keep out evil influences that we find in ourselves such as greed, lust, will for violence, and self-destroying pride. Beneath each guardian you will notice these ills represented in quasi-human forms, which the Kings crush under their feet.
The World Peace Pagoda
*The Peace Pagoda which stands in the center of the main lawn is an exact replica of the Sokka-Tap, a historical pagoda of the Silla Dynasty (57 BC-935 AD) located at Bulguksa Temple in eastern South Korea. The three levels of the pagoda represent the three basic forms of all existence: the world of form (matter and mortality), formlessness (spirit or energy), and that which is beyond (that which gave rise to the two other worlds). Concurrently, it also represents the three foundations of Buddhism: Buddha, the Law, and the Brotherhood of Monks. In the center of the pagoda’s base rests a small urn, holding “sari” or calcified remains of the Buddha. These were presented to the temple by a temple in Sri Lanka and are revered as genuine relics of the historical Buddha.
The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower houses the bell, drum, a hollow wooden fish, metal gong, and iconographic illustrations painted on the tower’s roof. Each object sounds a call to sentient beings of the universe. The sound of the drum calls the spirits of the animal kingdom of sentient beings to beckon them to enlightenment. The hollow wooden fish that is struck with a mallet calls the creatures of the sea. The metal gong calls the creatures of the air.
The two pairs of angels in the low-relief on the sides of the bell are faithful reproductions of those on the historical Emille Bell in Korea, the oldest Buddhist bell in Korea and the largest ringing bell in the world. The chant recited during the striking of the bell prays the release of suffering for those trapped by their own false images.
The Hall of Memorial to the Departed
The Memorial Hall between the Bell Tower and the Great Hero Hall houses the Chijang-posal, the Buddha who lifts souls from the Netherworld to Amitabul, the Buddha of Infinite Light. To the left and right of the altar, photographs of those who have been memorialized are honored. In this Hall, the living relatives will offer prayers for the release of their spirit from the mortal world of illusion to advance towards their true Buddha nature.
The Great Hero Hall
This Main Hall of the temple houses Shakyamuni Buddha in the center, Ananda to his left (intellect) and Mahakasyapa (wisdom) to his right. These three figures represent the ideal that the Buddhist practitioner may aspire to–Shakyamuni’s seeking of truth by letting go of his own illusions. Above these figures, you will find the stylized roof of a Chinese palace with descending dragon and phoenix–symbols of Chinese royalty.
The Statue of Miruk Boddhisatava (or Maitreya, the Future Buddha)
This statue of Maitreya is the replica of a historical statue from the Silla Dynasty, originally rendered in bronze and covered in gold leaf, currently housed in the National Musuem of Korea in Seoul. This is the Buddha of the Future who will return someday to establish a perfect world. The eight figures underneath refer to the eight barbarian kings who converted to Buddhism as the teachings spread along the Silk Road from India to China. They are seen as Guardians of Buddhist Law or the supportive bases for the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia. The Future Buddha is placed here to remind us that peace has not yet been achieved; we must achieve inner and outer peace of ourselves and the world through our own efforts.
The Garden of Ji Jang Bosal
Tucked away in the quiet corner between memorial hall and the main hall, you will find 1080 miniature figurines of disciples peaking over the ledge. If you walk towards the back of the main hall, you will see a staircase that can take you into this nook. Watching over this Garden of Ji Jang Bosal are 15 Gwan Seum Bodhisattva statutes and two guardian Bodhisattvas.