Supplementary Entries and Texts for the
ENCYCLOPEDIA  OF  KOREAN  BUDDHISM
by the Venerable Hyewon and Professor David A. Mason
Deleted entire Entry:
pungsu-jiri-seol  풍수지리설  風水地理說       would have been on page 437
   Koreas’s version of feng-shui or oriental geomancy

Literally meaning “wind-water earth principles-theory” or “study of the earthly patterns of
wind and water”, pungsu-jiri-seol is the version of Chinese Daoist feng-shui (風水) or oriental
geomancy, an intuited or calculated divination performed according to topography, or a
system of evaluation of the various features of land, mountain and water that then connects
them to human fortune/misfortune and advancement/decline.  It was and still is widely used
in the placement and architecture of Korean Buddhist temples and theoretical discussions.
It was developed by the great doctrinal and meditation Master Doseon (道詵, 827-898).
It is often called simply ‘pungsu-jiri’.

Due to the scarcity of formal Daoism in Korea, pungsu-jiri instead became established in
close association with Seon Buddhism rooted in mountainous areas.  Master Doseon
studied Chinese feng-shui during his 7 years in China, and adapted its concepts and
practices to the Korean landscape situation and cultural traditions (a legend says that he
was taught his new theories by a Sansin (山神, Mountain-spirit) of Jiri-san (智異山).  The
system that he developed, often called "bibo-pungsu-jiri" (裨補 風水地理), focused on
"harmony with nature" (bi-bo is usually the Chinese characters meaning factors leading to
National Prosperity, but sometimes those for "hidden treasure" are used).  Compared with
feng-shui, it places greater emphasis on the spiritual and material energies of mountains and
their ranges, and their effect on the destinies of families, communities and the nation as a
whole, than on interior furniture-placement and personal fortunes.  Doseon taught that
building temples and stone pagodas on particular sites could amplify their positive-fortune-
energies or reduce/neutralize their negative energies, and benefit the kingdom (improving
both security and prosperity); the many erected according to his directions are still called
‘bibo-sacheol’ (裨補寺刹) and ‘bibo-satap’ (裨補寺塔). His teachings are sometimes also
called ‘eum-yang pungsu-jiri’ (陰陽風水地理, yin-yang geomantic wisdom). They greatly
inflenced and were expanded upon by Confucian scholars of the Goryeo and Joseon
dynasties.

One of the key ideas of Doseon's pungsu-jiri-seol is the
Baekdu-daegan (白頭大幹), the
mountain-range-spine of the Korean Peninsula, believed by traditionalists of all sorts to
continuously conduct essential energy throughout the nation, from its mountains into all its
agricultural products, spring-waters and air, and thus into its people.  Another of his key
concepts is the
hyeol (穴), an auspicious site on the slope of a mountain where the energies
of Heaven and Earth converge in a very well-balanced way and can best be accessed by
people who live there, to promote their physical and mental health and the development of
their wisdom.  The energy of a
hyeol is said to swirl to the right (in the 'clockwise' direction)
which gives positive effects (left or counterclockwise motion is then negative-effecting
energy, while straight-moving is just 'neutral'); it is said to calm the wind in that area and
attract water to it.  Many of Korea’s greatest temples are said to be sited on powerful
hyeol
of sacred mountains.


For much more information, see my Pungsu-jiri page.