Wonhyo’s romance with Princess Yoseok didn’t conclude his story on Soyosan Mountain. In similar fashion, my journey up the trail continued.
After another fifteen minutes of increasingly-steep climb, I found myself at the end of the broad, smooth portion of the trail at Wonhyo’s Enlightenment Place. The scenery looking down the trail toward the bottom of the mountain is magnificent, the sort of vista you might expect to accompany a moment of spiritual inspiration.
After his affair with Princess Yoseok, Wonhyo retreated to the mountains to seek enlightenment, living in a hut he built here. One night, a beautiful woman knocked on the door and asked to stay the night. Wonhyo told her he had dedicated himself to the pursuit of Buddhist teaching and had forsaken carnal desires. The woman vanished, and Wohhyo interpreted the visitation as an encounter with a Buddhist deity of compassion, Avolokitesvara Bodhisattva, who had appeared to test his resolve.
Encouraged by this experience, he established Jajaeam (Freedom) Temple to replace the hut and emphasize the struggle to obtain freedom through the extinction of selfish motivation and physical desire.
Jajaeam Temple was the next stop on my walk up Soyosan Mountain.