Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Editor's Preface

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pp. vii-xii

The University of Hawai‘i Press has long been noted for its commitment to issuing high-quality scholarly publications in the field of Asian studies. The Press launched the Dimensions of Asian Spirituality series in keeping with that commitment. This is a most appropriate time for such a series. A number of the world’s major and minor...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

When I was first approached about contributing a volume on Korean spirituality to the Dimensions of Asian Spirituality series, my first reaction was to decline. I wasn’t sure if I could deal adequately with the complexity and diversity of Korean spirituality in one slender volume. However, the series editor encouraged me to search for...

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1. Korean Spirituality: A Multiplicity of Approaches to Transcending the Human Condition

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pp. 1-17

A few years ago, I kept a small apartment in one of the most modern districts of one of the most modern cities on the Korean peninsula. Within a short walk from that apartment in the Songp’a district of Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), I could reach both a huge shopping mall with hundreds of crowded shops and a bustling Buddhist temple drawing large crowds of worshippers. There were medical clinics around the corner and a shaman’s...

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2. Folk Religion and Animism

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pp. 18-29

The Korean quest for sagehood had what would appear to be a most unlikely source: the loosely connected assortment of beliefs and practices we now call “folk religion.” The term “sage” is not used in Korea’s folk religion to refer to even the most advanced practitioners. (When that term does appear, it is a title for some of the deities those...

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3. China's Three Teachings in Korea

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pp. 30-57

Before the modern era, Korea did not have a specific term for religion as a separate and distinct form of human activity and organization. The Korean word that today means “religion” (chonggyo) was coined in Japan at the end of the nineteenth century. However, Korea recognized three “teachings” that it had imported from China beginning about one thousand five hundred years ago...

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4. Korean Christianity

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pp. 58-77

For most of their long history, Koreans looking for solutions to the types of problems religions and philosophies typically promise to solve could only look to folk religion, Buddhism, Confucianism, and sometimes Daoism for help. If they wanted to minimize or eliminate misfortune, such as ill health, economic setbacks, or poor interpersonal...

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5. The New Religions of Korea

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pp. 78-93

Christianity introduced Korea to a new approach to spirituality that differed significantly from the traditional approach. For example, Korean Christians are more concerned about the specifics of what their religious community believes than their non-Christian ancestors were. This emphasis on doctrine and creed does not mean, of...

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6. The Spiritual Gaze in Korea

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pp. 94-121

Despite the wide range of approaches to spirituality contemporary Koreans can choose from, there are some common elements that allow us to place all of them under the big tent labeled “Korean spirituality.” For example, Koreans continue to pursue ways to overcome the limitations of existence as an individual, despite their theological...

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7. The Spiritual Practices of Koreans

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pp. 122-144

Given the great variety of gods and other potential foci of a spiritual gaze available to Koreans, it is not surprising that there is also a rich assortment of spiritual practices available for them to choose from. Koreans can pray loudly or silently, alone or in groups, and they can meditate quietly, again alone or in groups. While some may...

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Appendix: Spirituality in North Korea

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pp. 145-152

Korea was one country with one culture for most of the last thousand years. However, the struggle beginning in 1945 between the United States and the Soviet Union for influence in East Asia led to the division of Korea into what became two radically different societies. In the preceding chapters, all discussion of modern (post-1945)...

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Further Reading

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pp. 153-156

This book provides a general overview of Korean spirituality. For more detailed information, the reader will need to do some additional reading, suggestions for which are to be found below. No attempt is made to provide a comprehensive list. Instead, I have tried to list material that is both reliable and readily available either in academic...

Index

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pp. 157-166