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Dharma Master Chongsan of Won Buddhism, The

Analects and Writings

Chongsan, Bongkil Chung

Publication Year: 2012

The first English translations of the writings of Chŏngsan (1900–62), who codified the central doctrines of Won Buddhism. Won Buddhism emerged in early twentieth-century Korea after a long period of anti-Buddhist repression. It is a syncretic tradition, a form of Buddhism strongly influenced by the Chŏson dynasty’s Neo-Confucian ethical heritage and by Daoism. Seeking to deliver sentient beings from suffering and to create a just and ethical world, Won Buddhism stresses practical application of the dharma and service. It offers a vision of people as one family, morally perfected. This book provides the first English translations of the writings of Chŏngsan (1900–62), the second dharma master of Won Buddhism, who codified the new religion’s central doctrines. The translations here include Chŏngsan’s discussion of Buddha-nature, described as a mind-seal and symbolized by the Irwŏnsang (a unitary circle); his synthesis of Confucian moral and political programs with Buddhist notions of emancipation from birth and death; and his expositions on realizing the ideal of all people as one family.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Korean Studies

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This book is an introduction to the teachings of Song Kyu (1900–1962; “Chŏngsan”), whose lifetime aspiration and plan was to help realize in the New World “one harmonious family under Heaven, with morality.” Chŏngsan had begun to formulate this aspiration in childhood, when...

Abbreviations and Conventions

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pp. ix-xii

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pp. 1-48

A proper introduction to Chŏngsan’s thought requires an account of the historical context in which new religions indigenous to Korea came into being. Around the turn of the twentieth century, in the final decades of the waning Chosŏn kingdom (1392–1910), Korea was going through...


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pp. 49-50

Part One: The Canon of the World (Sejŏn)

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Chapter One: General Introduction

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pp. 53-54

A human life can be perfect in both this and the eternal life only if there exist correct ways that one can learn and follow for each stage of life, from the moment when the numinous consciousness enters the mother’s womb to the moments of being born, growing, living as an adult, and...

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Chapter Two: Education

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pp. 55-58

Education is the root of the evolution of the world and the foundation of human civilization. Hence, it can be said that the rise or fall and prosperity or decline of an individual, a family, a society, and a nation depend on whether or not people are educated well...

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Chapter Three: Family

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pp. 59-62

Family is the foundation of human life. Where there are human beings, a family is formed, by the relationships of husband and wife, parents and children, siblings, and other relatives. Only if the right ways of those relationships are properly followed can there be a happy, peaceful, and...

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Chapter Four: Religious Faith

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pp. 63-64

Religious faith is the fundamental requisite for the human spiritual life. For only if one keeps faith in truthful religion while living in the world can one maintain peace of mind in all the favorable and unfavorable or painful and pleasurable mental spheres. And thereby one can achieve...

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Chapter Five: Society

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pp. 65-68

When people get together, a society is formed: a group of a few people, the nation, and the world all constitute societies, small or large. In any society there are differences: of men and women, the old and the young, the strong and the weak, and the wise and the foolish. Only by depending...

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Chapter Six: The Nation

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pp. 69-70

In a nation it is inevitable that there be the ruler and the ruled, and the edifier and the edified. The rise and fall of the nation depends on whether the rulers and the ruled each fulfill or fail to fulfill their duties well, and the nation’s prosperity and decline depends on whether the edifiers and...

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Chapter Seven: The World

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pp. 71-72

The world is a grand household that takes all human beings as a unit; hence, while one fulfills one’s duty to oneself, one’s family, the society, and the nation, one should follow the way that a member of the household of fellow creatures of the world ought to follow...

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Chapter Eight: Rest

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pp. 73-76

There is the order of four seasons in heaven and earth; there are proper times in the human life span. Just as myriad things bud, grow, bear fruit, and are harvested when heaven and earth do not violate their orders, humanity can achieve perfection in life and the cycle of birth and death...

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Chapter Nine: Nirvana

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pp. 77-78

By nirvān. a is meant clarity and calmness. By clarity is meant that our own nature is originally perfect, wanting nothing, strictly impartial, and unselfish; by calmness is meant that our own nature is originally undisturbed and devoid of afflictions and distress. Nirvāṇa thus means that one...

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Chapter Ten: An Outline

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pp. 79-80

When we examine all things and events, we find that an effect has its cause and a cause leads to its effect. Past, present, and future are related in terms of causes, conditions, and effects, turning endlessly to form the limitless world. A thriving plant proves that it had a good seed, soil, and...

Part Two: The Dharma Words (Pŏbŏ)

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I. Aspiration and Planning

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p. 96-96

1. Master Chŏngsan said, “At the ages of seven and eight I was troubled by a yearning to leave the ordinary way of humanity so that I could attain omniscience. For that purpose I sometimes left home in search of a prodigy; at some other times I prayed to the heaven. I wandered...

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II. Taking Care of the Fundamentals

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pp. 97-112

1. Master Chŏngsan said, “Only if you take a good care of the fundamentals of whatever you do, will its branches come out right. The fundamental of the six roots is the mind, and the fundamental of the mind is self‑nature. The foundation of the conduct of life is trust, while power...

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III. Fundamental Principles

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pp. 113-134

1. During the pioneer days of Won Buddhism, Grand Master Sot’aesan instructed some of his disciples to compose verses and asked Master Chŏngsan to compose one with the title “Irwŏn” (one circle). Master Chŏngsan wrote, “All things harmonize to become one; heaven...

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IV. Exposition of Scriptures

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pp. 135-148

1. Master Chŏngsan said, “The Canon is the principal scripture, in which the fundamental principles of the doctrine are elucidated; the Scripture of Sot’aesan is the penetrating scripture, which helps one attain a thorough comprehension of myriad dharmas through the doctrine. These...

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V. Exhortations for the Practice of the Way

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pp. 149-158

1. Master Chŏngsan said, “Depending on the mental condition of the audience, commonplace words become truthful dharma words, or dharma words of great significance can become commonplaces. Therefore, one who listens to the dharma must pay sincere faith and utter devotion...

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VI. Moral Culture

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pp. 159-180

1. Master Chŏngsan said, “By ‘correct enlightenment and right practice’64 is meant the following: (a) acting perfectly upon enlightenment to the truth of Irwŏn; (b) acting fairly and unselfishly upon enlightenment to the utterly fair and unselfish realm; (c) attaining emancipation...

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VII. On Being Diligent and Truthful

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pp. 181-188

1. Master Chŏngsan said, “Deluded people believe what appears as real but do not believe what does not. While they are absorbed in external glory, they are not even interested in searching for the internal truth. While they pay attention to even small increments of immediate...

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VIII. Edification in Response to Capacities

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pp. 189-200

1. Master Chŏngsan said, “The relationship between the mentor and the disciple or that between comrades is such that some disciples need frequent care and some do not need so much care by the mentor or comrade. The disciple that needs frequent care is not yet a close...

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IX. Dharma Admonitions

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pp. 201-208

1. Master Chŏngsan said, “The physical life is a side job; the spiritual life is one’s primary occupation.” (CP 11:1)
2. The Master said, “Precepts (śīla), concentration (samādhi), and wisdom (prajñā) are the clothing, food, and shelter of our spirit.” (CP 11:2)...

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X. The Destiny of the Way

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pp. 209-218

1. The Master said, “The order of a correct dharma looks insignificant in its formative stage; however, it will emanate a great power all at once at the right time because it is the right power to be in charge of the world. If one acts with truthful and public spirit under the sign of Won...

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XI. On the Korean National Destiny

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pp. 219-230

1. One day in November 1944 (WE 29), Master Chŏngsan copied for his attendants a poem from ancient times and said, “The destinies of the nation and Won Buddhism will be like this:
When on Mount Ji has the mist cleared,
Its lofty height and the luxuriant forest lie revealed...

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XII. On Birth and Death

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pp. 231-244

1. Master Chŏngsan said, “There are three stages in resolving the grand matter of birth and death. The first stage is to awaken oneself to and know the realm where there is originally no birth or death, and birth and death are not two. The second stage is to model after and keep the...

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XIII. The Last Instructions

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pp. 245-252

1. Master Chŏngsan on his sickbed asked, “Do you know what our original intention is?” The attendant informed the Master of his view: “It is to create one household under heaven with the Way and its virtue.” The Master said, “You are right. To create one household under heaven with...

Part Three: Other Selected Writings

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I. On Irwonsang

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pp. 255-262

Why we enshrine Irwŏnsang as the Buddha is explained in the Treatise on the Renovation of Korean Buddhism (Chosŏn pulgyo hyŏksillon). Hence, we must study it and experience its essence.1
Anyone in today’s society who has little practice in Buddha‑dharma...

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II. Truth, Faith, and Practice of Irwŏnsang

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pp. 263-264

Irwŏn is the inherent essence of all things in the universe, the original nature of all buddhas and patriarchs, and the Buddha‑nature of all common mortals and sentient beings. It is the realm where there is no differentiation of noumenon from phenomenon or being from nonbeing...

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III. Ode to the Consummate Enlightenment

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pp. 265-272

Consider the past and future of eternity throughout the vast universe,
Where change and immutability are the natural law:
Endless change in the circulation of heaven and earth,
Causing the changes of day and night, the cycle of the four seasons...


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pp. 273-288

Chinese Character Glossary

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pp. 289-296

Glossary of Terms

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pp. 297-312

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 313-316


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pp. 317-332

E-ISBN-13: 9781438440255
E-ISBN-10: 1438440251
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438440231
Print-ISBN-10: 1438440235

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: SUNY series in Korean Studies