Unbong Taeji's Treatise on the Nature of the Mind was composed during an interesting period of Korean history when Buddhism was suppressed under the political and ideological dominance of Neo-Confucianism. The treatise, nonetheless, entered the mainstream Neo-Confucian discourse and espoused the superiority of the Buddhist system of thought over Neo-Confucianism. It was done by skillfully reformulating the Confucian debate on the Limitless and the Supreme Ultimate into a Buddhist debate of the One Mind and inherent enlightenment of the human mind, the main doctrine of the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith. Furthermore, Unbong enlisted the One Nature-Numerous Natures debate to emphasize the importance of individual natures within the oneness of inherent nature. From the works of Unbong, there is a strong sense that there were movements among monks who were intent on proving the superiority of Buddhism over Neo-Confucianism, at least as a system of thought that more accurately represented reality. Within the greater socio-political context, Unbong's arguments represented Buddhism as a tradition that was able to stand its hermeneutical ground against Neo-Confucianism. It was a display of self-confidence amongst the monks in their Buddhist tradition of thought in the latter half of the Chosŏn period.


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pp. 97-127
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