The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter One: Prologue


The Founding Master said, “As a religion that had deep ties with Korea, Buddhism received much welcome and rejection. It was welcomed several hundred years ago, but rejected in more recent times. Due to changes in political power and the rising influence of Confucianism, Buddhists became estranged from the secular world and hid themselves deep in the mountains, leading a transcendent life between existence and nonexistence. Thus, there were few people in ordinary society who understood that dharma. Those who claim to know something about it say that there are temples in places with beautiful mountain scenery and fresh spring water; that in those temples there are monks and buddha images; that people from the secular world visit these temples with their monks and buddha images to attend buddha offerings in order to wish for blessings or to repent from their transgressions; that the Buddhist monks and nuns, being the disciples of the buddha images, lead celibate lives, shaving their heads and wearing plain robes; that, fingering prayer beads, they recite the name of the buddha or chant sūtras; that, carrying a knapsack, they go out on alms round, paying respects to even the lowest classes of people in secular society; and that they abstain from eating fish and meat, do not drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, and do not kill any living creatures. But the ordinary peo-ple of the world have been saying that those who are of yangban (aristocratic) heritage, who have good fortune according to their saju (Asian astrology), or who are from rich families, do not become monks, but only those who are ill-fated astrologically or who have failed in the secular world; that among the monks, there are those who have excelled in their practice and become monks with supernatural powers, who can do whatever they like, such as detect good places for homes or burial sites, call on the wind and rain, or move mountains and walk on water; but that those monks are one in a thousand or ten thousand and, thus, the buddhadharma is a futile Way that is ineffective for ordinary people. So they say it may be fine to visit temple sites with their beautiful scenery every now and then for leisure, but if someone regularly attends a Buddhist temple or becomes a monk, they say that that person's household will be ruined. They also say that since Buddhists cremate the bodies of the deceased, descendants will not receive assistance from their ancestors. Thus, people have considered monks who believe in the buddhadharma to be unusual individuals. However, if one examines the monks’ actual lives, they have left behind the corrupt secular world and constructed pristine temples amid beautiful mountain scenery and fresh water, where they have enshrined benevolent buddha images; they live simply without any affinities with the world, keeping a few dharma friends, and find comfort in the wind in the pines and the moon through the foliage, surrounded on all sides by such music of nature as the sound of birds and flowing streams. Living unconcerned on the offerings of the laity, they recite the Buddha’s name or chant sūtras while hitting the wooden clacker, or sit in meditation, then come out of the elaborate temple building and stroll in the woods. Though not all monks live this way, most have lived such lives of leisure, salubrity, and refined taste. However, while continuing to live this sort of life, such monks have not made known the Buddha’s unsurpassed, great path in the secular world and have fallen into the Hīnayāna (Lesser Vehicle) practice of saving only oneself. How could this be the Buddha’s original intent? Therefore, while the Buddha’s unsurpassed, great Way remains the same, we must reform certain portions of its doctrine and its institution so that the Buddhism of the few becomes a Buddhism of the many and this partial practice becomes a well-rounded practice.”