The Principal Book of Won-Buddhism

Part Two : Doctrine

Chapter Four: The Threefold Study

Section Two: Inquiry into Human Affairs and Universal Principles (Sari Yŏn’gu)

A. The Essential Purport of Inquiry into Human Affairs and Universal Principles

“Human affairs” (sa) means the right and wrong, benefit and harm, among human beings. “Universal principles” (ri) means the great and small, being and nonbeing, of heavenly creation. “Great” means the original essence of all things in the universe. “Small” means that the myriad phenomena are distinguished by their shapes and forms. “Being and nonbeing” means the cycle of nature’s four seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter, as well as wind, clouds, rains, dew, frost, and snow; the birth, aging, sickness, and death of all things; and the transformations of creation and destruction, flourishing and decay. “Inquiry” (yŏn’gu) means studying and mastering human affairs and universal principles.

B. The Objective of Inquiry into Human Affairs and Universal Principles

This world is constructed through the principles of great and small, being and nonbeing, and is driven by the affairs of right and wrong, benefit and harm. Therefore, as the world is vast, there are infinite types of principles; as there are many people, there are limitless types of human affairs. However, the suffering and happiness that might inadvertently occur and the suffering and happiness that we create for ourselves are the consequences of our own making through the operation of the six sense organs. If we act whenever we please and stop whenever we please, ignorant of the right and wrong, benefit and harm, of our actions, then the activities of our six sense organs at every instant will turn into transgressions and suffering, so that our future will become a boundless sea of suffering.
If we live ignorant of the principles of great and small, being and nonbeing, we will not understand the causes of the suffering and happiness that might inadvertently occur; our thoughts being myopic and precipitous, and our minds being biased and narrow, we will not understand the principles of birth, aging, illness, and death and the retribution and response of cause and effect; unable to distinguish the factual and true from the false and spurious, we constantly would fall into falsity and wishful thinking, until ultimately we face the destruction of our families and the ruin of ourselves. Therefore, our aim is, by inquiring in advance into the unfathomable principles of heavenly creation and the multifarious affairs of humanity, to know them through clear analysis and quick adjudication when confronted by them in real life.

C. The Consequences of Inquiry into Human Affairs and Universal Principles

If we continue for a long time with the work of Inquiry into Human Affairs and Universal Principles, we will generate the power of wisdom that knows without obstructions in analyzing and adjudicating the myriad human affairs and universal principles, and ultimately will gain the power of Inquiry.