The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 1. The Dawn of Great Opening

Chapter 2. Founding Master Sot`aesan

1. Birth of Sot`aesan and his Youth

The surname of Sot`aesan (K. Taejongsa, 大宗師) is "Park"(朴), his first name is "Chung-bin"(lit. "Relight", 重彬), his religious epithet is "Sot`aesan" (lit. "Young Great Mountain", 少太山).7) He was born on March 27, 1891 of the lunar calendar, some 25 years before the birth of Won-Buddhism.
Sot`aesan grew up in the village of Yongch`on, Killryong-li of Paeksu-myon, Yongkwang-kun(全羅南道 靈光郡 白岫面 吉龍里), which is located on the Southwestern coast of the South Chŏlla Province. His father`s name was Park, Hoe-kyong(dharma name; epithet: Songsam, 法名晦傾 字成三) and his mother`s was Yu, Chŏng-ch`ŏn (dharma name, Yu family of Kangnŭng, 江陵劉氏法名正天). Park, Hoe-kyong is the descendent of Park, Hyok-go-se, the first king of Shilla Kingdom(新羅始祖王朴赫居世), his `Pon`gwan`(K. original hometown, 本貫) being Miryang(密陽). His distinctive family lineage also included Milsong, son of Kyongmyong, the Silla king(景明王長子密成大君).
After living in the area of Yangju-kun(楊州郡) for several centuries, Sot`aesan`s grandfather--from the 7th generation of Sot`aesan`s family--moved to the Yongkwang area. After staying in the village of Maup-li of Kunso-myon for a short time, the family moved in 1884 to the village of Killryong-li, 7 years before Sot`aesan`s birth.
Sot`aesan`s father was poor and therefore did not get the opportunity to receive an education; nevertheless his innate wisdom received much praise from those around him. Sot`aesan`s mother`s nature was generous, and was similarly praised by the people of the village. Sot`aesan was the third son.10)
In his youth, Sot`aesan was conscientious and magnanimous. He carefully watched over all things and accounted for them without any carelessness of sight, hearing, speech, or action. Favoring to follow his elders, he was curious and loved to ask about their activities and their explanations of their activities. He always kept his word, and acted on his promises to other people regardless of difficult situations. When he was very young, he sent away a big serpent in front of a stream without being frightened. When he was only four years old, he surprised his father by intentionally giving false information about the coming of the Tonhak revolutionary armies. When he was 10 years old, in keeping a promise he had made, young Chungbin upset his teacher by allowing the teacher`s grandson to start a fire at his home. These episodes show one of the aspects of Sot`aesan. He was either criticized as being the cause of big problems, or was highly appraised by his neighbors as a great leader.