The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)
Part 1. The Dawn of Great Opening
Chapter 2. Founding Master Sot`aesan
4. Sot`aesan`s entrance in Samādhi
Starting from a young age, Sot`aesan sought the Way, without showing any concern for studies or earning a living. Although his father did not understand his intentions in the beginning, after watching his son`s sincere effort, he slowly became a great supporter of Sot`aesan. Sot`aesan was unsuccessful in meeting a spiritual master, so his father built a small house nearby the Court Rock for his son to practice mind concentration. During Sot`aesan`s search for the truth, his father helped him enormously. His father passed away in October, 1910, six years before the Won-Buddhism era. Sot`aesan was twenty years old.
Sot`aesan lost his father, the great supporter of his life and of his struggle to achieve the Way. Sot`aesan`s eldest brother and his younger brother were adopted by his relatives. His elder brother died at a young age; therefore Sotasesan took on the responsibility to serve his mother and his family members. The suffering this caused to Sot`aesan is ineffable.
In addition, although he met a large number of people in those six years, Sot`aesan could not meet a proper spiritual master to guide him in achieving the Way. He gradually gave up the idea of finding spiritual masters beginning at the age of twenty-two, and deeply thought to himself, "What should I do in the future?" Though he occasionally thought of his livelihood and felt suffering from time to time, he concentrated with a single mind from morning to evening and from evening to morning. He sometimes chanted incantations (mantra) that appeared in his mind.14)
In order to devote himself to ascetic practice, he went to Yonhwabong (lit. "Peak of Lotus Flower"), a mountain in Koch`ang County of the Cholla-pukto Province (全北高敞郡心元面蓮花峰). He concentrated on his meditation for several months during the winter. Around the age of twenty-five, after he returned from his practice at Yonhwabong, Sot`aesan abandoned the question of "What should I do with this question of Seeking the Truth in the future?" He then entered into a state of non-consciousness, in which he was not conscious of his own actions. During his ascetic practice, he moved his house twice and experienced the deterioration of his house twice. His predicament was so difficult that he lost all desire even to eat breakfast or dinner. Unfortunately, this ascetic practice led to the development of a stomach tumour as well as strange blotches all over his body. He soon became regarded as a living corpse which stirred much ostracism and criticism among his neighbors. Sometimes Sot`aesan fell into a kind of unawareness that gave a calmness of no distinction. He also fell into a state of mind that darkened his memory. His bizarre behavior alarmed his family and led his wife to start a prayer for his recovery.