The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)
Part 1. The Dawn of Great Opening
Chapter 4. Groundwork for Founding the Order
2. The Embankment Project
In March of the third year of >Won-Buddhism (1918), Sot`aesan collected the funds and said, "With the money earned we can carry out important work. I have one plan in mind which you can think over." Pointing to the riverside tidal land in front of Kilyong-ni, Sot`aesan said, "Look at that tidal land! That piece of land may be deserted, but we can build a dam and turn this tidal land into a rice field. It will take several years to complete, but it will surely help society and even the nation. How about starting this project for the benefit of the public welfare?" Members during Sot`aesan`s period were extremely faithful and vowed to do the project with a pure mind and devotion. The construction work for an embankment commenced the next day.
The villagers, who had never seen any undertaking like this, expressed cynicism and ridicule. But the members of the union paid no attention to the criticisms, and silently concentrated on the embanking work with unwavering will, full devotion and great courage. Despite the hot and cold weather, the members encouraged the workers and at the same time worked themselves with no sign of fatigue.
The project was completed after a year of labor in the third month Won-Buddhist year 4 (1919). Approximately, twenty-five acres of tidal land was reclaimed for farming. Sot`aesan named the farmland "the farmland reclaimed with toiling and miling" (Chongwanpyong). Sot`aesan`s direct supervision and spiritual guidance, as well as the selfless work of the nine disciples enabled the project to be successful. This was not only a model of a new life--wholeness of both spirit and bodybut it also provided the economic foundation for a new religious order.
After the completion of the project, the members` work was not yet over. It took some time for the dam to settle and a lot of work followed. In addition some money was lost for the following four to five years due to the salt in the land. Several years after the completion of the project, the members alongside many volunteers continued to contribute to the cause both financially and physically. A special donator was Yoo Chungchun and seventeen other people. (See appendix one)