The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 1. The Dawn of Great Opening

Chapter 4. Groundwork for Founding the Order

3. The First Won-Buddhist Temple and Carrying out Spiritual Practice and Public Work

Sot`aesan had a nine-room house built at the foot of Ongnyo Peak. Construction of the house started in October 1918 and was finished in December of the same year. This was the first temple of the new order. Before the establishment of this new house, the nine members met at a Confucian shrine, and later at an inn on the bank of a nearby river. But the meeting place was too small and created much inconvenience. That is why the first temple was built. The members frequently worked on the embankment project, and helped to constuct the temple at other times. They climbed mountains in order to cut trees for lumber and worked clay despite the cold and snow. On the ridge beam of the newly built house, Sot`aesan wrote:
With Ilwon (unitary circle) as the loom,
The sun and the moon as the weaving shuttle,
The great doctrine of spring and autumn
Shall be woven.
To this he added
The pine is standing having gathered the remaining spring from all other trees
The brook is roaring, having gathered the drizzle from a thousand mountain peaks.
Upon the completion of the temple, Sot`aesan had little time for leisure, as he was responsible for supervising the embankment project during the day and often giving sermons to his disciples in the evening at the temple. The members of the union rejoiced in listening to their master`s sermons at night in spite of their hard labor during the day. They were making gradual improvement in both public service and moral cultivation. They were becoming trustworthy and independent, and their superstitious attitude was being supplanted by faith in the truth. Their visible improvements signified that the day for the opening of a new religious order was slowly approaching.