The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 1. The Dawn of Great Opening

Chapter 5. Drafting the Teaching

1. The Proclamation of Buddha-Dharma

In November 1919, Sot`aesan changed the name of the order from the Savings Union to The Association for the Establishment of the Society for the Study of Buddha Dharma and had all the documents recorded for the Study of Buddha-dharma. Sot`aesan explained the reason for adopting Buddha-dharma as the heart of the doctrine of the new religious order. He said, "What we are going to learn is the teachings of the Buddha and what we should teach our descendants is also what the Buddha taught. Hence you should exert a great effort to inquire into the heart of Buddha-dharma so that you may be enlightened to its truth. It has been a long time since I was enlightened to Buddha Dharma, and since then I have been putting emphasis on inspiring religious faith into the minds of people only by means of an unorganized teaching system, according to their intelligence. I did this because I observed that your understanding of the Truth is still far from complete. On the other hand, because Buddhism has been ill-treated in this country for several hundred years, and people lack reverence for it, I fear that ignorant people might be very indifferent to my Buddhist teachings. If you are to be enlightened to the genuine Truth, and seek after the goal of the true discipline, leading all sentient beings into the path of wisdom and blessings, Buddha Dharma should be the main principle in your teachings. Moreover, true Buddhism will become one of the major religions practiced in the world. In the future, however, Buddhism should not be the same system as that of the old Buddhism, but should be practiced by scholars and officials, farmers, artisans and merchants. It should be a Buddhism not only for monks, but also for all laity. As for the way of worshipping the Buddha, we should not regard a Buddha image as a real Buddha, but we should know that all things in the universe are Buddhas and everything we are doing is the practice of Buddha Dharma. When we do ordinary things faithfully, we are practicing Buddha Dharma faithfully. The one who studies Buddha Dharma successfully can accomplish worldly affairs as well. As to the way of making an offering to Buddha, there is no particular Dharma Hall or Buddha image for making an offering to the Buddha. Every place is to be our Dharma Hall and everything is to be our Buddha image for making an offering to the Buddha. Then, we will be living in Dharma Halls and surrounded by Buddhas, and, at the same time, the benefactions of Buddha will spread over the whole universe, making this world an unimaginably blessed Buddhist paradise. My disciples, you are fortunate enough to have an opportunity that rarely comes to one, that is, to become one of the initiators of this new religious Order. Do not think that my words are groundless, even though they are not proved at present. They will be proved in the near future."