The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 1. The Dawn of Great Opening

Chapter 5. Drafting the Teaching

5. Preparing for the Opening of the Order

In June of the eighth year of Won-Buddhism (1923), Seo Jungan came to Sot`aesan`s abode in Bongrae Mountain with his wife, Jeong Seweol, and sincerely requested that Sot`aesan depart from the mountain, saying: "The road in this area is too rugged and the place is too small. It is of my humble opinion that there is an urgent necessity for my master to relocate to an area that is conveniently located and spacious a place easily accessible to build a temple in order to guide the masses in the future."
Consenting to his suggestion, Sot`aesan was engaged in a discussion with him about the plan for opening a new religious order in the days to come when unexpectedly he received a message from Yeonggwang that his mother was ill. Due to the circumstances, Sot`aesan immediately left for home and reconvened his meeting with Seo Jungan in the winter. In July, his mother passed away. Followers from various corners of the country gathered in Yeonggwang for the funeral. The training room at the foot of Mt. Oknyeo was not only too crowded and inconvenient to accommodate the mass number of people, but it was also located in too low a ground and was too damp, which were not suitable conditions for a temple to be permanently placed. At this time, Sot`aesan proposed the relocation of the temple. Finally, it was decided that the new site would be located at the foot of Beomhyeon-dong where one ten-room and two eight-room houses were built in October of that year. Thiswas the first construction of Yeong-San-Won.
In November, Sot`aesan traveled to Jeonju via Iri (Park Wonseok`s house) and with the help of Park Hojang and Yi Cheongchun, decided on a ten-room house temporary office. He entrusted Seo Jung-an with the task of drawing up and printing the covenant of purport as well as overall preparations for the opening of the new religious order before returning to Bongrae Mountain. He spoke to Reverend Baek Hakmyeong, the chief monk, about the purpose of his activity and the progress he had made so far, with which the Reverend strongly concurred. The Reverend proposed to provide a part of Naejang Temple, his new post, for Sot`aesan`s use while realizing his purpose. Sot`aesan replied: "Since a temple is shared by many people, a decision such as this should not be made based on a few people`s will. However if it can be arranged, it would be an auspicious sign for the future of Buddhism."
He first sent Song Gyu and four others (Appendix 4) to Naejang Temple. When Sot`aesan arrived at Naejang Temple traveling through Iri and Kimje in February of the ninth year of Won-Buddhism (1924), the proposal that the chief monk addressed to him earlier fell through due to objections by the majority of the monks at the temple. The Reverend Baek Hakmyeong was very apologetic, but Sot`aesan comforted him and assured him that it was not his fault. Sot`aesan set off to Seoul with a few of his students and arrived at the house (in Dangju-dong) arranged by Seo Jung-an to establish a temporary office. He stayed at the house for a month and established ties with various people (listed in Section 4 of this chapter).