The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 2. Founding of the Order

Chapter 1. Opening the New Order

1. Buddhadharma Research Society`s Founding General Meeting

In March of the ninth year of Won-Buddhism (1924) Sot`aesan traveled from Seoul to Jeongju (at the home of Jeon Eumkwang) via Iri. Many believers from various parts of the country gathered together. Seo Jung-an and six of his other students (Appendix 5) discussed the preparations for the founding of the Buddhadharma Research Society as its initiators when Sot`aesan spoke about the site for the General Headquarters. He said, "Since Iri and its vicinity are spacious and easily accessible from all directions, it seems to be a convenient location for those without property to live and the believers from various parts of the country to come and go. What say you if we decide to build the General Headquarters there?" All those present agreed with Sot`aesan`s suggestion. Bokwang Temple was prearranged to be the venue for the Founding General Meeting. The specific construction site for the General Headquarters was left to be determined at a later date after an on-site survey of the area was made.
On April 29th, Won-Buddhist year 9, the general meeting for the founding of the Buddhadharma Research Society was held at Bokwang Temple, at which time the existing cooperative association dissolved and the formation of the new religious order, temporarily named the Buddhadharma Research Society, was declared both within and outside the organization. The general meeting was attended by delegates such as Kim Kicheon and 13 others (Appendix 6) that represented the regions of Yeonggwang, Kimje, Iksan, and Jeonju. The meeting was called to order with an opening address by Song Mankyeong. The interim chairperson, Seo Jung-an, explained the purport of founding the new order. This was then followed by the adoption of the covenant draft. In accordance with the covenant, the Assembly selected Sot`aesan as the governor, Seo Jung-an as the chairperson, and Kim Gwangseon as the secretary. Contributions were accepted from the congregants for the construction of the General Headquarters building, which task was entrusted to the chairperson. Before closing the meeting, Jeong Hanjo of Si-Dae Ilbo, delivered a congratulatory address.
The covenant adopted at the meeting consisted of 22 articles divided into 6 chapters with regard to general provisions, members of the board, meetings, rights and duties of the members, entry and withdrawal, and accounts, etc. Seven departments were created to take charge of general affairs, religious affairs, research, cooperative association, farming, cooking, and laundry. The governor, the chairperson, several department heads, regular members of the council, and administrative secretaries were appointed. Four types of meeting were instituted, which included regular general meetings, special general meetings, meetings of the regular members of the council, and monthly meetings. Upkeep was prescribed to be funded through entry fees, annual donations, monetary contributions, profit gained through the sales of crops, and interest on deposits.