The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 2. Founding of the Order

Chapter 1. Opening the New Order

3. Communal Life of the Jeonmu-Chulshin [ordained disciples]

At this time, Kim Gwangseon and other Jeonmu- ChulShin[ordained disciples] temporarily resided in Iri at the home of Park Wonseok. Unfortunately they had no viable means of livelihood due to the lack of financial support when they leased a part of the land owned by a real estate developing company near Songhak-ri to raise crops, from which they gained a small harvest and procured a fund for their study. This was the first instance of industrial activity of the new order.
Later, through the sincere cooperation on the part of both ordained and lay believers, the first construction of the General Headquarters was barely completed while the means of its maintenance and the livelihood of the Jeonmu-Chulshin remained indefinite. This was because the launch of the taffy-making business happened in December (Won-Buddhist year [1924]) as Song Jeokbyeok and others had proposed.
A number of people took charge of the taffy-making endeavor while the rest of the congregants peddled the goods from town-to-town. The profit from the sales provided a minimal livelihood for a year. However, due to the slim profit and the concern that frequent contact with the outside world could interfere with the practitioners` study, the taffy-making endeavor ended in July of the following year (Won-Buddhist year 10 [1925]). Asa means of support after the closure, farming was conducted on the rice paddy owned by a land developing company in Manseok-ri, from which the training fees for Sŏn retreats were earned. The operational expenses for the upkeep of the General Headquarters were appropriated from the fees paid by the congregants and income generated by the members of the board working as hired farm laborers.
At the time hardly any Jeonmu-Chulshin had experienced manual labor or peddling from town-to-town when living at his or her home. One can only imagine the financial and physical hardship they must have endured while working long hours in the field and paddies in the intense heat and wandering various streets selling goods, usually having nothing more than lees that were left after taffy liquid had been strained for meals. After a long day`s work they would rest their tired bodies in damp rooms without decent bedding. However, they never regarded their circumstances as hardship, but instead took enormous delight in being a part of the new religious order never showing an iota of hesitating when carrying out each task in which they were engaged. After supper, they gathered in one place to report on their daily progress and conduct discussions on their thoughts and matters to be handled while Sot`aesan provided guidance in the practitioners` study through brief dharma-preaching. Such harmonious communal living was considered the so-called heaven on earth.