The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 2. Founding of the Order

Chapter 1. Opening the New Order

4. Issuing the Dharma of Training and Its Implementation

In May of the ninth year of Won-Buddhism (1924), Sot`aesan traveled to Mandeok Mountain in Jinan and meditated (arranged by Kim Gwangseon) for a month, during which time he met Kim Daegeo. In March, the following year (Won-Buddhist year 10 [1925]), he enacted and announced the dharma of regular training and the dharma of daily training in order to guide and train his students in the new teaching.
Practitioners received training in their study for regular periods in both the winter and summer. The summer meditation session commenced on the 6th of May by the lunar calendar and ended on the 6th of August, while the winter meditation session commenced on the 6th of November and ended on the 6th of February, the following year. The following 11 subjects of regular training were established for study and practice: reciting the Buddha`s name, sitting meditation, scripture, lecturing, conversation, cases for questioning, the nature and the principle, keeping a practice journal, heedfulness, deportment, and daily dharma-preaching.
As a way to have practitioners receive training every day, daily training was established with Six items of Heedfulness in Daily Applications and Six items of Duty for Practitioners to carry out regarding Temple Visits. In order to have practitioners exercise all of the prescribed items and keep track of whether they were mindful or unmindful, the method of examination regarding mindfulness and unmindfulness as well as the method of keeping a daily dairy were established. For those who were illiterate or not comfortable with documents, the "bean-count" method of examination was used to monitor their mindfulness or unmindfulness. With regard to keeping a daily diary, not only was a practitioner obliged to examine and keep record of whether or not he conducted his study, but was also obligated to review and record what he had given and received in terms of mental, physical, and material aspects. In addition, the practitioner was obliged to assess whether or not he had submitted proposals concerning study, work, and way of life, and whether he kept or transgressed the thirty precepts. A system was established whereby practitioners were evaluated every month by the Chief. On an annual basis, a report was submitted to the Department of Religious Affairs for a yearly review. All methods were clear, simple, and logically connected with one another, thus forming the principles of training. Therefore regardless of whether one was literate and illiterate, young or old, one could enter the path of righteous dharma in accordance with their respective ability to practice the Buddha`s teachings.
On May 6th, Won-Buddhist year 10 (1925), Sot`aesan conducted the first regular training based on the newly established method of training. However, due to the limited size of the house built as the General Headquarters at the time, he rented space from Jeon Eumkwang`s home for temporary use. This space was used to conduct summer meditation sessions for approximately ten male and female members under Minister Song Gyu`s supervision. In November, the winter meditation was held for approximately twenty male and female members under Minister Yi Chunpung`s supervision. The two meditative sessions came to be regarded as the beginning of the regular training for the new order.
Such regular training not only served as an important period for lay members to train themselves in study, but also as the only means to train the clerics in the early days of the Order. A community hall was later constructed and used as the place of training. Despite many hardships, the meditation training of the congregants is still in existence.