The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 2. Founding of the Order

Chapter 2. Procurement of the New System

2. Method of Examination in Study and Work, and Treatment of Persons of Merit

In August of the tenth year of Won-Buddhism (1925), Sot`aesan issued a method for practitioners to assess their level of study and practice. The subjects for examination included cultivating the spirit, inquiry into human affairs and universal principles, and choice in action under each subject there were five levels: Kab, Eul, Byeong, Jeong, andMu. After a practitioner tested his ability in each of the three subjects, he was placed in one of the five levels according to his ability. Sot`aesan, then, announced the method of grading dharma rank, which was a system whereby six stages were established according to a practitioner`s level of study: the grades of ordinary faith, special faith, the battle between dharma and mara, the statuses of dharma strong and mara defeated, beyond the household, and the greatly enlightened tathagata. Under each level, he established a preparatory level as a preliminary stage before a practitioner advanced to the next level. He determined the period of examination for advancement in dharma rank to be three years. When there was to be a dharma rank advancement, he had the entire Order celebrate its honor and glory by conferring an advancement certificate on the practitioner and performing an advancement ceremony.
That year (Won-Buddhist year 10, 1925), Sot`aesan also issued the method of examination for work. The subjects for examination were the 11 articles of Essential Founding Discourses (The Analects of Sot`aesan, section on the Order, No. 34). At every 12th year commemoration or at the passing of a person of merits, an article-by-article review was to be conducted, based on which the individual`s grades in all of his performances, with regard to the founding of the Order, would be determined. The grade with regard to work was to be determined with the first grade of the first commemoration of the founding (over 4,000 Korean Won) as the standard. Thus, the first grade of the second commemoration would be twice the standard amount and that of the third commemoration, twice the amount of the first grade of the second commemoration. Any grade below the first was to be determined by deducting half the amount of each grade. The total performance grade was determined by adding the amount converted from the study grade and the amount of work grade, provided that the work performance was comprehensively graded in terms of mental and physical labor, material contributions, and special award money. As the executive members of the Order, Jeonmu-Chulshin
were instructed to handle practical business affairs regardless of their ranks. Their performances were to be calculated in terms of the amount in work, which were incorporated into their final grades.
In January Won-Buddhist year 12 (1927), Sot`aesan also issued "The Method of Treatment of Persons of Merit". They were categorized as follows: 1) those who have dedicated themselves to the Order, as Jeong-Nam [ordained celibate male disciples] or Jeong-Nyeo [ordained celibate female disciples]; 2) those who have dedicated themselves to the Order as Jeonmu-Chulshin[ordained disciples]; 3) Lay believers who have served the Order; 4) the parents whose children have attained the status of dharma strong and Mara defeated in dharma rank. He established proper ways to serve these persons of merit when they grow old and feeble, to conduct funeral services when they pass away, and to commemorate them after their death, according to their respective grades in performance. He established the rules and regulations for them to be forever memorialized through the construction of a memorial shrine and instructed their implementation.