The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 2. Founding of the Order

Chapter 3. Forming the System of the Order

3. Improvement of Group Organization and Enforcement of the New Rules and Regulations

Although the Buddhadharma Research Society`s Covenant of Governance and Group Formation, also known as the Regulations Governing the Groups, was published in July Won-Buddhist year 16 (1931), it was earlier that year that Sot`aesan personally supervised and finalized the drafting of its principles and detailed provisions. In February, he began reorganizing groups into various levels, so that the groups that formerly formed into co-ed teams of men and women in certain cases, were then teamed in separate groups according to their gender. He determined the three representatives of the male members of the Head Circle Council, who would not be able to handle practical affairs, while selecting female probationary members of the Head Circle Council and organizing the three classes of preliminary Head Circle Council categorized into Kab, Eul, and Byeong, respectively. He also teamed the founding groups for industry and education according to the members` gender.
Meanwhile, on March 26th of that same year (Won- Buddhist year 16, 1931), Sot`aesan announced the names of those who had advanced in their dharma ranks during the second 12-year period. The seven who had advanced to the preliminary grade of the battle between dharma and Mara were Song Doseong, Kim Kicheon, Jeon Eumkwang, Song Gyu, Yi Dongjinhwa, Yi Kongju, and Song Byeokjo. From the General Headquarters and all the provincial districts, the total number of those who had advanced to the regular grade of special faith were 54 (Appendix 18), including Mun Jeongkyu and those to the preliminary grade of special faith were 48 (Appendix 19), including Yang Hawun.
The major regulations already legislated and carried into effect prior to the enactment of the new Rules and Regulations of the Won-Buddhist Order, included the dharma of status examination in February Won Buddhist year 12 (1927), the dharma of sworn-parent and sworn-child in April Won-Buddhist year 14 (1929), the system of executive classification and remuneration in March Won-Buddhist year 16 (1931), and Sot`aesan`s decree with regard to Jeong-Nam [ordained celibate male disciples] and Jeong-Nyeo [ordained celibate female disciples], and the dharma of simplified diary-keeping in Won Buddhist year 18 (1933).
The dharma of status examination, in particular, as the means of self-examination in terms of each item under the items to practice and the items to abandon, was intended for a practitioner to pass judgment upon one`s current status with regard to the nature of good and evil and the elements of transgressions. By having a practitioner administer self-examination once a year on the beneficence received and beneficence given as well as loans given and loans received, that practitioner became aware of his own level of merits and liabilities. Through this evaluation, the practitioner was encouraged to improve his practice and study. This leads to the accumulation of merits, which assists the Order in selecting talented people. The enforcement of the dharma of sworn-parent and sworn-child, which was intended to urge the believers, bound by debts of gratitude and obligation, to encourage one another in the study and work through sworn-father-and-son or sworn-mother-and-daughter ties, caused the number of sworn-family cases between the elders of the Order, including Sot`aesan, and the generation of youth to be substantial during this period (Won Buddhist years 14 to 15).
As stated in the previous section (Part 2, Chapter 3), the Rules and Regulations of the Won-Buddhist Order, adopted at the Founding General Meeting (September 4, Won-Buddhist year 9), were in dire need of revision due to the changes of the times and the expanding number of believers. Beginning in Won-Buddhist year 18 (1933), Sot`aesan instructed Song Gyu to proceed with the revision of the Rules and Regulations of the Won-Buddhist Order. Finally, in March Won-Buddhist year 19 (1934), with the approval of the general convention, the existing system of rules and regulations governing the 7 departments under the offices of president and chairperson was revised in full breadth to that consisting of 29 articles of general provisions in 9 chapters and 75 articles of detailed provisions in 12 chapters, which governed the 10 departments under both Houses. It was an important task, with which the new Order established a new system.
With the new system, the highest office in the Order, [which was the office of governor], was changed to the office of the Head Dharma Master, under which the office of chair and both Houses with 10 departments were established for division of duties. Under Kyo-Jeong-Won [the Board of Administration], the four departments of religious affairs, research, communications, and inspection were established to take charge of all matters pertaining to study. Under the leadership of Seo-Jeong-Won [the Board of Practical Affairs], the six departments of general affairs, cooperative association, industry, public service, education, and procurement were organized to take charge of all matters pertaining to the public work affairs. With the general convention as the representative organ, the members were classified as either regular and special members or the system of believers without duties. District and branch offices were constructed in the provinces and the centralized body of legislation was established to promote, supervise, and encourage the implementation of the rules and regulations.
At this time, Sot`aesan remained in the office of the Head Dharma Master and Jo Songkwang, in the office of Chair. Song Gyu was appointed to the office of Chief Administrator [Head of the Board of Administration] and Yi Jaecheol, to the office of Chief of General Affairs. In Won Buddhist year 22 (1937), Yi Yongkwang was appointed as the third Chairperson and Song Doseong was appointed as the second Chief Administrator.