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

6. Religious Influence in the Second 12-Year Period and Public Sentiment

Although in April Won-Buddhist year 25 (1940), the second commemorative general meeting of the first generation since the founding of the Order was due, no commemorative event could be held due to the state of affairs at that time. Consequently, only a regular general meeting was convened, at which time a lecture meeting on the doctrine for the believers from the provincial districts was held for the first time with great success.
According to the year-end work report for that year, the number of lay believers reached 5,954, including 871 special members and 5,083 regular members. The number of Jeonmu-Chulshin reached over 80. The temples in Yeongsan, Iksan, Seoul, and Sinheung were built prior to the first 12-year period (March Won-Buddhist year 13), the temple in Maryeong in Won-Buddhist year 14 (1929), and those in Jyapo and Wonpyeong in Won-Buddhist year 15. In Won- Buddhist year 16, Hadan Temple was built, followed by Nambumin Temple in Won-Buddhist year 19 and the temples in Jeonju and Osaka, Japan in Won-Buddhist year 20 (1935). In the following year, the temples in Kwanchon and Choryang were constructed, followed by those in Daema, Sinha, Yongsin, and Kaeseong in Won-Buddhist year 22. In Won- Buddhist year 23, the temples in Namwon and Iri were built, followed by those in Wunbong and Hwahae in Won-Buddhist year 24. This brought the total to 21 temples. The following year (Won-Buddhist year 25, [1940]), the temples in Daedeok and Hogok were built.
The fact that a temple was established in Osaka, Japan and Pak Daewan was sent there as its first Won-Buddhist minister marked the first instance of overseas propagation. In Won-Buddhist year 22 (1937), Sin Yeongki donated an office space for the General Headquarters and in Won-Buddhist year 25 (1940), several volunteers procured a library in the General Headquarters, which improved the appearance of the building.
Meanwhile, with the new order`s founding, public sentiment toward the Order was consistently favorable and encouraging. Dong-A Ilbo put out an investigative report on November 25th, of the thirteenth year of Won-Buddhism (1928). The headline of the newspaper read "Special facilities of Buddhadharma Research Society in Iksan. Its 400 congregants carry themselves under the principles of spiritual cultivation, inquiry into human affairs and universal principles, and choice in action, which is an ideal way of living free from the world`s woe and tumult". A Korean-Japanese Newspaper based in Osaka introduced the new Order in its issue dated May 28th, Won-Buddhist year 19 (1934) under the headline "A new village in the Korean Peninsula where 500 kindred spirits lead a communal life based on truth of Buddhism, strenuously practicing thrift and diligence." The colonial Japanese government, in its data book`s 42nd issue in July Won-Buddhist year 20, assessed that "this assemblage for the most part, by doing away with superstitious conventions and basing its belief in the laws of nature, while encouraging the masses to be thrifty and diligent, has been conducting meaningful activities as an assembly in pursuit of religious furtherance." Furthermore, it stated in its "Table of Influence by Religions" that "it (Won-Buddhism) has exercised a positive and enlightening influence, and cultivated the spirit of labor by setting an example to the public by engaging in actual field work.
In Won-Buddhist year 21 (1936), when Ahn Dosan, a national leader, called the General Headquarters, he spared no words of praise and encouragement (Verse 45, Chapter on Practice, Dae-Jong-Kyeong). On the contrary, in Won- Buddhist year 22 (1937), Jokwang carried a slanderous report in its June issue, only to print a praising report in the following month`s issue. That same month in Won-Buddhist year 26 (1941), Maeil-Sinbo, Chosun-Ilbo, and Joonang-Ilbo and Kyeongseong-Ilbo, extensively reported and praised, for several days, the new Order`s collective effort to achieve spiritual enlightenment, religious reform, literacy expansion, and religious living, thereby conscientiously encouraging its development in its early days and widely leading the public to be aware of its true aspects.