The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 2. Founding of the Order

Chapter 4. The Light of Dharma Emanated from Sot`aesan

2. Enforcing the Final Version of the Rules and Regulations and Transmission Verse

On April 26th, of the twenty-seventh year of Won- Buddhism (1942), seven years after the new rules and regulations (whose essential feature was the system of both Houses with 10 departments) were carried into effect, the final revision of the rules and regulations in the Buddhadharma Research Society era were adopted and enforced. This established 5 departments under the Head Dharma Master and the secretary-general.
This system of rules and regulations whose drafting was undertaken by Pak Jangsik in Won Buddhist year 26 (1941), under Sot`aesan`s request, consisted of 12 chapters and 250 articles. The rules and regulations stipulated, among other things, a six-year term for the Head Dharma Master "who, it had been decreed, would be replaced whenever there was a person who was qualified to execute his duties." It also outlined the replacement of the offices of the Chair, the Chief Administrator, and the Chief of General Affairs by the office of the secretary-general, and the regrouping of the 10 departments into the 5 departments of general affairs, religious affairs, miscellaneous affairs, public services, and industry. It also specified the organization of the general assembly as an important organ of the General Headquarters for the smooth processing of its affairs. It further specified the installment of the head offices in provincial districts for the supervision of the temples within their respective jurisdiction, the organization of headquarters-branch offices as an important organ of the General Headquarters and provincial districts, and empowered them to take charge of the election of the Head Dharma Master and the members of the Head Circle Council. It stipulated the formation of the Supreme Assembly consisting of 9 male and 9 female members of the Head Circle Council headed by 1 Chief, whose term of office was 6 years as the Order`s highest position assisting the Head Dharma Master. Detailed stipulations governing the Sŏn center and the lecture center also characterized the newly revised system.
Although the operational structure was simplified with Sot`aesan`s taking office as the first secretary-general and the five newly appointed figures (Appendix 21) as the heads of the five departments, the new system failed to become fully functional due to the increasingly acute state of affairs of the time.
Since then, Sot`aesan, as if he had predicted that the time of his demise was near at hand, frequently pressed for the editing and compilation of the Principal Book. On January 28th, Won-Buddhist year 26 (1941), he handed down to those gathered in the Sŏn center the Dharma of No Distinction between Action and Rest and the following transmission verse:
"Being into nonbeing and nonbeing into being,
Turning and turning in the ultimate,
Being and nonbeing are both void,
Yet this void is also complete."
He also spoke to those gathered there, "Although the enlightened masters of the past, for the most part, privately disclosed the transmission verses only to a few of their students, which words were then to be communicated to the future generation on their deathbeds, I am handing down the transmission verse in advance to all people. However, whether you will be bequeathed the dharma or not wholly depends on your study, and therefore, each of you must cultivate yourself to have no regret later on."
From then forward, Sot`aesan mainly delivered dharma preaching with regard to the principles of life and death and of cause and effect at most dharma meetings, including regular dharma meetings, night dharma meetings, and Sŏn sessions. He frequently requested of his students, "Since I am about to depart for a far away place for personal training, you are to firmly get hold of your minds even in my absence."
One day, he said to Song Gyu: "It would be difficult for me to remain here for long. I make a request that you try to lead the public with your own strength."
In January Won-Buddhist year 28 (1943), when he issued the newly established slogans and the doctrinal chart, he said: "Herein lies the quintessence of my teaching and I wonder how many of you understand my true intentions. Only when you tread down the single path with great determination, will you achieve success. Since for a teacher to establish the dharma in a new way, for the students to receive the teaching and to hand it down to posterity and for posterity to welcome and practice the teaching are to form a trinity, the merits are the same."