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

3. Compilation and Publication of the Principal Book of Buddhism

From September, Won-Buddhist year 25 (1940), Sot`aesan instructed a few of his students who were proficient in the doctrine (Appendix 22) to consolidate and edit all the books used in the past. Beginning in Won-Buddhist year 27 (1942), he frequently pressed for their compilation while personally engaging in the editing process often late into the night. Finally, the Book was completed. He instructed the Book to be printed immediately and said: "Although we could not make perfection more perfect because we are pressed for time, the gist of most of my life`s aspirations and administrative philosophies are expressed in this book. You are to humbly receive them and learn from the words, practice them with your bodies, attain enlightenment with your minds, and hand them down to the generation to come. In the future, there will be a countless number of people in the world who will recognize and be deeply moved by my teachings, which they will revere and uphold."
However, the publication of the Principal Book of Buddhism was delayed due to the Japanese authorities` refusal for authorization until the permit was granted in the name of Kim Taeheup, the president of Bul-Gyo-Si-Bo(The Buddhist Bulletin). The manuscript was remitted for printing in March Won-Buddhist year 28 (1943), to be finally published in August after Sot`aesan`s passing. The Principal Book of Won- Buddhism was the only consolidated book of the Order for 19 years until the Book of Won-Buddhism was published at a later date.
As for the order of compilation of the Principal Book of Won-Buddhism, the opening sections consisted of Il-Won-Sang, the Four Great Principles, the Slogans, the Doctrinal Chart, the Founding Motive of the Teaching, and the Introduction. Book One, the first of the three books, carried the fundamentals of the new Order, which included Part 1, Amelioration; Part 2, the Doctrine; and Part 3, the Practice. Book Two contained six Buddhist scriptures: Diamond Sutra, Heart Sutra [Prajnaparamita-hrdaya-sutra, the profound wisdom of the heart], Sutra in Forty-Two Chapters, Retribution and Reward of Transgressions and Merits, Five Blessings of the Wise, and Discriminative Karmic Effects. Book Three carried the four ancestral doctrines: Secrets on Cultivating the Mind, Ten Drawings and Transmission Verses on Cultivating the Mind, Hsiu Hsiu An Discourse on Sŏn, and Essential Cases for Questioning.
To look at the order of the content in Book One in detail, in Part 1, there are 11 chapters in total, which carried the substance of the Doctrine of Buddhist Reform with minor modifications. Part 2, the Doctrine, contained 9 chapters, including the Four Great Principles, the Il-Won-Sang, the Transmission Verse, the Fourfold Grace, the Four Essentials, the Threefold Study, the Eight Articles, the Three Great Powers, the Essentials Ways of Human Life and of Practice. Part 3, the Practice, carried 15 chapters: the Essential Dharma of Daily Practice, Explanations for the Subjects of the Regular training - the essential ways of practice, Explanations for the Subjects of Daily Training the essential way of practice, the Dharma of Keeping a Diary, the Dharma of Reciting the Buddha`s Name, the Dharma of Seated Meditation, the Dharma of Timeless Sŏn, the Precepts, the Essential Discourse on Commanding the Nature, the First Dharma Words, the Instruction on Repentance, the Dharma Instruction on Suffering and Happiness, An Ill Household and Its Treatment, the Dharma of the Wholeness of Both Spirit and Flesh, Stages of Dharma Rank and Their Meaning.
The newly introduced chapters included the mottos in the beginning pages, the Four Great principles, the Il-Won-Sang, the Transmission Verse, the Dharma of Reciting the Buddha`s Name, the Dharma of Seated Meditation, the Dharma of Timeless Sŏn, the Instruction on Repentance, An Ill Household and Its Treatment, and the Dharma of the Wholeness of Both Spirit and Flesh in Book One. The doctrinal chart was revised to the gateway of practice and the gateway of faith; the Il-Won-Sang, was modified from the Mind Buddha to the Il-Won-Sang, the Dharmakaya Buddha; the Four Essentials changed to Developing Self-Power, the Wise One First, Educating Others` Children, and Venerating the Public-Spirited; the Three Principles and the Eight Articles changed to the Threefold Study and the Eight Articles; the Six Classes of Dharma Rank was referred to as the Three Grades and Three Statuses. Books Two and Three were now included in their entirety, which further elucidated the Order`s close relationship with the Buddha`s teaching as its origin. The Twofold Grace (Chapter 3, the Doctrine), which only appeared in the first version, was included during the process of obtaining the permit for publication but was deleted after Korea`s liberation in1945.