The History of Won


The History of Won-Buddhism (Wonbulgyo Kyosa)

Part 3. Fruition of the Sacred Work

Chapter 2. Establishment of the Institutions Working Toward the Objectives

3. Establishing the Three S?n Centers and Scholarship Projects

At the meeting of the Association of Ordained Clergy in January of the fortieth year of Won-Buddhism 40 (1955), three Sŏn Centers, under the direct supervision of the General Headquarters, were established and publicly announced. It was decided that the Advanced Sŏn Center in Iri, which had been established in June of the thirty-eighth year of Won- Buddhism (1953), would be transformed into the Dongsan Sŏn Center, the General Headquarters Sŏn Center would be renamed the Central Sŏn Center, and Yeongsan Institute would change its name to the Yeongsan Sŏn Center. Three Sŏn centers would be placed under the direct control of the General Headquarters to develop them into the base of operations for producing religious workers for the new Order.
Hence, the Dongsan Sŏn Center first operated with Yi Wunkwon as its first director, (the former deputy director of the Advanced Sŏn Center). The first students of the Center graduated in March Won-Buddhist year 40. Afterwards, Jo Jeonkwon and Ahn Yijeong succeeded to the directorship. It continued to provide training in meditation, and every year produced ordained workers for the new Order. This was also done at the Won-Buddhism Department of Won-kwang University. The Central Sŏn Center, with Yi Wunkwon as its first director (who concurrently directed the Dongsan Sŏn Center), maintained its old system until Won-Buddhist year 42 (1957), when Yi Wancheol was appointed as the head director. On November 6th, it held its first pre-training ceremony. The basis for the Order`s independent maintenance and operation did not take root due to financial difficulty. Thus, it suspended operations and reopening did not occur until it was merged with the Dongsan Sŏn Center. From Won-Buddhist year 54 (1969), it maintained its minimal existence as a residential Sŏn center within the General Headquarters compound, and later evolved into the Central Training Center.
The Yeongsan Sŏn Center was not inaugurated until Won- Buddhist year 47 (1962), due to necessary restoration work caused by war devastation and the Jeongkwanpyeong re-embankment. When the Yeongsan District restored the system in the form of an institution, Ahn Yijeong was appointed as the first director, in Won-Buddhist year 49 (1964). The Center opened as a Sŏn center offering dual agricultural training programs at the intermediate and advanced level. Then, in Won-Buddhist year 54 (1969), O Jongtae, the second director, by combining the two programs into one, opened a way for the trainees to progress to the advanced level Sŏn center, thus contributing to the training of the religious workers.
Meanwhile, in April of the forty-second year of Won- Buddhism (1957), the Won-Buddhist Scholarship Foundation was inaugurated. The Order`s long-term wish to train the talented to become workers for the Order, since its early years, began with the activities of the Founding Group for the Education Department in Won-Buddhist year 12 (1927). This was followed by the Rules and Regulations of the Order established in Won-Buddhist year 19. These Rules and Regulations stipulated that the Education Department was one of the ten departments to have an agency whose sole purpose was to raise funds for education. However, due to the turbulent state of affairs at that time, the results fell short of expectations, and the Department was excluded from the Order`s list of organs in Won-Buddhist year 27 (1942). Since then, as the schools` and the Sŏn centers` activities of raising and training the religious workers gradually progressed, a scholarship foundation came to be established. With the revision of the Constitution (Won-Buddhist year 44 [1959]), the Department of Education (with Seo Daein as the department head) was reinstated, and the education and scholarship endeavor gained strength. Through his thank you speech, delivered at the inauguration ceremony for the Foundation, Head Dharma Master Chŏngsan said: "The Chu Dynasty was said to have cherished only the benevolent. Let us raise and train our fellow brethren who possess deep faith and devoted public spirit and truly cherish them as the treasures of our eternal work and the assets of the Order."
In Won-Buddhist year 43 (1958), Kim Hyeonkwan of Mokpo, out of his desire to further the educational endeavors, began a large-scale ginseng farm in Sugye Farm as a yearly program. The profits from this went towards establishing Eunsan Educational Foundation in May Won- Buddhist year 46 (1961). In October of that year, the Articles of the Won-Buddhist Educational Foundation were enacted. This was followed by the formation of a substantially large-scale scholarship foundation through a campaign to enlist members for the foundation. In May Won-Buddhist year 47 (1962), the Board of Trustees of the Won-Buddhist Educational Foundation (with Kim Donghyeon as its chairman) was formed to continuously support the Order`s grand long-term education and scholarship programs.