What is Won-Buddhism?
The name Won Buddhism (Won-Bul-Kyo in Korean) is a compound words for truth, enlightenment, and teaching.
Won means circle and symbolizes the ultimate truth. Bul means enlightenment, and Kyo means teaching the truth. Therefore, Won Buddhism is the path that leads us to become enlightened to the truth.
Won Buddhism makes Buddha’s teaching relevant and suitable to contemporary society. Won Buddhism aims to revitalize and modernize Buddhism, to bring ancient Buddhist truth to contemporary society, and to use Buddhist teachings and meditation practice for practical and useful purposes.
The goal of Won Buddhism is to build One World Community and to realize the oneness of life based on the Buddhist world view of interdependency and interconnectedness of all.
Won Buddhism was established by Great Master Sotaesan in Korea in 1916 with the founding motto:
“As material civilization develops, cultivate spiritual civilization accordingly.”
Won Buddhism shares main tenets and aspects with Mahayana Buddhism, one of the two major traditions of Buddhism. At the same time, it has built on and developed Mahayana Buddhism with the following tenets:
♦ Materialism is a fact we cannot avoid. However, as contemporary society becomes increasingly materialistic, technologically advanced, and globally integrated, it is critical to develop our spirituality in equal measure.
♦ The rights and opportunities of women have too often been ignored by Buddhism as well as other religions. Women are prominent in the leadership and ministry of Won Buddhism.
♦ We embrace and accept those of other faiths and seek to work together to build a better world.
With the teaching of the explicit acceptance of other religions, Won Buddhism leads the movement for inter-religious cooperation based on the Ethics of Triple Identity; all religions and spirituality are based on a Common Source, all human beings and all forms of life are interdependent as a One Earth Family and all enterprises have a Common Purpose. Won Buddhists believe that all religions have a responsibility to offer the right spiritual direction for all humankind and should cooperate and make the world a peaceful paradise by taking a lead role in constructing a world community.
Won Buddhists have participated and promoted in local, national, regional and international interreligious dialogue and cooperation since 1970. Interreligious understanding and cooperation are a central teaching of Won Buddhism. Won Buddhism is accredited by the United Nations and a member of religious NGO at the UN. Won Buddhism is a founding member of KCRP (Korean Conference of Religions for Peace), and actively engages in WCRP (World Conference of Religions for Peace), WFB (World Fellowship of Buddhists), and ACRP (Asian Conference of Religions for Peace) and our relationship has served as co-presidents and staff. Won Buddhism is socially engaged in the fields of environment, education, social service, community service, human rights, women’s issues and humanitarian assistance.
FOUNDING MASTER SOTAESAN
About Master Sotaesan
Park, Chung-bin (1891-1943), better known as Sotaesan, was born the son of peasants on May 5, 1891 in Korea. Sotaesan’s path of the awakening to the truth started with his asking universal questions about nature and human life, such as “Why do clouds and winds arise from the calm and clear sky?” or “Why are wives and husbands in such a close relationship?”
At the age of 26 on April 28, 1916, he attained enlightenment after twenty years of seeking the truth and declared:
“All things are of a single body and nature; all dharmas are of a single root source. In this regard, the Way (Tao) that is free from arising nor ceasing and the principle of the retribution and response of cause and effect, being mutually grounded on each other, have formed a clear and rounded framework.”
He offered visions and hopes for a future society of popularized Buddhist practice and living, and he made efforts for practical application, popularization, and modernization of Buddha Dharma under the founding motto: “As material civilization develops, cultivate spiritual civilization accordingly.”
As the spiritual leader of Won Buddhism for 28 years, including the dark period of World War II, he built a strong spiritual and material foundation of Won Buddhism from the three main undertakings of the order: edification, education, and charity.
He lived as an enlightened sage and completed the basic doctrine of Il Won Sang, the Dharmakaya Buddha, the Fourfold Grace, and The Threefold Study.
On June 1, 1943, he entered into Nirvana at the age of 53 after he transmitted the verse of Truth to his disciples: “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.”