similarities/differences between Zen and Korean Won?

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similarities/differences between Zen and Korean Won?

Post by JMGinPDX »

I remember reading an article on Won in one of the Buddhist journals recently (can't remember which one).
Has anyone explored the differences and similarities between Zen and Won? Just curious, even though it ultimately doesn't mean anything :)
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Re: similarities/differences between Zen and Korean Won?

Post by Sentient Light »

Won Buddhism is a new religious movement, divorced from any Buddhist lineage, that was founded by a self-proclaimed Buddha. Think of how Joseph Smith established the Church of Latter-Day Saints and called it a form of Christianity, and it's a similar kind of thing happening here.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
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Re: similarities/differences between Zen and Korean Won?

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

The meditation method used by Won Buddhism seems very similar to that of Korean Zen (called seon in Korean). Both focus on a point called the tanjeon which is three finger-widths below the navel. Some of the teachings (eg sunyata) are also similar to Zen Buddhism.

Won Buddhism was founded by a man called Park Chung-bin (later called Sotaesan) who attained enlightenment in 1916. He asked for the scriptures of the major world religions and found that the Diamond Sutra was closest to what he had experienced. In 1924, he established the Society of the Study of the Buddhadharma in 1924 in Iksan, North Jeolla Provice, Korea. However, he did not receive Dharma transmission from a Zen master, and as far as I know, he was never initiated into any other Buddhist lineage.

Won Buddhism does not use any images of the Buddha. Instead, they use a circle called Il Won Sang which represents the Dharmakaya Buddha and the Buddha-nature of all living beings. They also do not pray to Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. Their clergy are referred to as kyomu meaning 'one dedicated to the teachings' and are addressed as kyomunim. They can be married (I was told that sometimes a husband and wife kyomu team may run a temple). I think male kyomu shave their heads while female kyomu do not but wear their hair in the traditional Korean style (bun at the top of the neck). Unlike regular Korean Buddhist temples, their places of worship are not called chol or sachal but rather kyodang, a word which can also mean church, chapel or cathedral. They have pews like churches and have a service on Sunday (but I've heard regular Korean Buddhist temples do this as well).

They don't enumerate the Five Precepts but have their own set of 30 precepts divided into three groups of ten. People start off with the first ten and later move onto the second ten and third ten sets of precepts. Three out of the Five Precepts are included in these 30 precepts (lying is not explicitly forbidden and only drinking alcohol 'without due cause' is forbidden). You can read the list here (scroll to page 44).

I looked into Won Buddhism when I was in Korea earlier this year. I'd read a bit about it and knew a bit about it. I met up with a Won Buddhist one night and we went to a bar to discuss Won Buddhism. He told me that Won Buddhism is not actually Buddhist (mostly because Sotaesan didn't receive Dharma transmission from a Zen master), but that Sotaesan had used the term 'Buddhism' as what he experienced was closest to Buddhism. He said that you keep getting reborn as a human (no heaven, hell or ghost realms apparently). However, a Won Buddhist from New Zealand told me that Won Buddhism is definitely considered as Buddhist. For reference, I've heard that Koreans consider Catholicism and Protestantism to be separate religions.

This thread may be of interest to you.
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