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Won Buddhism,
as a reformed Buddhism, tries to make 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 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:
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As material civilization develops,
cultivate spiritual civilization accordingly.



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Park, Chung-bin (1891-1943),
better known as
Sotaesan,
was born the son of a peasant on May 5, 1891 in Korea. Sotaesan's path towards 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 and 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 society enriched by Buddhist practice and right-living, and he made efforts for practical application, dissemination, and modernization of Buddha Dharma under the founding motto.

As the spiritual leader of Won Buddhism for 28 years, during 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 books on the basics of his 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 delivered his
"transmission verse"
to his disciples:
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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.

Il-Won-Sang

: Picture of Buddha's Mind

Il-Won-Sang (one circle image, O) is the circular symbol of the

Dharmakaya Buddha,

the Buddha Nature of all beings. In Won Buddhism, the image of the human Buddha is replaced by Il-Won which represents the perfect nature of the Buddha's heart and mind and our original nature. Master Sotaesan said,

"In our order, we enshrine Il-Won-Sang in the same way that Buddhists in the past have enshrined Buddha images. However, a Buddha image manifests the physical form of the Buddha, but Il-Won-Sang manifests the mind-essence of the Buddha. The physical form represents only his human form, but the mind-essence is vast and infinite, combining being and nonbeing and sustaining itself through the three times periods of past, present, and future. Hence, it is the original source of the myriad things in heaven and earth and the realm of samadhi beyond all words and speech. Confucianism calls it the grand ultimate or the ultimate of nonbeing; Daoism calls it nature or the Way; Buddhism calls it the pure Dharmakaya Buddha. In principle, however, all of these are different expressions for the same thing."

Therefore Il-Won-Sang is like a
picture of Buddha's mind.
Through the Il-Won symbol Master Sotaesan showed the world's essential truth.
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Fourfold Grace

: Interconnectedness of All

Grace,

in Won Buddhism, is a core expression of the interdependency and interconnectedness of all.

It was expressed by Master Sotaesan based on his own awakening to the truth that nothing can exist without being interrelated with others.

In this sense of the term "Grace", one is indebted to the fourfold grace:
The Grace of Heaven and Earth, parents, all living beings and dharma.
In Won Buddhism, we see the world from the perspectives of Grace which implies "co-existence", "interdependence" and "oneness".

If we wish to understand the grace we have received from heaven and earth, parents, all living beings, and Dharma, we first must consider whether we could sustain our existence and live without them. Then, even the most ignorant among us would acknowledge that we could not live without them. If there is a relationship where in we cannot live without the other, then where would there be a grace greater than that?

Master Sotaesan said,

"If we were to specify the content of Il-Won-Sang, it is in fact the fourfold grace; if we were to specify the content of the fourfold grace, it is in face all things in the universe; and there is nothing among the myriad things in the universe that is not the Buddha."


Threefold Study

: Way of Practice

The Threefold Study is the path to uncovering our innate Buddha Nature. To reduce and eliminate suffering, we practice Eightfold Path. This Eightfold path is summarized as the Threefold Study:

Cultivation of Spirit; Inquiry into Human Affairs and Universal Principles; and Choice in Action.


◦ For Cultivation of the Spirit and to maintain the serenity of our own Buddha Nature, we practice right mindfulness and right meditation.

◦ For Inquiry into Human affairs and universal principles and to maintain wisdom of our own Buddha nature, we practice right observation and right thinking.

◦ For Choice in Action and to maintain compassion of our own Buddha Nature, we practice right speech, right action, right livelihood and right effort.


Master Sotaesan said that work and study should not be separated.

'When one is free from work, nurture the one mind, and when one is engaged in work, nurture wholesome actions.'
is the way to practice threefold study in action and rest.