The Buddha in The Lotus Sutra and Won-Buddhism

The Buddha in The Lotus Sutra and Won-Buddhism

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Book Specification

Item Code: UAM395
Author: Jeik Hyun
Publisher: Eastern Book Linkers
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9789389386158
Pages: 305
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 inch
Weight 810 gm

Book Description

About The Book

There are two parts of this present book. Part one explains the evolution the concept of the Buddha from Early Buddhism to Mahāyana Buddhism, especially the Lotus Sutra. The concept developed in three steps: 1. an awakened human being, 2. a transcendental being, 3. an embodied dharma. The first step shows us a historical Buddha; the second and third step show us as a philosophical Buddha. The Lotus Sūtra, however, shows us as a religious Buddha who is saving all sentient being. Therefore, the concept of the Buddha had to see the three aspects, which are nirmāṇakāya, saṃboghakāya and dharmakāya. All these aspects, however, are upāya (skillful means) for saving different kinds of sentient beings in the Lotus Sūtra. In summary, the concept of the Buddha developed by necessity of suffering beings.

Part two explains the historical background of Korean Buddhism to struggle to adapt in Korean society. There were two periods of Korean Buddhism: the one is the embracive period and the other is the exclusive period. During approximately two millennia of Korean Buddhism, however, the exclusive period is about five hundred years. Even this difficulty period, Korean Buddhism could survive deep inside the mountain. In the period of Japanese colonization (1910-1945), however, Korean Buddhism was challenged to convert to Japanese style of Buddhism. Park Jung-Bin (1891-1943), the founder of Won-Buddhism, tried to reform not Buddhism but Buddha’s dharma for use in the real world since 1916. He enshrined Il-Won-Sang (One circle image, dharmakāya) instead of Buddha image in the main hall. He taught four-fold graces (saṃboghakāya) and three folds studies (nirmāṇakāya) for saving all sentient beings in this scientific civilization.

Therefore, Korean Won-Buddhism is succeeding the concept of the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra as soteriological way in this civilization.

About the Author

Rev. Jeik Hyun has been a Won Buddhist Monk since 2006. He worked as the secretary of the Won-Buddhist Temple of Bangbae, Seoul, South Korea, 2006 2008 and the Won-Buddhist International Training Center of Hawaii, Hawaii, U.S.A., 2009-2012. During that time, he had a followship at East West Center, Asia Pacific Leadership Program, 2011-2012. In 2013,he worked as a manager of the Water Project at Future for the African Children, Eswatini, Africa. He worked at the Won Buddhist Delhi temple in India, teaching meditation to youth from 2014-2017. He finished his M. Phil degree in Buddhist Studies & Civilization at Gautam Buddha University in 2014 and his Ph. D. in2021. He has been working at the Won-Buddhist International Training Center of Hawaii since 2017.


Sot'aesan, the founder of Won-Buddhism, an indigenous religion of Korea, attained enlightenment in 1916 in Korea, after many years of searching for the truth and doing many ascetic practices. Sot'aesan, after his enlightenment, observed the modern world where the human spirit had become weakened and enslaved by the rapidly developing material civilization. He, therefore, established a communal life setting with the founding motto, "With this Great Unfolding of material civilization, Let there be a Great Unfolding of spirituality". This was the beginning of Won-Buddhism. Won-Buddhism, as a reformed Buddhism and as a new religion, transforms the traditional Buddhist teaching. It makes the Buddhadharma more practical, more relevant, and more suitable to contemporary society so that the many people in the secular world can utilize it to enrich their actual lives.

Won-Buddhism, Wonbulgyo, a compound of the Korean words won (circle) and bulgyo (Buddhism), which literally means Circular Buddhism or Consummate Buddhism, founded in Korea in the 20th century. Instead of a statue or painting of the Buddha figures, believers meditate before a won, or circle. During different stages in Korean history leading up to the 20th century, Buddhism and Confucianism took turns as Korea's leading ideology. Won-Buddhism seeks a way to synthesize some of the conflicting teachings of Buddhism and Confucianism. The central doctrine lies in the tenets of llwonsang, which states that Ilwon (one circle), the Wonbulgyo name for the Dharmakaya Buddha, is the source of all sentient and nonsentient beings in the universe, the original nature of all the Buddhas and patriarchs, and the Buddha-nature of all sentient beings. Won-Buddhist faith begins with a belief in the Ilwonsang as an all-encompassing source and center, where there is no distinction between great and small, between self and other, between void and being. Just like a finger pointing at the moon, Ilwonsang, enshrined as the symbol of the Dharmakaya of the Buddha, refers to the Buddha-nature of the Tathagatha and the fundamental source of one's life.Buddhism is the pathway to enlightenment. Won-Buddhism, although embracing the Buddha's teachings, revitalizes and modernizes traditional Buddhadharma in order to realize Sot'aesan's ideal: Buddhadharma is daily life and daily life is Buddhadharma'. According to Sot'aesan, a living religion is one where spiritual practice is not separate from real life. To one student's question, "What is the great way?" The Master replied, "What all people can follow is the great way. What only a few can follow is the small way."

The initial organization for the school wasestablished in 1918 under the name of 'Society for the Study of the Buddhadharma', known by that name until 1947, when the 2nd Master Chongsan (1900-1962) renamed the order Won Buddhism. The "Treatise on the Renovation of Korean Buddhism", provides ablueprint for Park's approach to reforming Korean Buddhism. At the beginning of this treatise, Park Chungbin identifies the main issues of his reform agenda aschanging Korean Buddhism in all aspects, "from the Buddhism from abroad to Buddhism for Koreans; from the Buddhism of the past to the Buddhism of the present and future; from the Buddhism of a few monks residing in the mountains to the Buddhism of the general public." Park claims that Korean Buddhismduring the early twentieth century needs serious renovation.


As a believer of religion, the most important issue is the object of faith. In this sense, the most important question of Buddhists is "Who is Buddha?" As a matter of fact for answering this question, we have to know both historical Buddha and philosophical Buddha. Approximately, the concept of the Buddha can be divided into three categories; as a human being, a transcendental being and an embodiment of Dharma. The concept of the Buddha as an awakened human being began with biographical stories in Early Buddhism such as the birth, renunciation, striving, an awakening teaching dharmas disciples, etc.

The concept of the Buddha changed from an awakened human being to a transcendental being in Sarvastivadins such as the Buddha's different qualities with Arhat. Especially, there is the Buddha's overcoming karmic retributions because of endless paramitas practices during previous bodhisattva lives in Mahasamghika.

In the Mahayana Buddhism, they insisted the concept of the Buddha did not embody karmic retribution but embodied dharma. Therefore, the Dharmakaya Buddha is the real body of the Buddha and an ultimate truth itself. The concept of the Buddha, however, is an unique awakened human being in Sutta Nipata, Mahavagga in Vinaya Pitaka, Mahapadana sutta. Even though the Buddha is an awakened being, he cannot overcome his bad karmic retributions in Pali Apadana.

On the other hand, the concept of the Buddha is a transcendental being in Mahavastu, Abhidhamakosasastra, Lalitavistara and Diviyavadana. The Buddha was not seized up in the karmic retribution but free from the karma because of paramita practices in the bodhisattva lives. The Dharmakaya is the fundamental principle of both an awakened human being (Nirmanakaya) and a transcendental being (Sambhogakaya). Therefore, the concept of the Buddha changed from embodied karma to embodied dharma in the Mahasamghikas, the Prajnaparamita Sutras and the Dasabhumika Sutra.

In this circumstance, the concept of the Buddha had changed from ontological view (Nirmanakaya and Sambhogakaya) to epistemological view (Dharmakaya). These developments of the concept of the Buddha had been unified in the Lotus Sutra as the savior and eternal Buddha for all sentient beings. It could be said that the concept of the Buddha had been integrated in soteriological Buddha in the Lotus Sutra, Generally, there are four kinds of middle positions as a human aspect in the life of the Buddha.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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