Seorak Sanmun(Mt Seorak Gate)

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Seon(zen) in Korean Buddhism

Seorak Sanmun(Mt Seorak Gate) for the Origination of Jogye Order Seon Meditation

photo 1: Signboard: Mt.Seorak Gate for the Original Place of Jogye Order Seon(zen) Meditation
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Korean Seon(zen) meditation came from China by national master Doeui(道義:8C) in Silla period. Master Doeui became a monk in Silla and entered into China in 784 CE. Generally higher ordination was made by twenty years old. So master Doeui might be born in 750CE and he took the higher ordination when he was twenty years old in 770 CE. We only know his biography from 《Chodangjib祖堂集》 which is the transmitting history of Chinese Chán(中國禪宗) written by two chan monks ;Jeong(静) and Gyun of The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in 952CE. The 《Chodangjib祖堂集》 was succeed to 『Borimjeon宝林伝: Biography of Treasure Forest(sangha)』 which was edited by Jigeo(智矩) who belonged to The Hongzhou school(洪州宗) was a Chinese school of Chán of the Tang period, which started with Mazu Daoyi (709–788). It became the archetypal expression of Zen during the Song Dynasty.

《Chodangjib祖堂集》 was published in China and published as supplement of 《The Tripitaka Koreana: lit.Goryeo Tripitaka or Palman Daejanggyeong》 in 1245. It was discovered in the early twentieth century in Korea. This book included many korean Seon monks those who were not included in 《The Transmission of the Lamp (Full title, The Records of the Transmission of the Lamp;景德傳燈錄》. It was produced in the Song dynasty by Shi Daoyuan (释道原). The first two characters of the title are the Song dynasty reign name (景德), which dates the work to between 1004 and 1007 CE. The work was published in 30 volumes and is the primary source of information for the history of Chan buddhism in China. The lives of the Zen masters and disciples are systematically listed, beginning with the first seven buddhas (Gautama Buddha is seventh in this list). The "Lamp" in the title refers to "dharma" (teachings of the Buddha). A total of 1701 biographies are listed in the book. Volumes 1 to 3 are devoted to the history of Indian Buddhism, and the history of Buddhism in China starts in chapter 4 with Bodhidharma. Volume 29 is a collection of gathas, and volume 30 is a collection of songs and other devotional material.

Korean monk Doeui entered into China to study buddhism in 780 and became a disciple of Seodang Jijang (西堂智藏:735~814) who was Dharma successor of Mazu Daoyi(馬祖道一:709–788). Master Mazu Daoyi was an influential abbot of Chan Buddhism during the Tang dynasty. The earliest recorded use of the term "Chan school" is from his Extensive Records. Master Ma's teaching style of "strange words and extraordinary actions" became paradigmatic.

Mazu became Nanyue Huairang's dharma–successor. Eventually Mazu settled at Kung-kung Mountain by Nankang, southern Kiangsi province, where he founded a monastery and gathered scores of disciples. Traditionally, Mazu Daoyi is depicted as a successor in the lineage of Huineng, since his teacher Nanyue Huairang is regarded as a student and successor of Huineng. This connection between Huineng and Nanyue Huairang is doubtful, being the product of later rewritings of Chan history to place Mazu Daoyi in the traditional lineages. Mazu Daoyi is perhaps the most influential teaching master in the formation of Chan Buddhism. While Chan became the dominant school of Buddhism during the Song dynasty, the later Tang dynasty and Mazu Daoyi's Hongzhou school became regarded as the "golden age" of Chan. The An Lushan Rebellion (755-763) led to a loss of control by the Tang dynasty, and metropolitan Chan began to lose its status while "other schools were arising in outlying areas controlled by warlords. These are the forerunners of the Chan we know today. Their origins are obscure; the power of Shen-hui's preaching is shown by the fact that they all trace themselves to Hui-neng.“

Master Doeui returned back Korea in 821. He stayed in China for over forty years as chan master. He brought Southern chan(南宗禪) and became opening patriarchal master of Gajisanpa(school of Gajisan(Mt) at Jinjeonsa temple. Doeui stayed in Jinjeonsa temple until his demise. Master Doeui became national master approved of royal house. He had many disciples, such as Yeomgeo(廉居:?-844) etc. Master Yeomgeo transmitted Dharma seal to master Chejing(體澄, 804~880) who entered into Mt. Gajisan and opened Borimsa temple and enhanced national master Doeui’s Seon tradition. Therefor Jinjeonsa is the original place for school of Gajisan which is one of the nine mountain schools (九山gusan) which were the initial monasteries of the Korean branch of Buddhism called Seon, founded in the Unified Silla period in the 8th or 9th century.


photo2: Opening Patriarchal Master of The Gaji San School(迦智山), National Master Doeui.
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photo 3: National Master Doeui stayed in Jinjeonsa temple.
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The initial transmission of Seon into Korea is usually attributed to Beomnang (法朗; fl. 632-646), said to be a student of the Chinese master Daoxin (道信; 580-651). Seon was later popularized especially by Sinhaeng (神行; 704-779) in the latter part of the eighth century and by Doui (道義; d. 825) at the beginning of the ninth century. From then on, many Koreans studied Chan in China and, upon their return, established their own schools at various mountain monasteries with their leading disciples.

The number of these schools was initially fixed to nine, whence the name derives. Eight of these schools were of the lineage of Mazu Daoyi (馬祖道一; 709-788), as they were established through connection with either him or one of his eminent disciples:

1. The Gaji san school (迦智山), established at Borimsa (寶林寺) under the influence of Doui and his grand-student Chejing (體澄; 804-890). Doui studied in China under Zhizang (735-814) and Baizhang (百丈; 749-814).

2. The Seongju san school (聖住山), established by Muyeom (無染; 800-888) who received his inga from Magu Baozhe (麻谷寶徹; b. 720?).

3. The Silsangsan school (實相山), founded by Hongcheok (洪陟; fl. 830), who also studied under Zhizang.

4. The Huiyang san school (曦陽山), founded by Beomnang and Chiseon Doheon (智詵道憲; 824-882), who was taught by a Korean teacher of the Mazu transmission.

5. The Bongnim san school (鳳林山), established by Weongam (圓鑑; 787-869) and his student Simhui (審希; fl. 9c). Weongam was a student of Zhangjing Huaihui (章敬懷暉; 748-835).

6. The Dongni san school (桐裡山), established by Hyejeol (慧徹; 785-861) who was a student of Zhizang.

7. The Sagul san school (闍崛山), established by Beom'il (梵日; 810-889), who studied in China with Yanguan Qian (鹽官齊安; 750?-842) and Yuesha Weiyan (樂山惟嚴).

8. The Saja san school (獅子山), established by Doyun (道允; 797-868), who studied under Nanquan Puyan (南泉普願; 748-835).

9. The ninth of these initial schools was the Sumi san (須彌山) school founded by Ieom (利嚴; 869-936), which had developed from the Caodong (曹洞) lineage.

Nationa master Doeui also studied chan under Baizhang Huaihai(百丈懷海;720–814) was a Chinese Zen master during the Tang Dynasty. He was a dharma heir of Mazu Daoyi. Baizhang's students included Huangbo, Linji and Puhua.

According to traditional Chan(Zen) accounts, Baizhang established an early set of rules for Chan monastic discipline, the Pure Rules of Baizhang (百丈清規 백장청규)founded by Baizhang. This monastery contained a monks hall, an innovation which became typical for Chán: During periods of ascetic practice the monks would sleep on the same straw mat on which they sat in meditation and on which, according to defined ritual, they took their meals. Both the lifestyle Pai-chang spelled out as well as the architectural form of his monastery became models for later Zen monasteries". Some believe these rules developed much later in Chan history, and are agreed by the monks Taixu and Hsu Yun. As the Zen monks farmed, it helped them to survive the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution more than other sects which relied more on donations. These rules are still used today in many Zen monasteries. From this text comes the well-known saying "A day without work is a day without food" (一日不做一日不食 "One day not work, one day not eat").


photo 4: National Master Doeui’s tomb stupa at Jinjeonsa temple.
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......The Pure Rules of Baizhang (百丈清規 백장청규)..... What people value most is found in the realization of the Way (Dao). Hence, from ancient times, the sublime rulers of this land have continued to revere the teachings of our Western Sage (the Buddha) and have never failed to treat Buddhists in a manner well beyond conventional propriety. This is because they revere the Way. With respectful consideration, the Yuan imperial court has treated Buddhists most honorably; we are exempted from taxes and levies of service and are permitted to remain in our place (i.e., monasteries and temples) in order to fully devote ourselves to the realization of the Way. from <Ichimura, Shōhei (2006). "The Baizhang Zen monastic regulations", Berkeley, Calif: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research>.


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Writer: Dharma Master Bogeom(Dr. Lee Chi-ran)


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