Korean Buddhism during the Chosŏn period has been understood as a religion which was politically marginalized due to the state policy of oppression and whose institutional integrity and philosophical vigor severely declined. Since such a negative description was made by Japanese scholars during the colonial period, it has been followed even by post-colonial Korean scholars.2
In his 1929 work
In approaching Korean history and tradition from the disciplinary angle of East Asian studies infused with Orientalism, Japanese colonial scholars, including Takahashi, regarded Korean history as a model of heteronomy and stagnation, overlooking the distinct independent spirit and developmental potential of Korean Buddhism. Such stereotyped descriptions of Korean Buddhism led the scholars of later generations to disregard the Chosŏn period. Even worse, their biased understanding of this period has been intensified as the earlier theories were not verified against concrete historical facts.
But it should be emphasized that Korean Buddhism played a considerable role in the spread of Buddhist texts and culture and in human exchange and philosophical development within the broader context of East Asian Buddhism throughout the Silla and Koryŏ periods. Furthermore, vigorous efforts were made during the late Chosŏn dynasty to maintain or reconstruct the majority of existing monasteries and to publish Buddhist texts. During this period scholastic studies, annotation of scriptures and treatises, and organization of the Buddhist community were also revitalized. These show Buddhism’s growing prevalence, at least in comparison with early Chosŏn Buddhism.
This article is an attempt to break the preconception about the Buddhism of the late Chosŏn period and to reveal its significance on the basis of historical facts. For these purposes, I will first examine the aspects of external change, such as the involvement of monastic armies (
2Such a negative understanding of Chosŏn Buddhism can be found in scholarly papers as well as introductory books on Korean Buddhism such as Kim Yŏng-t’ae, Han’guk Pulgyosa [A history of Korean Buddhism] (Seoul: Kyŏngsŏwŏn, 1997). 3Takahashi Tōru, Richō Bukkyō [Buddhism of the Yi dynasty] (Osaka: Hōbunkan, 1929), 26–29.
Shortly after the founding of the Chosŏn dynasty in the early fifteenth century, successive Chosŏn administrations enacted policies officially restricting Buddhist activities and undermining the economic foundations of Buddhist monasteries, placing Buddhism in a state of legally sanctioned religious persecution (
In order to account for the changes in seventeenth century Chosŏn Buddhism, we need to examine the implication of the sixteenth century restoration of the Sŏn and Kyo schools, which signaled such changes. In 1550 (the fifth year of Myŏngjong’s [r. 1545–1567] reign) the Sŏn and Kyo schools were rehabilitated and the previously abolished government systems for regulating clerical ordination and administrating state examinations for Buddhist monks reinstituted under the auspices of Dowager Queen Munjŏng (1501–1567).4 These measures enabled the Buddhist community—previously situated in a state of legal discrimination by the abrogation of the clause detailing the state’s role in clerical ordination in the
Although the system of Sŏn and Kyo schools was abolished following the death of the Dowager Queen Munjŏng in 1566, King Sŏnjo’s (r. 1567–1608) subsequent policy of noninterference, rather than heavy-handed oppression, allowed for a passive maintenance of Buddhism. Sŏnjo clarified his propitiatory stance towards Buddhism with the statement, “Should proper principles of governance flourish and customs be purified, there is no need to worry about the decline of our Confucian ways or the rise of heretical Buddhism to prominence. Actions such as the Wei Emperor Taiwu’s execution of Buddhist monks and elimination of Buddhist temples will be unnecessary.”7
In the fourth month of 1592 (the fourth year of Sŏnjo’s reign), however, a Japanese army invaded the Korean peninsula, leading to the outbreak of the Imjin War and seven subsequent years of national crisis for the Chŏson dynasty. Korean Buddhism, too, suffered incalculable human and economic losses under the duress of war, as well as a general decrease in practice. The military contributions of voluntary regiments of Buddhist monks during the war and the state’s recognition of their fidelity and righteousness, however, led to a rise in the social status accorded Buddhism and became a significant source of support for Buddhism’s continued existence. Three months following the outbreak of war King Sŏnjo, who had retreated to Ŭiju, conferred the leadership rank of Monk Superintendent (
In addition to participating directly in military maneuvers and action during the Imjin War, Buddhist regiments performed a broad range of supporting activities as well, from constructing mountain strongholds to supplying rations. Particularly representative of the character of monastic armies’ participation in the war was their distinguished military service in the retaking of P’yŏngyang and the battle of Haengju Fortress outside Seoul,12 as well as their entrustment with the role of royal guards upon Sŏnjo’s return to Seoul. Subsequently, the monastic armies were charged with the construction and protection of mountain strongholds. They were exclusively tasked with the procurement of military supplies and rations. Moreover, they were held responsible for the safeguarding and transport to the northern border of the
Hyujŏng’s most distinguished disciple Samyŏng Yujŏng was renowned for rendering the most distinguished service during the Imjin War and won acclaim not only in his own lifetime but after death as the paragon of a loyal monk. Taking the place of his teacher, Yujŏng was personally active in battles and took on important roles in voluntary military enterprises such as stronghold construction and supply procurement. Furthermore, he participated as a government representative when negotiating the final peace treaty with the Japanese military. He met with Japanese generals, analyzed the contemporary state of affairs, and made proposals for future stability and security.16 Following the conclusion of the war, he assumed responsibility for diplomatic concerns, including the repatriation of prisoners of war and the resumption of diplomatic relations through the dispatch of envoys to Japan.17 Yujŏng’s services in the post of supreme commander (
Such accolades aside, however, the war and the activities of monastic armies negatively affected the Buddhist community in Chosŏn to no small measure. Wartime plundering, conflagrations, and the desolation of agricultural land devastated the financial bases of Buddhist temples—a phenomenon further aggravated by monastic armies’ activity and economic burdens.19 These events entailed not only financial and human losses, but led as well to a widespread concern that the fundamental contradiction between the vows of monastic life and the military actions of the monastic armies during the war would erode the Buddhist tradition of sincere practice. Chŏnggwan Ilsŏn, who remained secluded in illness during the war although he too was a disciple of Hyujŏng, lamented the situation, writing, “The dharma of the final age has deteriorated, the world has grown exceedingly chaotic, the people cannot find relief, and monks cannot remain at peace. Monks wear the clothes of laymen, go off to war, and die or flee forgetting what it means to be a monk (
On the other hand, the faithful services rendered to the state during this time of national crisis by the monastic armies, particularly compared to the contributions of the righteous armies
Additionally, Buddhist monks found opportunities to offer their religious services during the war. Through ceremonies and prayers, the Buddhist community prayed for the restoration of the monarch’s authority damaged by the war, the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation, and the safety of the people. The task of comforting the souls of war dead was likewise generally entrusted to the Buddhist community. The frequent enactment of Buddhist death rituals such as Ceremony for Guiding the Deceased (Ch’ŏndojae) and Ritual of Water and Land (Suryukchae) at this time, in which prayers were offered up for the posthumous blessing and auspicious rebirth of deceased souls without family members (
Still reeling from the damage inflicted upon the nation from the Imjin War caused by the Japanese army invading from the south, the Chosŏn dynasty was confronted in the early seventeenth century with yet another national crisis in the form of the Manchu War of 1636 (Pyŏngja horan) caused by a northern tribe, a struggle that embodied a shift in the perception of Chinese dominance in East Asia. The most pressing tasks of this era were restoring both the welfare of the war-worn people and rebuilding the economy. The extraordinary exploits of the monk armies during the Imjin War that had restored public regard for Buddhism as well as the Buddhists monks’ noted superb manpower and organizational efficiency strengthened the monastic corvée (
Kwanghaegun (r. 1608–1623), who succeeded King Sŏnjo and initiated the state restoration project, felt the need to incorporate the monk armies into the national defense force in response to the expansion of the Later Jin (composed of the unified Jurchen tribes). He also mobilized 1,500 monks in post-war restoration enterprises such as palace construction projects. These monks who participated in conscript labor projects received in return ordination licenses or identification tags (
During the reign of Injo, who succeeded Kwanghaegun, the need for constructing defenses in the capital in anticipation of war with Qing, which was founded by Later Jin in 1636, gained precedence among the concerns of officials, in response to which a stronghold was established on Namhan Mountain to the south of the Han River. In this fortification construction project monks primarily from the three southern provinces—Kyŏngsang, Chŏlla and Ch’ungch’ŏng—were conscripted as transfers from military regiments, under the authority of Pyŏgam Kaksŏng (1575–1660). In 1626 nine Buddhist temples were erected within the completed Namhan Mountain Fortress, where monastic armies consisting of about 350 monks were stationed and entrusted with the defense of the capital through the late Chosŏn dynasty.
Meanwhile, the monks that had served in the conscript construction labor forces for the fortress were issued ordination licenses in addition to receiving identity tags. This simultaneous awarding of ordination licenses with identity tags denoting military employment demonstrates the integration of the monastic corvée labor program into the nationwide labor system. At that time, regulations concerning public affairs defined the qualification of new monastics on the basis of the
In 1627 Later Jin invaded Chosŏn, precipitating the Chŏngmyo War (Chŏngmyo horan) in which Samyŏng Yujŏng’s disciple Hŏbaek Myŏngjo was appointed high general (
As noted above, the seventeenth century can be characterized by the emergence of the monastic corvée labor program, which is the systematic utilization of monastic manpower. This was intimately related with the destabilization of the state’s mandatory labor conscription programs (
The usage of monastic armies likewise became customary, and monastic corvée labor was systematized within the state’s labor system. Accordingly, the framework of the commander system (
As mentioned above, as monastic corvée labor was gradually intensified together with tributes and miscellaneous services, it became a great burden on the monastery economy. In the first half of the seventeenth century, while the legal substitution of rice for goods or articles when paying tribute (i.e., Taedong Pŏp) was enforced, some portion of responsibility for the tributary and service taxes passed from ordinary individuals to monastics and monasteries. A representative case is that of the excessive burden of the paper tax imposed on monasteries. Whereas there had been many cases of people evading taxes by illegally becoming monks in the previous period, as the monastic taxes became increasingly burdensome, the number of cases in which the monks resisted the state policy and returned to lay life or went into hiding, called “evading the tax evasion,” increased. Reflecting on this, the necessity for systematic control and management of the monks’ manpower led to the development of a program for registering monastics in the census. The result was that from the second half of the seventeenth century, a shift in control arose, in which monastics were considered as a unit of taxation and monastic registration was recorded in their hometown registers.35 With this, the targets of the levied tax, monastics of common birth, were largely registered. Their parents, teacher, and any students living with them were also reported. In this way, the late Chosŏn’s policies toward Buddhism shifted from the earlier oppression and noninterference to a positive incorporation and official recognition that was intertwined and developed along with societal change.
In this way monastic corvée labor was utilized on the basis of state policy that reflected the circumstantial changes of the period. And this utilization of monastic manpower contributed to the survival of monks and the Buddhist institutions. But previous studies have just considered the offering of the monastic labor force and the burdens on monasteries to have been an indicator of the state policy of oppressing Buddhism and the religion’s decline. Moreover, these scholars adduced the conscription of monastic manpower as evidence of their thesis that monks were socially disgraced and their status equaled that of the low people (
However, monastics had a specific occupational status, bearing no relationship to their social and legal rank. In other words, they were not subordinate to their social rank. While they came from diverse social backgrounds, including the twofold aristocratcy (
4Myŏngjong sillok [The veritable record of Myŏngjong], fasc. 11 [1551/1/16]. 5Myŏngjong sillok, fasc. 13 [1552/1/27]. 6Ch’ŏnghŏdangjip [Collected writings of Ven. Hyujŏng], fasc. 7, “Sang Wansan Nobu Yun sŏ [A Letter to the Prefect of Wansan Surnamed No],” Han’guk Pulgyo chŏnsŏ [The collected works of Korean Buddhism; hereafter HPC] 7: 719–721; Samyŏngdang Taesajip [Collected writings of Ven. Yujŏng], fascicle 7, “Samyŏngdang Songun Taesa haengjŏk [A biography of Ven. Yujŏng],” HPC 8: 73–75. 7Sŏnjo sillok [The veritable record of Sŏnjo], fasc. 5 [1571/3/6]. 8Takahashi, op.cit., 374. 9P’yŏnyangdangjip [Collected writings of Ven. Ŏn’gi], fasc. 2, “Sŏsan haengjŏk ch’o [A biography of Ven. Hyujŏng],” HPC 8: 254–255. 10Sŏnjo sujŏng sillok [The revised veritable record of Sŏnjo], fasc. 26 [1592/7/1]. 11Sŏnjo sujŏng sillok, fasc. 29 [1592/8/26]. 12An Kye-hyŏn, “Chosŏn chŏn’gi ŭi sŭnggun [Monastic armies during the early Chosŏn period],” Tongbang hakchi 13 (1972), 27–96. 13Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 53 [1594/7/20]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 82 [1596/11/7]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 115 [1599/7/8]; Sŏnjo sujŏng sillok, fasc. 26 [1592/7/1]. 14Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 48 [1594/2/27]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 53 [1594/7/19]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 80 [1596/9/12], etc. 15Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 39 [1593/6/29], [1593/7/20]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 83 [1596/12/5]. 16Punch’ung sŏnallok [A wrathful record of the war], “Kabo kuwŏl ch’ijin kyŏngsa sangso ŏn t’ojŏk pomin saso [Going to the capital in the ninth month of 1594, writing a petition to expel the enemy and protect the people],” HPC 8: 90–93. Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 87 [1597/4/13]. 17Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 146 [1602/2/3]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 152 [1602/7/20]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 172 [1604/3/14]; Kwanghaegun ilgi [A daily record during Kwanghaegun’s reign], fasc. 35 [1610/11/12]. 18Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 36 [1593/3/27]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 37 [1593/4/12]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 57 [1594/11/1]. 19Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 49 [1594/3/1]. 20Chŏnggwanjip [Collected writings of Ven. Ilsŏn], “Sang Todaejang yŏnhyŏng [A letter to the elder general],” HPC 8: 30–31. 21Punch’ung sŏnallok, “Ŭlmi p’abyŏng hu Pibyŏnsa kye [A report sent to the Border Defense Council after the dissolution of armies in 1595],” HPC 8: 97. 22Ch’ŏnghŏdangjip, Poyu [Appendix], “Chŏngjong Taewang ŏje Sŏsan Taesa hwasang tangmyŏng pyŏng sŏ [King Chŏngjong’s funerary inscription and record of Ven. Hyujŏng],” written in 1794, HPC 7: 735–736. 23Nam Hŭi-suk, “Ch’osŏn hugi Pulsŏ kanhaeng yŏn’gu: chinŏnjip kwa Pulgyo ŭisikchip ŭl chungsim ŭro [A study of the publication of Buddhist texts during the late Chosŏn period: Focusing on the dhāraṇī collections and ritual manuals]” (Ph.D. diss., Seoul National University, 2004); Puhyudang Taesajip [Collected writings of Ven. Sŏnsu], fascicle 5, “Ch’u chŏnsa mangnyŏng so [A prayer for the war dead],” HPC 8: 82; Samyŏngdang Taesajip; Kiamjip [Collected writings of Ven. Pŏpkyŏn], etc. 24Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 43 [1593/10/2]; Sŏnjo sujŏng sillok, fasc. 27 [1593/10/1]. 25Kwanghaegun ilgi, fasc. 161 [1661/2/1]. 26Chungjong sillok [The veritable record of Chungjong], fasc. 81 [1536/4/12]. Yi Chong-yŏng, “Sŭngin hop’ae ko [A study of the identity tags of monks],” Tongbang hakchi 17 (1963), 189–217; Kim U-gi, “Ch’ŏksin chŏngch’igi ŭi Pulgyo chŏngch’aek [State policy toward Buddhism during the period of regency by the king’s maternal relatives],” Chosŏnsa yŏn’gu 3 (1994), 59–104. 27Kwanghaegun ilgi, fasc. 35 [1610/11/12]. 28Yun Yong-ch’ŏl, “Chosŏn hugi ŭi puyŏk sŭnggun [Monastic armies conscripted for corvée labor during the late Chosŏn period],” Pusan Taehakkyo Inmun nonch’ong 26 (1984), 453–475. 29Kim Yong-t’ae, “Chosŏn chŏn’gi ŏkpul chŏngch’aek ŭi chŏn’gae wa sawŏn kyŏngje ŭi pyŏnhwa sang [The state policy of oppressing Buddhism during the late Chosŏn period and changes in the monastic economy],” Chosŏn sidaesa hakpo 58 (2011), 5–33. 30“Hwaŏmsa Pyŏgam pimyŏng [An epitaph for Ven. Kaksŏng in Hwaŏm Monastery],” in Han’guk kosŭng pimun ch’ongjip: Chosŏn cho–kŭn hyŏndae [A comprehensive collection of inscriptions of eminent Korean monks: From Early Chosŏn to the contemporary period], ed. Chigwan (Seoul: Kasan Pulgyo Munhwa Yŏn’guwŏn, 2000). 31Yŏ Ŭn-gyŏng, “Chosŏn hugi sansŏng ŭi sŭnggun ch’ongsŏp [Monastic armies and commanders at the mountain fortresses during the late Chosŏn period],” Taegu sahak 32 (1987), 49–87. 32Injo sillok [The veritable record of Injo], fasc. 4 [1624/7/23]. 33Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 53 [1594/7/20]; Sŏnjo sillok, fasc. 82 [1596/11/7]. 34Kwanghaegun ilgi, fasc. 63 [1613/2/25]. 35Chang Kyŏng-jun, “Chosŏn hugi hojŏk taejang ŭi sŭngnyŏ tŭngjae paegyŏng kwa kŭ yangsang [Historical backgrounds and aspects of listing the names of monks in the registries during the late Chosŏn period],” Taedong munhwa yŏn’gu 54 (2006), 255–302. 36Takahashi Tōru, op.cit., 17, 548–549.
As the Buddhist order was being systematized through the activity of monastic armies and the expansion of monastic corvée labor, various lineages and branches were established during the first half of the seventeenth century. The establishment of theories of dharma lineages, which determined proper dharma transmission, also contributed to solidifying the membership consciousness within the lineages and branches and the self-identity of Chosŏn Buddhism as a proponent of the Sŏn school. The formation of diverse Sŏn lineages and branches, which took the transmission of dharma as the most important criterion, implies that human resources in the Buddhist order came to be organized and inheritance of this immaterial foundation to future generations became possible. There is a relationship between this and the formation of Buddhist organizations with a lineage structure, which was accompanied by the expansion of monastic corvée labor following the activities of the monastic armies during the Imjin War.
From the seventeenth century on, the Ch’ŏnghŏ lineage (
In relation with the formation of Sŏn lineages, we should take note of the emergence of the central patrilineal clan code of kin relationships which was strengthened in society from the seventeenth century on. As this happened, the basis of the clans, formed by patrilineal blood relationships within the same family name, was established and villages of the same clan came into being. Denominational development in the Buddhist order was closely related to such social changes. As the hierarchical relationship based on this patrilineal kinship was applied to the master-disciple relationship within the Buddhist order, the lineages and branches based on the dharma transmission, which resembled the kinship organizations centering on blood ties, were established. This is well reflected in the production of monastic registers or genealogical charts of dharma transmission within a certain lineage, which resembled the patrilineal family registers of lay people. Such monastic writings, which recorded the master-disciple relationship within a lineage or branch, seem to have been used as supporting documents in the case of inheritance or legal disputes.
The first half of the seventeenth century was a period in which the Confucian system of ritual and public order grew stronger. Rules and ritual studies stipulating patrilineal kinship and decorum actively spread throughout society. The compilation of ritual manuals focusing on mourning rituals, such as the
As another indication of the instillation of secular order into the Buddhist circle, we may refer to the legal codes that regulate the land ownership of monks. Because of disturbances in the first half of the seventeenth century, land under temple ownership was devastated. The resultant disorder regarding rights of possession allowed for individual monastic property increased. This situation required different legal regulations. “A miscellaneous decree promulgated in 1657(the eighth reign year of Hyojong)” stated: “If a monastic possessing fields for agriculture dies, the fields will be returned to the clan, and the other articles in his possession will be given to his students.” This decree limited inheritance of land to secular kin.39 The establishment of diverse lineages and branches based on the dharma transmission, however, allowed for dharma “clans” to form. In situations in which the possession and management of a temple was determined by each dharma clan, the stipulation that a monastic’s land be transferred entirely to his secular family was not appropriate. In 1674, the decree was amended: “A [dead] monastic’s land will be divided equally between his relatives within four
In this way, land left to disciples or returned to temples was restored to the monastery’s economy. In the latter period of the Chosŏn dynasty the private property of temples was divided into several categories, according to usage;41 for the most part, however, these were lands the monastery received from Buddhist monks or laypeople but managed under the pretext of providing for the memorial rites of masters and patriarchs, or for regular memorial ceremonies. In the case of some temples where a number of dharma clans and ordination lineages were mixed and dharma transmission of one lineage broke off, the property associated with that lineage would be returned to the temple and become public land. Likewise, as new circumstances regarding the formation of dharma clans and succession and the inheritance of land and division of rights to property arose, there was a need for strict regulation of the relationships between students and teachers within the Buddhist order. The existence of Buddhist manuals of mourning which used the “system of five types of mourning clothing” reflects this need.
Thus, the increase in monastics’ private property and its inheritance played a significant role in laying the groundwork for temple finances in the late Chosŏn period. Moreover, based on such a foundation, diverse methods for creating profit and securing new sources of revenue were sought. Among these we can include as a representative method the formation of “temple fraternities” (
On the one hand, the formation of lineages and branches and integration of the Buddhist order in the seventeenth century was in large part due to the establishment of a religious tradition (
As this period from 1625 to 1640 saw the transition from the Ming to the Qing dynasty in China, it brought upheaval to the Sino-centric order in East Asian countries. During this period, the Chosŏn kings tended to emphasize fidelity to the Ming dynasty, still holding on to the Sino-centric view (
The formation of lineages and branches along with the establishment of the religious tradition indicates that the transmission of dharma functioned as a primary factor in the relationship between teachers and students. The publically bilateral Sŏn and Kyo schools of the Koryŏ period were present at the beginning of the Chosŏn dynasty. In the early Chosŏn, the preceptors and enlightened teachers affiliated with particular sects occupied a position of relative importance in the relationship between student and teacher; however, after the seventeenth century the position of those who transmitted the lineage rose greatly. As the sectarian affiliation of the monastic order and regulations concerning ordination were abolished and institutional legal force disappeared, the monastic relations that existed via the dharma lineage within dharma clans in actuality carried the greatest meaning.45 The formation of lineages and branches, along with the establishment of the religious tradition, were intertwined with the development of the teacher-student relationship that took the dharma transmission as the most important criterion. In the above mentioned Buddhist ritual manuals, when the period of mourning for a teacher is stipulated, the longest mourning period, that of three years, is reserved for a teacher who instructs a monastic student (
As noted above, the seventeenth century was a period in which the Buddhist organization such as lineages and branches were formed on a stabilized economic foundation. Based on this, the systems for monastic education and practice were established which took the combined dual cultivation of meditation and doctrinal teachings (Sŏn-Kyo
Ch’ŏnghŏ Hyujŏng, who represents Chosŏn Buddhism, left numerous writings such as
Roughly, the monastic curriculum is divided into the Four-fold collection course (
Next is the Four-fold doctrinal course, which consists of the
The Great doctrinal course includes the
From the overall structure and contents of the monastic curriculum, we can clearly see that the tradition of the combined cultivation of Sŏn and Kyo that continued from Zongmi to Chinul and the Imje sect’s kanhwa Sŏn tradition that became the main current of Buddhism from the late Koryŏ onwards are intimately unified. The subjects in the Four-fold collection course indicate an orientation toward the combined cultivation of Sŏn and Kyo accompanied by the kanhwa Sŏn practice; the Four-fold doctrinal course is also composed of scriptures relating to mind, which was the central concern of both the Sŏn and Kyo schools. The Great doctrinal course continues with the representative scripture of the doctrinal sect, the
On the one hand, we can organize the educational contents of the monastic curriculum in the following order: mind – principle – patriarchal tradition. This order is similar to that of the Neo-Confucian curriculum proposed by the representative Confucian scholar Yulgok Yi I (1536–1584), in which one, having discerned the principle, is encouraged to cultivate the mind and by sequential historical study foster insight. Having composed Korean editions of the Four Books of Confucianism, including the
On the other hand, in the latter half of the Chosŏn the combined cultivation of Sŏn and Kyo together with the verbal recitation of the name of Amitabha Buddha (
As an officially recognized religious sect did not exist, all Buddhist traditions had to be included into the systems for monastic education and practice. Reflecting this, the integrated character of the “three gates” was required. However, the “three gates” system does not mean integrating all the practice methods into the “cultivation of every aspect of practice method” (
As seen above, the Buddhists in the seventeenth century attempted to strengthen the inner solidarity of the Buddhist order and confirm their identity as Sŏn monks on the institutional basis of lineages and branches and the economic foundation of inherited property, which was embodied into the establishment of the religious tradition. They also endeavored to inherit and continue the Sŏn and Kyo schools’ traditions of practice and philosophy simultaneously. Such changes in seventeenth-century Buddhism are historically significant insofar as they are intimately related to the establishment of the Buddhist tradition during the late Chosŏn dynasty. Following these changes, Korean Buddhist monks endeavored to maintain an economic foundation, as well as philosophical and soteriological traditions, without making great changes through the beginning of the modern era.
37Kim Yong-t’ae, Chosŏn hugi Pulgyosa yŏn’gu: Imje pŏpt’ong kwa kyohak chŏnt’ong [A study of the history of Buddhism of the late Chosŏn: The religious tradition of Imje and the scholastic tradition] (Seoul: Sin’gu Munhwasa, 2010), chap. 2. 38Sŏngmun sangŭich’o, “Sŏngmun sangŭich’o sŏ [A preface to the Sŏngmun sangŭich’o],” HPC 8: 237; Sŏngmun karyech’o, “Sŏngmun karyech’o pal [A postscript to the Sŏngmun karyech’o],” HPC 8: 288. 39Sinbo sugyo chimnok [A new and amended collection of royal decrees], “Hojŏn chamnyŏng [A miscellaneous decree on field-possession],” promulgated in 1657 (Hyojong year 8). 40Sinbo sugyo chimnok, “Hojŏn chamnyŏng,” promulgated in 1664 (Hyojong year 15). 41Yi Nŭng-hwa, Chosŏn Pulgyo t’ongsa [A comprehensive history of Korean Buddhism] (Seoul: Sinmun’gwan, 1918), 2: 985–986. 42Han Sang-gil “The Activities and Significance of Temple Fraternities in Late Chosŏn Buddhism.” Journal of Korean Religious 3, no 1 (April 2012), 29–63. 43Kim Yong-t’ae, op.cit., 81–82. 44Ibid, 171–186. 45Samno haengjŏk [Biographies of the three elders], “Palmun [A postscript],” HPC 7: 757. 46Sŏngmun sangŭich’o, “Sŭng obokto [Illustration of the five types of Buddhist mourning clothes],” HPC 8: 237. 47Kim Yŏng-su, Chosŏn Pulgyo sago [A survey of the history of Korean Buddhism] (1939; Seoul: Minsogwŏn, 2002 photoprint edition). 48Takahashi Tōru, op.cit., 599. 49Lee Jong-su “Monastic Education and Educational Literacy in the Late Chosŏn.” Journal of Korean Religious 3, no 1 (April 2012), 65–84. 50Yŏngwŏltang Taesa munjip [Collected writings of Ven. Ch’ŏnghak], “Sajip sagyo chŏndŭng yŏmsong Hwaŏm [Four-fold collection, Four-fold doctrines, prose and poetry on the transmission of the lamp, Hwaŏm],” HPC 8: 234–235. 51Kim Yŏng-su, op.cit., 142. 52Kimura Kiyotaka, Chŏng Byŏng-sam trans., Chunguk Hwaŏm sasangsa [A history of Chinese Huayan thought] (Seoul: Minjoksa, 2005), 300–306. 53Nam Hŭi-suk, op.cit.; Son Sŏng-pil, “Simnyuk (16)-segi Chosŏn ŭi Pulsŏ kanhaeng [Publication of Buddhist texts in sixteenth-century Chosŏn]” (M.A. thesis, Dongguk University, 2007). 54The inclusion of The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana in the Four-fold doctrinal course has been verified in the eighteenth-century records. 55Takahashi Tōru, op.cit., 257. 56Han Yŏng-u, 1980, “Sarim ŭi yŏksa sŏsul kwa yŏksa insik [Local literati’s descriptions and views of history],” Tongyanghak 10 (1980), 145–184; Kim Hang-su, “Simnyuk (16)-segi sarim ŭi Sŏngnihak ihae: sŏjŏk ŭi kanhaeng p’yŏnch’an ŭl chungsim ŭro [Sixteenth-century local literati’s understanding of the learning of nature and principle: Focusing on the publication of books],” Han’guk saron 7 (1980), 121–178. 57YŏngwŏltangTaesa munjip, “Sajip sagyo chŏndŭng yŏmsong Hwaŏm,” HPC 8: 234–235. 58P’yŏnyangdangjip, fascicle 2, “Sŏn-Kyo wŏllyu simin sŏl [Probing the origins of Sŏn and Kyo],” HPC 8: 256–257. 59Chinhŏ P’algwan, ed., Sammun chikchi [Directly pointing to the three gates], “Sammun chikchi sŏ [A preface to the Sammun chikchi],” HPC 10: 138–139.
Following the activities of the monastic armies during the Imjin War, in the seventeenth century monastic man-power was utilized in the form of monastic corvée labor. Monastic qualifications were approved and the foundations for the monastic clans together with the tradition, educational process, and system of cultivation were also established. In particular, through private land holdings and inheritance thereof, each sect’s own economic activities, and external financial support and donations, the financial foundations for temples were secured. On the basis of this economic backing, temples were able to settle to a degree the excessive burden of monastic corvée labor and other tributary payments, taxes, and so on. In the late Chosŏn dynasty, therefore, Buddhism was able to cast off the prior persecutions and devise a plan for its own economic subsistence.
Based on this institutional and economic foundation, from the seventeenth century on the Buddhist circle was able to aim for an independent existence within a Confucian society. It also continuously responded to the needs of the times. We can see this evidenced in a variety of areas: the Buddhist emphasis on loyalty, filial piety, and moral principle; establishing a traditional explanation of the teachings which corresponded to the Confucian vision of the transmission of the Way; a paralleling structure in curriculum between the Buddhist monastic education and the Neo-Confucian school system; the accommodation of the