Sŏn (Japanese Zen) has been the dominant form of Buddhism in Korea from medieval times to the present.A Handbook of Korean Zen Practice: A Mirror on the Sŏn School of Buddhism(Sŏn'ga kwigam) was the most popular guide for Sŏn practice and life ever published in Korea and helped restore Buddhism to popularity after its lowest point in Korean history. It was compiled before 1569 by Sŏsan Hyujŏng (1520-1604), later famed as the leader of a monk army that helped defend Korea against a massive Japanese invasion in 1592. In addition to succinct quotations from sutras, the text also contained quotations from selected Chinese and Korean works together with Hyujŏng's explanations. Because of its brevity and organization, the work proved popular and was reprinted many times in Korea and Japan before 1909.
A Handbook of Korean Zen Practicecommences with the ineffability of the enlightened state, and after a tour through doctrine and practice it returns to its starting point. The doctrinal rationale for practice that leads to enlightenment is based on theMahayana Awakening of Faith, but the practice Hyujŏng enjoins readers to undertake is very different: a method of meditation derived from thekongan(Japanese koan) calledhwadu(Chinese huatou), or "point of the story," the story being thekongan. Hyujŏng goes on to outline the specifics of practice, such as rules of conduct and chanting and mindfulness of the Buddha, and stresses the requirements for living the life of a monk. At the end of the text he returns to thehwadu, the need for a teacher, and hence the importance of lineage.
The version of the text translated here is the earliest and the longest extant. It was "translated" into Korean from Chinese by one of Hyujŏng's students to aid Korean readers. The present volume contains a brief history ofhwadupractice and theory, a life of Hyujŏng, and a summary of the text, plus a detailed, annotated translation. It should be of interest to practitioners of meditation and students of East Asian Buddhism and Korean history.
Subjects: Religion, Philosophy
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