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A Handbook of Korean Zen Practice

A Handbook of Korean Zen Practice: A Mirror on the Sŏn School of Buddhism (Sŏn’ga kwigam)

translated and with an introduction by John Jorgensen
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    A Handbook of Korean Zen Practice
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-5422-5
    Subjects: Religion, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Translator’s Introduction

    • Introduction
      (pp. 1-74)

      TheSon’ga kwigam禪家龜鑑 (literally, Models for Sǒn Practitioners) is one of the most widely read texts of Sǒn 禪 (Ch., Chan; J., Zen) Buddhism in East Asia. It was produced because its author, Sǒsan Hyujǒng 西山休靜 (1520–1604), saw the need for a concise handbook on meditation and Buddhist conduct to guide people back to the core practices of Sǒn. Originally intended for his own students, theSǒn’ga kwigamwas soon disseminated throughout Korea and Japan (and in the twentieth century, China), where it remained popular because it was so concise and clear, unencumbered by the bewildering diversity of...

  6. Translation

    • Sŏn’ga kwigam

      • Preface
        (pp. 77-77)
      • Sections 1-153
        (pp. 78-156)

        There is one thing here that from its origin has been very bright and very numinous, never born and never extinguished, that cannot be named and cannot be described.¹²

        [The passage above appears in the Chinese commentary, not in theŏnhaetext.—Trans.]

        What is the one thing? O.¹³ A hymn of an ancient says,

        Before the ancient buddhas were born,¹⁴

        It was coalesced into the form of a circle.

        Śakyamuni had yet to understand it,

        So how could Kaœyapa have transmitted it?¹⁵

        This is the reason why this one thing was never born and never extinguished, and could not...

      • Postface
        (pp. 156-158)

        The above compilation was written by the senior reverend of the Chogye [Lineage], the Elder Master T’oeun.

        How sad! For two hundred years the teacher [the Buddha]’s dharma has been increasingly lost and the followers of Sŏn and Kyo generated different views. Those who venerate the teaching [of Kyo] are only addicted to the dregs and vainly count sand grains and do not know that beyond the five teachings there is the gate of direct pointing at the minds of people that causes them to enter enlightenment.⁶²⁴ Those who venerate Sŏn trust themselves to the natural truth and ignore realization...

  7. Appendix: Sŏn’ga kwigam Texts
    (pp. 159-160)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 161-276)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 277-284)
  10. Index
    (pp. 285-290)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 291-293)