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roots in korean buddhism

origins of the chogye order

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History of Kwan Um Do Kwang

The Origins of the Chogye Order

There were two primary types of Buddhism practiced in Korea, the Kyojong, or doctrinal schools, with their focus on Buddhist writings or sutras, and the Soenjong, or meditational schools focused on the attainment of enlightenment through meditation. The bastions of Korean Soen (Chinese: Ch'an; Japanese: Zen) Buddhism were the Nine Mountain Sects.

In 1170 a military coup led by the military class toppled the Koryo government, and for the next hundred years, the last 40 of which were spent in almost constant warfare during a time when the Mongols ravaged the country, Korea was run by military dictators.

"After the seizure of power by the military a new development occurred as well in Koryo Buddhism. This was the establishment of the Chogye sect within the Son school. When the monk Uich'on founded Ch'ont'ae (Chinese: T'ien-t'ai) sect in Koryo, he drew many of the promising young monks away from the Nine Mountain Sects of Son, but at the same time he inspired a revival within the Son sects. The Nine Mountain Sects of Son now took the new name of the Chogye sect, and began to flourish under the leadership of the monk Chinul (1158-1210). Chinul made 'sudden enlightenment [followed by] gradual cultivation' his basic precept, a formula that gave priority to meditation but also attached importance to invoking the name of Buddha and reading sutras. Thus Chinul combined the appealing directness of Son and the concrete gradualism of the Textual School, while the emphasis on continuous discipline lent itself to incorporation into a military ethos. The Chogye sect won substantial support from the military rulers and proceeded to develop in mountain monasteries throughout Korea as a distinct and indigenous stream of Buddhist faith and practice."4

The Chogye Order produced many martial arts masters. Two Chogye Zen Masters, Seo Sun (Sosan) and his student, Sa Myong, were also sword masters. They are known as heroes for their defense of Korea against the Japanese invasion by Hideyoshi.