Welcoming the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism to Fagushan

On 28 May 2007, an honorable Buddhist delegation representing the Jogye Order in South Korea paid the first visit to the Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM/Fagushan) World Center for Buddhist Education in Jinshan Township, Taipei County.

The delegation consisted of fifty-four Venerables representing fourteen Sangha universities in South Korea and six devote Buddhists who have had an interest in Sangha education.

This visit was deemed a milestone by both sides as it was an extraordinary and valuable opportunity in promoting academic exchanges, formulating academic relationship and enhancing mutual-understandings between the Buddhist organizations in these two countries.

Jogye Order is the representative school of Korean Buddhism with roots that go back 1,200 years to Venerable Master Doui, who brought Seon and Buddhist school, founded by the Sixth Chinese Patriarch, Venerable Master Hui-Neng, to Korea around 820 C.E.

On behalf of Venerable Master Sheng Yen, DDM founder, and of Venerable Guo Dong, the Abbot President, Venerable Guo Pin, the Deputy Abbot President, led the congregation of Venerable (Fashi) from the DDM Sangha University to greet and welcome the delegation at the Bus Depot.

The honorable guests were invited to the Briefing Room of the DDM World Center and were shown a film titled ‘How Great is The Dharma Drum’ to give them an understand of DDM’s ideal and Venerable Master Sheng Yen’s thoughts and aspirations. Venerable Guo Pin’s gave an introduction on Fagushan’s three types of Education: Education through Public Outreach, Education through Caring Service and Education through Academics. He also gave an account on the meaning of Spiritual Environment.

The Korean Venerable Fa Cang (Chinese translation) said “DDM dedication in Dharma propagation and Sangha education have had accrued great merits.We are grateful to have this extraordinary opportunity to conduct exchanges on various issues impacting on Sangha training with the DDM Sangha University. We want to extend our warmest regards to Venerable Master Sheng Yen and all DDM’s Venerable, and to thank everyone for their hospitality.”

The fifty-four Korean Venerable then paid a visit the Grand Buddha Hall to pay homage to Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha and Medicine Buddha in the traditional Korean way in honor of the enlightened Ones. They recited the Three Refuges and the Diamond Sutra for almost ten minutes in front of the Buddhas, before offering their prayer for world peace.

In the International Conference Room, the Rector of Fagushan Venerable Hui Min gave a brief introduction about the DDM Sangha University by showing slides of the educational facility. The meeting spanned one-and-half hours and proceeded amidst an atmosphere of joy and warmth.

The visiting Korean Venerable Xing Hai gave a summary on the history of his order. The Jogye Order has its root in the teachings of the Buddha Sakyamuni and its basic principles are realization of Buddha nature, and Dharma propagation. Its transmission lineage is Seon.

The order relies on the Diamond Sutra as the guiding text and whilst sutra study, chanting and devotional practices are integrated into the program, the most important and widely known practice is ‘huatou’ meditation. This school of Korean Buddhism was officially established with three main goals: training and education; sutra translation into Korean from Chinese text; and propagation of Buddha Dharma. These goals remains the guiding ethos of the Jogye Order today.

He explained that Sangha education in South Korea is made up of more than forty academic institutions and twenty Sangha universities, and could be divided into five categories: education for lay practitioner, education for Bhikshu and Bhikshuni, education for the professionals (master and doctorate degrees), education for people engaged in culture and art, and education for Venerable holding administrative role. The four-year university course for the Sangha falls in the category of ‘eduction for Bhikshu and Bhikshuni’.

The Deputy President of DDM Sangha University, Venerable Guo Jing, also gave a summary of the programs currently being conducted by the DDM Sangha University. By the end of her presentation, the honorable guests had raised many questions; such as selection of textbooks, issues of co-learning between Bhikshu and Bhikshuni, and the ratio of student to lecturer.

Finally, Venerable Hui Min added that the developments of Sangha education in Taiwan and South Korea have a great deal in common. Until fairly recently, both the Taiwanese and Korean Governments had declined to recognize the academic credentials from these institutions whereas today the Sangha universities could legally award an academic degree upon successful completion of a prescribed course of studies.

Venerable Hui Min also cited an example of the Dharma Drum Buddhist College (DDBC), which was inaugurated in April this year and it is the first religious college in Taiwan to offer postgraduate studies in Buddhism. The visiting delegates were impressed by Venerable Hui Min’s understanding of the ongoing issues impacting the development of religious education in both countries

Despites the language barrier, the presentation was well received, the dialogue was engaging and the question-answer session was most fruitful. Mementos were exchanged in memory of this visit. The parties then proceed to have lunch in the Dining Hall. The delegate visited the Wish-Fufilling Guanyin Hall and the Dharma Shop before pleading farewell.

The honorable guests departed with a sense of achievement and expressed their gratitude for the warm welcome extended. On the other hand, we felt honored that friendship has been forged between the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and Fagushan, and we are looking forwards to future exchange.

(reported by and photos taken by Jin Yang/edited by DDM Australian Editing Team)

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