Won Buddhism

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Won Buddhism
Revised RomanizationWonbulgyo

Wŏn Buddhism (원불교, Wŏnbulgyo) is a form of modernized Buddhism. Won Buddhism can be regarded either as a syncretic new religious movement or as an offshoot of Korean Seon.[1]

Translations of the name[edit]

The name "Won Buddhism" comes from the Korean words 원/圓 won ("circle") and 불교/佛敎 bulgyo ("Buddhism"), literally meaning "Round Buddhism" or interpreted as "Consummate Buddhism." By "consummate," Won Buddhists mean that they incorporate several different schools of Buddhist thought into their doctrine; that is, where some schools focus only on practicing meditation (samādhi), some schools devote themselves fully to studying scriptures (prajñā), and still others practice only their school's precepts (śīla), Won Buddhism believes in incorporating all three into daily practice.


Pak Chungbin (박중빈 朴重彬, 1891–1943, aka Sot'aesan) attained bodhi in 1916. In 1924, he founded a new religious order with Buddhist teachings as its central doctrine, establishing the Society of the Study of the Buddhadharma at Iksan, North Jeolla Province. In 1947, Song Gyu (송규, 1900–1962), the second patriarch, renamed the order "Wŏn Buddhism."

Scriptures and writings[edit]

Pak's original doctrine was published as the Pulgyo chŏngjŏn (The Correct Canon of Buddhism) in 1943. It was later redacted and expanded to its current form in 1977, and today is included in the main doctrinal book Wŏnbulgyo chŏnsŏ.[2] Wŏnbulgyo chŏnsŏ includes Chŏngjŏn (The Principle Book of Won Buddhism), Taejonggyŏng (The Scripture of the Founding Master), and several other primary canonical sources.

Connection to other Eastern philosophies[edit]

Won Buddhism can be considered an amalgamation of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism.[3]


  1. ^ Michael Pye, "Won Buddhism as a Korean New Religion," Numen 49, no. 2 (2002): 113–141.
  2. ^ Wŏnbulgyo chŏnsŏ, (Iri: Wŏnbulgyo Ch'ulp'ansa, 2014). First published 1977.
  3. ^ Henrik Hjork Sorensen, Ole Bruun, and Arne Kalland, eds, Asian Perceptions of Nature (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 1992).

Further reading[edit]

  • Baker, Don. "Korea's Won Buddhism: is it really a new religion?", Paper presented at the CENSUR Center for Studies on New Religions International Conference. Danshui, Taiwan, 2011.
  • Chung, Bongkil. "Won Buddhism: A synthesis of the moral systems of Confucianism and Buddhism", Journal of Chinese philosophy 15 (1988): 425–448.
  • Chung, Bongkil. "Sot`aesan's Creation of Won Buddhism through the reformation of Korean Buddhism." In Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism, edited by Jin Y. Park, 61–90. Albany: SUNY Press, 2010.
  • McBride, Richard D. "Won Buddhism", in Religions of the World, edited by J Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann, 3121–3122. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2010.
  • Park, Y. "Won Buddhism", in Encyclopedia of Buddhism, edited by Damien Keown and Charles Prebish, 834–835. London: Routledge, 2010.
  • The Doctrinal Books of Won-Buddhism (Wŏnbulgyo Kyosŏ), Translated by the Committee for the Authorized Translations of Won-Buddhist Scriptures (Iksan: Wonkwang Publishing, 2016).

External links[edit]