President of Jogye Order Ven. Jaseung
“Together, we’ll build hope!”
Dear Citizens and Buddhists of Korea! Happy New Year to you all!
A new year of the serpent has dawned. First, I would like to greet and congratulate the citizens of Korea, who continue to walk silently towards the path of new hope and happiness in spite of many difficulties and challenges. Moreover, I would like to thank the four-fold assembly for their great effort and practice for realizing the compassion and wisdom of the Buddha.
I have pronounced during my inauguration ceremony on the 5th of November 2009, “Korean Buddhism will aspire to resolve conflicts through cooperation and communication.” I have also stated that a new system will be introduced to implement this aspiration by the end of my four-year term. In order for Korean Buddhism to develop and respond to the needs of the society, more difficult duties and challenges must be realized.
As a result, various systems were introduced for the first time in history, such as performance based assignment of temple abbots, rationalization of temple sales and organization of financial structure, monastic welfare programs (to serve elderly monastics), and the establishment of international Jogye Order temples.
A new monastic education system has been introduced in response to the changing needs of modern society. The development and application of new Buddhist culture, “Resolution for Introspection and Reform,” preservation of traditional temples through natural disasters prevention, and recitation of Buddhist prayers in Korean language have resulted through the aspirations of the 33rd Jogye Order Administration and the profound wisdom and strengths of the four-fold assembly.
The year 2013 would be my final year to serve the 33rd Presidency of Jogye Order Administration. The Jogye Order wishes for Korean Buddhism to honorably uphold the traditions of Mahayana Buddhism and continue to practice and perform the duties amid the citizens of Korea.
With these sincere aspirations, the following dedication and vow has been pronounced: “Together, we’ll create hope.” In order to realize this vow, we will proceed with the following administrative duties and services.
Share Our Neighbor’s Pain
Due to the world economic crisis of late, Korean citizens are experiencing many difficulties in life. We have the longest working hours and highest suicide rate among the OECD countries. As stated in the Bodhisattva vow, the Jogye Order vows to save all sentient beings from the oceans of suffering; we will seek out and establish what must be implemented.
Special Templestay programs are planned to facilitate social integration of the unemployed, disabled, youths, and multicultural families.
Alternative Social Banking System (Micro Credit) will operate in collaboration with the Government of Seoul.
Suicide Prevention Centers and Youth Development Programs will operate in metropolitan areas to share the hardship of our neighbors.
Dongsaseop (sharing of joy and sorrow with other beings) Buddhist Services and Psychotherapy Healing Centers will also operate to benefit laborers/workers.
Furthermore, a school in Kenya, Africa will get established in the near future to globalize the following ideology, “Support with Compassion and Generosity.”
Promotion of Traditional Culture and Value with the Suitable Preservation and Operational System
Korean Buddhist community will gladly preserve Korean traditional culture and renew its appreciative value. A case in point, the “Lotus Lantern Festival,” was designated as the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage #122. To further the mission of preserving the many intangible and tangible pieces of Korean heritage, we will promote traditional Korean temples as World Heritage sites.
Translation of Chinese Buddhist scriptures to Korean script will also continue. This year, ‘The Thousand Eyes and Hands Sutra’ in Korean script will be utilized as the basis for standard temple ceremonies. All conventional ceremonies, such as the rites and prayers, will be translated and performed in Korean.
Together with the extensive research on traditional temples and its surrounding areas, appropriate utilization of the research findings will be investigated and implemented. Moreover, research on Geumseokmun or inscription on paper, or stele, found throughout the nation will begin for the next 16 years.
Korean Citizens Assure through Sustained Reform
The Jogye Order will not turn its back on the expectations of more innovative reform and fulfillment of social responsibilities. Korean Buddhism will generate hope and promote change by leveling its goal with that of the citizens of Korea. The issues suggested last year in the First Reform Assembly will be executed and re-examined befittingly. This year, the steering committee for temple operations will explore and fulfill the validation of temple finances (i.e. use of credit cards), issuing of receipts, enhance the professional education system for Jogye Order administration, and other important objectives.
The Jogye Order’s Committee for Reform is currently planning the second phase, which includes new monastic regulations and electoral systems, stream-lining political operation systems improving electoral system for the defense of religion, and enhancing the monastic welfare system. Once the second scheme has been finalized, the order will do their utmost best to integrate suggestions made by various Buddhist communities and make appropriate decisions to implement the best strategies.
New plans for the Jogye Order presidential election, improvement of comprehensive monastic operation system, and the management of district main temples as formulated by the committee for reform, will be reviewed carefully by the Jogye Order’s Executive Branch.
The 33rd Executive Branch Will Offer Services to Restore Buddhism
The monastic welfare system will become strengthened with suitable system models and smooth delivery of personalized services. For Buddhism to contribute to local communities, revitalization of district branch administration and improvement in religious affairs would be necessary.
For more effective Dharma transmission, demarcation of District Branch policies will be laid out in cooperation of the Central Council. Performance based assignment of abbots, proper expense allocation and adjustments, land sales and other financial responsibilities of temples, and the establishment of Seon Centers in new towns will also be refined. Moreover, the tradition of Korean Buddhism with be restored through further education and propagation, thus there will be a need to pay closer attention to the standardization of monastic education, which will help strengthen activities in individual branches.
The Jogye order will not stop at the release of the 33rd Executive Branch Final Report. Any deficiencies in the report are to be supplemented and additional suggestions will be incorporated in this final report. In addition to the 2013 Jogye Order operational policies, two additional issues should be discussed.
First, the issue of taxation for religious group (i.e. for Buddhist monks and nuns) is defined as follows. The social expectations and the desired monastic atmosphere in which this controversial issue has been presented are fully acknowledged by the Order. The Jogye Order will confer with the Central Council and the abbots of the district main temples, and report the official position of the Jogye Order in the near future. However, it should be noted here that Buddhist monastics do not have any formal employment relations with a particular organization or a temple. Moreover, there are no special procedures or systems outlined by the Government of Korea at the present time. Thus, the Order will gather our wisdom with the government and find appropriate solutions to determine how the traditional methods will work with the modern administration system.
Secondly, the following request has been made continuously to the government of Korea. We sincerely pray that those imprisoned due to Yongsan tragedies and Ssangyong Motors will be able to join their families and friends on this New Year’s Day. We strongly encourage the government to discover harmonious solutions and a better support system for all those involved. In addition, the new government should keep pace with the global trends of social equality and justice, thus find concrete and implicit measures to resolve the world’s disparities.