Pages InformationWriter Jogye Date17 Jan 2023 Read47 Comment0
Respected citizens, and the fourfold community of Korean Buddhism!
We greet the Year of the Water Rabbit, 2567 in the Buddhist Era.
Just like the round New Year’s sun rose to illuminate myriad phenomena,
I sincerely pray for all of you to begin the New Year with a thousand blessings
through fervent aspiration and effort.
Even under the threat of COVID,
we will continue to cultivate a pure community and restore a normal daily life full of hope.
Despite the continual threat of war,
we will continue to forge hoes and ploughshares from molten spears and swords.
Only steadfast progress toward compassion and interbeing
will bring genuine light to all of humanity.
In terms of material and economic wealth, Korea has developed into an advanced country,
but we still have major social issues like the drastic gap between rich and poor,
and the alienation of some members of society.
The spirit of non-duality that sees no difference between ourselves and others
should motivate us to care for our needy and alienated neighbors
because it is the foundation for willingness to shoulder our share of the burden
to overcome these chaotic times.
It is also high time for us to cultivate Manjusri’s wisdom, inherent in each of us,
to resolve other pressing issues that face us, like our low birth rate,
our aging population, and the world’s climate crisis.
On the diverse paths to resolve these social issues,
the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism will forever stand by you.
Despite Korea’s material abundance, many citizens experience mental instability
due to feelings of alienation and suffering.
In particular, our young people cannot shake off worries and concerns about the future.
To help our citizens restore peace of mind, Korean Buddhism will continue to
teach practices that promote inner peace, including Seon (Chan/Zen) meditation,
and help you in times of need.
Respected fourfold Buddhist community!
The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism will continue to pursue sincere dialogue
with people from all walks of life, to propagate Buddhism with faith,
and to re-invigorate Buddhism to deal with a changing world.
2023 marks the 1st year of the 37th administration of the Jogye Order,
and we intend to pursue the Order’s official projects at full tilt.
The 37th administration of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism will strive to
actualize a Buddhist order that is trustworthy, deserving of respect, and stands by the people.
To realize these objectives, we have established “three major core tasks.”
Our first core task is “to strengthen Buddhism’s social communication efforts.”
For Korean Buddhism to keep pace with the times and pursue a brighter future,
we should convey the insightful teachings of the Buddha in today’s language,
and interact with people more efficiently.
To help restore equanimity to our troubled society through Seon meditation
and help others forge their own path, we will become a compass for the future.
We will re-examine the diverse Buddhist practices being propagated inside Korea and out.
Specialists in the Jogye Order will view the findings,
and then develop and distribute a “Jogye Order Meditation Program.”
Further, we will establish our own meditation centers
where anyone can practice simply and conveniently at their own level.
This will not only restore peace of mind for individuals
but will also significantly improve the overall mental health of society in general.
Sangwol Gyeolsa is a Buddhist practice movement that began in 2019
at a winter retreat held in a tent. It was launched for the sake of keeping pace with the times,
and it continues today. Two of its associated events include
the “Pilgrimage of Compassion to Overcome National Crises,”
and the “Three Jewel Temple 1,000-li Pilgrimage.”
The Jogye Order’s Bureau of Dharma Propagation had individual districts develop
diverse pilgrimage routes within their districts and promoted them for wider participation.
Through these pilgrimages, the forests and cultural resources that have been preserved
by traditional temples for over 1,000 years can be shared and enjoyed by all citizens
so that they can find a place where they are always welcome.
Each pilgrimage route will be enhanced by providing relevant stories;
its paths, surrounding landscape, and information about its ecological and cultural resources
will be developed and made available via a mobile app,
which will be connected to the Templestay program for mutual development.
This will provide another venue that anyone can easily access for an opportunity to find peace of mind.
Furthermore, in order to put compassion into action,
we will expand and revamp the activities of our Society and Labor Committee,
whose responsibility is to visit scenes of disaster and pray together with the people.
We will strengthen our activities in the fields of North and South Korean unification, ecology,
and religious solidarity. We will further refurbish our agencies and committees
related to social activities, and encourage more fruitful communication at scenes we encounter.
Our second core task is “to stabilize the monastic community
through a more robust monastic welfare program.”
The stability of elderly monastics leads to stability of the monastic community.
We will further strengthen our monastic welfare programs
at the Order’s leadership level and at the local district level,
including support for a national pension and medical bill assistance,
and ensure a well-managed monastic welfare program
in the areas of housing, care, food, and medical treatment.
To support these programs we will also pay close attention to the Order’s fiscal management.
In particular, the 37th administration of the Jogye Order
has plans to operate a “long-term care facility for monastics”
in order to care for monastics who live to an advanced age,
and to help them maintain the dignity of a monastic until their passing.
We began preparing for this last year, and we will perform an opening ceremony f
or the “Jogye Order Long-Term Care Facility for Monastics” before Buddha’s Birthday,
along with the fourfold community. Careful preparation is under way
so that monastics who need medical care can receive stable and specialized care with support
from the Order, individual districts, Dongguk University Medical Center, and other care facilities.
Our third core task is “to boost cultural self-esteem among Korean Buddhists.”
Based on the “Resurrect 1,000 Years” project,
we will bridge the past 1,000 years and the future 1,000 years.
Erecting the fallen Maitreya Buddha in Yeoram Valley on Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju
will be our effort to resurrect the past 1,000 years.
Following this proposal by the Jogye Order, people from all walks of life responded positively,
and technological feasibility studies by concerned institutions are nearly complete.
With the support of our citizens, in a few years we will see again
the Maitreya Buddha smiling brightly to the world.
When the Maitreya Buddha statue, the quintessence of Silla’s Buddhist culture,
is standing upright again, citizens will enjoy peace, and Korea will enjoy prosperity.
Furthermore, based on the Jogye Order’s promotion of meditation,
cultivation of future talented Buddhists, and research projects tailored to suit each district,
we will begin a new 1,000 years.
Cultivating future talented monastics and laity
is an indispensable investment for the future of the Order.
In addition, special projects tailored to each district to invigorate them is another important task
to heighten the role of the Buddhist community in their respective districts
and fine-tune its administration.
In addition, the Jogye Order has planned other important tasks
and will put them into action with great care, those being:
[Establishing strategies appropriate for each district],
[Promoting monastic life across the Order],
[Refining the national fee collection system related to cultural properties],
[Enhancing the promotion of traditional culture],
[Expanding Buddhist funerary culture],
[Establishing a monastic education system that harmonizes tradition and modern trends], and
[Developing content for propagation].
We will do our utmost to achieve the goals of Korean Buddhism called for by today’s society.
There are other important and rigorous matters at hand facing the Jogye Order.
At the end of last year, the National Assembly approved budgets related to
the reduction and/or exemption of admission fees to see cultural properties managed by temples.
I hope this measure can provide the momentum to correct an unfair practice
in which admission fees to view cultural properties are collected by temples
for the upkeep of designated cultural properties.
To ensure our cherished cultural properties are well preserved, all of us should work together.
Since the supporting budget has passed, we will gradually improve our admission fee system
to monastic cultural properties so that citizens will not be inconvenienced,
and cultural properties will remain well managed and preserved.
I hope the government will actively cooperate with us in this matter.
From February 9 to March 23 of this year,
we will conduct a walking pilgrimage in India, the country of the Buddha,
under the slogan “Sangwol Gyeolsa Walks with the Buddha.”
Participants will include 108 pilgrims from the fourfold community,
including Ven. Jaseung (former president of the Jogye Order) and other high-ranking monastics.
The pilgrimage will take 43 days and cover 1,167kms
to sacred sites associated with the Buddha, an unprecedented event.
Along with the fervent hearts of the fourfold community,
I pray that the pilgrimage will be completed safely and harmoniously,
and that the “Buddha Road” connecting these sacred sites will be visited by many in the future.
Incidentally, this year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Korea and India.
I will also participate in the closing Dharma assembly of the Sangwol Gyeolsa pilgrimage group
to be held at Jetavana Monastery on Mar. 20.
Afterward, I will host diverse cultural exchange events in Delhi
to introduce Korean traditional culture
in collaboration with the Korean Embassy in India and the Korean Cultural Center.
The events include a temple food banquet, a special lecture on Korean Buddhism and culture,
and a traditional lantern exhibition from the Yeondeunghoe Festival,
in addition to a Templestay program and temple food. Through these events
we will showcase the essence of Korean traditional culture to the citizens of India.
I hope the Sangwol Gyeolsa pilgrimage and the cultural exchange events
on the 50th anniversary of Korean and Indian diplomatic relations
will create a strong interest in Korean Buddhism.
I further pray that we can arrange more diverse pilgrimages and cultural exchanges,
and that through these the bond of friendship between our two countries will grow stronger.
2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the 1994 reformation of the Jogye Order.
Through devout practice and Dharma propagation based on the Buddha’s teachings,
the Order has made great progress.
In particular, we have improved the rational management of the Order
based on a religious constitution and regulations, and the democratic gathering of opinions
has brought stability to the Order and strengthened its social roles.
Now is the time to construct a new framework for operation of the Order
in line with the spirit of the times.
I will provide venues for interaction
so that diverse related matters can be shared and discussed.
I will come up with insightful plans and strategies to strengthen the Order’s
organizational structure, including its districts, and individual temples, and to improve communication.
In the Year of the Water Rabbit, let us pound the drum of harmony and coexistence.
With the Dharma rain of truth, we should do our best
to help myriad things be renewed and each being to find their rightful place.
Being familiar to people, rabbits often appear in idiomatic expressions
that originated in ancient events related to human affairs.
In particular, the expression “two rabbits pounding rice in a mortar together harmoniously
in the moonlight” symbolizes the communal connection of our global community.
Another saying goes, “a smart rabbit prepares for the future
by digging burrows in three different places.”
In today’s difficult environment, we should prepare for the future with wisdom.
Following the Buddha’s teaching that “one must put their mind to good use,”
we should arouse a compassionate mind for the sake of the community, and
open the gate of great happiness in which everyone coexists while benefiting and sustaining others.
Throughout the Year of the Water Rabbit, with all sincerity,
I pray that all families and workplaces be filled with the blessings of all buddhas.
I further pray that you share your cherished blessings and virtues
with everyone you encounter this year.
January 11, 2567 BE (2023)
Ven. Jinu, President of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism