Pages InformationWriter Jogye Date03 Apr 2023 Read1,247 Comment0
A 30,000-strong crowd gathered around Jogye-sa Temple to mark the completion of Sangwol Gyeolsa Society’s pilgrimage in India in a grand ceremony.
The cheering and clapping four-fold community bowed to Ven. Jaseung, Sangwol Gyeolsa Society’s senior teacher in gratitude and admiration, deeply moved by his dedication speech.
Ven. Jaseung, the senior teacher of Sangwol Gyeolsa Society is marching into the Jogye-sa ground, as part of the procession of pilgrims who completed on foot the tour of Buddha’s holy sites in Inda. They were welcomed by Most Ven. Jinwoo, President of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and Ven. Jugyeong, Chair of the Central Council.
On March 23, when the world is strewn with fresh verdure of tender spring leaves, and a mass of color blossoms to magnificently decorate nature, the historic pilgrimage organized by Sangwol Gyeolsa Society ended in a grand finale at Jogye-sa Temple. 108 Buddhist pilgrims, who had been on a 43-day-long sacred journey, successfully covered 1,167 km on foot as they sought to signal the arrival of Korean Buddhism’s renaissance.
The sleepy-eyed members of the four-fold community, 30,000 strong, started flocking to Jogye-sa Temple from all over the country even before daybreak to celebrate the completion of this holy march and welcome the pilgrims home. The Dharma ceremony dedicated to honoring Sangwol Gyeolsa Society’s retracing of Buddha’s footsteps in reverence of life in India opened with delightful singing in praise of the Society’s endeavor, performed by Jogye-sa Temple Choir Association, Sound Flower Ensemble, and Sangwol Choir on the stage specially set up for the occasion. Next came on stage was a popular Korean trot music prodigy Kim Tae Yeon who whipped up the audience with upbeat numbers such as “Path of the Wind” and “Launch the Boat.”
When the pilgrims finally showed up at Ilju (One-Pillar) Gate of Jogye-sa Temple past Gongpyeong Crossroad, the four-fold community welcomed them with joyful tears amid thunderous cheering and clapping. Relieved to be back home, the pilgrims’ sunburned faces, though thin and haggard from the long and arduous journey, broke into a smile, touched by the heartfelt cheers of the crowd. They walked in in a single file, still in a pilgrimage formation, with the youngest members Jeong Yu Rim and Jo Seok Ju heading the procession, followed by the team carrying the Sangwol Buddha, the statue of the Buddha that was a part of the pilgrimage. Ven. Jaseung, who had been heading the pilgrimage in India, entered the Jogye-sa ground at the tail end of the procession, together with a team of reporters who covered his journey in India.
Most Ven. Jinwoo, President of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, met the pilgrims at Ilju Gate with Ven. Jihyeon, the abbot of Jogye-sa Temple on behalf of the four-fold community. “The pilgrims of Sangwol Gyeolsa Society! Welcome home. You all did so well. I am very proud of you. You are the future of Korean Buddhism, the true treasure of the Jogye Order. I am overjoyed to have all of you back unharmed, which is a tremendous blessing. Your pure devotion to Buddha-dharma opened up new horizons of the Korean Buddhist renaissance and expanded respect for life,” said Most Ven. Jinwoo after presenting flowers to Ven. Beomhae, Ven. Myosu, Ju Yun Sik and Lee Tae Gyeong.
“The pilgrims of Sangwol Gyeolsa Society retraced the footsteps of Sakyamuni Buddha in reverence of life in the spirit of wibeop manggu (爲法忘軀: sacrificing oneself for Dharma). Now, they are dedicating the merits earned from the pilgrimage to the four-fold community and all living beings in the universe. I urged you to arise a fierce determination never to regress on the path to enlightenment and continue on the journey of revering life and seeking peace,” said the president of the Jogye Order. “The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism praises your merits and practice, and will always be with you doing its utmost to walk the path of Dharma propagation and Buddhist renaissance.”
He expressed special gratitude to Ven. Jaseung, the senior teacher of Sangwol Gyeolsa Society. “I humbly bow in respect and gratitude to Ven. Jaseung, who led the 1,167km Buddha Road for 43 long days. I expect all available resources of the Jogye Order to be fully committed to the Dharma propagation effort to follow the examples of Ven. Jaseung who always emphasizes the importance of spreading Dharma.”
Ven. Jaseung, the senior teacher of Sangwol Gyeolsa Society, made the dedication speech on behalf of the pilgrims. This was the first time in six years that he stood in front of the Main Dharma hall of Jogye-sa Temple and addressed the four-fold community since his term as the president of the Jogye Order ended in 2017. “First of all, I would like to thank Most Ven. Jinwoo, the abbots of Headquarters Temples, Dongguk University and the organizations and groups under the Dharma Propagation Bureau for hosting this grand ceremony,” said Ven. Jaseung. “I especially appreciate the fact that many monastics and lay Buddhists, including the members of the National Assembly, came all the way to India to render support.”
In his speech dedicating the merits of this unprecedented, awe-inspiring enterprise, Ven. Jaseung sternly reminded the 30,000-strong crowd of the importance of propagation. “About 2,600 years ago, Sakyamuni Buddha commanded each of his 60 disciples to go into the world and serve and benefit the sentient beings for their happiness. We are Sakyamuni Buddha’s disciples too. As his disciples, it is our sacred duty to disseminate the Buddha-Dharma. Sakyamuni Buddha himself crisscrossed the Indian sub-continent barefoot for 45 years after he attained perfect enlightenment. 2,600 years have passed, and the mission bestowed upon us, the four-fold community gathered here today is still to go into the world and spread the Dharma,” said Ven. Jaseung.
“Buddhism that stopped spreading is in the process of slow decline and sure death. We Buddhists greet each other, ‘May we attain enlightenment.’ However, I propose we meet each other with a different greeting from now on. When we meet, let us say, ‘May we spread the Buddha-dharma.’ Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva bows to refuse enlightenment until he saves all beings in the hell realm, until the hell realm is empty. Let us emulate Kstigarbha Bodhisattva. Let us bow to refuse enlightenment in this life so that we can devote it to propagate the Dharma,” said Ven. Jaseung. He led the audience to shout the new greeting, “May we spread the Buddha-dharma.” three times together and descended the podium.
President Yoon Suk Yeol sent a congratulatory message read by Park Bo Gyoon, Minister of Culture, Sport,s and Tourism. “I convey my heartfelt congratulation on the completion of the 1,167km long march, launched in sacred prayer for the renaissance of Korean Buddhism and world peace,” said President Yoon. “I hope that this pilgrimage retracing the Buddha’s footsteps in India would be the seeds for the reviving of Korean Buddhism, which will grow into the fruits that feed our less fortunate neighbors and help make the world a better place.”
The dedication ceremony was majestically concluded by the pilgrims of Sangwol Gyeolsa Society and the four-fold community performing 108 bows together. The four-fold community at the Jogye-sa ceremony, united in ardent devotion, numbered over 30,000, including the abbots of Headquarters Temples, the members of the Jogye Order’s Central Council, the members of the National Assembly, and prominent figures from political, economic, and cultural fields. They will all remember March 23, 2023 as Day One of the revival of Korean Buddhism, a new age of Dharma propagation.