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Communal Work (운력)

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Writer Jogye Date22 Jul 2015 Read2,085 Comment0

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Communal Work (運力)

운력

The communal work temple residents do together is called “ullyeok.” There are two Chinese character representations for this word. One is ullyeok (運力) in the sense that several people combine their strengths together in order to complete a certain task, and the other is ullyeok (雲力), symbolizing that, when people combine their strengths together, it is like smaller clouds combining to become bigger clouds. This communal group work is also called bocheong (普請). The cleaning of the temple compound has always been performed communally and other kinds of ullyeok include: digging up potatoes, gimjang (preparation of gimchi for winter months), and washing blankets. In the past, monastics frequently completed farm work together as a form of ullyeok as prescribed by the regulations of Seon School. 

When there is a communal task in which all temple residents are expected to participate, all the monks take part regardless of their rank. The Precepts and Decorums for Novice Monks (沙彌律儀; Ch. Shami iuyi) contains a passage that says, “You must not play fox and seek your own comfort while others are working together communally.”

During the retreat, the participants are also expected to participate in the communal ullyeok at the Seon centers. Depending on the lineage tradition, some Seon centers do more communal ullyeok than others. In case of the Neungin Seon Center at Jeonghye-sa Temple on Mt. Deoksung-san, even under the blazing sun when the temperature reaches 35 degrees Celsius, monks are expected to work in the field to tend the vegetables they will later eat.

- excerpt from Buddhist English (Intermediate 1) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

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