Great Seon Master Jinje, Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism
The Great Seon Master Jinje is the spiritual leader of Korean Buddhism, which is composed of 20,000 monks and twenty million lay people. He was appointed unanimously to be the 13th Supreme Patriarch at the Council of Elders election on December 14, 2011. Master Jinje’s five year term began on March, 2012.
Supreme Patriarch Jinje stated in his acceptance speech, "I am very grateful that great masters from the Council of Elders have chosen me as the leader to represent the Jogye Order" and added, "I will follow suggestions from the Council of Elders to create peaceful future for Korean Buddhism. I will try my best to spread Ganhwa Seon, the essence of oriental spiritual culture, and to contribute to the World Peace."
His long term goal is to share Korean Buddhism and Ganhwa Seon with the whole world and to contribute to the realization of World Peace.
The 79th Dharma Descendant in the Lineage of Shakyamuni Buddha
Master Jinje is the 79th Dharma Descendant in the Lineage of Shakyamuni Buddha. This Seon Transmission Lineage has only remained in Korea.
Shakyamuni Buddha transmitted the pith of Enlightenment to Ven. Mahakashyapa before he entered Nirvana through a special transmission beyond speech and the scriptures. This transmission was continued in India until around the 5th century, with the 28th Indian Patriarch Bodhidharma, who travelled to China to introduce Seon and became known as the 1st Patriarch of China.
In the latter period of the Koryeo Dynasty in Korea, Master Taego Bowu awakened to the essence of Seon and traveled to China and visited Seon Master Seok-Ok. He received Dharma transmission and became the 57th Patriarch in the lineage of the Buddha and the 1st Patriarch in Korea.
While Confucianism was favored during Joseon Dynasty, Buddhist activity was severely restricted and Buddhism was forced to retreat to the mountains. In the late 1800’s, Seon Master Gyeongheo, the 75th Patriarch, revived the hidden Seon tradition by training many great disciples and establishing Seon centers. The transmission continued through Master Hyewol (76th), Unbong (77th) and Hyanggok (78th) to the present day, the 79th Patriarch, Master Jinje.
Attained the ultimate Enlightenment, "The Eye of the Supreme Vehicle"
Master Hyanggok, the teacher of Master Jinje attained the ultimate Enlightenment, "The Eye of the Supreme Vehicle". In the Korean Seon tradition this is considered to be a major improvement in the depth of attainment. Through Master Jinje receiving the Dharma transmission from Master Hyanggok, the "Eye of Supreme Vehicle" became standardized as the ultimate Enlightenment.
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Maybe the last teacher that can examine the practitioner's eye of enlightenment
While practicing Seon meditation, the most important thing is to meet an authentic, clear-eyed teacher who has awakened to the True Self. It is impossible to arrive at the mind’s true home which is vast and boundless, profound and recondite, by ourselves alone.
For this reason, the Buddha insisted that we need to receive approval from a master who inherited the right Dharma, and there can never be such an arrogant man who insists on self-claimed enlightenment. Therefore in order to leave no room for manipulation or lies in the field of enlightenment, we keep up the tradition of receiving approval from an enlightened predecessor.
In 1994, Master Jinje was requested to be the Josil, or residing Master of Donghwasa Monastery, guiding the meditation hall as well as providing instruction and checking the practice of all who come and visit. Since 1994 Master Jinje has been delivering his Dharma lectures at the beginning of each retreat season to all practicing monks and laypeople.
From 1996 to 2011 he was appointed to be the Guiding Master of the Jogye Order’s "Fundamental Seon Course" which was established for the training of all newly ordained meditation monks.
For 45 years, every single day has been readily available to anyone who came to inquire about Seon practice at Haeunjeonsa Temple in Busan.
Popularized Ganhwa Seon - The Founder of Haeunjeongsa Temple
Master Jinje carried Ganhwa Seon from the mountains to the mundane world. Before this time, the practice of Ganhwa Seon was available only for monks. In 1971, he moved to Busan and established Haeunjeongsa Temple, in order to spread the practice of Ganhwa Seon. For the past 45 years he has expended all of his efforts guiding monks and teaching the laity how to live with the Seon spirit in our daily lives.
Advocated "Living Seon"
Master Jinje teaches that "Seon is not only what you do when you are sitting. While you are doing your job, cleaning your room, taking a walk, washing your face or bathing, just keep this question in your mind. ‘What is my true self before I was born?’” Following Master Jinje’s teachings, anyone can practice Ganhwa Seon in their daily lives regardless of their religions or any other circumstances.
Brought back the Golden Age of Seon
Master Hyanggok, the teacher of Jinje sunim predicted that "Seon Buddhism will flourish in your generation." Master Gyeongheo planted the seed of Seon, and with Master Jinje it has been blooming widely. We are living in a golden age of Seon similar to the age of Huineng, the 6th Patriarch of China.
Besides thousands of temples in Korea there are more than one hundred meditation halls, where two thousand or so meditation monks and an increasing number of lay people reside for three months during the summer and winter retreats.
Off the retreat seasons, more and more people are practicing Living Seon in their daily lives thanks to Master Jinje’s inspiration.
Clarified the position of Korean Buddhism
There have been several occasions during the history when Korean monks travelled to China from where Seon originated, in order to learn Seon, but Master Jinje is the only one who went to China to examine the level of contemporary Chinese Seon.
In 2001 he visited 9 representative Seon temples in China, and examined eyes of enlightenments through Dharma exchanges with Chinese masters.
He had to confirm that after 60 years of communism there is no longer any clear-eyed master in China.
Speading Authentic Ganhwa Seon to the West
Boddhidharma has carried the teaching from India to China, and Master Taego Bowu from China to Korea. Now we are witnessing historical times when the teaching of authentic Ganhwa Seon is to reach new soil again.
In 2002, Master Jinje opened the first International Open Seon Conference in Korea and invited great Seon masters from China and Japan to Haeunjeongsa Temple in Busan, thus exposing the unique aspects of Korean Ganhwa Seon to Asia.
Early in 2011, Professor Paul Knitter, a theologian at Union Theological Seminary in New York, visited Master Jinje to learn about Ganhwa Seon, further exposing it to the world.
In September of 2011 Master Jinje traveled to the U.S. and gave a Dharma teaching on "Ganhwa Seon and World Peace" at Riverside Church in New York to mark the 10th year of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He attended at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. in early February and spoke in front of international leaders, Senators, Congressman and distinguished guests at the International Luncheon.
In October of 2012 Master Jinje was invited by religious leaders and gave a Dharma talk on "World Peace and Ecological Crisis: A Buddhist Wisdom," at the Church Center for the United Nations.
Master Jinje plans to visit Europe in 2013. His long term goal is to share Korean Buddhism and Ganhwa Seon with the whole world and to contribute to the realization of World Peace.