of Shakyamuni Buddha
In the latter period of the Koryeo Dynasty in Korea, the Master Taego Bowu, practiced for 20 years and awakened to the essence of Seon. At that time, even though Seon Buddhism had flourished in Korea for several hundred years, there was no master who had received true transmission. In order to get his enlightenment confirmed, Master Taego traveled to China and visited Seon Master Seok-Ok. He received Dharma transmission and became the 57th Patriarch of the lineage of the Buddha and the 1st Patriarch in Korea.
While Confucionism had favor in the court during the Joseon Dynasty, Buddhist activity was severely restricted and the Buddhism was forced into the mountains. In the late 1800’s, Seon Master Gyeongheo, the 75th Patriarch, revived the hidden Seon tradition and the transmission continued through the Masters Hyewol, Unbong, Hyanggok to the present day, the79th Patriarch, Master Jinje.
The Master Jinje was born in Namhae, Gyeongnam Province in 1934 and at the age of 20, in 1954, he was ordained in Haeinsa Monastery (海印寺) by Master Seogu(石友). After becoming ordained he traveled to different meditation halls, pursuing his practice and receiving instruction. At this time the two most famous Seon masters in Korea were Master Jeon-gang(田岡) and Master Hyanggok(香谷), but Master Jinje was impressed by Master Hyanggok’s precision and clarity in teaching; his ability to use “the knife the other masters did not use” in separating white from black. In 1959 he was accepted as Seon Master Hyanggok’s disciple. He began his practice anew with the kong-an “Hsiang-yen: Up a Tree (香嚴上樹話)”. He struggled with this hwadu for two years, day and night, practicing under the guidance of Master Hyanggok until one day this kong-an, as well as all other kong-ans became clear. All, that is, except for one. When Seon Master Hyanggok asked about the kong-an, “Sun Faced Buddha, Moon Faced Buddha (日面佛月面佛)”, Master Jinje was unable to answer. For the next 5 years, he wrestled with this hwadu until finally, this too broke open. Master Hyanggok acknowledged his enlightenment in the summer of 1967, making him his only Dharma heir and the 79th Patriarch of this tradition.
He wrote this transmission gatha:
Entrusting this Dharma to my successor, Jinje Beopwon:
In 1971, Master Jinje moved to Haeundae and established HaeunJeongsa, a Meditation Temple near downtown Busan in order to spread the teachings of Buddha and Seon meditation. For the past 40 years he has expended all of his efforts teaching both monks and the laity to live with the Seon spirit in daily life.
In 1994, he was requested to be the Josil(祖室), or residing Master of Dongwhasa(桐華寺) Monastery, guiding the meditation hall as well as providing instructing and checking the practice of all who come and visit. The Korean Jogye Order is unique in its emphasis on meditation. Besides the thousands of temples in Korea there are more than 100 meditation halls where the 2000 or so meditation monks are expected to reside at least 3 months for the summer and winter retreats. Since 1994 the Master has had his Dharma lectures distributed to each of these meditation halls at the beginning of each retreat. In 1996 he was appointed to be the Guiding Master of the Jogye Order “Fundamental Seon Course” responsible for the training of all meditation monks.
In 2002, for the first time in Korea, the Master held an International Open Seon Conference and invited great Seon masters from China and Japan to HaeunJeongsa in Busan, exposing the unique aspects of Korean Ganhwa Seon to the world. And in the beginning of 2011 Paul Knitter, a professor and Theologian at Union Theological Seminary visited the Master to have an interfaith dialogue, further exposing Korean Buddhism to the world. Despite his age of 77 years, Master Jinje is planning to attend and give a lecture on “Ganhwa Seon and World Peace” at an interfaith dialogue that will take place marking the 10th year of the 9/11 Terrorist attack in New York on the 16th of September.