Daesoon Jinrihoe

By Massimo Introvigne

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DAESOON JINRIHOE TIMELINE*

*(All dates refer to the lunar calendar, which is used by Daesoon Jinrihoe)

1871 (September 19):  Kang Il-Sun (later known as Kang Jeungsan, 姜甑: we indicate the version of the main names in Chinese rather than Korean Hangul characters, as this is the common use in the movement) was born in Gaekmang-ri, Wudeok-myeon, Gobu-gun, North Jeolla Province (present-day Sinsong village, Sinwol-ri, Deokcheon-myeon, Jeongeup City of North Jeolla Province), Korea.

1891:  Kang Jeungsan married a lady from Gimje prefecture called Jeong.

1894:  Kang Jeungsan started operating a village school in his brother-in-law’s house.

1895 (December 4):  Jo Cheol-Je (later known as Jo Jeongsan, 趙鼎山) was born in Hoemun-ri, Chilseo-myeon of Haman-gun, South Gyeongsang Province (present-day Hoemun village, Hoesan-ri, Chilseo-myeon of Haman-gun, South Gyeongsang Province), Korea.

1897-1900:  Kang Jeungsan traveled around Korea for three years.

1901 (July 5):  According to his followers, Kang Jeungsan judged the divine beings of Heaven and Earth, and opened the Great Dao at Daewonsa temple.

1907 (December 25):  Kang Jeungsan was arrested by the Japanese police on the suspicion of raising an army against Japan. He was released on February 4, 1908.

1908:  Kang Jeungsan opened the “Donggok Clinic” in Donggok-ri of Jeonju-gun (present-day Cheongdo-ri, Geumsan-myeon of Gimje City), North Jeolla Province, Korea.

1909 (April 28):  Jo Jeongsan followed his father into Manchuria, where he had to flee due to his anti-Japanese activities.

1909 (June 24):  Kang Jeungsan died.

1917 (February 10):  Jo Jeongsan claimed he had received a revelation from Kang Jeungsan, had awakened to the “Great Daesoon Truth,” and thereby had succeeded Kang in the religion’s orthodoxy. Between 1919 and 1925, other followers of Kang Jeungsan disputed Jo Jeongsan’s claim and established separate branches.

1917 (November 30):  Park Han-Gyeong (later known as Park Wudang, 朴牛堂) was born in Banggok-ri, Jangyeon-myeon of Goesan-gun, North Chungcheong Province, Korea.

1917-1918:  An early form of the religious order was established by Jo Jeongsan in Anmyeon Island of Seosan-gun (present-day Anmyeon-eup of Taean-gun), South Chungcheong Province, Korea.

1925:  Jo Jeongsan founded Mugeukdo in Gutaein (present-day Taein-myeon of Jeongeup City), North Jeolla Province, Korea.

1941:  Jo Jeongsan disbanded Mugeukdo, due to the Japanese edict ordering the dissolution of Korean religious movements not acknowledging the authority of the Japanese emperor within the context of World War II.

1945:  With Japan’s defeat in World War II, Jo Jeongsan resumed his religious activities.

1948:  Jo Jeongsan reestablished the headquarters of Mugeukdo in Busan, South Gyeongsang Province (present-day Busan Metropolitan City, Korea) and reformed the organization.

1950:  Mugeukdo’s name was changed into Taegeukdo.

1957:  Jo Jeongsan defined Taegeukdo’s rituals and rules.

1958 (March 6):  Jo Jeongsan appointed Park Wudang as his successor before he passed.

1967-1968:  Some members of Taegeukdo disputed the authority of Park Wudang. As a consequence, he left the headquarters of Taegeukdo in Busan and the movement split into two factions.

1969:  Park Wudang created a new religious order, known as “Daesoon Jinrihoe” ( 大巡眞理會), gathering a number of leaders and followers from Taegeukdo. Headquarters were established at Junggok-dong, Seongdong-gu (present-day Junggok-dong, Gwangjin-gu) of Seoul, Korea.

1984:  The Daejin Educational Foundation was established. Daejin High School was opened.

1986:  A large-scale Cultivation Temple Complex was inaugurated in Gangcheon-myeon of Yeoju-gun (present-day Yeoju City), Gyeonggi Province, Korea.

1989:  A further temple, Jeju Training Temple, was constructed in Jeju Island.

1991:  Daejin University was founded in Seondan-ri of Pocheon-gun (present-day Seondan-dong, Pocheon City), Korea.

1992:  The Pocheon Cultivation Temple Complex was constructed in Pocheon-gun (present-day Pocheon City), and the establishment of the Daejin Medical Foundation followed thereafter.

1993:  Headquarters were moved to Yeoju-gun (present-day Yeoju City), Gyeonggi Province, Korea.

1995:  The Geumgangsan Toseong Training Temple Complex was constructed in Toseong-myeon of Goseong-gun, Gangwon Province, Korea.

1995 (December 4):  Park Wudang died.

1997:  A giant Maitreya Buddha statue was enshrined in the Geumgangsan Temple Complex in the Geumgang Mountain area, where Park Wudang was also buried.

1998:  Bundang Jesaeng Hospital was opened in Seohyeon-dong, Bundang-gu of Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province, Korea.

1999-2000:  Doctrinal conflicts within the movement about the enshrinement (deification) of Park Wudang.

2009:  Daesoon Jinrihoe Welfare Foundation was opened in Gangcheon-myeon of Yeoju City, Gyeonggi Province, Korea.

2013:  A Central Council was held in the Yeoju Headquarters Temple in order to resolve the internal disputes.

FOUNDER/GROUP HISTORY

Daesoon Jinrihoe (pronounced “Daesoon-jill-lee-h’weigh,” meaning “the Fellowship of Daesoon Truth”) is the largest movement among around one hundred groups that originated in Korea from the activities of Kang Il-Sun, known to his disciples as Kang Jeungsan (1871-1909). Kang’s preaching is best understood within the context of the religious effervescence that manifested itself in Korea in the late nineteenth century, as a reaction against both foreign imperialism (Western, Chinese, and Japanese) and the sufferings of impoverished peasants within the framework of the rigid Korean class system.

The leading prophetic figure who emerged in Korea in this period was Choi Je-Wu (1824-1864), who in 1860 claimed to have received a revelation as well as a mystical talisman and a mantra from “the Lord of Ninth Heaven” (Gucheon Sangje, 九天上帝). He founded a new religion called Donghak (“Eastern Learning,” as opposed to “Western Learning,” i.e. Christianity) and started gathering followers. Choi’s background was neo-Confucian, but both his concept of God, which some saw as leaning towards monotheism, and his progressive social ideas made the authorities suspect him of being close to Christianity, which at that time was banned and persecuted in Korea. He was executed in 1864, but Donghak continued and played a major role in the peasant rebellion of 1894, known as the Donghak Revolution.

The Donghak rebels came to control a significant part of the Korean territory, before being defeated by the Korean government, supported first by Chinese and then by Japanese troops (Rhee 2007). A bloody repression followed, and Donghak was reorganized as Cheondogyo, which claimed to be a non-political religious movement, although some of its leaders played a crucial role in the fight for Korean independence from Japan. Cheondogyo remains present to this day in both South and North Korea (see Lee 2016:44-48).

Kang Jeungsan was born in Gobu-gun, Jeolla Province (present-day Deokcheon-myeon of Jeongeup City, North Jeolla Province, Korea) on September 19, 1871. According to his followers’ hagiographic accounts, miraculous phenomena surrounded his birth and infancy. At age twenty, in 1891, he married a lady from Gimje prefecture called Jeong (1874-1928) and started running a village school in the home of his brother-in-law, Jeong Nam-Gi. He had studied Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, and was respected in the region as a man endowed with divine powers. Reportedly, he had also personally met the celebrated scholar of the Korean I Ching (Book of Changes), Kim Il-Bu (1826-1898).

Kang predicted that the 1894 Donghak rebellion would fail, and persuaded his followers not to participate in the fighting. With his accurate prediction of Donghak’s defeat, Kang proposed the idea that the renewal of the world would be achieved by peaceful means and that armed revolutions were counter-productive. This was the attitude he maintained when confronted with the growing Japanese presence in his country, which would lead to annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910.

Between 1897 and 1900, Kang wandered around Korea for three years. In 1900, he returned home to continue what he regarded as his mission. His disciples believe that, in the summer of 1901, he opened the Great Dao of Heaven and Earth through a forty-nine days divine Gongbu (i.e. unremitting efforts continuously accomplished during the forty-nine days) at Daewonsa Temple in the Moak Mountain, North Jeolla Province, Korea, which he concluded on July 5, 1901. They claim that, during this period of fasting, he also exercised the judgment upon the deities in charge of the Former World (Seoncheon). From 1901 until his passing in 1909, Kang Jeungsan performed many religious rituals, known as “the Reordering of the Universe” (Cheonji Gongsa, 天地公事), and gathered a sizable number of disciples.

On December 25, 1907, Kang Jeungsan and his followers were arrested by the Japanese police on charges that they were raising an army against Japanese authorities. They were later cleared of all charges and released from prison around February 4, 1908. Freed from jail, Kang continued to practice his rituals of reordering the universe, aimed at universal salvation for all the peoples of the world, until he passed away on June 24, 1909 at the Donggok Clinic he had established in 1908 (Chong 2016:17-58).

Around September 1911, Goh Pan-Lye (Subu, literally “Head Lady,” 1880-1935), a female disciple of Kang Jeungsan, gathered around her a number of his followers. Goh’s male cousin, Cha Gyeong-Seok (1880-1936), eventually became the dominant force in her religious order and tried to keep her under his control. In 1919, Goh separated from Cha and established her own religious order, which after her death in 1935 split into several rival factions. In the 1920s, Cha’s branch, known as Bocheonism (“Doctrine of Universal Heaven”), became the largest Korean new religious movement. However, it declined rapidly and split in turn into many factions. Cha himself abandoned the faith in Kang Jeungsan in 1928 and died in 1936.

The other leading disciple of Kang Jeungsan, Kim Hyeong-Ryeol (1862-1932), originally associated with Cha. In 1914, however, due to internal disputes he left Cha’s group and established an independent religious order with Kang Jeungsan’s widow, Jeong. All these branches are called “Jeungsan Branches” by Korean scholars, due to their association with the belief that Jeungsan spiritually resided in the Maitreya Buddha statue in the Geumsansa Temple at Moak Mountain (Lee 1967; Jorgensen 1999; Flaherty 2011:334-38).

Another large branch emerged in the 1920s around Jo Cheol-Je, known to his disciples as Jo Jeongsan (1895-1958). Unlike the founders of other branches, Jo Jeongsan was not a direct disciple of Kang Jeungsan, but claimed to have received a revelation from him after his passing. Jo Jeongsan was born on December 4, 1895 in Hoemun-ri, Chilseo-myeon of Haman-gun, South Gyeongsang Province (present-day Hoemun village, Hoesan-ri, Chilseo-myeon of Haman, South Gyeongsang Province), Korea. He followed his father, who had to escape to Manchuria due to his anti-Japanese activities. Kang Jeungsan and Jo Jeongsan never met. However, according to the latter’s disciples, when on April 28, 1909, Kang Jeungsan saw a train passing, which had Jo Jeongsan heading to Manchuria, then aged fifteen, aboard, he stated: “A man can do anything at the age of 15 if he is able to take his identification tag (hopae) with him.” Jo Jeongsan’s disciples believe that, by these words, Kang Jeungsan was recognizing him as his successor (Ko 2016).

On February 10, 1917, while he was still in Manchuria, Jo Jeongsan claimed to have received a revelation from Kang Jeungsan. When he returned to Korea, he met Kang Jeungsan’s sister Seondol (ca. 1881-1942), who gave him a sealed envelope that Kang had left for his successor. He also took care of Kang Jeungsan’s mother Kwon (1850-1926) and his daughter Sun-Im (1904-1959). Later, however, Sun-Im left Jo Jeongsan and formed her separate branch. In the meantime, Jo Jeongsan had established land-reclaiming agricultural projects with his followers in Anmyeon Island and Wonsan Island throughout the 1920s-1930s, while he was working at setting up a religious organization, which he finally incorporated in 1925 as Mugeukdo.

Mugeukdo prospered and Jo Jeongsan’s legitimacy as the successor of Kang Jeungsan was confirmed by his obtaining, in addition to the sealed envelope, a cabinet called the “Holy Chest” (a collection of holy relics believed to confer the continuation of an orthodox religious lineage) and Kang Jeungsan’s own bones. Due to both a 1936 edict disbanding a number of Korean religious movements, labeled by the Japanese as “pseudo-religions,” and the Maintenance of Public Order Act of 1941, Jo Jeongsan was forced to dissolve Mugeukdo in 1941 (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2016:203-05).

Jo Jeongsan continued his religious activities clandestinely and, after Japan’s defeat in 1945, he reconstituted Mugeukdo. In 1948, the new headquarters were established in Bosu-dong of Busan City, South Gyeongsang Province (present-day Bosu-dong, Jung-gu of Busan Metropolitan City), Korea. In 1950, Jo Jeongsan changed the name of the order to Taegeukdo. After defining the rituals and rules of Taegeukdo, Jo Jeongsan designated Park Han-Gyeong, later known as Park Wudang (1917-1995, or 1918-1996 according to the solar calendar), as his successor, and passed away on March 6, 1958.

Park Wudang was born on November 30, 1917 in Banggok-ri, Jangyeon-myeon of Goesan-gun, North Chungcheong Province. He worked as a school teacher and joined the movement in 1946. Some leaders at the headquarters disputed Park Wudang’s authority, and these conflicts led him to leave Busan in 1968 and reorganize the movement in Seoul under the name of Daesoon Jinrihoe in 1969. Headquarters were built at Junggok-dong, Seongdong-gu (present-day Junggok-dong, Gwangjin-gu) of Seoul.

Thanks to Park Wudang’s effort, Daesoon Jinrihoe experienced a rapid expansion and became the largest new religion of Korea. In 1986, a large-scale temple complex was inaugurated in Yeoju-gun, Gyeonggi Province [Image at right] (present-day Yeoju City), Korea, followed by another temple in Jeju in 1989. In 1991, Daejin University was founded in Pocheon-gun (present-day Pocheon City), Gyeonggi Province, and became one of the three Korean accredited universities operated by new religious movements (the others belonging to the Unification Church and Won Buddhism). In 1992, the Pocheon Cultivation Temple Complex was constructed in Pocheon-gun (present-day Pocheon City), and the establishment of the Daejin Medical Foundation followed thereafter. In 1993, the movement’s headquarters were moved to Yeoju. In 1995, another temple was established in Goseong-gun, Gangwon Province (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2016:205-206).

Park Wudang passed away on December 4, 1995, and conflicts emerged between those advocating and those denying his deification. The conflicts climaxed in 2000, and the order was split into two factions. With the passing of time, steps have been taken to resolve these conflicts, particularly through a Central Council held at the headquarters in Yeoju in 2013.

These major crises following Park Wudang’s passing did not stop the expansion of the movement. In 1997, a giant Maitreya Buddha statue was enshrined in the Geumgangsan Toseong Training Temple, [Image at right] a temple complex completed in 1996 in the Geumgang Mountain area, where Park Wudang was also buried (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2010:25). In 1998, Bundang Jesaeng Hospital was opened, followed in 2007 by the Daesoon Jinrihoe Welfare Foundation (Daesoon Jinrihoe Welfare Foundation 2016). The educational and charitable activities of Daesoon Jinrihoe greatly benefited the public image of the movement, which is increasingly regarded in Korea as a legitimate part of the country’s religious pluralism.

DOCTRINES/BELIEFS

Daesoon Jinrihoe is a movement that believes in the existence of a Supreme God, Gucheon Sangje, the Lord of the Ninth Heaven, who supervises the creation and change of all things in Heaven and Earth (Kim 2015).

Daesoon Jinrihoe teaches that, throughout thousands of years, the universe descended into a miserable state of affairs and “lost its regular order,” with conflicts and grievances accumulating at all levels (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2010:8-13). On Earth, this involved the West and not only the East. Daesoon Jinrihoe believes that the Catholic Jesuit priest, Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), unsuccessfully attempted to construct an earthly paradise through his missionary work in China. Yet, the reason he did not succeed was due to the deplorable customs of the Confucianism of his time. However, he opened the border between Heaven and Earth, with the consequence that “the divine beings who were unable to cross into their own territories could thereby come and go freely” (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2016:212). After his death, the movement teaches, Ricci led the gods of the civilization of the East to the West, which favored the flourishing of the advanced Western cultures. They developed following a heavenly model but eventually succumbed to materialism, greed, and lack of respect for divine beings, which led to destroying the order, distorting the Dao, and losing the ordinate way of human affairs. Due to this, Heaven and Earth fell into confusion and crisis, and came on the verge of annihilation.

As the crisis of the Former World (Seoncheon) also extended to the spirit world, all the divine spirits, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas petitioned Sangje to intervene. Accepting their requests, he started a “Great Itineration” (procession throughout the universe) visiting the three realms of the world (Heaven, Earth, and Humankind), aimed at solving all grievances and ushering in the advent of a glorious Later World (Hucheon) (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2014:12-13). The passage from the old to the new world is called Gaebyeok (Great Transformation), a familiar millenarian concept known in Korean religion. The passage from a Former World to a Later World was predicted by Kim Il-Bu and connected to his prediction of a great change in the universe, which was based on his interpretation of the I Ching. Daesoon Jinrihoe believes that the new world Kim Il-Bu predicted is in fact the one created by Kang Jeungsan. By equilibrating Yin and Yang, divine beings and human beings shall be unified and a 50,000-year earthly paradise shall be established, where humans will enjoy good health, long life, and eternal happiness and wealth.

The word “Daesoon” refers to Sangje’s Great Itineration of the world, but is used by Daesoon Jinrihoe with a plurality of meanings, including the cosmic movement of truth (jinri), which comes to permeate the world. During his Great Itineration, the movement believes, Sangje descended to the West and finally came to Korea and entered the golden statue of Maitreya Buddha in the Geumsansa Temple at the Moak Mountain, North Jeolla Province. There, Sangje revealed his teachings on the Great Dao of redemption to Choi Je-Wu.

Since, however, Choi Je-Wu was unable to overcome the system of Confucianism and open the new era, Sangje withdrew his mandate from him. Choi Je-Wu was arrested and executed in 1864. Sangje then incarnated in 1871 as Kang Jeungsan (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2016:212-13). He opened the world of mutual beneficence of the Later World, which would save all sentient beings, through his nine-years Reordering of the Universe from 1901 to 1909 (see Kim 2016). However, in order to fully realize this world, the mission of Jo Jeongsan and Park Wudang, who were also bestowed with the heavenly mandate, was necessary.

The Jeon-gyeong is the canonical scripture of Daesoon Jinrihoe and records Kang Jeungsan’s life and teachings and his Reordering of the Universe. Other branches of believers in Kang Jeungsan have different versions of the scripture. The Jeon-gyeong clarifies the religious activities of Sangje, the Lord of the Universe and the Ultimate Reality. It also suggests the tenets, creeds, and objectives of Daesoon Jinrihoe. In fact, these tenets are strictly interconnected and hard to define separately from each other. However, in order to facilitate their understanding, they are presented as four tenets (see Joo 2016; Baker 2016:8-11).

The first is “the creative conjunction of Yin and Yang” (Eumyang hapdeok, 陰陽合德). In the Former World, due to the mutual conflicts of Yin and Yang all sort of confrontations emerged (see Baker 2016:9). Daesoon Jinrihoe tries to promote mutual beneficence through cooperation and harmony of Yin and Yang (which is also depicted on the Korean flag).

The second principle is “the harmonious union of divine beings and human beings” (Sinin johwa, 神人調化). Spirit corresponds to Yin and human beings to Yang. In the Later World, they are not separated. In Korean religious tradition in general, gods, spirits, and humans are not, in the words of scholar of Korean religions Donald Baker, “totally different types of beings” (Baker 2016:9) and their harmonious co-existence is seen as a desirable goal. Daesoon Jinrihoe claims to offer appropriate techniques to reach this traditional goal of Korean spirituality.

The third tenet of Daesoon doctrine is “the resolution of grievances for mutual beneficence” (Haewon sangsaeng, 解冤相生). Grievances were the principal problem of the Former World, and they extended to all three realms, as well as to divine beings (Baker 2016:10; see Kim 2016). Through his Great Itineration, Sangje opened a road to resolve the grievances of the three realms, which had been accumulated for ages. However, in order to enter into a world free of conflict humans shall now cooperate by cultivating and propagating the truth, and avoiding the creation of new grievances.

The fourth principle is “the perfected unification with Dao” (Dotong jin’gyeong, 道通眞境). This refers to the realization of earthly immortality in an earthly paradise through the renewal of human beings and the recreation of the world (Baker 2016:10-11). In fact, the world will become one clan or family, and all humanity will be governed without force and punishment, according to divine laws and principles. Officials will be moderate and wise, and will avoid any unnecessary authoritarianism. Humans will be free from worldly desires caused by resentment, avarice, and lewdness. The three kinds of disasters coming from water, fire, and wind will disappear from the world. Humans will be given freedom from diseases and death (i.e. eternal youth and immortality). They will be able to travel freely wherever they wish, and their wisdom will be so complete that they will know all the secrets of present, past, and future. And the whole world will be an earthly paradise filled with bliss and joy (see Kim 2015:187-94).

RITUALS/ PRACTICES 

The practice (“cultivation”) of Daesoon Jinrihoe is summarized in its Creeds, divided into the Four Cardinal Mottos and the Three Essential Attitudes. The Four Cardinal Mottos are: quieting the mind, quieting the body, respect for Heaven, and cultivation (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2014:17-18). The Three Essential Attitudes include sincerity, respectfulness, and faithfulness.

The first and second Cardinal Mottos are “quieting the mind” (anshim) and “quieting the body” (anshin). The body manifests the mind and can only be given quiet by controlling the latter, abandoning self-deception and futile desires, and keeping the mind calm. Through this, one’s manners will come in accordance with propriety and reason. This aim can only be achieved by “revering Heaven” (gyeongcheon), which for the movement means “respecting the Lord of the Ninth Heaven” and being aware of Sangje’s constant presence. This awareness is obtained through “cultivation” (sudo).

The cultivation includes gongbu (a specifically timed devotional incantation ritual held at the Yeoju Headquarters Temple Complex,[Image at right] which is believed to hasten the opening up of the coming Earthly Paradise), spiritual training, and prayer. Gongbu is divided into sihak and sibeop, which are different ways to chant incantations in specifically designated places and in certain ways. Spiritual practice refers to chanting the Tae-eul mantra without a designated place or time. The prayer is divided into daily prayer and weekly prayers. The daily prayer is performed at 1 AM, 7 AM, 1 PM, and 7 PM. The weekly prayers, or prayers for the fifth day of every traditional Korean week (which consists of five days), are practiced in a designated place or at home, at 11 PM, 5 AM, 11 AM, and 5 PM. More elaborate and collective devotional offerings (Chiseong) are held on the dates of birth and death of Kang Jeungsan, Jo Jeongsan, and Park Wudang, and of major religious events in the history of the movement, as well as on dates related to seasonal divisions, especially the Winter solstice, the Summer solstice, and the beginnings of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.

ORGANIZATION/LEADERSHIP

According to the doctrine of Daesoon Jinrihoe, the succession of the movement’s orthodoxy includes only three leaders: Kang Jeungsan, Jo Jeongsan, and Park Wudang.

After the latter’s passing, the order is directed through a committee system. The constitution of the order regulates the quite complicated organization of the movement. The highest authority is vested in the Central Council, which determines all administrative matters while auditing the general affairs of the movement. The four divisions of the Board of Religious Order Affairs take charge of the temple affairs, the events, cultivation, and the study of the doctrine. All the divisions and organizations of Daesoon Jinrihoe are audited by the Board of Audit and Inspection, whose Committee of Discipline judges the breaches of the constitution and may take disciplinary measures (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2010:26-27).

The three major activities of Daesoon Jinrihoe include relief and charity, social welfare, and education and training (Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture 2010:36-41). The movement insists that seventy percent of the money it raises is devoted to these social activities. The Daejin University Educational Foundation manages Daejin University [Image at right] in Pocheon City and six high schools in Korea. Daejin University also operates two branch campuses in Harbin and Suzhou, in China, and its educational achievements are a source of pride for the movement’s members.

The Daejin Medical Foundation began operations in 1992, and the well-respected Bundang Jesaeng Hospital, in Bundang-gu of Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province, was established in 1998. Two more hospitals are currently under construction. The Daesoon Jinrihoe Welfare Foundation provides local health and welfare services in the area around the movement’s headquarters in Yeoju, with a particular focus on treatment and services for the elderly. It operates Daejin Elderly Nursing Facilities, Daejin Geriatric Hospital, Daejin Elderly Welfare Center, and Daejin Youth Training Center [Image at right] (Daesoon Jinrihoe Welfare Foundation 2016).

In addition to the large temple complexes, Daesoon Jinrihoe spread its doctrines and rituals through over 200 Fellowship Buildings, halls, and more than 2,000 smaller Centers for the Propagation of Virtue, all over South Korea. These numbers raise the question of how many members the movement has, a central question for Daesoon Jinrihoe. The Korean census in 1995 found 62,000 Koreans who indicated Daesoon Jinrihoe as their religious affiliation, and they were even less in the census of 2005. The movement now claims some six million followers. While the last figure may also include mere sympathizers, the census’ result was clearly grossly underestimated, and not consistent with the crowds attending both special ceremonies and the daily activities in thousands of Daesoon Jinrihoe’s branches throughout the country. It seems clear that a large part of that almost half of Koreans who keep answering census questionnaires by indicating that they do not belong to any religion, in fact understand the question as referring to the traditional religions, and the figure hides a substantial number of followers of the new religions, including Daesoon Jinrihoe (Baker 2016:1-2).

ISSUES/CHALLENGES

Criticism of Daesoon Jinrihoe comes mostly from other religions, other branches of believers in Kang Jeungsan, and some Korean mass media. A few Western scholars echo this criticism and discuss in a negative way the internal conflicts (see e.g. Jorgensen 1999). The situation is complicated by the fact that most documents and texts of Daesoon Jinrihoe have not been translated into English and its overseas activities are very limited.

This is, precisely, the main challenge Daesoon Jinrihoe faces for its future. Not only its dimensions in Korea would make international expansion a possible development, but the movement’s theology clearly presents Daesoon Jinrihoe as a new religion capable of guiding the whole world through a way of salvation and peace. In contrast with Jeungsando, another branch of believers in Kang Jeungsan that has already established a presence in the United States and other countries, Daesoon Jinrihoe has so far largely limited its activities to South Korea, with the exception of the two branch campuses of its Daejin University inaugurated in China and a small presence in Washington D.C. Now Daesoon Jinrihoe wishes to be engaged in global expansion, and this is a target the movement’s devotees pay attention to. However, prior to attempting full scale expansion, the movement’s first priority is the translation of its complicated Korean scriptures into other languages. Additionally, the movement is aware that internal changes must occur for the sake of expansion. New religions generally go through this process when transforming from domestic into global movements.

GLOSSARY

Anshim:  安心, quieting the mind.

Anshin:  安身, quieting the body.

Cheonji Gongsa:  天地公事, the Reordering of the Universe.

Chiseong:  致誠, elaborate and collective devotional offerings.

Daesoon Jinrihoe:  大巡眞理會, the Fellowship of Daesoon Truth.

Dotong jin’gyeong:  道通眞境, the perfected unification with Dao.

Eumyang hapdeok:  陰陽合德, the creative conjunction of Yin and Yang.

Gaebyeok:  開闢, the Great Transformation.

Gongbu:  工夫, a specifically timed devotional incantation ritual held at the Yeoju Headquarters Temple Complex, which is believed to hasten the opening up of the coming Earthly Paradise.

Gucheon Sangje:  九天上帝, the Lord of Ninth Heaven.

Gyeongcheon:  敬天, revering Heaven.

Haewon sangsaeng:  解冤相生, the resolution of grievances for mutual beneficence.

Hucheon:  後天, the Later World.

Jeon-gyeong:  典經, the canonical scripture of Daesoon Jinrihoe.

Sa gangryeong:  四綱領, the Four Cardinal Mottos.

Samyoche:  三要諦, the Three Essential Attitudes.

Seoncheon:  先天, the Former World.

Sibeop:  侍法, one of the two varieties of gongbu.

Sihak:  侍學, one of the two varieties of gongbu.

Sinin johwa:  神人調化, the harmonious union of divine beings and human beings.

Sinjo:  信條, creeds.

Sudo:  修道, cultivation.

Tae-eul mantra:  太乙呪, the main incantation used in Daesoon Jinrihoe.

IMAGES

Image #1 : Cheonggyetap Pagoda in the Yeoju Headquarters Temple Complex.

Image #2 : The Statue of Maitreya in Geumgangsan Toseong Training Temple Complex.

Image #3: Yeoju Headquarters Temple Complex.

Image #4 : Daejin University.

Image #5 : Daesoon Jinrihoe Welfare Foundation.

REFERENCES

Baker, Don. 2016. “Daesoon Sasang: A Quintessential Korean Philosophy.” Pp. 1-16 in Daesoon Academy of Sciences, 2016.

Baker, Don. 2008. Korean Spirituality. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Chong, Key Ray. 2016. “Kang Jeungsan: Trials and Triumphs of a Visionary Pacifist/Nationalist, 1894-1909.” Pp. 17-58 in Daesoon Academy of Sciences, 2016.

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Author:
Massimo Introvigne

Post Date:
17 February 2017

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