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Venerable Chŏngsan (Song, Kyu, 1900~1962) was the second Head Dharma Master of Won Buddhism and the first successor of the Founding Master Sotaesan. He was viewed as the Dharma mother with great compassion in the Won Buddhist order. He contributed greatly to drafting the first doctrine.

He suggested the four visions and tried to realize them: the preparation of teaching material, the establishment of organizations, the cooperation of the state administration and religion, understanding the essentials and nourishing the root.


He often said, “Be a master of the new world through utilizing mind practice actively in everyday life.” He proclaimed and taught, “the Ethics of Triple Identity(Samdongyulli)” which means that the world is one family who are living under the one truth.   The Dharma Words of Master Chŏngsan was published in 1972 (Won Buddhist era 57) as one of the Scriptures and read frequently by Won Buddhist along with The Scriptures of The Founding Master.


With the unitary principle within unitary fence,

As one family within unitary household,

As one co-workers on the unitary work place,

Let us construct the world of Il-Won [One Circle].



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"Face is the portrait of the soul." said Cicero, a Roman philosopher. Men of clear face do have clear soul. The minds of men of dirty face somehow are not all clear. The outside reflects the inside, and the inside is the crystal of the outside. The inside and the outside literally reflect each other. The most beautiful face I have ever seen among Koreans is that of Master Song, Chŏngsan whom I have met at the Wonbulkyo Headquarters, Iri City(Iksan City). I won't forget his face forever. It was about five years ago. I stayed at the Wonbulkyo(Won Buddhism) Headquarters for four days to their request for lectures. I gave lectures on modern philosophy to about 200 ministers of Wonbulkyo for seven to eight hours. I admired their attentive and calm attitude during the lectures I could not find among any other audience. I read and studied hard the doctrines of Wonbulkyo during my stay to expand my knowledge of the religion.


One day I was recommended to meet the Head Master of Wonbulkyo. They say he is a great person. They also say his name is Chŏngsan, Song Kyu and that he has been suffering from strokes for many years. I had never met him before. I had been led to a spacious room in a traditional house and met a white haired man in his sixties who looked much younger for his age. I bowed to Master Song, Chŏngsan politely in respect. I looked at him in his face. It was really a remarkable face. His face is so innocent looking as that of children and still full of deep inner-happiness. His reddish face in harmony with his white hair has the dignity of an old and mature man. In short, it is a face of incomparable neatness.


Master Song, Chŏngsan first asks me my hometown. He thanks me for coming to Iri City from Seoul. He says sorry for not being able to get up because of illness. I realized right away he was not an ordinary man. His calm voice and attitude reflect the inner soul of a man who attained enlightenment after many years of practice. I stared at his face in awe. I had never seen a better face than his. Face of dignity, wisdom, and integrity is one of the most precious things one can have. I have read some stories that an enlightened master's face is clearly different from that of ordinary men. I felt like I was looking at the real example. His face was definitely one of an enlightened master.


I felt a warm aura coming from his whole body that encompassed me. I felt a beauty of innocent soul and childlike face. It was as if I was looking at a wonder. Looking at his face again and again just delighted me. He must have sincerely practiced the way to the enlightenment to have such a face of inner happiness and grace. I felt I was hit hard. It said to me, You have a long, long way to go. Look at him. Each of us is born with a certain face. Face is clearly given at birth. However, we make our own face to a certain degree. Men who lived sincerely for a few decades would have a face that reflects his sincerity. Faces of those who lived irresponsibly for a few years would lose innocence and clarity to become ugly. Face is the history of ones life and soul. It is the jewel ones life crystalizes. Looking at Master Song, Chŏngsan's face, I wondered how many years of sincere efforts there are behind his face carved with innocence and inner happiness. That face is not given by the nature. He made it on his own. It is what his long and sincere seeking for enlightenment made.


On the day I left Iri City I visited again Master Song's room to say goodbye. I looked at his such a rare face for a long time in envy. An about 70-year-old woman enters the room and bows to Master Song in farewell. She bows to him and does not move for long in the greatest respect. Master Song receives the bow being seated. The old woman, a devotee of Wonbulkyo order, bowed to him in the sincerest respect. I looked at her in surprise. I had never seen such a bow of respect. It was full of respect and the sincerest of all. One cannot do better than that in expressing respect. How can a person bow to another in such a sincere respect? I was just surprised. That old womans bow to Master Song was the sincerest and most respectful I had ever seen. I had a chance to see such a sincere bow again in a temple in New Delhi, India. An Indian woman offered up an armful of fragrant white flowers in front of a statue of a god and prostrated full of respect for a long time. Looking at her, I realized that is the respect. I was sorry that I had no one I would pay such a respect to.


I had seen the most beautiful face in Master Song, Chŏngsan and the most respectful bow in the old woman whose name I do not know. The former is the face of neatness and inner happiness and the latter the bow of incomparable sincerity. They were such remarkable scenes of life. Both of them were those of happiest moments of life.


On returning to Seoul I sent Master Song a post card. I wrote a Lao-tzus saying, The Tao is natural. I received his reply a few days later. The post card read, Moons of mind reflect each other. Moons of mind reflect each other it is a great phrase. I wanted to see Master Song's face again but was unable to do so. On returning from the US after spending sometime there, I was very saddened by the news that Master Song had passed away. I am still really sorry that I could not see Master Song, Chŏngsan's such a beautiful face again.

(Translated by Sejin Park)