Chinul: The Founder of the Korean Son Tradition

Chinul: The Founder of the Korean Son Tradition book cover



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Keel, Hee-Sung
Berkeley Buddhist Studies Series 6
1984. 211 pp.
ISBN 0895811545
$20.00

The Buddhist master Chinul (1158-1210) is regarded as one of the greatest Son (Zen) monks in Korea. It was his reform and innovation of the meditation school of Korean Buddhism that determined the development of the monastic tradition of Korea. The present form of Buddhism in his homeland owes much to his endeavors more than seven centuries ago. There is a sad lack of materials on Korean Buddhism in Western scholarship, even though the religious history of East Asia is only partially written without adequate reference to Korea. Through a penetrating analysis of Chinul's writings and Son, the author of this volume makes the esoteric worlds of the Buddhist meditation experience accessible to the reader.

Included in this study is a thorough study of the life of Chinul, focusing on the reform movement which he launched in the latter half of the twelfth century. This history of Chinul is followed by an exposition of his philosophy and approach to Son. Finally, the volume deals with the fascinating story of the legacy that still continues among the large and active group of monastic institutions in Korea.

This work opens up new areas for the study of Buddhism and East Asia; it will be of great value to historians, Buddhist scholars, and those interested in the way in which religious reform in accomplished. This is a book that will aid those who wish to understand Korea and its religious history.


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