Cheontae’s roots date back 1,400 years in history to the Cheontae Mountain near the city of Taizhou, Zhejiang, in eastern China. It was there that Zhiyi established the principles of Cheontae Buddhism while practicing Buddhism. Zhiyi lived during the late Qin Dynasty and Sui Dynasty. He rst renounced the secular world at the age of 18. By 560 C.E. he was studying under Nanyue Huisi who was residing in the mountains near contemporary Guangzhou, China, focusing on The Saddharmapundarika Sutra and The Fourfold Path or ‘The Principles of Happiness’, as well as achieving lotus Samadhi; or attaining enlightenment from the realization of truth. For seven years after his enlightenment he preached about Lotus Sutra and Mahaprajnaparamita Shastra in Jinling, the southern capital. He later stayed on Mount Cheontae where he laid out the Cheontae doctrines. Zhiyi established Yuquansi Temple in Jingzhou where he lectured on the Three Major Commentaries of the Cheontae Doctrines; Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra, Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, and Great Shamatha-vipashyana. By 595 C.E. he was back on Cheontae Mountain when he repaired the temple and built a Buddhist academy dedicated to Prince Jinwang. He died on the Mountain in 597 C.E. Prince Jinwang (later Emperor Yangdi) built the Guiqingsi Temple in 601 C.E. which became the base of the Cheontae Order.
Cheontae was brought into Korea during the Three Kingdom Era. Priest Hyeongwnag of the Baekje Dynasty and Priest Yeongwang of the Silla Dynasty studied Cheontae in China and spread the teachings upon returning. Supreme Patriarch Jegwan further established the Order by writing Cheontaesa-gyoui (Cheontae Doctrines), an introduction to Cheontae teachings, during King Gwangjong’s reign of the Goryeo Dynasty. Cheontae did not of cially appear in Korean history until Priest Uicheon (1055-1101) who established the order as an independent school, with Gukcheongsa Temple in Gaeseong as its base, during the 2nd year of King Sukjong’s reign during the Goryeo Dynasty. Uicheon curbed the con ict between the Zen sects and non-Zen sects of Buddhism. He popularized Buddhism by asserting that theory and practice must come hand-in-hand. Cheontae reformed Goryeo Dynasty Buddhism and anchored the revival of Buddhist culture.
Cheontae was shunned along with other Buddhist sects because of the Joseon Dynasty’s policy to promote Confucianism and suppress Buddhism. Its legacy was long forgotten and hidden away in the shadows until it was revived by Supreme Patriarch Sangwol Wongak in modern times. Sangwol Wongak built the Guinsa Temple in 1945 and deemed it Cheontae’s new headquarters, declaring its return as the Cheontae Order of Korean Bud- dhism on August 30th, 1966. It was later government registered on January 24th, 1967. Cheontae is still growing under its three basic principles: patriotism, close-to-life, and public-friendly.
Cheontae Order’s main text is The Saddharmapundarika Sutra or The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Dharma. Saddharma is an ‘orthodox dharma or teaching’ in Sanskrit and refers to Buddha’s heart or his awakening. Pundarika is Sanskirt for ‘white lotus.’ In Korean it is called Myobeobyeonhwagyeong. Ancient Indians consid- ered the white lotus the most beautiful ower in the world. Lotuses grow in muddy pools of water, but they are beautiful and fragrant regardless. They are often likened to Buddha’s teaching and his life. In short, it is called the Lotus Sutra and was rst translated into Chinese in the 3rd century. The book has been widely read in China, Korea and Japan ever since.
Lotus Sutra is Mahayana’s Supreme-vehicle to the door of the
Dharma that all sattva is Buddha. Gautama Bud- dha began to
teach after his awakening. The core of his sutras is that ‘all
that lives is the re ection of Buddha.’ He goes on to explain
the basic value of humans and the universe, going into detail
on living a life-based-on- truth. It also includes a long list
of mantras and charms that bring guna – virtue or laudable
deeds. The sutra consists of twenty-eight chapters and is
revered as one of the most in uential Mahayana Sutras to this
day, regardless of sect or order. It is widespread belief that
simply reading Lotus Sutra brings enlightenment.
The Cheontae Order of Korean Buddhism encourages all devotees to recite Lotus Sutra and offers a wide vari- ety of courses which help people understand the scriptures. The 25th chapter, The Universal Gate of Bodhisattva Kanzeon, is used as a chant.
The life of a priest is centered on dissemination, ascetic training, and relieving mankind of suffering. Cheontae priests complete their Self through ascetic practice and adopt dissemination as their life mission. Cheontae priests rely on Self-power and Other-power in ascetic practice. Chanting phrases from the Lotus Sutra for singleness of mind. The priests take the full lotus posture or half-lotus posture when the sutra is recited in silence; the breath is calmed while the mind is emptied. The senses are directed towards the Buddha as the chanting of the name Bodhisttava continues. This process is considered part of a Self-powered ascetic practice but it is at the same time an Other-powered practice since it is empowering and brings mindfulness of patron- age. It can be said that chanting is a well-rounded method of meditation.
Cheontae priests consider work to be part of an ascetic practice. After work, they meditate to continue their training. They are placed on farms, pastures, meal centers, and general affairs of ce, taking care of administra- tive affairs, leading Buddhist ceremonies, and organizing Buddhist assemblies at times. Regardless of what their duties are during the day, nighttime is reserved for Samadha-vipassana through chanting. The summer meditation retreat and winter meditation retreat each last a month in which both devotees and priests participate. The winter meditation retreat is followed by a priest meditation retreat under the supervision of a senior priest. The retreat lasts for approximately 55 days. Participating priests go about their responsibili- ties during the day and meditate during the night following Cheontae’s principle of ‘work by day, practice Buddhism by night.’
Supreme Patriarch Sangwol Wongak was born November 28th, 1911
(Lunar calendar) in Bongchonmaeul in Gangwondo Province as Park
Yeong- jin’s son, the only son for two generations in the Park
household. His secular name was Jun-dong, with percept name
Sangwol, and ordinated name Wongak. He renounced the secular
world in the spring of the year he turned 15, after which he
studied for many years at great temples hidden away in the
mountains. The future supreme patriarch pilgrimed to
Geumgangsan Mountain, Taebaksan Mountain, Guwolsan Mountain,
Myohyangsa Mountain, and other famous locations where he
accumulated experience and depth.
In 1930 Sangwol Wongak moved to China where he visited Mount Putuo in China, said to be the dwelling of bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara as well as Mount Cheontae, the cradle of Cheontae Order, its summit Huanding Summit, Guiqingsi Temple, and other locations claimed to be China’s ve holdy grounds. He traveled as far as Mongolia and Tibet before he came home to Korea. It was not until 1945 he came to Yeonhwaji of Sobae- ksan Mountain in Chungcheongbukdo Province where he built a hermitage. On December 28th, 1951 (Lunar calendar) he became enlightened exclaiming ‘In the whole universe, only I exist!’ Supreme Patriarch Sangwol Wongak had the Realization of the Great Way as a whole. The great non-thinking great path of three sublime insights of Dharma of the Flower Garland School had nally been achieved.
Supreme Patriarch Sangwol Wongak began a new Buddhist movement based on the principles of patriotism, close-to-life, and public-friendly, picking up Cheontae’s trail that had been lost for over ve centuries. Supreme Patriarch Sangwol Wongak died at the age of 64 in 1974, forty-nine years since choosing to become a monk. He wished that all sentient beings pursue supreme enlightenment to the very end.
Supreme Patriarch Nam Dae-chung was born on December 5th, 1925
(Lunar calendar) in a small village called Yeouisaeng, not far
from Guinsa. His birth name is Iksun while his Dharma name is
Nam Dae-chung. He rst set foot into Guinsa as a monk when he
turned 21 and studied under the supervision of Sangwol Daejosa.
Nam Dae-chung distinguished himself from his peers with his
exceptional dedication to meditation.
In 1967 Supreme Patriarch Sangwol approved Daechung in an open Dharma dialogue during the winter meditation period. He was appointed the 2nd Supreme Patriarch when the Cheontae order was in desperate need of good leadership following the death of the founding gure. Nam Dae-chung elevated the order’s status, pushed it forward, and established a sturdy foundation. He expanded the Guinsa Temple and gave Buddhist services at Cheontae temples nationwide in efforts to enlighten the public.
Supreme Patriarch Daechung died in 1993 at the age of 69, forty-eight years since becoming a monk.
Supreme Patriarch Kim Do-yong was born on October 1st, 1943
(Lunar calendar) in Pyeonghae, a village in Uljin-gun of
Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. His given name is Yeongchun and his
Dharma name is Do-yong. He started his life as a monk at Guinsa
under Supreme Patriarch Nam Dae-chung in 1977.
Do-yong usually worked on communal farms and ranches during the day and meditated during the night. His ascetic practice of never lying down, even to sleep, has become legendary among Buddhist priests. Do-yong’s determination was recognized by the 2nd Supreme Patriarch. By Septem- ber 1993, he was Cheontae Order’s 3rd Supreme Patriarch. Today he focuses on reminding Buddhists of the true purpose of meditation.
With Guinsa Temple as his home, he offers his teachings to all who visit the Cheontae temple. He is central to the Cheontae’s Buddhist beliefs as well as the guiding light to the Order.
500 years after Cheontae was rst established in Korea, Supreme
Patriarch Sangwol Wongak built a hermitage and named it the
Guinsa Temple. He spent years in the make-shift home, made of
kudzu root, pouring his energy into asceticism. The great
priest eventually found the Great Way and government registered
the Cheontae Order of Korean Buddhism in 1967.
The Guinsa Temple is the base for Cheontae. It has been spreading the idea that ‘anyone can make their wish come true with prayer and self-discipline.’ It has gathered numerous devotees over the years since it rst opened its doors.
The Guinsa Temple is hidden among mountain ranges. From afar, the temple looks as if it were wrapped inside lotus petals. Built on solid rock, there are over fty buildings within the temple’s perimeter. Over 10,000 people can stay at the temple simultaneously.
The Gwanmunsa Temple, established in October 1998, has its back
to Umyeonsan Mountain. It is the cradle for the teachings of
Buddha in the metropolitan area as well as the center of
dissemination. The temple build- ing has four basement levels
and seven ground levels, mixing traditional building styles
with contemporary architecture. The Dharma Hall is situated on
the top oor; the Bodhisattva hall is on the fourth. The heart
of the Gwanmunsa Temple is Okbulbojeon Hall where Buddhist
services, cultural events, and other big occasions take place.
The temple also owns a 21 m tall ten story Okbul Daebo Tower as
well as its own museum and library, making it a cultural
Inquiries: +82-2-3460-5300 / Website: http://www.gwanmunsa.org / Address: Baumoe-ro 7-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul , Korea
Daegwangsa Temple lies at the base of Bulgoksan Mountain,
long-known as the Bucheogol Valley or Buddha’s Valley. The
ancient temple consists of Mireukjeon Hall, a majestic and
beautiful building, as well as the more modern Traditional
Meditation Training Center, which brings Buddhists together
from all corners of the nation. Regular Buddhist services,
family services, and doctrine services are held monthly at
Daegwangsa Temple. The temple also owns a Meditation
Consultation College, and offers meditation programs and temple
stays to as- sist Buddhists in their beliefs and improve the
quality of their lives.
Inquiries: +82-31-715-3000 / Website: http://www.daegwangsa.org / Address: 30, Gumi-ro 185beon-gil, Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
In 1970, a group of Buddhists joined together and in 1998, they
began building Samwoonsa Temple with the belief that a temple
must be ‘a cultural space open to Buddhists and citizens
alike.’ Samwoonsa Temple has set an example for other temples
by working together with Chuncheon residents. The temple
consists of the main hall, which can hold up to 2,000
worshipers, classrooms for Geumgang Buddhist University
students, and a kindergarten for up to 200 toddlers. Samwoonsa
Temple hosts cultural events along with the local community,
such as musical concerts and parties for senior citizens,
celebration of the coming of winter, and handing out of
briquettes to the poor.
Inquiries: +82-33-241-1330 / Website : http://www.samwoonsa.or.kr / Address: 12, Huseok-ro 441beon-gil, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do, Korea
Dedicated Buddhists have attended outdoor Buddhist services for
ten years since the rst Busan-based devotee group was founded
in 1969. The construction of the Samgwangsa Temple began in
1982 at the foot of Bae- kyangsan Mountain. Now the temple sits
on an 115,000 square meter lot and can hold over 10,000 people.
As one of the largest Buddhist temples in Korea, Samgwangsa has
over 360 thousand registered devotees. The temple organizes
Buddhist services as well as cultural and art events popular
among non-Buddhist residents in Busan.
Inquiries : +82-51-808-7111~ 5 / Website : http://www.samkwangsa.or.kr / Address: 77, Choeupcheon-ro 43beon-gil, Busanjin-gu, Busan, Korea
Seongmunsa Temple offers a panoramic view of the magni cent
Chiaksan Mountain, situated at the foot of the mountain,
thought to be full of ‘good energy.’ The temple offers Buddhist
services for families, children, and students in addition to
its regular services. Seongmunsa’s choir is well-known for
performing sophisticated songs that melt away one’s anguish.
Seongmun Kindergarten has been operating within the temple for
three decades, while Seongmun nursing Home has likewise been
offering welfare services.
Inquiries : +82-33-735-7480~1 / Address:77-47,Gomungol-gil,Wonju-si,Gangwon-do,Korea
The Hwangryongsa Temple is in Baekseok-dong of Incheon, on a
steady slope up Gyeyangsan Mountain. Incheon-based Cheontae
Buddhists have begun their practice of faith here since 1974.
The regular Buddhist service takes place the rst Sunday of
every month. Hwangryongsa includes Geumgang Buddhist
University, the choir, ower arrangement course, children’s
gathering, and young adult groups. The Dharma Hall is situated
in a ve-story building. There is a seven meter high, 50 ton
Sitting Buddha outside the temple.
Inquiries: +82-32-567-2533 / Website : http://cafe.daum.net/032572533 / Address: 1172-1, Bongsu-daero, Seo-gu, Incheon , Korea
The seed for a new temple was sown when Cheontae Daejeon
launched in 1973. The Gwangsusa Temple was built near Yebulbong
Summit of Gyeryeongsan Mountain in 1995. The Sammunsa Temple
bestowed the name Gwangsusa. The basement cafeteria is open to
over 1,500 devotees the rst day of every month when there is a
half-month ceremonial offering to Buddha as well as regular
Buddhist services. The rst oor consists of a small auditorium
(330 square meters), conference room, and prayer room. The
second oor has a tea room (165 square meters) and choir room.
The third oor consists of a Dharma Hall that can sit 2,000
Inquiries : +82-42-823-0332~4 / Website : http://www.gwangsusa.org / Address: 26, Hakhaseo-ro 63beon-gil, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon , Korea
The Daeseongsa Temple paves the way to popularizing Buddhism by
offering free food and organizing parties for senior citizens.
Devotees can participate in dissemination for younger
generations or join choirs, tea clubs, and calligraphy clubs at
the temple. The temple runs the Buddhist Cultural Institute,
open to everyone inter- ested in Buddhism. Built in 1981, the
Daeseongsa Temple consists of a traditional Dharma Hall,
Seowondang Hall used for prayers and Buddhist services,
children’s room, student’s room, young adult room, choesasil
room, and Bodhisattva prayer room.
Inquiries : +82-53-624-0542 / Address: 52, Janggi-ro, Dalseo-gu, Daegu , Korea
The Jeonggwangsa Temple opened its gates in March 1970 when
over 100 people gathered for a Buddhist Service to celebrate
the occasion. Thirty years later, the temple has expanded to a
size that can accommodate over 10 thousand people. The rst oor
of the temple is dedicated to education; budding young
Buddhists study at Jeonggwangsa Kindergarten. The second oor
consists of a small Dharma Hall and seminar room that hold
Hangul courses. The third oor is used for meditation while the
fourth oor is used as Great Main Buddha Hall. The bell pavilion
and living quarters are situated in separate buildings.
Inquiries : +82-52-277-7100 / Address: 14, Jungkwang-ro 4 beon-gil, Nam-gu, Ulsan, Korea
The Geumgwangsa Temple is at the foot of Baekseoksan Mountain
near Manho Village. The building was completed in 1996, a wish
come true to Gwangju-based devotees. The young adult group,
choir, Ksitigarbha group, and mountain climbing club were
founded shortly after the temple opened. Geumgwangsa publishes
the Faith and Practice Handbook to support meditation and
Buddhist related activities. A regular Buddhist service takes
place on the 18th of every month. The rst Sunday of the month
is reserved for Buddhist services for young adults.
Inquiries : +82-62-375-3191~3 / Address:65,Geumhomanho-gil,Seo-gu,Gwangju,Korea
The Yeongtongsa Temple is in Gaeseong and is considered to be the origin of Korean Cheontae. Preceptor Dae- gak Uicheon stayed at the temple for 35 years where he laid the foundation for Korean Cheontae. Built in 1027 during the Goryeo Dynasty, Yeongtongsa was on good terms with the royal family and earned their support throughout the dynasty. The temple burned down in the 16th century leaving Daegakguksa sculpt, banner-pole supports, and three pagodas. The entire temple was restored in October 2005 by North and South Korea.
Geumgang University was established to accomplish Cheontae’s rebuilding policies; to create an ideal world where wisdom and mercy is available to all. The online campus is based on cutting-edge technology. Our faculty members offer education of the highest standards. Departments include Buddhism / Social Welfare Studies, Global Business Management / Administration, and Liberal Arts. Students can research the nature of life and work toward wisdom and truth. The Buddhist Social Welfare graduate course focuses on training talented minds with morals, professional knowledge, and creativity. Geumgang University admits only the best candidates to keep the classes small and is equipped with a cutting-edge digital campus and outstanding faculty. All students are given a full scholarship and dorm room.
Cheontae’s research institute was established in 1996. It seeks to contribute to the improvement of Korean Bud- dhism and enhance the principle of the Cheontae order (Choentae il seung) through a comprehensive research of the study of Buddhism including study of the founder and the study of the Cheontae order. Each year, an academic conference is held, in which domestic and overseas scholars interact and publish ‘A Study of Cheontae Doctrines,’ a Lotus Chonetae academic journal.
A sincere Buddhist hymn, lighting a lantern in the hearts of those who listen to it. Cheontae temples run their own choirs to perform during Buddhist services. Choirs from across the nation come together in singing contests and art festivals for regular performances.
The Guinsa International Meditation Center specializes in meditation. Restore your peace of mind and restore your spiritual energy. The center is open to everyone and consists of the main meditation center, two cultural experience centers, Hanmaeum Gate, dining hall, and auditorium on a 7,825 square meter lot. Cheontae opened the Meditation Center for the wellbeing of the people and as an outlet for traditional culture so that the people could pursue their interests as well as promote cultural development.
Geumgang Buddhist News is a pan-Buddhist newspaper sponsored by Cheontae. The monthly Cheontae Journal, rst published on May 1st, 1979, was Cheontae’s rst publication. In May 2007, the rst Geumgang Buddhist News was published in time for Buddha’s Birthday. The biweekly newspaper focuses on important events in Buddhist circles, especially within the Cheontae Order. It also covers Buddhist history, NGOs, publishing, and other topics.
The Naneumyeo Hanadeogi Corporation, founded in 2003, has been involved in projects concerning the environment, human rights and peace, North-South uni cation, and international collaborations. The Corporation played a pivotal role in restoring the Yeongtongsa Temple in North Korea in 2005. It is currently involved in discovering and preserving cultural heritage in North and South Korea, Buddhist exchanges with the North, green movements, preserving cultural heritage, aid for poverty-stricken countries worldwide, labor rights movements, educat- ing teenagers on modern Korean history, and helping North Korean defectors.
Since it began in 1999, the Foundation has been running over twenty social welfare facilities for children, senior citizens, and disabled people, as well as rehabilitation programs. It is also involved in sponsoring, developing, and organizing cultural events as well as an academic exchange program to spread the spirit of loving kindness.