Great Lineage Master Jungbong Seongpa Installed as the 15th Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order
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Enthroned as the 15th Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order, Great Lineage Master (Daejongsa) Jungbong Seongpa ascended the Dharma seat.
On March 30 in the courtyard of Jogyesa Temple in Seoul, the Jogye Order held an enthronement ceremony for Ven. Seongpa to serve as the Order’s 15th Supreme Patriarch. The ceremony was graced by 3,000 Buddhists (both monastic and laity), and dignitaries from diverse fields, including: Ven. Wonhaeng, president of the Jogye Order; Ven. Semin, director of the Council of Elders, abbots of headquarters temples from the Order’s 25 religious districts; members of the Central Council; monastics from the headquarters of the Jogye Order; representatives from orders belonging to the Association of Korean Buddhist Orders; leaders of political and government circles, including President Moon Jae-in; representatives of other religions; ambassadors of various nations, including Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan of India; Ju Yun-sik, president of the Central Lay Buddhists Association; and Kim Jong-gyu, honorary president of the Korean Museum Association.
Ven. Wonhaeng, president of the Jogye Order, said in his opening remarks, “This is a day of enormous significance and celebration for the Jogye Order and marks a critical turning point for self-reliance and a leap forward. From this day onward we—who vow to cultivate faith and practice together—will move forward by emulating the virtuous influence of His Eminence the Supreme Patriarch who practices what he preaches, and who embodies the spirit of great compassion based on the realization that all beings are one.” Ven. Wonhaeng further added, “The whole world is mired in conflict, confrontation, and crises. The ravages of war have reappeared, and pandemics proliferate to threaten humanity. Our lives are spiritually impoverished, and the pleasures of ordinary daily life are hard to find. We must sever our boundless greed, hatred, and delusions, as well as the emotional afflictions they cause. In this respect, the words of His Eminence the Supreme Patriarch that we “must observe pure precepts and serve the world widely based on our harmony,” provide the compass which will point the direction to go for all living beings.”
Ven. Wonhaeng further vowed, “Following the vows of His Eminence the Supreme Patriarch, the Jogye Order will continue to protect traditional culture, and further concentrate on teaching and propagating the Dharma. We will carry on the immense responsibility of bringing hope to the world, single-mindedly guard the Three Jewels of Buddhism, and maintain our efforts to establish a healthier community.”
After Ven. Jeongmun, president of the Central Council, briefly summarized the life accomplishments of His Eminence, Ven. Semin, head of the Council of Elders, delivered his congratulatory remarks. He said, “Great Lineage Master Seongpa transformed his afflictions into the marvelous function of enlightenment, and awakened to the true nature of the unborn. He is a keen-eyed teacher who has opened the eyes of both humans and gods. He took the lead in embodying the Seon spirit in daily life while observing the pure rules of Baizhang. He is also a bodhisattva of great vows who inscribed the entire Buddhist canon on ceramic plates and enshrined them in Daejanggak Hall.” Ven. Jeongmun added, “With a keen-eyed person, a country prospers, and with goodness, a clan can enjoy abundance. Greeting the era of Supreme Patriarch Seongpa, the Jogye Order must pursue another revival with refreshing changes and reformations. Thanks to the good influence of His Eminence, the light of the buddhas will glow brighter, and Buddhist study and practice will proliferate everywhere.”
President Moon Jae-in also ascended the podium and congratulated the enthronement of Great Lineage Master Seongpa. This is the president’s second visit to Jogyesa Temple during his incumbency, the first being his visit with President Sirisena of Sri Lanka on his state visit on Nov. 28, 2017 to mark the 40th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea.
President Moon opened his speech by mentioning his past encounters with Ven. Seongpa, saying, “I saw His Eminence the Supreme Patriarch several times before at Tongdosa Temple and Seounam Hermitage. At every encounter I received a great teaching, which I still cherish in my heart as clean and fragrant memories that clear my mind.” President Moon further said, “Just as the Buddha said that action and wisdom are like the two wheels of a cart or the two wings of a bird, His Eminence has practiced the unity of both Seon practice and farming, which embodies the non-duality of work and Buddhist practice, life and art, or nature and culture.” President Moon further praised him, saying, “Ven. Seongpa has made with his own hands traditional Korean jang (basic fermented sauces of Korean cuisine) by mixing the sunlight and wind from our hills and fields, and he also crafted using Korean soil 160,000 ceramic plates inscribed with the Buddhist canon to express our aspiration for unification. He restored the art of traditional natural dyeing, and created Buddhist paintings and folk paintings by developing a natural lacquer technique. Having cultivated Buddhist culture and spiritual culture sincerely, his virtuous roots are boundlessly extensive and profound.”
President Moon expressed his gratitude, saying, “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Korean Buddhism lit lanterns of hope for all Koreans in the spirit of great compassion.” He continued, “I believe Buddhism will continue to give steadfast courage and strength to our fellow Koreans who are now overcoming the last hurdle of the Omicron variant. Following His Eminence’s teaching that each of us should have a good heart and the spirit of Never Disparaging Bodhisattva who respects and gives consideration to all, I hope our society will eventually transcend all conflicts and confrontations and move forward to an era of harmony and integration. I’d like to ask His Eminence to continue to give our society good guidance and teachings as always.”
Other congratulatory remarks followed from National Bhikkhuni Association President Ven. Bongak, Central Lay Buddhists Association President Ju Yun-sik, and Indian Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan.
Ven. Bongak said, “Great Lineage Master Seongpa has for all his life through his actions embodied the path of practice and culture, as well as enriching lives and sowing harmony. One Buddhist proverb says, ‘When a grove of merits is cultivated, myriad lives, including bees and butterflies, fly in to benefit all living beings.’ In the same way each one of us Buddhists will walk the path of great compassion by becoming a practitioner and a bodhisattva of great vows.” Mr. Ju reaffirmed his resolve, saying, “Following the teachings of our teacher, we will live as bodhisattvas of great vows who cultivate life and peace, culture and tradition, with a positive perspective. Engraving in our hearts that we are the ones who make this world a buddha realm by practicing compassion, we will continue to persevere.” Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan said, “I pray the Buddha’s message of peace spread all over the world based on the teachings and guidance of His Eminence the Supreme Patriarch.”
After receiving from Council of Elders Vice President Ven. Daewon and Jogye Order President Ven. Wonhaeng a ceremonial fly whisk and Dharma staff—both embodying the Dharma—Great Lineage Master Seongpa ascended the Dharma seat and offered the sweet nectar of a Dharma talk of wisdom to the monastic and lay Buddhist attendees.
Instead of a prepared Dharma talk, which was distributed in print, Great Lineage Master Seongpa delivered an impromptu talk, saying, “Because monastic administration is not separate from practicing meditation, those who cultivate practice-in-movement must not neglect practice-in-silence. Likewise, those who cultivate practice-in-silence must not disregard practice-in-movement.” He continued, “Speaking of Buddhism for national protection, we should carefully examine what constitutes national protection.” He mentioned that Korean Buddhism, backed by 1,700 years of tradition, has performed a pivotal role in Korean culture since ancient times in such varied fields as civil engineering, architecture, sculpture and art, and even in daily life. He further emphasized, “We should develop our long-cherished history and culture toward a future-oriented direction. Buddhists can contribute to enhancing national peace by striving to develop the nation’s culture. We should spread our superb culture more widely to the world and share its benefits with others.”
Great Lineage Master Seongpa also emphasized the social function of Buddhism, saying, “Spring is here now, but our hearts are still filled with winter cold. To infuse the warm energy of harmony into this frozen world to bring laughter to all members of society is the duty and responsibility of all Buddhists. I hope we will not forget this.” Then he recited a passage from the Song of Dharma Nature (Beopseongge) by Ven. Uisang: “The very first moment one arouses the aspiration for enlightenment itself is the moment of true awakening.” And added, “Let us forget bygones, and return to the first moment we aroused the aspiration for enlightenment. If we begin anew with that mindset, our families, society and our nation can overcome past difficulties and gain the momentum to make a fresh start.”
After he concluded, all those in attendance recited the name of “Shakyamuni Buddha” and resolved to live as bodhisattvas and make great vows, following the teachings of the keen-eyed teacher, Ven. Seongpa. Lastly, there were congratulatory performances that included traditional music by the Buddhist Musical Institute and singer Jang Sa-ik. In the midst of a rainfall urging spring to come, the ceremony to install Great Lineage Master Seongpa as the supreme patriarch of the Jogye Order was wrapped up by all those in attendance reciting the Four Great Vows.