Anyone ever heard of Yun Hwa / Ji Kwang Dae Poep Sa Nim?

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KiwiNFLFan
Posts: 175
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:15 am

Anyone ever heard of Yun Hwa / Ji Kwang Dae Poep Sa Nim?

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

I came across a group called the Yun Hwa Denomination of World Social Buddhism last night. I looked it up and found that it is a form of Korean Buddhism. Having lived in South Korea, I was intrigued.

Based mostly in Europe, the group was founded by a woman called Ji Kwang Dae Poep Sa Nim (I'm assuming in Korean it's 지광대법스님), who is listed as the founder and "Supreme Matriarch" of the Yun Hwa Sangha. Through googling, I have not been able to find any information about her from third-party sources (all that I've found is from her group). What's more, a Google search in Korean brought up absolutely nothing (assuming I've spelled her name right). Her "biography" on the official website said that she moved to the US in 1968, following the advice of her master, yet says nothing about who said master was or what lineage he or she was from. Another thing is that in the pictures she appears to have a full head of hair, unlike the shaved head of Korean nuns.

It seems that their practice involves meditation, chanting, a Qigong-looking exercise called Ki Song, 108 daily prostrations, and the recitation of a mantra. The mantra is:

Na Mu Kwan Se Um Bo Sal
Na Mu So Ga Mo Ni Bul
Chong Gak Mio Poep Yun Hwa Kyong


The first line is 南無觀世音菩薩 (Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa) and the second is 南無釋迦摩尼佛 (Namo Shijiamoni Fo; I take refuge in Shakyamuni Buddha). The first two words of the third line I have no idea about (a Naver dictionary search for 종각 and 정각 brought up nothing related to Buddhism or that seemed relevant), but the last part is a non-standard romanisation of the title of the Lotus Sutra (妙法蓮華經; Chinese: Miao Fa Lian Hua Jing; Japanese: Myoho Renge Kyo).

My own experience with Korean Buddhism was limited due to the fact I'm not fluent in Korean, but does anyone here know anything about this group or its founder? Was she initially Jogye, Taego or Cheontae? Is the mantra they use a standard mantra in Korean Buddhism (all together)?
jmlee369
Posts: 470
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:22 am

Re: Anyone ever heard of Yun Hwa / Ji Kwang Dae Poep Sa Nim?

Post by jmlee369 »

KiwiNFLFan wrote: Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:30 am I came across a group called the Yun Hwa Denomination of World Social Buddhism last night. I looked it up and found that it is a form of Korean Buddhism. Having lived in South Korea, I was intrigued.

Based mostly in Europe, the group was founded by a woman called Ji Kwang Dae Poep Sa Nim (I'm assuming in Korean it's 지광대법스님), who is listed as the founder and "Supreme Matriarch" of the Yun Hwa Sangha. Through googling, I have not been able to find any information about her from third-party sources (all that I've found is from her group). What's more, a Google search in Korean brought up absolutely nothing (assuming I've spelled her name right). Her "biography" on the official website said that she moved to the US in 1968, following the advice of her master, yet says nothing about who said master was or what lineage he or she was from. Another thing is that in the pictures she appears to have a full head of hair, unlike the shaved head of Korean nuns.

It seems that their practice involves meditation, chanting, a Qigong-looking exercise called Ki Song, 108 daily prostrations, and the recitation of a mantra. The mantra is:

Na Mu Kwan Se Um Bo Sal
Na Mu So Ga Mo Ni Bul
Chong Gak Mio Poep Yun Hwa Kyong


The first line is 南無觀世音菩薩 (Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa) and the second is 南無釋迦摩尼佛 (Namo Shijiamoni Fo; I take refuge in Shakyamuni Buddha). The first two words of the third line I have no idea about (a Naver dictionary search for 종각 and 정각 brought up nothing related to Buddhism or that seemed relevant), but the last part is a non-standard romanisation of the title of the Lotus Sutra (妙法蓮華經; Chinese: Miao Fa Lian Hua Jing; Japanese: Myoho Renge Kyo).

My own experience with Korean Buddhism was limited due to the fact I'm not fluent in Korean, but does anyone here know anything about this group or its founder? Was she initially Jogye, Taego or Cheontae? Is the mantra they use a standard mantra in Korean Buddhism (all together)?
The title is 대법사님, 법사님 meaning dharma teacher/master, but nowadays used mostly to refer to authorised lay teachers like in the Jogye Order. It is also a title used by some shamans. 대 simply means big, great. Regardless, a search in Korean turns up nothing for me as well.

This teacher is outside the mainstream of Korean Buddhism. She is pretty much a Buddhist-shaman hybrid. For example, while the energy painting and calligraphy concept is often applied to works by more mainstream Buddhist masters as well, the way it's presented by this group is definitely veering more towards the shamanistic side, especially because the calligraphy in several of the paintings is based on shaman talismans. Same thing with the emphasis on energy work and exercises, claims to heal natural forces, and ceremonies like Sky God Ceremony (천왕제) and Volcano Fire God Ceremony (check out their FB page).

The invocation used by this group is not a traditional chant. Although it's not a bad thing to be chanting the names of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and sutras. My best guess for Chong Gak would be 정각 meaning proper enlightenment, the shorthand translation of samyaksambodhi but I can't be certain without seeing the Korean or Chinese.

She left Korea prior to the establishment of the Taego Order, and just one year after the establishment of the Cheontae Order, so I doubt she has much affiliation with them. Either way, without knowing who her authorising master was, we really can't know about claims of lineage. I will note that in her portraits, she is most often wearing Japanese robes and rakusu, and the invocation of the Lotus Sutra (plus the legacy of Japanese colonialism) makes me suspect there may be some Japanese influence involved (while the Lotus Sutra is hugely influential in Korean Buddhism, chanting the sutra's title was not common practice).

A personal pet peeve is that they have lay people wearing monastic kasaya robes. I know they have a rationale for it based on the Lotus Sutra (a misreading in my opinion), but at least in the Theravada Vinaya commentarial tradition, it is considered affiliation by theft of status ("for putting on robes without the authorization of the Community") and disqualifies you from actually ordaining as a sangha member for life.
KiwiNFLFan
Posts: 175
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:15 am

Re: Anyone ever heard of Yun Hwa / Ji Kwang Dae Poep Sa Nim?

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

Interesting. Thanks for the information.

I didn't know enough about Korean shamanism to recognise this group as having shamanistic elements. I did visit Guksadang in Seoul and came across a shamanistic altar not far from where I lived, but I don't know much about it (though I have seen K-dramas involving shamanism).

I was surprised to see 나무묘법연화경 in a temple chanting book in Korea, but then that may have been a Japanese influence. I never actually heard it recited myself. I didn't really take on board the fact that she was wearing a rakusu in the photo (which must be quite old; she was born in 1946, making her 73 or 74).

I know in Chinese Buddhism (or some forms of it at least), laypeople who have taken refuge wear a black robe, but I'm guessing those robes are different from the robes that they wear (with rakusu too, see this picture).

All in all, it seems quite a strange and unorthodox group.
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