Jogye Order International Seon Center Opens

This just in from the website of the Jogye Order:

The Jogye Order International Seon Center is now open to be a center to promulgate Korean traditional culture and Korean Buddhist meditation (Ganhwa-seon) to the world. The opening ceremony for the newly built center in Seoul was held on November 15. Jogye Order President Ven. Jaseung, members of the Council of Elders Ven. Jeongmu and Ven. Jongha, Director of the Bureau of Education Ven. Hyeoneung, Director of the Bureau of Dharma Propagation Ven. Hyechong, President of the Central Council Ven. Boseon, National Assemblymen Choi Byeong-guk and Jo Yun-seon, and local officials and other monks and nuns with over 1000 people attended the ceremony.

Here’s the full report.
And here’s the new International Seon Center.

12 thoughts on “Jogye Order International Seon Center Opens”

  1. Hi Marcus,

    good news in bad times! and what a wonderful building!
    may positive energy spread out powerfully from this place in all ten directions.

    love, evelyn

  2. Yes, it’s a much needed step in direction of sharing the magnificent tradition of Korean Buddhism with the world.

    If I had the opportunity to speak with Jogye Order President Ven. Jaseung though, I would humbly offer this perspective as a westerner hungry for Korean Buddhist teachings:

    Ven Jaseung, while it is wonderful that the Jogye Order has the aspiration and will to build a beautiful International Seon Center in Seoul to share Korean culture and Buddhism, I would like to offer this suggestion from the viewpoint of someone far from your shores who loves the Korean Buddhist tradition: Please do what you can to train qualified and interested Sunims in English, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish, etc and then send them out in the world (and support them) to spread the Dharma to those in foreign lands who may never set foot in Korea.


  3. So I clicked on the above link to the Int’l Seon Center website and came to a page in Korean (Hangul), without links to versions in any other language.

    I suggest that this is not an auspicious beginning, if the point of the center is to introduce international people to the rich tradition of Korean Seon.

    1. Dear Barry,

      I had the same reaction. My small suggestion for this beautiful website is that it might benefit from having a format like – where the bulk of the content is in English (or whatever selection of languages they like)….

      Otherwise, my Korean brothers and sisters will miss another opportunity to spread their great culture and Dharma traditions, and instead simply end up talking to themselves.

      Perhaps over time the site will add more international content..


  4. Hi,

    I must say that I agree with you. The centre sure looks great (I was in Korea as they were building it and, even as it was going up it looked good) but it doesn’t seem that they are – as yet – using it to full advantage.

    I mean, there is little point in duplicating work that is already being done. For example, just around the corner is the wonderful Buddhist English Library of Seoul (where I used to study with Chong Go Sunim at Saturday Sangha every week) and there are lots of great temples offering all kinds of programmes both in Seoul and around the country.

    Just duplicting this seems to me to be a waste of time and resources, better would be to do what you’ve already suggested and make the content fit the label – which would mean a real emphasis on making the centre truly international, with staff made up of Koreans who speak other languages as well as (pretty unlikely it must be said) non-Koreans.

    It would also mean an emphsis on Buddhism that can adapt to the needs of non-Koreans. There are three photos on the website and one of them shows a session of sitting meditation instruction going on. Take a look at the fella in the middle with his floating knees – after five minutes sitting like that he’ll be in agony.

    International Seon Centre

    Perhaps his instructor, minutes after this photo was taken, reached over and said “don’t worry. you can sit on a bench, or a yoga block, or on a chair, we have lots available here and there is no shame in using them” – but I doubt it.

    It’s a small example, but one that shows how, if this centre really is to be International, it must adapt itself.

    If you go to any Catholic Church in the UK you will find pinned to the door their list of services. Some are in English, some in Polish, some in Portugese, etc etc. Here in Bangkok, if you go to any church at all, you will find a whole range of languages offered. The Anglican Church here has an African group even.

    Wouldn’t it be brilliant, just superb, if you could go along to the International Seon Centre in Seoul at 11am any morning, take your place in the main hall, settle down as the drumming comes to the end, and then stand to recite the Heart Sutra in English. Next the Thousand Hands Sutra and then some prostrations.

    I’m dreaming of course, but it IS possible. At the Buddhist English library every Saturday with Chong Go Sunim we did something similar. We met and sat and chanted and then held our discussion and then many of us used to go to a temple afterwards to take part in a daily ceremony.

    Arrgh. I’m waffling! My point is that this new centre could be the start of a whole new opening up of Korean Buddhism to the world, but only if the Jogye Order is willing to make some small changes itself and not simply expect the world to become Korean – which it can’t! LOL!

    Anyway, who knows what might happen. I wish it lots of luck.


  5. reaching out to westerners

    Hopefully not just westerners! (Whatever a westerner might be!).

    I’m pretty sure that this International Seon Centre could be ideally used to serve the needs of all non-Koreans interested in Korean Buddhism.

    I mean, there is a huge thirst for Buddhism in China and many Chinese visitors to Seoul. Not to mention people from places further afield.

    I know that Hanmaum has branches in South America for example, and there’s a centre in Master Seung Sahn’s tradition in South Africa.

    Even in our small English-language Seon group here at the Bangkok Hanmaum centre, we have people come along from many countries and from many different backgrounds.

    1. I totally agree with you!
      I actually had the feeling, though, that they were focusing on Koreans in the near term.

      They’ve had a lot of interest amoung regular Koreans in things like the Temple Stay, and similar programs. I think the big hindrance for them is that there aren’t so many people capable of reaching out to non-Korean speakers. (Especially westerners, because of the increased difficulties of the languages.)

      One way to make the most of a center like this is to propose programs and then offer to initate and work them, with the Jogye Order just providing the facilities and perhaps a bit of support. (It does occur to me that the location of this center is fairly inconvient. I suspect a trip to Anyang would take about the same amount of time, coming from Seoul city center.)

  6. the location of this center is fairly inconvient

    Ooops! There’s me getting the wrong end of the stick! I’ve no idea why, but I thought it was up near the main temple, on that corner which more or less meets Insa-dong. I remember some building work going on there, and I thought this was it! LOL!

    Never mind, and thanks for sorting that one out for me Sunim! But yes, I am sure it is a good thing and could be very well used and I’m really pleased it exists!

    Thanks again and with palms together,
    Marcus _/\_

    1. You may be thinking of the new Temple Stay information center/ bookstore/ lecture hall/ resturant, which is right across the street from Jogye Sa. This new center is next to the immigration center by O-mok station (on the subway line to Kimpo airport.)

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