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The History and Culture of Buddhism in Korea

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Place of Publication: Dongguk University Press Seoul, Korea 1993.


<br>I. Introduction:

<br> Buddhism is the root of Korean culture despite periods of rise and decline in popularity. Buddhism combined with Confucianism is the combined practice of the Korean culture today. Buddhism was used to satisfy personal needs and Confucianism was used to satisfy political needs, all needs were met by intergrading the two philosophies. The combination of the two practices has knitted the Korean culture as we see today.


<br>II. General Information:

<br> The book is about the evolution Buddhism underwent throughout Korean history to ultimately lead to the Korean belief system used todayвЂ"ideas of Buddhism and Confucianism shared. The author is not specified in the book. The book was edited by the Korean Buddhist Research Institute. This book is written by Korean scholars who have studied Buddhism in Korea. This is the scholar’s home, where they have lived for years.


<br>III. Body of the Review:

<br> Author discusses how Buddhism remained part of the Korean culture today despite the upheavals it faced throughout history thorough unstable government of Korea. The Author’s position is that Buddhism is ingrained in the Korean culture despite the changes brought about by leaders. The book covers the following topics: Introduction: Buddhism from India to Korea, Chapt 1: Buddhism in the Three Kingdoms, Chapt 2: The Unified Shilla Period: the Golden Age of Buddhism, Chapt 3: The History and Culture of Buddhism in the Koryo Dynasty, Chpt 4: Buddhism undergoes Hardships: Buddhism in the Choson Dynasty, and Chpt 5: Buddhism in Modern Korea.

<br> Introduction: Buddhism from India to Korea. The history of Buddhism spans the 6th century BCE to the present, starting with the birth of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. This makes it one of the oldest religions practiced today. Starting in India, the religion evolved as it spread through Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. At one time or another it affected most of the Asian continent. The history of Buddhism is also characterized by the development of numerous movements and schisms with contrasting periods of expansion and retreat.

<br> Chapt 1: Buddhism in the Three Kingdoms. When Buddhism was introduced to Korea, the Korean peninsula was politically subdivided into three kingdoms: Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla. As Buddhism was introduced into these kingdoms Buddhism evolved.

<br> In Goguryeo, a Chinese monk Sundo brought Chinese texts and statues with him. The royalty quickly accepted his teachings. The Buddhism introduced consisted of the law of cause and effect and the search for happiness. This had much in common with Shamanism which was the practiced religion. Korean Shamanism held three spirits in especially high regard: Sanshin (the Mountain Spirit), Toksong (the Recluse) and Chilsong (the Spirit of the Seven Stars, the Big Dipper). Korean Buddhism accepted and absorbed these three spirits and special shrines are set aside for them in many temples. This likely led to the quick acceptance of Buddhism by the people. This blend of Buddhism and Shamanism became known as Korean Buddhism.

<br> In Baekje, the Serindian monk Marananta arrived in Baekje and the royal family received Buddhism teachings. King Asin proclaimed, "people should believe in Buddhism and seek happiness."

<br> Buddhism entered the kingdom of Silla in the 5th century. The common people were first attracted to Buddhism while there was resistance among the aristocrats. A king, King Chinhung, engouraged the growth of Buddhism and eventually Buddhism was recognized as the national religion of Silla. Many Korean Buddhist monks traveled to China to study Buddhism.

<br> Chapt 2: The Unified Shilla Period: the Golden Age of Buddhism. The kingdom of Silla succeeded in unifying the whole Korean peninsula. This led to a period of political stability that lasted for about one hundred years. Also, it led to a high point in the scholarly studies of Buddhism in Korea. Several schools of thought developed in Korea during these early times. During this period, the influence of Confucianism, Daoism (Taoism), and other forms of Chinese culture increased in Korea. Having unified Korea, Silla became a highly centralized state in which Buddhism and the arts flourished.

<br> Chapt 3: The History and Culture of Buddhism in the Koryo Dynasty. After the glory of Shilla faded, the Koryo Dynasty assumed power. Buddhism continued to be the national religion, with the kings establishing shrines and temples throughout the country. However, focus was placed on rituals and this created an unfavorable atmosphere for spiritual development. Buddhism remained the



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