Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Zen Social Ethics: Chinul, Sŏngch’ŏl, and Minjung Buddhism in Korea

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Wisdom, Compassion, and Zen Social Ethics: the Case of Chinul, Sŏngch’ŏl, and Minjung Buddhism in Korea

Jin Y. Park
American University

This essay examines the possibility of Zen social ethics by contemplating the relationship between wisdom and compassion in two Korean Zen masters, Pojo Chinul and T’oe’ong Sŏngch’ŏl. Unlike the common assumption that wisdom and compassion naturally facilitate each other in Zen practice, I contend that in both Chinul and Sŏngch’ŏl, they are in a relationship of tension rather than harmony and that such a tension provides a ground for Zen social ethics. In this context the Minjung Buddhist movement in contemporary Korea is discussed as an example of Zen social activism that makes visible the social dimension of Zen philosophy and practice.

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