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Master Naong

Category: Mystic

 

Master Naong (Hyegun, 1320-1376)  - Hyegun was his dharma name, Naong and Kangworhon were his cognomens – was a Korean poet, mystic and Buddhist monk. 

Together with T'aego Pou (1301-1381) and Paegun Kyonghan (1299-1375), he was regarded as one of the three prominent monks of the later Koryo period. 

He had about two thousand disciples of whom Chach'o and Chich'on were outstanding figures.”

Life

At the age of twenty-one he received the tonsure from Yoyon, a Son master at Myojok Hermitage. After attaining enlightenment at Hoeam Monastery of Yangju in 1347, he went to Fa-yuan Monastery in Yuan China.  Naong received the dharma transmission there from P'ing-shan Ch'u-lin of the Lin-chi lineage.

He returned to Koryo in 1358 and introduced kanhwa Son  - “the meditation of observing the critical phrase (kanhwa)”   He also started yombul Son, which combined Son with the invocation of the Buddha's name.

These two methods are combining Love with visualisation as a method with forms of chanting and mantra, both of which can be befuddling methods.  These additional techniques were combined with existing methods of contemplation and detachment.

Haedong Yonggung Temple

 

Haedong Yonggung Temple (Hangul: 해동 용궁사, Hanja :海東龍宮寺) is a Buddhist temple in Gijang-gun, Busan, South Korea.

The temple was built in 1376 by Naong during the Goryeo Dynasty, and was originally known as Bomun Temple (보문사).

It was destroyed during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98) but was rebuilt in the 1930s, and was renamed Haedong Yonggung Temple in 1974. The temple complex is a large one and one of few in Korea to be set on the seaside. During Buddha's Birthday celebrations the complex is decorated with paper lanterns.

Naong’s epitaph (written by Yi Saek) and stupa are at Silluk Monastery in Yoju.

Works

There is one volume of his lectures: Record of the Dharma Talks of Naong.  He also wrote Song of the Pure Land , which was orally transmitted until the early 18th century.

Song of the Pure Land is believed to have been written by Master Naong in the late Koryo period.  It is believed to be one of the first kasa poems.

From the Columbia Anthology of Traditional Korean Poetry – edited by Peter Lee

Emerging as a new genre toward the middle of the fifteenth century was the kasa. A typical kasa line, as in sijo, consists of four metric segments. This line is repeated with matched pairings and enumerative development. A poem generally concludes in a line of three, five, four, and three syllables (again as in sijo) in the kasa composed by literati and one of four, four, four and four in the commoner and women's kasa. The simple metric basis of kasa invites inventiveness in everything from the development of a theme, narrative techniques, sequences of imagery and the speaker's ethos to views of life and the world itself.


 

The six extant versions of Song of the Pure Land are little different in content.  The oldest is included in the second woodblock edition of “Condensed Essentials of Repentance to the Buddha Amitabha, Encouraging Recalling the Buddha” of 1741.

This kasa calls on people to practice calling the Buddha’s name and reflecting on the qualities of the Buddha needed to be born in the Land of Bliss.  The Buddha Amitabha presides over this paradise and vowed to save those who remembered his name and called on him by having them gain the Pure Land after death.

The poem loses a lot in translation simply because it is the phrasing and use of words that are key.  Nevertheless we have reproduced it in full using a translation from the Columbia Anthology of Traditional Korean Poetry edited by Peter Lee.

More information about the Korean mystic system can be found by following the LINK.  It provides background on the various periods, the history of Buddhism in Korea and the various styles of poetry and song.

 

 

Observations

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