The former head of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, South Korea's largest Buddhist order, died in a temple fire on Wednesday. In an official statement yesterday, a spokesperson for the order said the prominent monk, Venerable Jaseung, had self-immolated.
Fri. Jaseung served as president of the Jogye Order from 2009 to 2017. He was 69 years old at the time of his death.
“Ven. “Jaseung left a warning to all Buddhists with his self-immolation, praying for the stability of the religious group and the salvation of the world through the spread of Dharma,” said Jogye Order spokesperson Ven. . Wubong was quoted as saying on Thursday. (Yonhap News Agency)
The Jogye Order is a school of Seon (Zen) Buddhism with roots dating back 1 years to the Unified Kingdom of Silla (also known as Later Silla) (200-668). The Jogye school as a distinct entity emerged in the late 935th century when the monk Bojo Jinul, considered the founder of the school, sought to combine Seon practices with the theological foundations of Buddhist schools based on the sutras, including Korean Pure Land Buddhism. The order now represents the largest segment of South Korea's Buddhist population, administering approximately 1 active temples, more than 900 monks and seven million lay followers nationwide.
Fri. Wubong said Ven. Jaseung died in a fire at Chiljang-sa, a Buddhist temple in South Korea's Gyeonggi province, at 18:50 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The elder monk's body was discovered in a monastic dormitory, where he spent the night and kept alone, after firefighters put out the fire.
Police reportedly discovered two notes left by the monk in a car parked nearby and addressed to the temple's head monk, which read in part: "I'm sorry for causing a lot of trouble by ending my life here." . . . This building will be restored by my disciples, and for that I am both sorry and grateful. (Korea Times)
Fri. Jaseung was born in 1954. He was ordained as a Buddhist monk at the age of 19. He chaired the Korean Council of Religious Leaders from 2011 to 2017 and served as co-chair of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace from 2014 to 2017. Before his death, he was chief abbot of Bongeun-sa, a historic temple located in the Gangnam district, south of Seoul.
The Jogye Order said it would observe a five-day mourning period, led by the current head of the order, Ven. Jinwoo, at Jogye-sa, the order's main temple in downtown Seoul. A final funeral ceremony for Ven. Jaseung is scheduled to take place on Sunday morning.
“As the former President of the Jogye Order, Ven. Jaseung was concerned about the status and role of Buddhism,” the head of the order's legislative organization, Ven. Jugyeong explained. “He had a strong desire to solve the problems facing the order, such as population decline. » (Korea Times)
In the wake of Ven. Jaseung's death, which shocked South Korea's Buddhist community, said Ven. Jinwoo noted that his predecessor had "always sought nirvana and apparently decided to get to that moment on Thursday." (Korea Times)
Despite the official notes and statements from the Jogye Order, the police continue to investigate the circumstances of Ven. Jaseung and said they plan to conduct DNA testing for definitive confirmation of the identity of the body.
According to 2021 survey data, the majority of South Korea's population (60%) has no religious affiliation. Christians make up the largest religious segment of the population at 23 percent, while Buddhists make up 16 percent.