What is Won-Buddhism?

The name Won Buddhism (Won-Bul-Kyo) is a compound word in Korean for 'Truth', 'Enlightenment', and 'Teaching'. 'Won' means circle and symbolizes the ultimate truth; 'Bul' means enlightenment; 'Kyo' means teaching the truth. Therefore, Won Buddhism is the path that leads us to become enlightened to the truth.

Sotaesan, the Founding Master of Won Buddhism, realized supreme enlightenment in 1916 in Korea, after years of searching for the truth and doing many ascetic practices. He embraced the Buddha’s teaching, yet he modernized and revitalized the traditional Buddhadharma so that people in the secular world could use it to enrich their everyday lives. 


The Il-Won-Sang (One-Circle-Image) is enshrined at the altar in Won Buddhism temples. It is a symbol of the ultimate reality; the origin of all things in the universe, the truth that all the Buddhas and sages awaken to, and the original nature of all sentient beings.

When our minds are without defilement, desires, or attachments, we are as clear as space and as clean and reflective as a perfect mirror. This is the realm before any thought arises. This is beginner's mind; this is who we really are. In this pure space, all religions, traditions, and philosophies can join together. The Il-Won-Sang represents our true home to which we may all return.