CHONDOGYO BELIEF AND PRACTICE
Religious activity generally falls into two categories. One is religious activity that stresses ?elief?through faith and reliance on God in reverent expectation of his favor. The other stresses disciplined ractice?in order to attain a certain religious state and to elucidate its meaning. In most cases, religions carry on both types of activity, with Western religions perhaps placing greater emphasis on "belief? and Eastern religions perhaps placing greater emphasis on "practice?
Chondogyo religious activity, however, places no emphasis on one category or the other, but rather combines belief and practice into one. Chondogyo continues the religious discipline initiated by the Great Master and passed on to Master Haeweol, and carried forward by Revered Teacher Euiam, and Venerable Teacher Chunam. More defined methods of practice and belief were established during Revered Teacher Euiam? tenure as supreme leader of Chondogyo. One can say, therefore, that most methods of practice and belief employed today were first introduced in Revered Teacher Euiam's time.
Having carried on the teachings of the Great Master and Master Haeweol, Revered Teacher Euiam presented the "Five Practices" (ogwan, 五款) by which followers of Chondogyo were to conduct themselves in ractice and belief? The "Five Practices?is a five-part method of Chondogyo religious thought and practice. The five practices are: "Incantation?jumun, 呪文), "Pure Water?cheongsu, 淸水), "Service Day?siil, 侍日), "prayer?gido, 祈禱), and "Rincerity Rice?seongmi, 誠米). "Incantation?refers to reading the Chondogyo incantation and entering one's religious training. "Pure Water?refers to the daily assembly for prayer at nine in the evening. "Prayer?refers to special prayer meetings at a set time and on a prescribed date. "service Day?is the formal religious assembly that meets every Sunday at eleven in the morning. Lastly, "Sincerity Rice?refers to uncooked rice that is set aside with devotion when daily preparing rice, which is then collected and presented as an offering in church once a month.
Ultimately, within these "Five Practices?are contained the complete "methods for practice and belief? Let us now examine the Chondogyo "methods for practice and belief?through the "Five Practices?
One must first select the method of "Incantation? which is one of the "Five Practices? Seated in the proper position, one must close ones eyes and repeatedly read and recite the "Incantation? The most important thing in Chondogyo training is the "Incantation?
In "A Discussion on Learning?in Donghak Scripture it is written that the Chondogyo incantation is "writing that greatly honors Hanulnim? This is living in accordance with the will and divine providence of Hanulnim. Quite precisely, Chondogyo training is to achieve unity or at-one-ness with the one vast living organism that is the Cosmos, or Hanulnim, and this is done by living in accordance with the will of Hanulnim through devoted recitation of the "incantation? Chondogyo religious training is for the purpose of attaining unity of Heaven and humankind(天人合一) by com-prehending the virtue and truth of Hanulnim and striving individually to experience and practice having a noble mind and exercising righteous power.
The Chondogyo Incantation is comprised of two parts. The eight Chinese character ?ncantation of Uniting With the Ultimate Energy?降靈呪文) reads "The Ultimate Energy here and now, I pray for its great descent?jigigeumjiweon-widaegang, 至氣今至願爲大降). The thirteen Chinese character "Main Text Incantation?本呪文) is "Serving God, I am transformed to follow the divine will. Eternally not forgetting, I become aware of all.?Sicheonjujohwa-jeongyeongsebul-mangmansaji, 侍天主造化定永世不忘萬事知). The "Incantation of Uniting With the Ultimate Energy?is a call for the energy of Hanulnim to be joined in harmony with one's energy. The "Main Text Incantation?speaks of attaining the state where Heaven and humankind are one, and of receiving the infinite teaching of Hanulnim, and of attaining the virtue of Hanulnim.
In Chondogyo the "incantation of Uniting With the Ultimate Energy?and the ?ain Text Incantation?are commonly referred to as the "incantation? Therefore the Chondogyo Incantation is comprised of twenty-one characters in all. The Great Master's defining explication of this twenty-one letter incantation is found in "A Discussion on Learning?in Donghak Scripture. Most significantly, within this twenty-one letter incantation is to be found the teaching of the Great Master, indeed the entire Chondogyo belief. The "incantation of Twenty-One Letters?represents the most important and central text of Chondogyo doctrine.
Chondogyo has determined that its method of religious training is to consider the inner meaning of this incantation and think of Hanulnim while repeatedly reading the incantation. In devoting oneself to attaining the state of the religious ultimate, one prepares for harmoniously uniting as one with the Ultimate Energy of Hanulnim and the Energy of the "I?through the incantation of Uniting With the Ultimate Energy? Achieving union of Heaven and humankind is accomplished through the "Main Text Incantation?which leads to comprehension of the virtue and mind of Hanulnim. This is the Chondogyo training method. In Chondogyo this training method of repeatedly reading and reciting the incantation is called spiritual exercise training?
In Chondogyo, in addition to this kind of training, there is the religious practice of "simgo? This ?imgo?is a "method of belief?that includes a vow and a supplication to God, Hanulnim. In Master Haeweol? religious discourse The Essay for Women?(Naesudomun, 內修道文) it is written that Cheondo-gyo members must offer a "swearing in mind?simgo, 心告) to Hanulnim for each and every activity they engage in. For example, ?hen about to sleep inform in your heart that you are going to sleep? "When awakening, inform in your heart that you are getting up. Upon the start and completion of any ordinary daily activity, whether it be going to fetch water or going to mill some grain, one must inform Hanulnim in this way. Likewise, any religious function or ceremony must begin and end with "swearing in mind?
As explained above in the explanation of the "Five Practices? all Chondogyo members carry out a religious ceremony of prayer at nine in the evening, which is known as the "Pure Water?practice. Besides this daily 9 P.M prayer Chondogyo has special prayer ceremonies with a special purpose and which include special oaths and vows. Such ceremonies are called "Special Prayer?
Prayers, "wearing in mind? and the incantation, together comprise the important religious practices of Chondogyo. The incantation is a method of practice in religious training, while "swearing in mind?and prayer are supplications and oaths pertaining to the belief system. Thus Chondogyo is a religion which, through the methods of incantation, "swearing in mind? and prayer, combines practice and belief, which are the two main categories of religious activity.
While training through such religious activities as the incantation, "swearing in mind? and prayer, Chondogyo also emphasizes the practical carrying out of its purpose through "sincerity?seong, 誠), ?everence?gyeong, 敬), and "faith?sin, 信). The Great Master makes references to "sincerity? "respect? and ?aith,?here and there in the canonical writings, but he expressly writes about them in his poem A Maxim for All?Jwajam) which is found in Donghak Scripture:
Our Way, though broad, is simple, and there is no need to express its meaning through many words. There is no other way to express this than through the three words "sincerity? "reverence?and "faith?seonggyeongsin).
In other words, through unshakeable faith one offers one's unending sincere devotion, from which wells up a profound reverence, and this must be practiced in one's daily life. To lead such a life is the religious practice and belief of Chondogyo.
Thus in leading a life of "practice?and "belief?through daily performing iincerity everence? and "faith? training by reading the incantation and "swearing in mind,?and praying, the follower of Chondogyo restores his or her innate mind through the providence of Hanulnim. To do this one must remain true to the restored mind by maintaining the "state of keeping the good mind?susim, 守心), and correctly practice "having the right spiritual force?cheonggi, 正氣) to achieve the union of the energy of "I?with the ultimate energy of Hanulnim. In Chondogyo, to act in this way is "keeping the good mind and having the right spiritual force?susimcheonggi, 守心正氣).
Through the incantation, "swearing in mind? and prayer, one can practice "sincerity? everence? and "faith?in one's daily life. What is more, through "keeping the good mind and having the right spiritual force?one's lost original nature can be restored, which leads to attaining a profound religious state. To live a life dedicated to being in this profound religious state, in which one's original nature has been restored and through which harmonious union with the providence of the Cosmos is achieved, is the ultimate objective of Chondogyo "practice?and "belief.?