PONGNYŎGWAN - VỊ NI SIÊU XUẤT
CỦA ĐẢO CHEJU
lần Thứ 11 tại Tp. HCM, VN từ 28.12.2009 - 03.01.2010) của Hyangsoon Yi tại Sakyadhita
- Sakya Như Bảo dịch -
Bài này về Pongnyŏgwan, người đã để lại dấu ấn không nơi đảo
Trong phần trình bày này, trước hết tôi sẽ khảo sát
Cheju là hòn đảo lớn nhất nằm ở bờ biển phía
Mặc dù đã xảy ra cuộc tàn phá có tính quy mô đối với các kiến trúc cổ và cơ sở
MốiPongnyŏgwan đến với là vào năm 1899 lúc bà 35 tuổi. Ngày nọ, có vị sư già đến nhà bà . Trước khi đi, vị sư đã cho bà một bức tượng nhỏ của , dạy bà đặt bức tượng ở một nơi và nên luôn của vị này. còn bảo rằng của lòng của sẽ cho các con bà khỏi phải . Không nói, Pongnyŏgwan ngay.
Pongnyŏgwannăm 1907, là của Yujangno. Bước ngoặc này trong bà đầy những . Ngay khi , Pongnyŏgwan thấy mặc áo chòang trắng bảo bà hãy đến Taehŭngsa và sẽ cho bà. Theo điềm mộng trên, Pongnyŏgwan bắt đầu đến Taehŭngsa vào ngày 01 tháng 12 năm 1907. Kỳ lạ thay, Hyeo, Taehŭngsa, cũng có giấc mơ về trong cùng một đêm Pongnyŏgwan nằm thấy điềm mộng trên. báo cho biết rằng một vị Hòang hậu sẽ viếng thăm vào ngày mai. Do vậy, suốt cả ngày hôm sau, của Taehŭngsa chờ đón vị khách quý nhưng chẳng thấy vị khách nào như thế . Trong khi đó, cuộc của Pongnyŏgwan bị trở ngại và khi bà đến được thì trời đã xế chiều. Hyeo chẳng thể nào tưởng tượng ra người đứng mình lại là một vị Hòang hậu, vì thế, khi Pongnyŏgwan xin được , Ngài đã khước từ này bằng cách khuyên bà nên thể theo đúng .
, nhưng Pongnyŏgwan vẫn được phép đến thăm các nằm rải rác quanh các ngọn núi gần đó. Trong khi tham quan ở một trong số các này, Pongnyŏgwan gặp một vị sư trẻ đang rất vì bệnh hủi. Pongnyŏgwan chữa trị để làm dịu cơn đau của vị sư. Đựợc sự của Hyeo, bà đã lấy đậu nành ủ ba năm đắp lên người bệnh nhân và rắc tro lên trên. Sau một vài ngày, những vết thương lỡ lóet đã trở nên lành lặn một cách thần kỳ. Quá tài của Pongnyŏgwan, chùa Taehŭngsa đã mở một biệt lệ, lời của Pongnyŏgwan, và bà . Như vậy, vào ngày 08 tháng 12 năm 1907, Pongnyŏgwan được phép một dưới sự của ba vị tinh nghiêm, có cả Ch’ŏngbong.
Mặc dù đã
Pongnyŏgwan tạm trú trên núi Halla ẩn chứa một về . được đàn quạ , Pongnyŏgwan đã thấy một ông lão. Nhà già báo cho cô biết rằng không lâu sau cô sẽ gặp được một bậc từ phương xa đến và vị ấy sẽ cho cô. Thật vậy, khi , Pongnyŏgwan đã xuống đến một nơi gọi là Sanch'ŏndan, một vị sư già từ núi Kyeryong thuộc tỉnh Ch’ungch’ŏng đi đến và bảo cô rằng: “Vài tháng trước đây, tôi thấy và Ngài đã cho tôi biết có một vị ở miền nam. , tôi đã khắp các hòn đảo phía
Như đã đề cập ở trên, Pongnyŏgwan vẫn
Một khía cạnh khác vềcủa Pongnyŏgwan rất đáng được chú ý là cô đã trong dành thuộc địa. đều rằng cô đã việc gây quỹ cho những người lính kháng chiến chống . Tháng 11 năm 1918, một cuộc chiến đấu vũ trang đã nổ ra tại Cheju sự xâm chiếm Hàn Quốc của quân Nhật. cuộc kháng chiến này là các Tăng sĩ , cuộc khởi nghĩa quy mô vì nền Hàn Quốc này đã mở lối cho khởi nghĩa tháng ba năm 1919, một cuộc kháng chiến vì hòa bình tòan quốc ách của thực dân Nhật. Mặc dù không có những chứng cứ xác thực về sự trực tiếp của Pongnyŏgwan trong các tổ chức chống thực dân dưới đường hầm, nhưng có khả năng rất lớn rằng cô đã hỗ trợ tài chính cho Tonghwa, một nhân vật chủ chốt trong các tổ chức kháng chiến của Cheju. Người ta ông thường tháp tùng cô trong các chuyến mà thì lại rất . Hơn nữa, chùa Pŏpchŏngsa, dưới sự cai quản của Pongnyŏgwan, là một căn cứ cho tất cả các kháng Nhật trên đảo. Thế nên, về sự họat động chính trị của Pongnyŏgwan trên một chứng là có căn cứ.
Trong khi cô chịuthu và những ngân quỹ cho kháng chiến, điểm yếu của những chứng cứ xác thực về các họat động yêu nước của cô vẫn tồn đọng một trong về mối quan hệ giữa cô với chính dân. Người ta cho rằng cô đã được viên thống đốc Cheju người Nhật, vốn là một , đối xử rất , ông còn viếng thăm chùa và rất nhiều.
Mộttrong của Pongnyŏgwan tới về pháp tu và những của cô. Như đã đề cập ở trên, Pongnyŏgwan đà-la-ni (dharani) hoặc mantra. Trong khi được là một trong những của Hàn Quốc, nó lại không được người dân đảo Cheju vốn đã mất hẳn mối với suốt dài tri nhận . Pháp tu của cô do vậy dễ gây là một của Shaman giáo, mặc dù đã bị chính phủ nhưng vẫn giữa những cư dân đảo.
lệch môn đà-la-ni của Pongnyŏgwan như một đã minh chứng sự sâu sắc của Shaman giáo trên hòn đảo này. Thật vậy,
Đối mặt với những khó khăn kinh tế
Sựcủa Shaman ở tạo nên chung trong tập quán Hàn Quốc là chư Ni có như những phù thủy. Thậm chí người ta còn rằng khi một Tăng sĩ phô diễn , vị ấy sẽ được tôn vinh là một xuất chúng, nhưng ngược lại nếu một vị Ni , cô sẽ bị xem đồng đẳng với một phù thủy. Trong bối cảnh như thế, khó để tưởng tượng các nữ tu như Pongnyŏgwan có được những sở đắc siêu xuất nhưng không được hỗ trợ sẽ phải đối mặt với nhiều sự hơn những vị sống trong Tăng đòan. Pongnyŏgwan có một khả năng rất là tìm nguồn nước trên đảo núi lửa, trị bệnh, và thấu suốt tâm tư người khác từ xa, và nhiều khả năng khác nữa. Nhiều văn bản khác nhau xác tín rằng những của Pongnyŏgwan luôn về xuất sắc của Thầy mình. Nhưng đó, những kẻ dèm pha đã lấy khả năng đó ra làm đề tài .
Hầu hết tất cả các tổ chức
Để tái hiện
PONGNYŎGWAN: THE EMINENT BHIKSUNI OF CHEJU ISLAND
This paper is concerned with Bhiksuni Pongnyŏgwan, who has left an indelible mark on the socio-cultural history of Cheju Island in Korea. She transformed the religious topography of Cheju in the early 20th-century by reviving Buddhism, which had disappeared from the lives of islanders for nearly two centuries. Despite her vital contribution to today’s Buddhist community on the island, the details of Pongnyŏgwan’s extraordinary life were not fully known to mainlanders until recently. It was in 2006 that her fourth-generation Dharma heir Bhiksuni Hyejŏn introduced her at a conference held by the National Bhiksuni Assembly of Korea on the lives and practices of Korean Buddhist nuns.
In this presentation, I will first survey the state of Buddhism on Cheju Island in the pre-modern period. Against this historical backdrop, I will trace the amazing life path of Pongnyŏgwan. While covering salient aspects of Pongnyŏgwan’s biography, special attention will be paid to her unusual pattern of practice and especially her well-known miracle work, which is still remembered vividly by the older generation of islanders. In the last part of this paper, I will briefly address a problematic relationship between gender and supernatural ability as a sign of eminence in the context of Korean Buddhism.
Cheju is the largest island off the southern coast of the Korean peninsula. Due to its size and distance from the peninsula, this island has enjoyed a considerable degree of political and cultural autonomy throughout its history. The importance of this island in the contemporary Korean political system is demonstrated by its status as an independent province.
During the Three Kingdoms era, Cheju Island was called Tamna. As a small island state, Tamna maintained independence from the political powers of the peninsula, claiming its own lineage of hereditary rulers. The Chejudoji (Gazetteer of Cheju Island) records that “Tamna was a country of spiritual persons.”1 During the Silla kingdom, both Buddhism and shamanism flourished in Cheju, as suggested by the old adage that “five hundred temples and five hundred shrines” existed on the island. Buddhism was popular in Cheju throughout the history of the Koryŏ dynasty (918-1392) and even until the early years of Chosŏn (1392-1910). It is likely that many of the Koryŏ aristocrats who resisted the Confucian state of Chosŏn moved to Cheju Island voluntarily or involuntarily as defectors or exiles. The Buddhist orientation of these Koryŏ noblemen would have contributed to the high status that Buddhist institutions enjoyed in Cheju even after Chosŏn was established. This speculation is supported by historical records, which show that Buddhist practice continued on the island until the late 15th century, when it began to decline.2
However, at the beginning of the Chosŏn dynasty, Cheju, just like other regions of the country, was subject to an anti-Buddhist policy. Further, the position of an independent ruler of the island and his crown prince’s right to succeed the throne were abolished by King T’aejong in 1404. In official records, reports on the deplorable state of Buddhism in Cheju began to appear as early as in 1426. They describe monks who openly took a wife and even enjoyed family life with children. The reports also point out that Buddhist monks were exempt from labor taxes and that their “comfortable” lifestyle, in fact, lured lay Buddhists across the sea over to Cheju.3
The Chosŏn court’s decisive measure against Buddhism on Cheju came with King Sukchong’s appointment of Yi Hyŏngsang as governor of the island. As soon as he arrived on the island in 1702, Yi launched a major campaign to destroy Buddhist temples and shamanistic shrines there. Yi’s devastating attack virtually banished Buddhism from the region. Consequently, the island had no Buddhist temples or shamanistic shrines for nearly two hundred years and no influence, at least on the surface, on the lives of islanders.
In spite of the large-scale destruction of old religious structures and institutions, shamanism continued to be followed secretly by the female population of the island. By contrast, no written record of Buddhist practice is found after Yi’s demolition of the temples. From 1702 on, therefore, the Buddhist community in Cheju was under the tight grip of the government. This resulted in the total disappearance of not only temples but also monastics from this province.
It was only two centuries later that Buddhism became reinstituted in Cheju. And it was Bhiksuni Pongnyŏgwan that single-handedly made this historic achievement by renovating Pŏpchŏngsa and founding Kwanŭmsa Temples in 1909.
Pongnyŏgwan was born in 1865 to an ordinary farming couple in Cheju. As the second daughter of An Ch’ibok and his wife, Madam Shin, she was named Yŏgwan. No information on her youth is available, but it seems that she married in her twenties in accordance with the general custom of Korean society of that time, and had two daughters and a son.
Pongnyŏgwan’s initial encounter with Buddhism took place in 1899 at the age of 35. One day, an old Buddhist monk came to her house during his begging round. As he was leaving, he gave her a small statue of Avalokitesvara, telling her to put it in a good place and chant the name of the bodhisattva diligently. He added that the incantation of the bodhisattva’s mercy would prevent her son and daughters from premature deaths. Needless to say, Pongnyŏgwan began her chanting immediately.
Soon afterwards, however, Pongnyŏgwan’s new faith caused a serious conflict in her family life. Her husband could not understand the nature of her religious devotion. In the course of 200 years, Buddhist doctrine and practice had gradually became alien to the majority of residents in Cheju. Hence, it is not surprising that Pongnyŏgwan’s dharani practice bewildered and even angered her husband. Profoundly suspicious of her “superstitious” acts, Pongnyŏgwan’s family burnt the statue of Avalokitesvara and forced her to leave her home. She then managed to find a tiny grotto in Mountain Halla to live in. In this rugged shelter, she continued her chanting practice, which lasted for six years. Many years later, her small mountain cell came to be named as the Grotto of Haewŏl, after her Dharma name. Presently it marks the entrance to Kwanŭmsa.
Pongnyŏgwan joined the monastic life in 1907 as a disciple of Bhiksuni Yujangno. This critical turning point in her life is full of unusual incidents. When she decided to renounce household life, she dreamed that a white-robed Avalokitesvara told her to go to Taehŭngsa Temple and shave her head. Guided by this dream, Pongnyŏgwan left for Taehŭngsa on December 1, 1907. Oddly enough, Bhiksu Hyeo, the spiritual director of Taehŭngsa, dreamed of a white-robed Avalokitesvara on the same night that Pongnyŏgwan had her dream. The bodhisattva told Hyeo that a queen would visit his temple the following day. Therefore, monks at Taehŭngsa were waiting for a noble lady all day long, but no such visitor showed up that day. In the meantime, Pongnyŏgwan was delayed in her journey and arrive at the temple in the late afternoon. Hyeo never imagined that Pongnyŏgwan was the queen, so when she asked him to shave her head, he declined her request by saying that she should follow the formal procedure for taking precepts.
Frustrated, Pongnyŏgwan received permission to visit hermitages scattered around the nearby mountains. While she was strolling in one of the hermitages, she encountered a young monk who was gravely suffering from leprosy. Pongnyŏgwan volunteered to relieve him from severe pain. With permission from Hyeo, she applied three-year old soy-bean paste on the body of the patient and covered it with ashes. After a few days, the painful wounds healed miraculously. Deeply impressed by Pongnyŏgwan’s healing power, the monks at Taehŭngsa made the unusual decision to grant her wish and allow her to receive the sramanerika precepts. Thus, on December 8, 1907, she was finally ordained as a novice nun by three bhiksu precept masters, including Ch’ŏngbong.
Although Pongnyŏgwan took the vows of a nun, her life did not become any easier than before. On returning to Cheju Island on January 5, 1908, with a Buddha statue from Taehŭngsa, she was confronted with an angry mob that destroyed the statue and set her place on fire, claiming that “Things like a Buddha statue would confuse the world and dupe people.”4 Expelled from her village, Pongnyŏgwan again wandered Mountain Halla for a week. She then fell into a deep valley while she was hiking down. Luckily, she was caught by a cliff during her fall and thousands of crows flocked to her, lifted her by catching her robe with their beaks, and brought her to a safe place. This place later became the site for Kwanŭmsa.
The story of Pongnyŏgwan’s sojourn on Mount Halla contains another anecdote of a prophetic dream. As soon as she was rescued by the crows, Pongnyŏgwan dreamed of an old man. This old visionary told her that she would soon encounter an awakened person who had come from afar with a set of monastic robes for her. Indeed, when she woke up from the dream and came down to a place called Sanch’ŏndan, an old monk from Mount Kyeryong in Ch’ungch’ŏng Province showed up and stated:
The Buddha appeared in my dream several months ago and said that there would be an enlightened monk in the south. So I searched many southern islands but could not find him. Now as I happen to run into you, I would like to offer you these robes. Please accept them and take good care of yourself. I hope you will make great achievements.”5
After these words, the old man bowed to her and suddenly disappeared.
As is suggested by the above episode, Pongnyŏgwan pursued Buddhist practice against all odds. Her spirituality was not properly understood by the majority of people in Cheju, including her own family members. Nevertheless, she was determined to revive Buddhism on the island. Toward this goal, she made two kinds of efforts. One was to secure temples as centers for spreading the Buddhist teachings. Hence, she renovated old, abandoned temples, such as Pŏptolsa (later called Pŏpchŏngsa) and Pŏphwasa. Also, Pongnyŏgwan constructed new temples, such as Kwanŭmsa, Pult’apsa, Wŏlsŏngsa, and Paengnyŏnsa. Furthermore, she established Taegaksa in the city center for Kwanŭmsa’s urban mission.
The second important propagation work that Pongnyŏgwan carried out was the organization of Dharma meetings amongst eminent monks. For this purpose, she invited famous Dharma teachers, ordained and lay, from the mainland. For example, Zen master Hoemyŏng toured the island and delivered a series of Dharma talks in different places, including Taegaksa. By involving well-revered Buddhist teachers in her propagation projects, Pongnyŏgwan earned respect from the local people and thereby was able to rebuild a Buddhist community in Cheju effectively after such a long vacuum.6
One last aspect of Pongnyŏgwan’s life that deserves attention is her secret participation in the independence movement during the colonial period. It is widely acknowledged that she helped anti-Japanese resistance fighters with their fundraising. In November, 1918, an armed protest broke out in Cheju against the Japanese occupation of Korea. Led by Buddhist monks, this large-scale fight for independence preceded the famous 1919 March First Movement, a nationwide peaceful rally against Japanese colonial rule. Although no hard evidence is available for Pongnyŏgwan’s direct involvement in an underground anti-colonial organization, there is a strong possibility that she provided financial assistance for Bhiksu Tonghwa, a key figure in the resistance organizations of Cheju. It is said that he often accompanied her on trips whose purposes were ambiguous. Moreover, Pŏpchŏngsa, a temple under Pongnyŏgwan’s control, served as a clandestine hub for all anti-Japanese activities on the island. Speculation on her political involvement is well-grounded in several elements.
While it is quite feasible that she was responsible for collecting and transferring secret funds for the independence fighters, the lack of hard proof of her patriotic activities remains a problem in understanding her relationship with the colonial government, which was always friendly. It is said that she was treated respectfully by the Japanese governor of Cheju Island, who, as a Buddhist, visited Kwanŭmsa and made large donations.
The seeming contradiction in Pongnyŏgwan’s political orientation cannot be fully explained, due to a lack of documented material. Yet such inconsistency or contradiction is not a unique issue for Pongnyŏgwan only. As Hyejŏn aptly points out, this type of problem is noted extensively in the biographies of prominent monks and nuns who were under the constant surveillance of the colonial government. It is well known that all 31 parishes of the Korean Buddhist Order funded the exiled Korean government in Shanghai, China, but hidden communication channels between the monastic community in Korea and the overseas exiled government were known only to the abbot or abbess of each parish head temple. As a way of protecting the members of the monastic community and its lay supporters, some of the abbots and abbesses created a smokescreen by maintaining a good relationship with the local representatives of the colonial government. Their “collaboration” with Japanese colonialists has generated much misunderstanding and controversy in the post-colonial era in terms of their “true” intentions. Pongnyŏgwan’s relationship with the colonial government of Cheju might be one such case.
One recurrent issue in Pongnyŏgwan’s life story is related to a misconception of her practice method and miracle work. As mentioned above, she pursued mainly the practice of dharani or mantra recitation. While such recitation is recognized as one of the major modes of practice in Korean Buddhism, it was not understood adequately by the people of Cheju Island who had lost touch with Buddhism for a long time. Her practice was easily misunderstood as a form of shamanistic superstition, which, although strictly banned by the government, remained popular among islanders.
The misperception of Pongnyŏgwan’s dharani practice as a superstitious ritual act clearly demonstrates the profound influence of shamanism on the island. Indeed, Cheju is one of the prime sites in which the ancient shamanistic legacy has been well preserved. This is due to several geopolitical reasons, the most conspicuous of which is the high death rate of the male population at sea. Throughout most of the history of Cheju, women have outnumbered men. But the danger of the seafaring life was not the only reason for such a gender imbalance in the island’s demography. Because Cheju had been used as a popular place for political exiles, men were always vulnerable to periodic military cleansing by the central government.
Faced with various socio-economic hardships in their day-to-day lives as islanders, many women in Cheju resorted to shamanism, the only readily accessible source of spiritual comfort. Less institutionalized as a religious system compared with Buddhism, however, shamanism was looked down upon. Nonetheless, it still could survive harsh persecution during the Chosŏn Dynasty largely because of the support of the female population. In Cheju, therefore, any religious acts associated with women were primarily suspected to be shamanistic. Considering the historical and socio-cultural context of the religious topography of Cheju, the negative attitudes towards Pongnyŏgwan’s dharani practice were not exceptional at all.
The prevalence of the shamanistic belief system among women sheds light on the general tendency in Korean culture to relegate Buddhist nuns with miracle power as shamans. It can even be argued that if a male monastic demonstrates a supernatural ability, he is promoted to the status of an eminent monk, whereas when a female monastic works a miracle, she is downgraded to the status of a shaman. In this cultural milieu, it is not difficult to imagine that solitary female practitioners such as Pongnyŏgwan who displayed extraordinary spirituality but had no supportive community of nuns around them would face more criticism than those living in a monastic community (Sangha). Pongnyŏgwan had a very special ability to find waterways on the volcanic island, heal the sick, and intuit into others’ minds from a distance, and so on. Various writings attest to the fact that her followers marveled at her remarkable accomplishments. But at the same time, many detractors used her unusual spiritual power against her.
Nearly all the Buddhist institutions in Cheju today reflect Pongnyŏgwan’s influence. She was the pioneer of modern Buddhism on this island. A thorough and comprehensive assessment of her role in reviving Buddhism in Cheju is yet to be conducted. Of particular importance in this task is an objective approach to her last days, during which time her relationship with the Japanese colonial government became complicated. Due to the absence of reliable information on the final phase of her life, her position in the history of the independence movement in Cheju tends to be overlooked, her name being omitted in the official list of anti-colonial resistance fighters.7 In order to reconstruct Pongnyŏgwan’s biography as the most eminent nun of Cheju, it is first imperative to collect historical materials, written or oral. Along with this field work, it is important to clarify various theoretical issues on the relationship between shamanism and Buddhism and their relevance to gender politics in Korean society.
1. The Chejudoji (Gazetteer of Cheju Island), quoted from Hyejŏn, “Pongnyŏgwan sŭnim kwa Cheju Pulgyo ŭi chunghŭng” (Bhiksuni Pongnyŏgwan and the Revival of Buddhism in Cheju), Hanguk Piguni ŭi suhaeng kwa sam (The Practices and Lives of Korean Bhiksunis) (Seoul: Yemunsŏwŏn, 2007), p. 344.
2. Hyejŏn, “Pongnyŏgwan sŭnim kwa Cheju Pulgyo ŭi chunghŭng” (Bhiksuni Pongnyŏgwan and the Revival of Buddhism in Cheju), pp. 345-346.
4. The Maeil Shinbo (Daily Newspaper), March 2, 1918.
5. The Maeil shinbo (Daily Newspaper), March 2, 1918.
6. Those eminent monks invited by Pongnyŏgwan include Masters Manam and Manha. Hyejŏn, “Pongnyŏgwan sunim kwa Cheju P’ulgyo ŭi Chunghŭng” (Bhiksuni Pongnyŏgwan and the Revival of Buddhism in Cheju), p. 365.
7. This unfortunate situation is illustrated by the recent designation of Pŏpchŏngsa as one of the major sites of the independence movement in Cheju. However, she was not mentioned at all as part of the official recognition of the historic site.