HWPL Cheondoism Cultural Tour
On May 13th, HWPL Global05 Branch hosted the HWPL Cheondoism Cultural Tour in Gyeongju, South Korea, which is the birthplace of Cheondoism. The tour was attended by around 30 HWPL members, and Buddhist and Christian religious leaders including the Ven. Beopryun (Geumdangam Buddhist Temple), Ven. Jikwang, (Korean Buddhism Monsu Order), and Head Instructor Sung-min Lee (Gyeongju branch of Shincheonji Church of Jesus). Followed by the Buddhist Cultural Tour – which was also hosted by HWPL Global05 Branch last year – this tour was the second part of the Religious Cultural Tour which was organized to raise proper awareness of religions and foster a culture of peace by interacting with others.
Following the footsteps of Su-un Je-u Choe, the founder and the first head teacher of Cheondoism, participants visited 6 sacred places including his birthplace and grave, and Yongdamjeong Pavilion located in Hyeongok village in Gyeongju.
First, they stopped at the birthplace of Je-u Choe. He was born and grew up in the Hyeongok village adjacent to Mt. Gumi. At the age of 20, he started to wander around the country and wondered how to save this troubled world. After observing the situation at the time of Joseon (the last dynastic kingdom of Korea) for 10 years, he finally founded Donghak (the old name for Cheondoism) in 1860, at the age of 37.
The next stop was his grave. After leading the Donghak movement for about 4 years, he died in 1864, at the age of 41. He carried out the movement aspiring to national and public welfare, but he was beheaded, accused of deluding the world and deceiving the people.
▲ Participants learn the manners of Cheondoism at Yongdamjeong Pavilion
Explaining the situation at that time, Abbot Sang-rak Choi of Yongdamjeong Pavilion stated, “In the age of the Joseon Dynasty, Confucianism was the dominant ideology. The ideology of Donghak was based on Sicheonju which means everyone is equal since everyone serves the god. This made Donghak a target to be persecuted back then.”
After touring Su-un Memorial Museum and being introduced to the history of Cheondoism, participants learned the manners of Cheondoism at Yongdamjeong Pavilion. It was known as the place where Su-un received the limitless truth from the god and founded Donghak. Before demonstrating the manners of Cheondoism, Abbot Choi explained the reason why people say, “Serving the god and greetings!” as a greeting. Further explaining, he stated, “This greeting means we are respecting each other, we who are serving the god, which reflects the fundamental teaching of Cheondoism. Cheondoism emphasizes respect and the equality of all creation, and its teaching contributed toward the development of women’s and children’s human rights.”
▲ (Left) Birthplace of Je-u Choe, Su-un Memorial Museum
Later, the participants finished their tour by visiting Hwangseong Park, which is the memorial park for Si-hyung Choi, the second head teacher of the Cheondoism, and the prayer place for the preparation of the March 1st Korean Independence Movement.
After the tour, Abbot Choi commented, “It was a meaningful tour where youth who will lead the country, and leaders from various religions, took notice of Cheondoism.” He added, “I believe that when every individual makes an effort for the co-existence of humanity just as Su-un taught us, the new era will come, and global peace will be achieved.”
Head Instructor Sung-min Lee (Gyeongju branch of Shincheonji Church of Jesus) also expressed his thoughts on the tour: “It is important for us to understand each other’s religion in this era. I decided to join this tour because I thought there must be something that I, as a religious person, can learn from the teachings of Cheondoism. I believe that learning from each other and achieving unity regardless of religion is the spirit of ‘We are One’ that HWPL pursues.”
Kwang-woo Seo (assembly member of the Daegu Diocese, Cheondoism) expressed his expectation: “When one respects and loves others who are different from himself, there will be peace. Because every religion seeks peace, the future that HWPL and Cheondoism will create will be bright.”
Starting with this tour, HWPL Global05 Branch and Yongdamjeong Pavilion will continue to actively collaborate on various peace activities such as an interreligious dialogue meeting.