Won Buddhism of Boston

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 18 June 2019.

Phone: 6179242400
Email: wonbuddhismboston@gmail.com
Website: www.boston.wonbuddhism.org
[flickr_set id="72157621814583927"] History In July of 2001, Reverend Hyunoh Kim traveled to Boston with the intent of establishing a Won-Buddhist temple in the greater Boston area. Initially Reverend Kim held meditation and dharma teachings in her small apartment, gathering Won-Buddhist students from the surrounding universities. The members' enthusiasm encouraged Reverend Kim to seek a more accommodating center. After visiting over 150 houses, Reverend Kim founded the current temple, a vacant house in much disrepair on a residential street in Somerville. Sponsored by the Won-Buddhist Headquarters in Iksan City, Chonbuk Province, South Korea. Reverend Kim purchased the house in November 2002 and began renovations. She hired a carpenter for a technical works though worked primarily alone painting, repairing, and installing the temple. First opening their doors in 2003, today the first floor of the house features a meditation room with an altar showcasing the gold Unitary circle, Il-Won, which represents original mind (Buddha-nature), and the original nature of all beings. The second floor of the house is the residence of Reverend Kim, Head Minister Reverend Pack, and one junior nun. The backyard boasts a small reflection pond and a vegetable and flower garden planted by temple members. The process of registering as a non-profit religious organization brought several concerned neighbors to the courtroom, to speak against the establishment of the center. However, Reverend Kim explained the quietude of meditation and temple life and the court agreed in the favor of the temple. Since then, the Won-Buddhist community has enjoyed peaceful coexistence with their primarily Catholic neighbors, some of whom have visited and meditated with the temple members. Leadership Reverend Sangwon Pack, head minister at Won-Buddhism of Boston, was ordained to Won-Buddhism in 1965 in South Korea. Reverend Pack helped establish temples in Los Angeles, New York, Moscow, and Boston. She also founded the Korean Language and Culture School in New York and Moscow, which has grown to be the center for spirituality and cultural education for Russians and Korean-Russians in Russia. In 1998, Reverend Pack was awarded the President's Prize from the Korean government for her contributions to education, charity, and religious edification globally. Reverend Hyunoh Kim, ordained to Won-Buddhism in 1993 in South Korea, is the primary founder and director of Won-Buddhism of Boston. She leads the regular dharma gatherings and offers personal counseling in Won-Buddhism. Demographics There are about 30-50 members who practice at Won-Buddhism of Boston. Euro-American and English speaking members represent one-third of the community and gather one evening a week for services in English. Korean-American and Korean speaking members represent approximately two-thirds of the community, and meet on a separate occasion when a similar service is held in Korean. Some members live within walking distance of the temple, while others travel from around the Greater Boston area. Activities and Schedule The temple welcomes English speakers to a meditation class one day a week in the evening, followed by a short dharma talk and discussion, and a meal. The discussion aims to address practitioners' obstacles in practicing Won-Buddhism and living mindfully in a fast-paced, materialistic world. These conversations help to inform a book on Won-Buddhism that Reverend Kim and temple members hope to compile. The progress of the work is available on the temple website under "Reverend Kim's Column." While Won-Buddhism aims to deemphasize formal rituals, the temple hosts six annual ceremonies with services held in Korean: New Years, the day of Sotaesan’s Enlightenment and Opening of Won-Buddhism, Shakyamuni Buddha's enlightenment day, Shakyamuni Buddha's birthday, dharma authentication day, and twice a year a memorial service for the Venerable Sotaesan's death (founder of Won-Buddhism). The temple members also plan occasional day trips, and additionally Reverend Kim is available to preside over marriage ceremonies. Practice Won-Buddhism was founded in 1916 by Park, Chung-bin, now called Venerable Sotaesan, in South Korea as a "reformed" Buddhism for a more progressive audience. Won-Buddhism advocates three core values: missionary work, education, and charity. Inspired by Il-Won-Sang or the Unitary Circle symbol, Won-Buddhists today actively encourage interfaith dialogue and peaceful engagement with all religious identities. This peaceful initiative has taken many forms internationally and domestically with the World Conference of Religions for Peace, Korean Conference on Religion and Peace, The World Fellowship of Buddhists, International Association for Religions Freedom, International Interfaith Centre, The Temple of Understanding, as well as holding membership at the United Nations. Interreligious global forums are a primary focus among Won-Buddhists, particularly in youth camps and Won-Buddhist universities. For more information Click Here. Won-Buddhists are also hailed for their strong feminist sensitivities, encouraging women to enter higher education and become ordained ministers; over half of ordained Won-Buddhists are women. There are thirty precepts that an ordained minister must abide by, however there is no prescribed monastic clothing or hairstyle. Currently female Won-Buddhists are experimenting with wearing western lay clothes in an attempt to make Won-Buddhism more accessible to Americans.