By Robert E. Buswell Jr.
Wonhyo (617-686) is the dominant figure in the history of Korean
Buddhism and one of the most influential thinkers in the Korean
philosophical tradition. Koreans know Wonhyo in his various roles as
Buddhist mystic, miracle worker, social iconoclast, religious
proselytist, and cultural hero. Above all else, Wonhyo was an innovative
thinker and prolific writer, whose works cover the gamut of Indian and
Sinitic Buddhist materials: Some one hundred treatises and commentaries
are attributed to him, twenty-three of which are extant today. Wonhyo's
importance is not limited to the peninsula, however. His writings were
widely read in China and japan, and his influence on the overall
development of East Asian Mahayana thought is significant, particularly
in relation to the Huayan, Chan, and Pure Land schools. In "Cultivating
Original Enlightenment", the first volume in The International
Association of Wonhyo Studies' "Collected Works of Wonhyo" series,
Robert E. Buswell Jr. translates Wonhyo's longest and culminating work,
the "Exposition of the Vajrasamadhi-Sutra" ("Kumgang Sammaegyong Non").
Wonhyo here brings to bear all the tools acquired throughout a lifetime
of scholarship and meditation to the explication of a scripture that has
a startling connection to the Korean Buddhist tradition. In his
treatise, Wonhyo examines the crucial question of how enlightenment can
be turned from a tantalizing prospect into a palpable reality that
manifests itself in all activities.
Robert E. Buswell, Jr. holds the Irving and Jean Stone Endowed
Chair in Humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA),
where he is also Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies in the
Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and founding director of the
university’s Center for Buddhist Studies and Center for Korean Studies.
Order at Amazon