Choi Uisun’s Zen Thoughts and the Spirits of Tea Tao

Kim, Young-doo / Professor

Wonkwang University.

As a way to understand Choui Uisun(1786-1866)’s Zen thoughts and his spirits of Tea Tao(茶道), this study attempts to review the social circumstances and situations in the periods of his birth, growth and buddhist priest, focusing on the figures and events closely related with him. Human being is generally influenced in establishing his/her own behavioral direction by the social circumstances in that period. In this point, this author considers the review of the social circumstances as necessary to understand Choui’s achievements and thoughts. Also, this study reviewed Choui’s Zen thoughts and his spirits of Tea Tao.

The 81 years of Choui’s life was the confused period in the circumstances of domestic politics. The Korean society had experienced the inflow of foreign powers and cultures suddenly, and the start of Catholicism in Korea had added the chaotic conflicts between traditional and foreign cultures. In that period, he had kept the exchange with renowned figures such as Chusa Junghee Kim, Dasan Yackyoung Chung, Hyunju Hong, and Jaha Sin, and then attempted to mollify himself through Zen and Tea Tao. It is considered that these activities were helpful for establishing his spiritual base.

If there had been no exchange with Choui about Zen, Tea Tao, poems, painting and calligraphy, the renowned figures, mentioned above, should have spent their own grim lives. In this view, Choui’s distributions of the writing works like Dasinjeon and Dongdasong must be one of his most meaningful achievements. Especially, Dongdasong can be considered as a sacred scripture of Korean Tea Tao, and Choui can be called an saint of Tea Tao.

Also, the Zen thoughts presented in his writing works are deep and magnanimous, so it can be generally said that he attained spiritual enlightenment in various kinds of Zen. Through his own review of various Zen thoughts, he created Ilmeeseon(一味禪) and made it realized as Tea Tao. Therefore, Jeungjung(中正) and Jeungdo(中道) in Tea Tao of Dongdasong can be interpreted as the true shape and norm of Zen and can be used as the life index. In this view, his achievements should be respectable in our history.

* Key Words

Choui Uisun, Zen thought, The Spirit of Tea Tao, Ilmeeseon, Jeungjung. Jeungdo