Buddhism in koryo, history of ancient korea, korean cuture

Essay by ray83911University, Bachelor's July 2008

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Korea, also known as Choson, means “land of the morning calm”, a country, where history was shaped by religion and frequent invasions from its neighbors. Korean history can be divided into three main periods: the Silla, Koryo, and Yi dynasty (Choson). It was during the Koryo period that religion, especially “Buddhism” blossomed rapidly in political and cultural spheres of Koryo. Buddhism, having originated in India, spread through almost the entire continent of Asia as well as to the rest of the world, profoundly affecting the lives of both the converts and non-converts. The many different ways in which it has been adapted by the various cultures and societies attest to both the religion’s flexibility, as well as to the appeal of its fundamental principles. Buddhism also represented the political ambitions of the ruling class in Koryo. For the elite, Buddhism was not only a religious belief, a practical guide to life, and a means to salvation after life, but also a way of displaying its political presence and emphasizing political power, which assumes the society under their power as a means of spreading and controlling the religion as well as the people’s social development.

Koryo assorted variety of religious beliefs. Distant from Buddhism, native beliefs, geomancy, shamanism, Taoism and Neo-Confucianism provided spiritual and intellectual motivations. However, Buddhism carried out essential and fundamental basis of Koryo (Lee; p. 240). Buddhism entered Korea during Three Kingdoms Periods, which remained as a dominant religious and intellectual force in Koryo. It flourished at the start of the dynasty by Wang Kon, also known as Taejo, meaning the founder of dynasty and went under several reformations in the middle period of kingdom (Lee; p.216). The dominance of Buddhism can be seen right from the beginning of the Koryo dynasty in Wang Kon’s ten injunctions, which...