The aim of this article is to examine Seon monk Hyujeong’s interest in Buddhist ritual, focusing on his Unsudan gasa (Verses on the Altar of Cloud and Water), which was the historical product of an anti-Buddhist Confucian society and which stressed the recitation of dharanis and the Buddha’s name as salvific methods. Although a Seon (Zen) monk, Hyujeong’s concern with Buddhist ritual was unlike the role of Zen monks as described by conventional scholarship, which has been heavily influenced by post-19th century Japanese Zen studies. Therefore, this study suggests the need for a reinvestigation of the thought of Hyujeong as a Seon monk as well as of the conventional scholarship of Zen studies. The role of Hyujeong as a pro-ritual Seon monk resonates with recent scholarship positing that East Asian traditions never rejected ritual. Hyujeong’s concern with Buddhist ritual with esoteric elements makes him distinct from Chinese Chan monks, who had no interest in esoteric Buddhism. In addition, Hyujeong’s legacy, which laid emphasis on esoteric Buddhist elements and dependence on others, still carries influence in the monastic circles of contemporary Korea.
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