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Monday, October 17, 2005

The cheondogyo religion

The thirty three independence campaigners who gathered in Tapgol park on 1st March 1919 included Buddhist, Christian and Cheondogyo leaders. I had never heard of Cheondogyo until I stumbled across a temple near the shopping district of Insadong in Seoul.
Chondogyo preaches that there is God and that He resides in each of us -
not in Heaven as Christianity and other religions preach. It strives to convert
our earthly society into a paradise (Heaven) right here on Earth. It attempts to
transform the believers into intelligent moral beings with high social
consciousness. In this respect, it is humanistic socialism.

Cheondogyo, which means 'Heavenly way', originated in the nineteenth-century Donghak movement. If you're imagining a story of straightforward religious awakening then you're mistaken. Donghak emerged from a peasant liberation movement. There's a lot of information about it on wikipedia which I must admit I've only skimmed.

If you go to the Cheondogyo website you can find this slightly rickety English description of the religion. This section might be of interest to anti-evolutionists in America.
The Chondogyo God Hanulnim, as the foundation of all things, is an
ingenious mix of individualist non-conformism, being both transcendent and
innate. That is to say, Hanulnim, as the one absolute entity, is the leader of
creation who brings all things into being. But Hanulnim is also a God who
continuously operates through human beings to create anew and to help them
evolve so that they might achieve the purpose for which they were created. Thus
Hanulnim is the transcendent entity that created the myriad things of the Cosmos
while at the same time, being innate to all things of the universe, Hanulnim is
the limitless material form of the Cosmos, forever changing and creating it.
This work of creation and evolution is the utterly impartial, omniscient, and
omnipotent power that has created and directs all living things in Nature, and
the endless creation and evolution of all things in the Cosmos. Furthermore,
this creation and evolution is not artificially created but is, through change
without action(muwiihwa, 無爲而化), spontaneously created through the providence of Hanulnim. That is to say, it is a wholly autonomous creation and evolution and
not a heteronomous one.

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