Making a “Congregation of a Thousand Buddhas and a Million Bodhisattvas”: A Study of the
Formation of Won Buddhism, a New Korean Buddhist Religion


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Asian Languages & Cultures


This dissertation investigates the early formation of Won Buddhism by situating it in the larger socio-cultural and religious contexts of early-twentieth-century Korea, such as the emergence of indigenous new religions and Buddhist reform movements. It analyzes the texts, practices, and belief systems created by this new Buddhist religion by drawing on archival materials, such as diaries, personal essays, daily reports, and other written documents that testify to the actual historical voices of people’s everyday experiences and beliefs. It argues that new praxis and belief systems emerged as an ideological response to the crisis of Neo-Confucian state ideology at the turn of the twentieth century, providing tools that enabled common people to emerge as independent historical agents.