The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 33)

After a year-long stay in a Buddhist monastery, Yulgok came back to the secular world in the spring of 1556. On the way to Seoul, he went to his native place where he spent one year, leading another short period of intensive meditation and reading. There he experienced another change of is mind, a second turning; he was uncertain in choosing between Neo-Confucianism and Buddhism as his lifelong pursuit. He finally decided upon Neo-Confucianism and wrote his famous Chagyong mum (Letter of Resolution), a self-diciplinary letter consisting of eleven articles. In this letter, he confessed that the Buddhist way of learning, self-cultivation, daily regulation, political order, and social prosperity. another interesting passage illustrates the point further: “When I was young, I was wrong to think that the Zen method of koan is the fastest and most excellent approach for entering the Way. Although I studied it for several years, I returned to Confucianism, realising that the Buddha’s teaching is not right learning.” It should be emphasised that both Zen Buddha’s teaching is not right learning.” It should be emphasised that both Zen Buddhism and philosophical Taoism gave Yulgok an opportunity to reexamine the truth of Neo-Confucianism; in fact, this proved to be a great help for him in achieving a mature philosophy in his later years.

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