Spiritual Practices

What is ‘Cultivation’?

Cultivation is the devotional recitation of predesignated incantations consistently with a quiet and calm mind and body so as to give rise to a singular-focused mind. This is the basic means for attaining spiritual mastery. The mind should also be imbued with reverence and sincerity toward the endless worship of the Supreme God. By doing so, you can fill your Dantian with the energy you receive from divine beings and even the Supreme God. This gradual build-up of energy culminates in spiritual mastery which unfolds as a perfect integration with divine spirits.

Cultivation is divided into three parts: Holy Works, Ritual Prayer, and Spiritual Training. In addition to these forms of spiritual cultivation, Dao cohorts also attend Devotional Offering Ceremonies, key rituals which are held almost every month.

Holy Works (Gongbu)

Holy Works are a form of spiritual cultivation featuring the ritualistic recitation of incantations in a specified time and place. Holy Works are currently held only at Yeoju Headquarters Temple Complex. This ritual is performed by a team of 36 participants who take turns reciting specific incantations (mantras) for 24 hours without a break at designated times and places in a specific manner. Holy Works are divided into Sihak-gongbu and Sibeob-gongbu, which differ from one another in terms of incantations, location, and ritual methodology.

Holy Works are the most important form of spiritual cultivation because it is directly related to Perfected Unification with Dao (Dotong) and opening the Earthly Paradise of the Later World. It has been carried out 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without any break since the Summer Solstice of 1991. But, other gongbu (gido gongbu) were carried out temporarily from 1972 until 1991.

Prayer (Gido)

This is the practice of reciting prayerful incantations at designated places (this is a temple complex or fellowship center, which is a center for communal worship similar to a church or synagogue) or in one's home at a designated time. It is divided into 'Gido on ordinary days' and 'Gido on days of worship': 1) Gido on ordinary days: Praying at home every day within the hours of Jin (7:00-9:00), Sul(19:00-21:00), Chuk (1:00 -3:00 a.m.) and Mi (1:00 - 3:00 p.m.). However, if you are away from home, you may say these prayers after you return. 2) Gido on days of worship: Praying at a designated place or at home within the hours of Ja (11:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m.), Oh (11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.), Myo (5:00 - 7:00 a.m.), and Yu (5:00 - 7:00 p.m.) on Gab and Gi days.

Spiritual Training (Su-ryeon)

The practice of chanting the Tae-eul Mantra without a designated place or time.

Devotional Offering Ceremony (Chiseong)

This is a style of ritual ceremony which is carried out in an elaborate and collective manner. It conveys our most sincere gratitude for the divine grace and for the protective actions of the great deities of Heaven and Earth including Sangje who take care of human beings.

This ceremony is held at the Shrine of Gods (Yeongdae) in the Main Sanctuary Building, and the ceremony includes bowing, prayer, chanting, and other such devotional acts. The participants show their utmost sincerity and propriety during the ceremony. Devotional Offering does not truly conclude until after participants have finished partaking in sacrificial (blessed) food and drinks together.

Devotional Offering Ceremonies are held on the dates of birth and passing of Kang Jeungsan and Jo Jeongsan and of major religious events (for instance, the day when Sangje was enshrined at Yeongdae) in the history of the movement, as well as on dates related to seasonal divisions, especially the Winter solstice, the Summer solstice, and the beginnings of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Most Devotional Offerings are performed at Yeoju Headquarters Temple Complex.

Ox Seeking Pictures (Simudo)
A metaphoric visual representation of cultivation in Daesoon Jinrihoe

As its name implies, ‘The Ox Seeking Pictures’ are a series of pictures wherein an ox is found by a child. These six paintings convey the process of spiritual cultivation to achieve the aims of Daesoon Jinrihoe by using the metaphor of a child finding an ox. The child symbolically represents Dao cohorts, and the white ox is the symbol for the Daesoon Truth of Sangje (Dao). The ox is also the animal representing December in the Chinese Zodiac, which is the 12th month of the lunar calendar. 12 means Dao as it suggests nature’s full cycle of creation, transformation, and fruition.

1. Deep Contemplation Leading to Awakening
The child is in a deep state of contemplation under a pine tree where he asks questions such as “What is life?”, “Where did I come from?”, and “After death, where do I go?” These questions are so different from the normal hustle and bustle of his day-to-day routine life. Now, the child, who grew weary of the ways of secular life, has come to the point of seeking the reason for human existence. The background setting in this painting is the season of spring.

2. Finding and Following Heavenly Teachings
The child discovers hoof prints left behind by the white ox. As the child points to a direction with his finger, the path he shall undergo has been determined. This is the stage where, in accordance with his destiny (or karmic affinity), the child is introduced to the Daesoon Truth of Sangje. The hoof prints symbolize the guidance of divine beings, who lead Dao cohorts to the Daesoon Truth. The stepping-stones represent the support of ancestors who have accumulated virtuous deeds in Heaven for ages as well as the care given from spiritual mentors who lead Dao cohorts along the right path in their cultivation process. Even though the child has not fully acknowledged these benefits received from others and has not yet grasped the truth, he nevertheless feels inspired to progress in his search. This painting is also set in springtime.

3. Diligently Practicing Dao and Overcoming Hardships
The child catches a glimpse of the ox, but only its hindquarters. In this stage, he carries out what he had learned as theory and puts that knowledge into practice. However, he still has yet to awaken to Dao. Furthermore, he faces lightning, rainstorms, and a steep cliff. This is when Dao cohorts encounter problems and difficulties and then try to overcome them. Even though the child knows full well that there will be many obstacles ahead of him such as bumpy roads, steep cliffs, and bad weather, he still refuses to be deterred. This is the stage where Dao cohorts push themselves forward diligently towards spiritual enlightenment and overcome many of the hardships and difficulties inevitably encountered during their cultivation. The setting has now changed to the season of summer.

4. Unremitting Devotion of Oneself to Dao
The child finally encounters the white ox and pats it affectionately. The child has safely crossed over the steep valley and the sky has cleared up. This is the time to build a friendship with the ox, an act wherein the Dao cohorts discard the outdated thoughts and malicious behaviors acquired from the Former World where mutual contention had prevailed. They thereby exert themselves in inspired efforts to fully internalize Daesoon Truth (Dao) in order to advance to the stage of complete unification and identification with Dao. The season has changed into autumn, which means that his diligence has started ripening into fruition.

5. Perfected Unification with Dao
The child is in a tranquil and serene state as he rides the white ox while playing his flute. Riding on the back of the ox means that he has became one with the ox. In other words, he has reached the state of ‘self as Dao and Dao as self.' Now, the child has cleared himself of all the forms of grievances and grudges (known as 'negative karma' in Buddhist terminology) from the Former World, and he has finally unified himself with the Dao of Sangje, which is Daesoon Truth. He has achieved a perfect state of quiet mind and quiet body. The season in this painting is clearly autumn, which indicates that his cultivation has come into full fruition as a reward of his continual dedicated efforts.

6. The World Enlightened by Dao
The child has disappeared and reemerged as an Earthly Immortal. The location wherein the ox was last seen has transformed into a beautiful land. At this final stage, the child has united with the white ox and has finally transformed into an Earthly-Immortal. The world has changed into a beautiful and peaceful place where celestial maidens perform their melodies, the herbs of eternal youth bloom, and cranes stroll around the meadow. This symbolizes the stage where human beings are transformed into Earthly Immortals while the world has become an Earthly Paradise. This is the glorious Later World where the Daesoon Truth of Sangje has been spread throughout the whole world.