(ATTN: UPDATES with quotes from Venerable Seongpa in 4th paragraph; ADD photo)
SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) – Ven. Seongpa was chosen on Monday to be the spiritual leader of the Jogye Order, South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect.
The 82-year-old priest is due to begin his five-year term as the 15th Supreme Patriarch on March 25 when the current ruler, Ven. Jinje’s second five-year term is coming to an end, the Jogye Order said.
The Supreme Patriarch, or “Jongjeong” in Korean, is the highest authority in the Buddhist sect, but does not oversee its administration.
“I will do my work with the mind of a monk, which means trying to match my words and actions, while always keeping the teachings of Buddha in mind,” Seongpa said after his election. “In this difficult time, we must always maintain the idea of overcoming a national crisis and defending a country with Buddhism.”
Born in 1939 in Hapcheon, 354 kilometers south of Seoul, Ven. Seongpa became a Buddhist monk at the age of 21. In 2014, he became the “Daejongsa” of the Jogye Order, meaning “the most eminent of monks”, and the spiritual leader of Tongdo Temple in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province.
He is known for his talents in traditional Korean arts, such as painting, calligraphy, and pottery.
According to the guidelines of the Jogye Order, Jongjeong should be selected from among Daejongsa who are 70 years of age or older and who have 45 years or more of service.