Won Buddhism Explained

The word Won in the name of the Won Institute of Graduate Studies is a transliteration of the Korean word for “circle.”

Representing the oneness of the world and its citizens, it is the model for a unity of human endeavor that encompasses scientific and economic advances as well as progress in personal wisdom and humane societal values. To follow this model is to follow a path that fully integrates the individual’s inner resources with the skills and knowledge to contribute to the transformation of society and cultivate personal peace and happiness.

The Won Institute is established in affiliation with the Won Buddhist order, a modern Buddhism created about a century ago. While it is a non-sectarian institution, the Institute is founded on the values of Won Buddhism and within the vision of Won Buddhism for a world of peace and happiness for all humanity achieved through individual self-cultivation and discipline.

Through our master’s degrees, doctorate degrees and certificate programs, students have the opportunity to connect with others and cultivate their spiritual growth. We emphasize personal development and professional achievement, helping students reach their full potential as they engage with the practical applications of spirituality and the healing arts.


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The History of Won Buddhism


Master Sotaesan, a Won Buddhist who reached enlightenment in 1916, created this new reformed Buddhist religion. After spending a significant amount of time searching for the truth, Sotaesan concluded that material civilization was enslaving the human spirit, requiring a need to unfold spirituality and return to a communal life setting.

The resulting religion of Won Buddhism modernized and transformed some elements of traditional Buddhist teachings.

The History of Won Buddhism

Il Won (One Circle) is the Dharmakaya Buddha, the origin of all things in the universe, the truth that all buddhas and sages enlightened to, and the original nature of all sentient beings.



Won Buddhism has a strong spirit of integration: spirituality with science, morality with social justice, equality between men and women, religious practice with secular life, and inter-religious dialogue. The Won Institute has inherited the integrative spirit of Won Buddhism and has applied it to its academic programs. This spirit is vibrant today and has deepened among members of the community in the academic, religious, and healing realms.

Through Won Buddhism, the Institute is associated with a sister university in South Korea, Won Kwang University, the special focus of which is moral cultivation in liberal arts education and education in the healing arts, especially in the Chinese Medicine curriculum.

Practical Application of Won Buddhism Ideology


At the Won Institute, we are committed to advancing the teachings and scriptures of Won Buddhism. We believe that spiritual practices like meditation should be intricately connected to our real every day life to keep us connected with onself and the world as a whole.

Our Master of Won Buddhist Studies and Certificate in Won Buddhist Studies programs incorporate these reformed Buddhist beliefs along with Taoist and Confucian teachings. The Won Buddhist Studies programs provide students with the education, practical understanding, critical thinking, research and academic writing skills they need to become an ordained Won Buddhist minister or a lay leader, to begin practicing and teaching Won Buddhism in their communities. Students have the opportunity to pursue a chosen area of interest, like the history of Buddhist philosophy, moving meditation and the applications of meditation to develop their understanding of specific elements of Won Buddhism.

Ready to Embrace Your Spiritual Nature?

Apply to one of our Won Buddhist Studies Programs

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Apply to our Won Buddhist Studies Programs


Are you interested in pursuing a Master’s or Certificate of Won Buddhist Studies near Philadelphia? Our specialized graduate school is regionally accredited through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and offers the only formal academic degree programs in Won Buddhist Studies outside of South Korea.

Connect with Admissions or Apply today to get started.



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For more information and resources about Won Buddhism, check out our library’s Won Buddhism Library Guide, Won Dharma Center, and www.wonbuddhist.org

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