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Ŭisang (625–702) was the founder of the Hwaŏm school and an influential thinker in Korea and China. In 644 he was ordained a monk at Hwangboksa in Kyŏngju, the capital of Silla. Together with WŎnhyo (617–686), Ŭisang decided to study under Chinese masters. After a first unsuccessful attempt in 650, Ŭisang finally reached Tang China in 661, where he studied under Zhiyan (602–668), the second patriarch of the Huayan school. Together with Fazang (643–712), the future third patriarch of the Huayan school, Ŭisang became one of Zhiyan's chief disciples. In 668 Ŭisang wrote the Hwaŏm ilsŭng pŏpkye to (Diagram of the Dharmadhātu According to the One Vehicle of Hwaŏm), a poem epitomizing his understanding of Huayan philosophy. During the same year, Zhiyan died and Ŭisang took over teaching the disciples of his deceased master.

In 670 Ŭisang returned to Korea, warning King Munmu about an impending invasion of Silla by Tang army forces. In 676 Pusŏksa on Mount T'aebaek was built under royal decree and functioned as Ŭisang's main center for the propagation of the Hwaŏisang in Korea. Purportedly, Ŭisang gathered more than three thousand disciples and subsequently founded other monasteries throughout the country, further promoting Hwaŏm studies. Ŭisang's erudition was known both inside and outside of Korea. Fazang continued to correspond with Ŭisang, asking him to Correct his manuscripts.

During the subsequent Koryŏ dynasty, Chinul (1158–1210) copiously cited Ŭisang's works and King Sukjong conferred on him a posthumous title. Ŭisang's Hwaŏm ilsŭng pŏpkye to is often recited in modern Korean Buddhist liturgy.


Forte, Antonino. A Jewel in Indra's Net: The Letter Sent by Fazang in China to Ŭisang in Korea. Kyoto: Instituto Italiano di Cultura Scuola di Studi Sull'Asia Orientale, 2000.

Lee, Peter H., ed. Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Odin, Steve. Process Metaphysics and Hua-yen Buddhism: A Critical Study of Cumulative Penetration vs. Interpretation. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1982.

Patrick R. Uhlmann