Composition of Jikji

The title of Jikji(dʒɪkdʒiː)

The title of the movable metal type book published by Heungdeoksa Temple in Cheongju in 1377 is Baekwoon hwasang chorok buljo jikji simche yojeol (白雲和尙抄錄佛祖直指心體要節) which is shortened to Buljo jikji simche yojeol, Jikji simche yojeol, Jikji simche, or Jikji.

Composition and content of Jikji

  • Jikji consists of two volumes. The first volume of the metal type book printed at Heungdeoksa Temple is lost, and only the second volume (38 chapters in total) is stored in the Eastern manuscripts division of the National Library of France.
  • 145 Buddhas and masters. The book is a collection of excerpts from the analects of seven Buddhas of the past, 28 Buddhist Patriarchs of India, and 110 Zen masters of China, lauding Buddha’s grace in the form of verses, stanzas, hymns, songs, writing, etc.
    • First volume of Jikji : Includes the first part of the analects on the attainment of awakening featuring seven Buddhas of the past, 28 patriarchs of India, six Zen masters and the Five Houses and Seven Schools of China.
    • Second volume of Jikji : Includes guidelines for sitting meditation, the second part of the analects on the attainment of awakening featuring the Five Houses and Seven Schools of China, dharma talks, songs of praise, treatises, collection of epistles, commentaries on scriptures, etc.

The main theme of Jikji is “Jikji simche,” which is derived from the famous phrase on awakening in Zen Buddhism, “Jikjiinsim gyeonseongseongbul (直指人心 見性成佛),” which means that, when you look directly into the mind through meditation, you will see your original nature and attain Buddhahood.

The publication record written on the last page, 宣光七年丁巳七月 日淸州牧外興德寺鑄字印族, confirms that the book was printed in metal type at Heungdeoksa Temple outside Cheongju Magistracy in the 7th month of 1377.

Writer and publisher

Author of Jikji

  • The Buddhist monk Baegun (白雲和尙, 1298-1374) [Buddhist name: Gyeonghan (景閑), penname: Baegun (白雲)]

Baegun was born in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province in 1298 (24th year of King Chungyeol).

  • In the 5th month of 1351 (at age 54, in the 3rd year of King Chungjeong), he sought teaching from Zen Master Shiwu (石屋) in Haozhou, Yuan Dynasty. After receiving the book Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests’ Zen Teachings (Buljo jikji shimche yojeol) from Shiwu, he followed Buddhist teachings and achieved enlightenment in the 1st month of 1353 (at age 56, in the 2nd year of King Gongmin). In addition, Baegun also received teachings from the Buddhist priest Jigong from India.
  • After that, he served as the chief monk at Anguksa Temple and Singwangsa Temple in Haeju, Hwanghaedo Province, and worked to nurture younger generations. In 1372 (at age 75, in the 21st of King Gongmin), he compiled analects of 145 Buddhas and masters and wrote Jikji in two volumes at Seongbulsa Temple in Seongbulsan Mountain. In 1374 (at age 77, in the 23rd year of King Gongmin), he passed away at Chwiamsa Temple in Yeoju.

Publishers of Jikji

  • Seokchan (釋璨), Daljam (達湛), Myodeok (妙德)

The monks Seokchan and Daljam played a major role in publishing Jikji, and the Buddhist nun Myodeok made offerings for the project. Myodeok, in particular, was involved in the publication of both Heungdeoksa Temple metal type and Chwiamsa Temple woodblock prints of Jikji.

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