What is Won?
Won or Il Won Sang is the origin of all things in the universe, our authentic true self to which all buddhas and bodhisattvas are enlightened.
Once, a painter in ancient times was asked by an aristocrat to paint a mural image of God. He had been asked to paint many pictures and had completed many pictures of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Last Supper and other religious subjects. Yet this was the first time that he was asked to draw the image of God. He pondered for a long time and eventually drew the image of God. It was a large, round circle.
Sotaesan, the founding master of Won Buddhism, attained supreme enlightenment in 1916 after many years of ascetic practice. Upon awakening he declared, “All things in the universe are of One Reality and all principles originate from one source, where the Truth of No Birth and No Death and the Principle of Cause and Effect operate on an interrelated basis as a single, clear and rounded framework.”
This single, clear and rounded framework is called Il Won Sang (One Circle Image) and in a Won Buddhist temple, the Buddha image is replaced by the Il Won Sang image.