It is a pleasure for me to introduce the collection of articles and book reviews featured in this new issue of the Journal of Daesoon Thought and the Religions of East Asia. Several contributions were first presented at the JDTREA Conference on the theme “New Frontiers in Daesoon Thought” which was held on Friday 1 July 2022 at Daijin University and online. The quality of the presentations was very high, and Don Baker, Zhihe Wang, and Livia Kohn have submitted their work for publication here, for which I am grateful.
The first contribution is by Don Baker (University of British Columbia, Canada), and is titled “Introducing Daesoon Philosophy to the West.” This article traces the complexities of cross-cultural communication, taking as its subject matter how Western people might be brought to an understanding of the “quintessentially Korean” content of Daesoon Jinrihoe. This article covers important content regarding the universality of some religions’ messages, and the cultural adaptations that are the inevitable result of a religion crossing the boundaries of language, geography and culture.
The second article is Wang Zhihe’s (Institute for Postmodern Development of China, USA) “Haewon-sangsaeng, Chinese Harmonism and Ecological Civilization.” This study extends the theological idea of Haewon-sangsaeng, generally taken to refer to human relationships, to the broader field of the ecological wholeness of the world. Wang poses the question of whether it is time for us to abandon anthropocentricism and consider the wholeness of creation as falling under the idea of Haewon-sangsaeng.
Next is Livia Kohn’s (Boston University, USA) “Activating Twenty-four: Time, Space, and Body,” which is a witty and comprehensive study of the ways in which time is generally divided into auspicious and inauspicious times. After reading this exhaustive study it is impossible to disagree with Kohn’s contention that “numbers structure reality and define the way people live.”
Edward Irons (Hong Kong Institute for Culture, Commerce and Religion, USA) and Lee Gyungwon (Daejin University, Korea) have authored a fascinating article, “Yiguandao in Korea: International Growth of a Chinese New Religion.” Yiguandao was originally a Chinese movement which entered Korea around 1947. The strength of this research is the detailed discussion of mission within the movement, and the chronicling of the lineages descending from the original movement.
The fifth contribution is Nguyen Phuoc Tai (FPT University, Can Tho Campus, Vietnam), Dinh Van Thuy (Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy, Vietnam), Nguyen Thuan Quy (Dong Thap University, Vietnam) and Tran Thi Kim Hoang (Kien Giang Teachers Training College, Vietnam) “An Analysis of the Meaning Enshrined in the Architecture of the Tay Ninh Holy See of Cao Dai.” This important contribution considers the sacred architecture of the Tay Ninh Cao Dai temple, the most important sacred site of this Vietnamese new religion.
The final article is Kai Shmushko (Leiden University, Netherlands) “Teaism in the Sinophone World and Beyond: Spiritual, Political and Material Explorations.” This is a charming and intelligent examination of cultural customs examined as if they were religions/ religious. The journal issue is completed by reviews supplied by the Review Editor, Professor Holly Folk (Western Washington University, USA). I am grateful to Bae Kyuhan, Lee Gyungwon, Jason Greenberger and Choi Wonhyuk, from Daejin University, and to all the scholars and referees who made this issue happen. 2022 has proved to be as challenging as 2021, and we are delighted to shine a positive light in the darkness.