Supplementary Entries and Texts for the
ENCYCLOPEDIA  OF  KOREAN  BUDDHISM
by the Venerable Hyewon and Professor David A. Mason
Deleted entire Entry:
Cheon-Ji-In    천지인   天地人               would have been on page 130
Heaven, Earth and Humanity

The basic trinity at the root of all Oriental philosophy, the basis of both Confucianism
and Daoism and a heavy influence on Chinese and Korean Buddhism. It was first
expressed in the Juyeok-gyeong (周易經, Zhou I Ching, Classic Book of Changes
from the Chou 周 Dynasty), East Asia’s oldest and most profound collection of
religious cosmology, divination and philosophical scriptures.

The ‘three ultimates’ or three factors of the Taegeuk (太極, Taiji, T'ai-chi, Grand
Ultimate; see that entry) manifest in the conceptual triad of Heaven (sky, insubstantial,
principles, spirit), Earth (matter, energy, substance) and human beings (life-forms,
actions, ethics, spirituality). Heaven generates all things, earth nourishes them and
humanity ‘perfects’ them. The Juyeok-gyeong presents them as three modes of the
same Do (道, Dao / Tao, Way): the Do of Heaven is called
eum-yang (陰陽, yin-yang
complementary balance), the Do of Earth is called yielding and firm or expanding and
contracting, and that of Humanity is called humaneness and righteousness; in
Buddhism that last one is extended to the Bulbeop (佛法, Buddha-Dharma) and
seongbul (成佛, enlightenment). Cheon-Ji-In are co-equal dynamic factors that each
influence the other two; they consist of the same nature and it is characterized by
harmony rather than opposition.

Cheon-Ji-In is represented in the four trigrams found on the Taegeuk-gi Flag (太極旗)
of the Republic of Korea, and in the very common Sam-taegeuk (三太極) symbol. It
serves as a basic concept in many Korean Buddhist concepts and art-motifs. It can be
found represented in many Buddhist and other traditional-spiritual artworks such as
seoktap (石塔, stone pagodas), biseok (碑石, standing stone steles), budo (浮屠,
memorial stupas; funerary reliquaries), bulhwa (佛畵, Buddhist paintings), su-in (手印,
mudra or hand-position) and temple architecture, especially the common lotus ponds
in a square shape (earth) with a round island (heaven) upon which stands a seoktap
(humanity). Cheon-Ji-In can be richly correlated with the
Sambo (三寶, Three
Treasures or Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha; see entry on page 450-51 of the
book) triad-concept and to some Samjonbul (三尊佛, Buddha Triad) arrangements,
which adds to the philosophical symbolic power of them all.

The Cheon-Ji-In concept is complementary to
the eum-yang concept; see that entry.

It is also related to
Pungsu-jiri theory; see that entry.

It is also related to Samseong-gak Shrines; see the entry on page 459 of the book.

For more information & photos, see
my Sam-taegeuk page.