Lecture Video: Solitary Sage


A copy of David Mason's book can be purchased on his website.

Great scholar, writer and spiritual sage Choi Chi-won (857-?) is one of the most interesting yet enigmatic figures of all Korea's cultural history, displaying many virtues & talents and symbolizing many key themes. He exemplifies the tragic spirit of the Unified Shilla Dynasty’s waning days, and the incipient harmony among Korea’s Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism – a general "culture hero" of Korean tradition. He served as a brilliant government official in both Tang China and Korea, but then adopted the scholar-name Go-un [Lonely Cloud] to reflect his feelings about his later years in effective internal exile, during which he practiced Daoism and lived in great Buddhist temples and recorded their histories, with biographies of their enlightened masters, some of which remain inscribed on stone monuments today. Finally, he attained “immortality” at Gaya-san Haein-sa. This lecture will tell the fascinating story of his life, showing many photos of the lovely sites associated with him, and demonstrate the profound effect that his legacy left on the next 1100 years of Korea's cultural development.

David A. Mason is a Professor of Korean Public Service at Chung-Ang University, Seoul Campus, and a longtime researcher on the religious characteristics of Korea's mountains. Prior to his assuming his current post, he served as a professor of Korean Cultural Tourism for 9 years, as a consultant for the national Ministry of Culture and Tourism for 5 years, and as professor of English out in the Korean countryside for 17 years.

A citizen of the United States, native of Michigan, he has been living in South Korea for 33 years now, always following his passionate interest in hiking Korea’s forested mountains and visiting their historic spiritual sites. He has proudly been a member of the RAS-KB for three decades. He was appointed the Honorary Ambassador of the Baekdu-daegan Ranges by the Korea Forest Service in 2011.

Mason earned a Masters' Degree in the History of Korean Religions from Yonsei University in 1997. He has authored and edited ten books on Korean culture and tourism, including Spirit of the Mountains about Korea's traditions of spiritual mountain-worship, the English Encyclopedia of Korean Buddhism, and Solitary Sage: The Profound Life, Wisdom and Legacy of Korea’s ‘Go-un’ Choi Chi-won. He has published many articles in academic journals and popular magazines, and has frequently been interviewed on various media. His popular website on sacred Korean mountains and mountain-spirits can be found at www.san-shin.org

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