Jungto Society, the international Buddhist community founded by the revered Korean Seon (Zen) master and social activist Venerable Pomnyun Sunim (법륜스님),* has announced the launch of an online incarnation of its Jungto Dharma School study course.
Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, the guiding Dharma teacher of Jungto Society, first opened Jungto Dharma School in Korea some 31 years ago. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jungto Society has created an English-language online syllabus—Jungto Dharma School: Introduction to Buddhism I—which will be launched on 22 March and is available to students of Buddhism all over the world.
“In Jungto Dharma School, you will learn the original teachings of the Buddha under the guidance of Ven. Pomnyun Sunim,” Jungto Society explained. “You will learn how the mind works and experience changes in your perspective on life. As students of Jungto Dharma School, you will not only study Buddhist doctrines (the Buddha’s core teachings) but also gain practical wisdom to help you resolve various problems in your life.”
Jungto Dharma School’s 22-week program will include all course materials and online tools, weekly online meetings and Dharma talks, and live interaction with group members and facilitators. The course content encompasses foundation modules on understanding the Buddha’s core teachings, from original (pre-sectarian) Buddhism to modern Buddhism, as well as practical steps to bring the practice of the Buddhadharma into your own daily life.
“Jungto Dharma School is a class that offers you an opportunity to go back to the time of the Buddha to apply the Buddha’s teaching to your own life, giving a very experiential way to escape from suffering,” Ven. Pomnyun Sunim noted. “The Buddha said: ‘Come and see, you who have eyes! I can’t help when you close your eyes, but when you open your eyes, you can find yourself right here.’ It’s not difficult; it does not discriminate against any particular person—anyone can do it.
“In order to make these teachings accessible today, Jungto Dharma School was started. What we want to do now is to change our daily lives to become more free and happy under our present conditions.”
Jungto Society is a volunteer-run community and humanitarian organization that aspires to embody the Buddhist teachings through social engagement, and by promoting a simple lifestyle that is less centered on consumption than mainstream society. Jungto Society seeks to address the problems and crises of modern society, such as greed, poverty, conflict, and environmental degradation, by applying a Buddhist worldview of interconnectedness and in line with the principal that everyone can find happiness through Buddhist practice and active participation in social movements. Jungto Society connects communities of practitioners across South Korea and the world, each offering online Dharma instruction and other Dharma-based programs.
“What would the Buddha be like if he lived in the present day?” said Ven. Pomnyun Sunim. “When he was born on this Earth about 2,600 years ago, the Buddha was neither an omnipotent god nor a special person. Instead he found the path that would to solve the most contradictory aspects of Indian society. Therefore, Buddhism today should not be viewed as a religion or a philosophy, but as a spiritual practice that will help to liberate people from suffering. As such, those who free themselves from suffering should not simply sit back feeling satisfied—they need to go out to help others find the same freedom from their own anguish.
“The Buddhist teachings must be practiced, not just learned. The main purpose of Jungto Dharma School is to understand how negative feelings and states of mind are manifested in our daily life, and then to experience how these negative psychological states can be transformed into a positive ones. The most important thing is that you should experience and practice this path for yourself.”
Ven. Pomnyun Sunim is a widely respected Dharma teacher, author, and social activist. He has founded numerous organizations, initiatives, and projects across the world. Among them, JTS Korea is active as an international aid organization working to eradicate poverty and hunger, while Jungto Society is a volunteer-based community founded on the Buddhist teachings and dedicated to addressing modern social issues that lead to suffering. Ven. Pomnyun Sunim also works closely with the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB).
In October 2020, The Niwano Peace Foundation in Japan presented the 37th Niwano Peace Prize to Ven. Pomnyun Sunim in recognition of the revered monk’s international humanitarian work, environmental and social activism, and his tireless efforts to build trust and goodwill between communities of different faiths and cultures, toward the goal of world peace.**
* Sunim is a Korean title of respect for Buddhist monks.
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