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Korean Zen Master Pomnyun Sunim to Embark on International Dharma Talk Tour

Pomnyun Sunim. Photo by Jihea Kim

Update 5 March 2020: Jungto Society has stated that all of Pomnyun Sunim’s speaking dates have been canceled in response to the growing international coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. New dates may be announced later, when the situation improves.

The renowned Korean Seon (Zen) Master Pomnyun Sunim* will undertake a series of public Dharma talks in an intinerary that will take in 12 cities in seven countries this year, from 25 March–30 May. The tour, which is scheduled to visit London, Dublin, Frankfurt, Toronto, Minneapolis, New York, Washington, DC, Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seoul, is being conducted under the theme “A Casual Conversation with a Zen Master.”

“There is a Korean saying that goes, ‘The voice of the people is the voice of the heavens,’” said Pomnyun Sunim. “I am holding talks . . .  with the hope that by . . . meeting people to listen to them and helping them with their problems, the heavens will be moved.”

In order to engage with non-Korean-speaking audiences, the talks will be interpreted into English (except in Frankfurt, where German will be used). 

A widely respected author, Dharma teacher, and social activist in his native South Korea, Pomnyun Sunim has founded numerous organizations, initiatives, and projects that are active across the world. Among them, Jungto Society, a volunteer-based community founded on the Buddhist teachings and expressing equality, simple living, and sustainability, is dedicated to addressing modern social issues that lead to suffering, including environmental degradation, poverty, and conflict. Join Together Society, an international aid organization, works to eradicate poverty and hunger through humanitarian relief and sustainable development. Pomnyun Sunim also works closely with the Thailand-based International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB).

Image courtesy of Jungto Society

Pomnyun Sunim has earned considerable acclaim at home and internationally for his unique style of conducting public Dharma talks in an informal Q+A format, in which participants are invited to raise any issues that concern them. Sunim frequently holds his talks in secular public venues rather than restricting them to Buddhist temples, in order to make them more accessible to the general public.

“Pomnyun Sumin’s insight and wisdom into human suffering in modern society is unparalleled. His stories and messages reflect his deep understanding of our suffering,” said Jungto Society, which is organizing the tour schedule. “This understanding partly stems from his own life experiences, which include being tortured during the brutal dictatorship of Gen. Chun Doo-hwan. Pomnyun Sumin has counseled numerous people on their suffering for many decades. His observations on suffering coupled with his own life experiences cut to the core of our suffering and provide a simple path to happiness. Pomnyun Sunim helps audiences understand his messages through everyday examples and metaphors.”

The talks are structured and guided with the aim of helping people realize their own inner contradictions or ignorance, and providing them with the tools and understanding to alleviate their own suffering, in the tradition of the historical Buddha. The international tour is an extension of Pomnyun Sunim’s extensive travels all over Korea and the world to help people apply the teachings of the Buddha to their own lives and become free from suffering.

“In my Q&A Dharma talks, I am not giving out answers. Life has no answers. One must make a choice and take responsibility for it,” said Pomnyun Sunim. “People find their own way in life while holding conversations with me.”

Due to the developing circumstances of the international coronavirus (CORVID-19) outbreak, revisions may be made to the Dharma talk schedule. Please refer back for schedule updates. For more information about the upcoming talks, contact [email protected]

* Sunim is a Korean title of respect for senior Buddhist monks.

See more

A Casual Conversation with a Zen Master (Pomnyun)
A Casual Conversation with a Zen Master (YouTube)
Jungto Society
JTS International
JTS Korea
JTS America
International Network of Engaged Buddhists

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