Closing Ceremony for the First 10,000-Day Practice

 Dec. 7, 2022

Hello! Today is a special day as it is the day we conclude both the 10th 1,000-Day Practice and the First 10,000-Day Practice, which has taken 30 years to complete. 

As usual, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim began his 10,000th morning practice at 5:00 am sharp before participating in the closing ceremony. The first part of the ceremony, held in the morning, was the Closing Ceremony for the 10th 1,000-Day Practice. The second part, held in the afternoon, was the Closing Ceremony for the First 10,000-Day Practice. More than 8,000 participants were connected to the live-streamed ceremony. 

“Participating in the live-streamed Closing Ceremony might run up a huge data bill. If possible, please participate in a place where you have WiFi access.”

With this announcement by the MC, Kim Byung-jo, the Closing Ceremony for the 10th 1,000-Day Practice began at 9:20 am with the ringing of the bell, the Yebul ceremony, and the recitation of the Heart Sutra.

The 10,000-Day Practice, which began on March 8, 1993, with an aspiration to overcome all the suffering in the world and manifest a Pure Heart, Good Friends, and a Clean Earth, came to an end today, December 4, 2022. We are grateful for our teacher who has shown us the path to follow and we’ve been happy all these years because of our fellow practitioners who have been a mirror of us. 

Chung Hyo-jeong, a musical actress and a member of Gilbeot (a group of Jungto Society members who work in the media and entertainment industry) raised the curtain by performing a song called “The Buddha in My Mind.”

This was followed by opening remarks from the President of Jungto Society, reporting the results of the 100-day assignments, a video of our footsteps in the past 100 days, and a video of our footsteps in the past 1,000 days. Indeed, so many things have happened in the past 1,000 days. Everybody clapped in appreciation of each other’s efforts.

Next, those who hadn’t missed a day of practice throughout the past 1,000 days received awards. Those who had never missed a day of daily practice at 5 am throughout this period—117 people from home and abroad—received awards. Eighteen people who were present in the venue received the awards on behalf of all awardees. The names of 476 people who also hadn’t missed a day of practice but were not always on time were shown on the screen.

Next, those who had worked hard as the leaders of Jungto Society over the past three years were introduced. Ninety people, including the President of Jungto Society, the Support Division Head, team leads, division heads, chapter heads, support team leads, and leaders of the Special Committee for Korean Unification, stepped onto the stage and introduced themselves.

Awards were then given to outstanding Jungto practitioners:  individuals and teams who had been exemplary in their respective areas of activity this year received the Jungto Practitioners Awards.

The Effort Award was presented to the Youth Division Training Team for developing and implementing practice programs for young people; the Missionary Award to Dharma Meeting Team Lead Cho Sung-sook for developing and establishing programs for the Online Dharma School; the Reunification Award to Han Sun-hwa for tirelessly helping North Korean defectors as if they were her own family; the Welfare Award to Park Joo-sun for improving community welfare by linking a group of single mothers with a Happy Citizen Group; the Environment Award to Ansan JTS Multicultural Center for picking up garbage and recycling with foreign workers residing in the area, and Son Seung-hui for developing various environmental-awareness programs and videos, including Sambyeoldan, Environment School, and Climate School programs; the Special Award to the Media Team for live broadcasting programs and events; and the Donation Award to Yoon Gwang-chun for his consistent donations. 

Whenever the name of a winner was announced, the audience applauded enthusiastically. Lastly, the winner of the Grand Prize was announced.

“The winner of the Grand Prize of the Jungto Practitioners Award is Kim Soon-young from the International Division.”

As the International Division Head, she has made a great contribution to laying the foundation for spreading the Dharma around the world in preparation for the Second 10,000-Day Practice by developing various programs in foreign languages, including Sunday Meditation, Dharma Q&A in English, and Jungto Dharma School in English. Ven. Pomnyun Sunim presented her with the award plaque, a bouquet, and a ticket for the Buddhist Pilgrimage to India as a gift.

The award winners then took a photo with Sunim before stepping off the stage. Everybody felt grateful to them for their devotion and hard work.

Afterward, Sunim gave a Dharma talk for the Closing Ceremony for the 10th 1,000-Day Practice.

“Dear Jungto practitioners! Today is happy, a little sad, and a little relaxing at the same time. Today, three things overlap: today we conclude the 10th 100-Day Practice, the 10th 1,000-Day Practice, and the First 10,000-Day Practice, all at the same time.

“Jungto Society is based on practice. Therefore, if your activities at Jungto Society are not based on practice, you will regret and resent your life later. Only when we are based on practice, we won’t resent our parents, we won’t resent our spouse, and we won’t resent our children. Only when we are based on practice, we won’t feel betrayed or regret. If we are not based on practice, we will be disappointed and thus have resentment even if we do good and people compliment us for doing great things.

“The Buddha taught us to benefit others. As such, Jungto Society not benefitting its members doesn’t make sense. In the same way, trying to benefit others without benefiting yourself doesn’t make sense.

The way to benefit yourself

“What does it mean to benefit yourself? Feeding yourself good food, dressing yourself in good clothes, and letting yourself get plenty of rest isn’t the way to benefit yourself. Benefiting yourself is practicing according to the Buddha’s teachings. If you don’t practice, you are bound to feel disappointed when you like or take care of someone else. Even parents feel disappointed if their children don’t turn out the way they want them to. How, then, can we not be disappointed? We like someone first and then we resent them later. Parents give birth to and raise their children and then resent them. And children resent their parents who gave birth to and raised them. What could be more unfortunate than this in life?

“In my Dharma Q&As, I encounter many people who resent their parents. Resenting the parents who gave birth to you and raised you means that they are bad people, doesn’t it? Then, how can a child of bad people feel positive about themselves? And if parents hate their own child whom they themselves gave birth to and raised, who is responsible for that? If a child is problematic, the parents should be responsible, not someone else. If you hate or resent your partner, whom you chose among all the men and women in the world,  isn’t that the same as badmouthing yourself? If you were mistaken about your partner, you were dimwitted, weren’t you?

“Hatred and resentment arise because you don’t have the right perspective on practice. Hatred and resentment arise because you think that being loved, helped, and understood by others and receiving from others is a blessing. If your perspective is something like, ‘If I give birth to and raise children, they will turn out fine,’ ‘My parents would help me,’ or ‘If I marry this person, I might profit from this marriage,’ you will hate and resent the other person in the end.

“This applies not only to your personal life but also to Jungto Society activities. You all joined Jungto Society of your own accord. Just as you married your spouse of your own choice, you joined Jungto Society of your own volition. if you then resent Jungto Society or badmouth your teacher, whom you chose as your teacher, how can you see yourself in a positive light? 

The most important thing in the world

“Even if you’ve done many good things, they are only good in the eyes of others. What is more important than doing good things is practice. The most important thing in the world is yourself.

“When I say that the most important thing in the world is yourself, I don’t mean that you should care only about yourself. I mean that you shouldn’t resent or hate others, or feel betrayed, disappointed, or regretful. Doing one of these is to abuse yourself. 

“How can you love others when you can’t love yourself? Does it make sense that someone who can’t love themselves loves others? Who would love you when you don’t love yourself? Who would respect you when you don’t respect yourself?

“To be loved by others, you must love yourself first; To love others, you must love yourself first. To love yourself isn’t something extraordinary, it is to stop torturing yourself. This should be the foundation. You don’t have to do many good things. You don’t need to exert yourself to do good things.

“Jungto Society was founded on practice from the beginning. The first objective of 1,000-Day Practice has always been for us to be helpful to others based on our own practice. This will continue to be our objective throughout our practice, whether it is the Second or the Third 10,000-Day Practice. This is because it is the core teaching of the Buddha. But to think that only your own welfare matters is prejudice. Thinking positively about yourself and caring only about your own welfare are two different things. Only when you put down your burdens can you straighten your back and look around. Then you may carry someone else’s burdens if necessary. If you are carrying a heavy burden, you can’t see the suffering of other people because your head will droop from the weight of the burden, and you will probably think: ‘Will anybody carry my burden for me?’ Even if you can see other people’s suffering, you won’t be able to carry someone else’s burden because you are already carrying a heavy burden yourself.

Benefiting yourself is benefiting others

“Prostrating every morning isn’t practice. Prostration is a symbolic act to remind us not to forget the practitioner’s perspective. Therefore, we shouldn’t feel too excited about doing many good things. What’s important is whether we keep ourselves well at all times. Being humble is benefiting yourself. Doing good things for the world is, in essence, benefiting yourself. Benefiting yourself is a way to benefit others, bring peace, and preserve nature. When we clearly have this perspective, we can think coherently. Only then can we say, ‘I have the right perspective on practice.’

“However, we are still unenlightened beings, so we may blame others momentarily. But we have to come back to the right perspective on practice right away. If your life is not based on practice, you will have regrets later.

‘I worked so hard to raise my child but all was in vain.’

‘I took good care of my parents but they left their money to another child.’

‘I’ve volunteered for Jungto Society but it was a waste of time.’

‘I truly believed what they said about heaven but now I am dead and there is no heaven.’

“If you feel regret like this, how futile you will feel. You attend church faithfully and then, after you die, you go to heaven and find me there, then how bad would you feel? Regretting like this is neither practice nor loving yourself. Of course, I want you to do things that are helpful to the world. But I want to emphasize that loving yourself is more important.

“However, words such as love, happiness, and freedom are used differently in our daily lives than when they are used in the Buddha’s teachings, which often causes misunderstanding. Happiness in Buddhism isn’t the good feeling you have when things go your way. Freedom in Buddhism isn’t doing whatever you want to do. If you try to have things go the way you want them to, you are bound to feel shackled when they don’t. If you feel happy because things go your way, you are bound to suffer when things don’t. Ultimately, you are trapped in the cycle of reincarnation.

“Enlightenment and liberation that the Buddha talked about are sustainable happiness and freedom from the cycle of reincarnation. If an action is committed already, willingly accept its consequences. If you chased after something, accept its consequences readily. Taking responsibility for your choices is practice. 

“Having practiced on time every day for 1,000 days indicates that you didn’t forget the practitioner’s perspective even for a moment. If you practiced on time every day but forgot the practitioner’s perspective, it is done only for form’s sake. You can occasionally practice late, but you shouldn’t forget the practitioner’s perspective. That is why we read ‘Words for Practice’ at the beginning of our practice—to remind us to have the right perspective on practice. It reminds us to have the perspective that the root of all suffering and attachments is within us. 

“Someone asked me: ‘When the 1,000-Day Practice is concluded, is it okay to skip practicing?’ To me, that person looked like a hired hand who works for another person rather than a master. Practice has nothing to do with whether the 1,000-Day Practice is completed or not. Just as we wash our face and eat food every day to keep our body healthy, practice is something we do for ourselves whether or not someone watches us, or gives us an award, or because we signed up for the opening or closing ceremony. However, we’ve decided to practice together instead of doing it alone, so we have these opening and closing ceremonies. Therefore, even if we conclude the 1,000-Day Practice today, don’t think, ‘Maybe we don’t have to practice tomorrow.’ The opening and closing ceremonies have nothing to do with practice. However, the period between the closing ceremony and the next opening ceremony won’t be included in the 1,000-Day Practice.

“I ask you once more to continue to practice until March 19, when the First 1,000-Day Practice of the Second 10,000-Day Practice begins. I commend you for overcoming hardship during the past three years and I thank all the people who have worked hard.”

With the Four Great Vows, the Closing Ceremony for the 10th 1,000-Day Practice was completed. At 1:00 pm, after a lunch break, the Closing Ceremony for the First 10,000-Day Practice began. It was time to reflect on the past 30 years. So many things have happened in Jungto Society over the past 30 years. A video titled “Jungto Society’s Footsteps in the Past 30 Years” was shown. 

The Jungto Society of today is possible because of countless Jungto practitioners who have followed this path together. Next, a video of Ven. Domun Sunim’s blessing in commemoration of the completion of 10,000-Day Practice was shown.

Afterward, Lee Ji-young, a mezzo-soprano from Gyeongnam Division, sang a song to celebrate this event.

Next, a video titled “People Who Made a Miracle of 10,000 Days” was shown, highlighting the people who have led the development of Jungto Society in their respective areas. The people who’ve worked for the Administration Office, Seoul and Jeju Division, Daegu and Gyeongbuk Division, Busan and Ulsan Division, and Gangwon and East Gyeonggi Division, were shown first. It was moving to watch the days when each small Dharma meeting and each small Dharma center were so precious. 

The video was followed by an exciting performance of Korean folk music by Daegu Gyeongbuk Division.

Next, a video of the people who’ve worked for the Overseas Division, Daejeon and Chungcheong Division, Gyeongnam Division, Gwangju and Jeolla Division, Incheon and West Gyeonggi Division, Youth Division, and Jungto Dharma School Division was shown. 

The footage of the people who made this miracle continued on the screen. Then, a video showing the efforts of our sister NGOs that took the lead in making our society better was played. As we watched the footsteps of JTS, Peace Foundation, Good Friends, and Ecobuddha in the past 30 years, we felt proud because their history is our history. 

The video was followed by a performance by the Bodhi Team, a group of volunteers who maintain and operate Seoul Jungto Center, in celebration of this occasion. 

Lastly, a video of the footsteps of the Sangha and Multimedia Center in the past 10,000 days was shown. The past 10,000 days were possible due to the devotion of many people. Thanks to these people, Jungto Society reached out and touched many more people.

Jungto Society started with nothing. No one recognized us. The Dharma Center in Hongje-dong with its red vinyl floor didn’t look like a Dharma center at all. Yongdu-ri Dharma Center was built with reclaimed wood and plastic sheets recovered from the landfill in Nanjido, and Mungyeong Retreat Center, plastered with tree bark, was nothing more than a shed.

But the true teachings of the Buddha were there. Bright-eyed practitioners who had resolved to restore Korean Buddhism and revive the nation were there. Today’s Jungto Society is possible because of the countless practitioners who gladly joined us on this difficult path.

Next, awards were given to people who made special contributions. After completing the 100 Day-Practice 100 times, and the 1,000-Day Practice 10 times, we’ve arrived at a point where we can conclude our practice that has lasted for 30 years—a generation. First, a video of the people who made special contributions over the past 30 years was shown. 

The video showed the people who joined the Sangha when they were young and have worked actively ever since, those who made similar contributions but later left the Sangha, those who’ve worked for Jungto Society for more than 20 years, and those who worked hard for Jungto Society but have passed away. Each time the familiar face of a Dharma teacher or a full-time resident staff member appeared on the screen, everybody applauded loudly.

After the names of the people who made special contributions were shown on the screen, Sunim stepped onto the stage and added an explanation.

“There are also people whose names we can’t disclose yet. Their names can’t be disclosed yet because of the situation. I hope you appreciate their efforts too. There are also people who passed away due to old age, sickness, or accidents while working for Jungto Society. We’ll recite the Mantra of Liberation to wish for their blissful rebirth in the Pure Land.”

After earnestly reciting the mantra, the award ceremony continued. Of the awardees, those who were present in the venue stepped onto the stage and received gifts. 

When the nine people, including Yoo Jung-kil, Kim Jung-nim, Noh Jae-gook, Hong Jung-hye, Yoo Young-jin, Kim Whui-sook, and Lee Youn-soon, stepped onto the stage, Sunim introduced each of them and their contributions, and they each received a big round of applause.

Next, Sunim awarded the Distinguished Service Award to five people who made exceptional contributions to Jungto Society

Ven. Yusu Sunim received the Distinguished Service Award for discovering and nurturing people for youth, member, and regional programs, and for organizing and supervising various construction projects to secure places for practice and volunteer work, including Seocho Jungto Dharma Center, Mungyoeng Retreat Center, Seonyudong Training and Education Center, and Seoul Jungto Center.

Dharma Teacher Jaje, the most senior non-resident Dharma teacher, received the Distinguished Service Award for facilitating Jungto Society’s transition to a member-led organization.

Kwon Young-sun received the Distinguished Service Award for steering Jungto Society’s social engagement activities from the start and for compiling the history of Jungto Society by establishing the Special Committee for History Compilation and the Public Relations Office.

Park Ji-na received the Distinguished Service Award for helping North Korean children and for carrying out various emergency humanitarian aid activities around the world, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Lee Won-ju received the Distinguished Service Award for developing and implementing aid projects in the most troubled regions of the Philippines that even the locals had shunned, since the inception of JTS Philippines.

After giving the award to five people, Sunim took a photo with them. They have been like the pillars of Jungto Society and everybody was moved to tears as they watched them receive their awards.

Next, the 10,000-Day Practice Award was given to those who practiced at 5:00 am every morning for 10,000 days without missing even a day. Han Hye-ja started to practice from the First 100-Day Practice of the First 1,000-Day Practice, and Ma Gyeong-suk started to practice from the Second 100-Day Practice of the First 1,000-Day Practice. They received a thunderous round of applause.

Many people worked hard for Jungto Society over the past 30 years although many of them didn’t receive awards today. The award ceremony concluded with a big round of applause to everyone who will continue to take this path over the next 30 years.

Sunim’s Dharma talk for the completion of 10,000-Day Practice followed. 

“A day of offering a prayer of gratitude to celebrate being alive in the morning upon waking up added up to 100 days, 1,000 days, and then 10,000 days, and we are concluding our 10,000-Day Practice today.

Once a day to celebrate being alive

“Practicing for 10,000 days seems daunting but we just need to practice once a day as soon as we wake up to celebrate that we are alive. Then, we become like those two people who have never missed a day of practice for 10,000 days. Maybe you were not so grateful to be alive because many of you skipped practice many times. (Laughter)

“Maybe you were not grateful to be alive, so practice wasn’t the first thing you did in the morning. Practicing every day won’t be so difficult if you practice for an hour as soon as you get up, thinking, ‘Wow, I am alive today. I am grateful for that.’ If you practice just once a day, it adds up to 100 days, 1,000 days, and 10,000 days as time passes. Practice should be done like this, in a stress-free and consistent manner. To express this, the Buddha said: ‘As constant dripping wears away a stone.’ He meant that we should practice diligently without being lazy. 

The reason why we shouldn’t forget everyone’s contributions

“Just as 10,000 tributaries form a large river, many branches form Jungto Society, and many people in each branch developed and carried out projects like the leaves on a branch. You saw the list of volunteers for the JTS India projects, right? Scores of people have volunteered to work in India, whether they stayed there for six months, or one or three or 10 years. Today’s Jungto Society exists because many people took turns working there.

“I think that we shouldn’t forget all these people’s contributions. We should keep a record of their work because it will inspire our future members to volunteer, even if just a little. I think that people will be inspired to volunteer if we set an example without telling them that they will receive a blessing, money, or honor if they do so. Jungto Society is here today because we have worked together. If some people only tell others what to do and others only do what they are told to do in an organization, it can’t last. I think that when the founders of an organization lead the way and do their best, the number of followers will continue to increase.

“To stop the deterioration of the environment, we need to change our value system—the idea that consuming more is living well. I think that a new civilization can’t be created unless we have a new value system through which we can be happy without consuming a lot. Of course, money is necessary; we shouldn’t ignore it because it is the material basis of our lives. But we have to create a value that is more worthwhile than money. We have to create a value that will enable us to live contentedly while preserving the environment, avoiding conflicts, and maintaining peace. Otherwise, human civilization is destined to collapse.

“I don’t think that we can achieve this during our lifetime. However, I think that the model we have created will act as a seed for our descendants when human civilization is in crisis. In that sense, we need to create diverse models that can work as seeds for future generations. 

Can we be a solution to the problems of humanity?

“If we try to solve problems using money or prestige in difficult situations, we will degenerate into a religious or civic organization that is big but meaningless. If that happens, all my efforts until now will be in vain. I’ve worked hard to prevent this from happening for the past 55 years, since I entered monastic life. If Jungto Society takes that path, all my efforts will be meaningless. I think creating a model that gives hope to future generations is much more important than expanding our size.

“To accomplish this, we should have a firm aspiration. When we lived in a plastic film-covered greenhouse in Yongdu-ri, we naturally lived frugally because we had nothing. But now we have to live frugally even though we have possessions. If our aspiration is not firm, we will deteriorate.

“On the other hand, we also wonder whether we might last long if we adjust to the changes happening in society while maintaining our principles. But more important than lasting long is: ‘Can we be a solution to the problems of humanity?’ There could be other solutions, but can we be a solution? In this respect, I think our First 10,000-Day Practice was an experiment. I don’t think of it as an achievement. But I think our experiment didn’t fail and was half successful.

Toward the second 10,000 days based on the first 10,000 days

“Based on this success, we need to prepare more meticulously for expansion in the Second 10,000-Day Practice. When we first began 30 years ago, we didn’t have many ideas because we didn’t have many people. But now we have many more people than before, so if we gather the wisdom of many people, we can begin the Second 10,000-Day Practice in more favorable conditions.

“As we conclude the First 10,000-Day Practice, I would like to thank all the people who participated. Consider that we’ve now constructed the first level for the Second 10,000-Day Practice, and we will build on that foundation  from now on. I ask you to continue to be with us in the Second 10,000-Day Practice with a new mindset. I especially hope that younger people will participate more willingly and actively. I don’t mean that older people should take a back seat, but I mean that it would be wonderful if older people can support younger people to create and implement new initiatives. Thank you for your hard work over the past 10,000 days.”

Everyone celebrated the conclusion of the First 10,000-Day Practice with a big round of applause.

Next, everyone recited “Vows of Jungto Practitioners” to renew our pledge for the next 10,000 days as we conclude the last 10,000 days. 

A performance followed. Busan and Ulsan Division organized a choir named the Planet Earth Choir. Everyone sang “Hand in hand” together with a wish to start fresh for the Second 10,000 days together.

“Hand in hand we stand, all across the land, we can make this world a better place in which to live!” 

Lastly, Dharma Teacher Mubyeonsim, the leader of the Dharma Teachers Group, gave some closing remarks. 

“I feel so happy for the winners of the Distinguished Service Award. I feel more grateful that they received the award than if I had myself. I am grateful to Sunim for recognizing their contributions. They really deserve the award. Everyone here today has worked hard, but I am especially happy that these five people received the award.

“I am also grateful to the members of the Sangha. We, the Dharma Teachers, receive applause and encouragement from the members for our work, but the Sangha members have done many things behind the scenes. They were invisible because they were hidden behind us. Many of them quit Jungto Society because of this. And many people were hurt because we were not broadminded enough to embrace them and insisted on the principles. I think that those who’ve left us are also watching this closing ceremony today. Please give a big round of applause for the resident staff members who worked so hard in the early days until the non-resident full-time staff system was well established.

“I’m looking forward to the Second 10,000-Day Practice. It’s because we have an excellent model. Ven. Pomnyun Sunim has never told us to do things without doing them himself. I think that an era of Jungto Practitioners and an era of Happy Citizens will arrive soon. I hope we begin the Second 10,000-Day Practice together on the 19th of March with the mindset that all of us pitch in together.”

Many people in the audience were teary-eyed. After the Four Great Vows, everyone shouted “Let’s go!” before concluding the ceremony.

It was way past 5:30 pm when the live broadcast ended. Sunim stood at the gate and shook hands with each Jungto practitioner as they left to show his gratitude.

The sun had already set, and Sunday Meditation began at 8:30 pm. After telling the meditation participants about the conclusion of the 30-year-long 10,000-Day Practice, meditation began as usual.

After meditating for 35 minutes, Sunim read the comments about the day’s meditation experience uploaded on the chat window before completing the live broadcast.

Sunim left the studio right away and headed for Dubuk Jungto Retreat Center by car. After driving for four hours, the car arrived at the retreat center after 1:00 am, and Sunim concluded the day’s schedule. It was a long day.