October 24, 2023

A Day of Sunim, Columbus(Sep 20, 2023)

“I feel bad after giving because I feel like I was taken advantage of.”

2023.9.20. Overseas Dharma Talk Tour (21) Columbus

Today is the 21st lecture of Ven. Pomnyun Sunim’s overseas tour in 2023, which will be held in Columbus, the capital of the state of Ohio in the midwestern United States. The tour, which has been moving from city to city every day, is now reaching its final stage.

The venue for today’s Dharma Talk is the Unitarian Universalist Church.

The hall was filled with Americans who came after seeing the promotional poster.

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim walked out onto the stage to loud applause.  Sunim began by saying what topic he wanted to talk about today.

“Many people get married with everyone’s blessings. But why does married life sometimes become difficult? Everyone is happy when they get a job at a company. But why do people say that work life is tough? The store opens with congratulations. At first, everyone says it’s good, but after a while, they say it’s challenging to run it. Why do these things happen?

Why does suffering occur?

The answer to this is not found in the Bible or Buddhist scriptures. We have to explore it ourselves.  At first, we started because we liked it, but why does it cause suffering? Today, I’m going to talk about this topic with you as if sitting in a cafe with a friend and talking comfortably.

There are no predetermined topics of conversation. Everything related to living life is the topic of today’s conversation. It doesn’t have to be a question. You can talk about whatever you want. So, let’s begin our free-form conversation now.”

After speaking with four people who had requested questions in advance, the lecture was conducted by freely raising hands and asking questions. Several people raised their hands and asked questions to Ven. Pomnyun Sunim. For two hours, 12 people were able to have conversations with Sunim.

One of them was the 11th person to raise his hand and ask a question. He felt bad because he felt taken advantage of after giving to his family, and he asked how he could control his mind.

I feel bad after giving because I feel like I was taken advantage of.

“My question is about giving. Is there a line between giving of yourself and the giving of the point where you are taken advantage of?  I have a relationship with a family member who I give a lot of time and energy to.  It feels imbalanced.  And I start to feel resentful for all that I am giving.  I am feeling bad about the issue.”  

“When we show kindness to others, we have certain expectations. Even if it is not necessarily a material thing, we have certain expectations, such as receiving praise or recognizing the favor we have done. When these expectations are not met, it can lead to disappointment and even conflicts with the other person. Love becomes the seed of hate.

If you don’t want love to return as pain, you must let go of your expectations. If you do not let go of your expectations, you are bound to suffer. Suffering arises not because the other person did not recognize my favor, but because the other person’s reaction did not meet my expectations.

In other words, it can be said that it happens because people have different thoughts. I may think I have done 100, but the other person may think I have done 50. Sometimes the other person takes for granted what I give them, and other times they think what I gave them is not enough. There is nothing I can do about how the other person perceives it. But you only think about what you have given to others. You think that the other person will appreciate what you gave, but that’s an unrealistic expectation.

Giving is a good thing. Because if I give, I become the owner. Let me give you an example. Two people are working. One person is the owner and the other is the laborer. At first, you can’t tell who is the owner and who is the laborer, but if you observe for a while, you can figure it out. The person who gives money after the work is done is the owner, and the person who receives the money is the laborer. When you give what you have, a sense of ownership arises. It boosts your self-esteem. This act of giving gives me dignity. When I express gratitude to the other person, I become the owner.

Here is a flower. If I look at this flower and say, ‘it’s pretty,’ is it good for the flower or for me?”

“It’s good for me”

“Just as loving flowers is good for you, loving your family is good for you. Hate does not arise because you love. Hate arises because you try to be loved.

‘I’ve loved you this much, so you should love me this much too.’

When you have this kind of mindset, you start calculating the love the other person has given you and become upset if it is not enough. In this way, we basically meet people through back-and-forth transactions. If you meet someone expecting a benefit but suffer a loss, hatred arises. Now you are dealing hard with your family. Stop counting profits and losses and stop trading.”

“Thank you.”

After two hours of conversation, the lecture came to an end.

“I enjoyed the conversation. Did you also have a good time?”


The audience gave a big round of applause to Sunim who came off the stage and to Jason who provided a smooth interpretation for Sunim.

Among the attendees, there was one person who came in an electric wheelchair. After finishing the lecture, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim approached the person in the wheelchair first, shook his hand and gave him a hug.

Tomorrow, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim is planning to continue the 22nd lecture of his overseas Dharma Talk tour in Virginia, USA.