May 4, 2024

A Day in the Life of Sunim, Boston(April 30, 2024)

April 30, 2024: North American East Coast Dharma Q&A Tour (2) Boston

Hello. Today is the day Venerable Pomnyun Sunim will be holding a Dharma Q&A with English interpretation for an English-speaking audience in Boston.

After finishing his morning prayer and meditation, Sunim had breakfast and left for Boston at 8 AM.

The drive from New York to Boston takes about four hours. Although the Dharma Q&A is scheduled for the evening, Sunim had a meeting at 2 PM, so we left in the morning. We packed a lunch box and headed toward Boston. During the drive, we received news that the meeting was canceled.

On our way to Boston, we stopped at the Insight Meditation Society, where Sunim visited 20 years ago. It is one of the largest and most renowned Vipassana meditation centers in the United States.

After parking the car, we met someone taking a walk who guided us to a serene building nestled in a tranquil forest.

Upon entering the building, a person who had been working there for seven years greeted us. Sunim remembered the stained glass he had seen 20 years ago. The building, which used to be a Catholic monastery, is now being used as a meditation center.

“Do a lot of people visit the meditation center?”

“The demand for meditation is so high that we can’t accommodate everyone.”

“It’s good to hear that increasingly more people are meditating. Thank you for the tour.”

Sunim expressed his gratitude for the well-maintained and thriving center by offering a donation.

After leaving the meditation center, we parked by a lake and had lunch. Unlike yesterday when we were sweating due to the heat, today was cold, so we ate our sandwiches while wrapped in blankets.

We headed straight to the Dharma Q&A venue after lunch.

At 4 PM, after driving for 3 hours, we arrived at the First Church in Belmont Unitarian Universalist in Massachusetts where the Dharma Q&A would be held. As we had some time before the event, we had initially planned to visit Manjusri Temple, but decided to rest in the car instead. The driver had been driving for a long time and needed to rest, and Sunim had indigestion from eating a cold sandwich.

The Dharma Q&A started at 6:30 PM. Posters announcing Venerable Pomnyun Sunim’s Dharma Q&A were displayed all around the church entrance.

Upon entering the church, we could see that it was packed with 110 attendees. Lee Ackerson, who always volunteered to drive Sunim and his entourage whenever Sunim visited Boston, hosted today’s event. After Lee gave a detailed introduction of Sunim, Sunim went up to the stage amid a big round of applause.

“After watching a video introducing Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, we will invite him to the stage.”

Venerable Pomnyun Sunim conveyed his gratitude to the church for hosting the event and then started the conversation.

People raised their hands and talked about their concerns. During the two-hour session, seven people engaged in conversations with Sunim. One of them was worried about her ex-husband, who became addicted to alcohol after their divorce and was informed by his doctor that he may die within the year.

“My ex-husband was fine before, but after we divorced, he became severely addicted to alcohol. He has been through a lot, and I’ve been through a lot too. He almost died several times, the doctor said that if he keeps drinking, he could die within the year. But four weeks ago, something miraculous happened. He willed himself to stop drinking. He has been sober for four weeks. I hope he keeps it up and returns to a normal life.”

“So, you got divorced?”



“My ex-husband is here today, Sunim.”

“Now he is getting better, so I want to help him get better.”

“So, just focus on my daughter and me?”

“Thank you.”

The questions continued:

  • When I see people behaving immorally, I get angry. How can I stop feeling angry or judgmental?
  • What do you think about introducing concepts of “good” and “meditation” into the reunification of the Korean peninsula, based on the teachings of “The Middle Way” by the Dalai Lama?
  • After getting divorced, I find it very painful not being able to take good care of my children. I’m worried about their safety. What should I do?
  • According to the Buddha’s teachings, what decisions should Korean leaders make regarding the reunification of North and South Korea?
  • How should I forgive a friend whose actions resulted in the death of my child?
  • Is it not selfish to pursue one’s own interests? You speak of looking after one’s own interests, but how should we view selfishness?

Thanks to Jason’s interpretation, the conversation went smoothly. Sunim concluded the Dharma Q&A after responding to the last question:

The Dharma Q&A concluded at 8:30 PM. After stepping down from the stage, Sunim shook hands with the people in the audience and asked how they found the Dharma Q&A, especially asking the non-Korean attendees about their impressions.

“Some things were easy to understand, and some were difficult.”

“Yes. I will do that.”

Sunim sought out the family that asked about alcohol addiction, but they had already left. A young man who asked about North-South relations thanked Sunim for a very informative Dharma Q&A and took a photo together.

Sunim took a photo with the volunteers who had prepared the Dharma Q&A in Boston and then rushed to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Ackerson for a live broadcast of the Wednesday Dharma meeting with Jungto Society members.

We arrived 10 minutes before the starting time. We quickly set up the equipment and started the live broadcast at 9 PM local time, which was 10 AM in Korea.

First, Venerable Pomnyun Sunim greeted the members of the Jungto Society in Korea:

Then, those who had registered questions beforehand conversed with Sunim. Four individuals raised their hands and asked their questions.

When all the questions were answered, it was already time to wrap up. Sunim made his closing remarks:

After the live broadcast, we quickly dismantled the equipment and prepared to leave.

“Please have a drink of water before you go, Sunim.”

Sunim took a commemorative photo with Mr. and Mrs. Lee Ackerson, who had prepared today’s Dharma Q&A and provided the space for the live broadcast of the Dharma meeting.

Sunim then departed for New York at 10:10 PM as it started to rain. He ate some kimbap prepared by the volunteers and quickly fell asleep.

When we woke up from a restful sleep in the car, we were back in New York, much earlier than expected. We arrived at 2 AM instead of the anticipated 4 AM. Sunim thanked Mr. Kim Myeong-ho, who drove long distances from early morning to late at night.

Today, we spent a lot of time on the road.

Tomorrow, a Dharma Q&A for the Korean community is scheduled in New Jersey.