May 8, 2024

A Day in the Life of Sunim, Dallas (May 3, 2024)

May 3, 2024: North America East Coast Dharma Q&A Tour (5) Dallas

Hello. Today, the fifth Dharma Q&A of Venerable Pomnyun Sunim’s 2024 overseas tour took place in Dallas, Texas, a major center for industry and aviation in the United States.

Venerable Pomnyun Sunim started the day with early morning practice and meditation, and at 6:30 AM, he broadcast a live Dharma Q&A in the basement of Mr. Jang Hyung-won’s home.

As the streaming began, about 4,200 people joined in. Sunim greeted the viewers with a bright smile.

Sunim had made several visits to Bhutan, and last week he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Royal Government of Bhutan. After briefly showing a video of his trip to Bhutan, he described his trip to Bhutan.

He then had conversations with three individuals who had submitted questions in advance. The live Dharma Q&A continued for an hour.

After the broadcast, at 7:40 PM, Sunim had breakfast. After breakfast, he expressed his gratitude to Mr. Jang Hyung-won and his family, who provided accommodations, meals, and transportation.

At 8:30 AM, we headed to Toronto Pearson International Airport. Although the flight was at 1:20 PM, we arrived early at the airport because one of our group members had lost their passport.

After completing the departure procedures, we bought some snacks at the airport for a light meal, did a little work, and took a rest.

Just as we were waiting at the gate after successfully checking-in, we received a call from the airline we flew with yesterday informing us that they had found the lost passport.

Venerable Pomnyun Sunim and his entourage boarded the plane with relief. The flight was delayed by 25 minutes and departed for Dallas, USA, at 1:45 PM. Although it started to rain as we left, the weather was clear when we arrived in Dallas.

It was nearly 5 PM by the time we collected our luggage and exited the Dallas Fort Worth Airport, where Mr. Han Yong-woo, a member of the Jungto Society, was waiting for us.

We exchanged warm greetings and then headed to the home of Mr. Han Yong-woo and Mrs. Lee Hyang-hee, where we would be staying. After unpacking our luggage, we had dinner. We left for the Dharma Q&A venue at 6:10 PM.

Today’s Dharma Q&A was held at the Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church. When we arrived, we could see volunteers welcoming the attendees.

Last September, Sunim held a Dharma Q&A here for the Korean community. This year, the Dharma Q&A will be conducted with English interpretation for English speakers. About 70 people filled the small church.

At exactly 7 PM, we watched an introductory video about Venerable Pomnyun Sunim. Sunim received a round of applause as he stepped onto the stage and greeted everyone.

Six people raised their hands to speak with Sunim. Among various questions, one person, who had graduated with an MBA and secured a good job, asked for advice on how to cope and move forward after being unexpectedly laid off.

Despite securing a good job, I was suddenly laid off.

“After graduating with an MBA, I landed a great job with a well-known company. I was extremely grateful for the opportunity given to me. I worked tirelessly, even on weekends, to provide the best results and to prove that the company made the right decision in hiring me. However, seven months later, I was laid off. As someone who had been accustomed to working non-stop every day, it was difficult to come to terms with being laid off. In Korean culture, being laid off carries a stigma of failure and being deemed as lacking value in the company. It was hard for me to accept this reality. Unlike in Korea, layoffs are quite common in the United States, but as a Korean, I found it really difficult to accept being laid off.

I have been struggling with sleep and find myself crying every day. I feel sad all the time, my depression has worsened, and I experience anxiety attacks. As I search for a new job within a limited timeframe, seeing my friends continue to work and enjoy their lives makes me feel left behind. It’s also heartbreaking to see my loved ones suffer because of my situation. I would like to know what kind of mindset I should adopt to overcome these challenges and move forward.”

“It’s better to be fired now.”

“Thank you.” 

The questions continued:

– My family immigrated to the U.S., but how should we handle my son’s compulsory military service in Korea?

– My wife’s negative traits keep recurring, and I increasingly distrust her. Should I get a divorce?

– I recently attended a Vipassana meditation retreat and saw a lot of my immaturity and desire for others’ approval. How can I become the master of my own life?

– My father in Korea has passed away. How should I overcome this grief?

– How can I overcome my fear of death? What are Venerable Pomnyun Sunim’s thoughts on life after death?”

Two hours passed quickly.

As this was the first English-translated Dharma Q&A held in Dallas, there were more Koreans than non-Koreans In attendance.

After the Dharma Q&A, Sunim asked each non-Korean attendee about their impressions.

“It was awesome.”

“It was great. There were actually many lessons I took from it, some of which I can apply in the future.”

Sunim then talked to another non-Korean standing nearby, who was greatly impressed by Sunim’s direct manner of speaking.

“I really appreciated how direct you were. You cut directly through the ideas of culture and our paths, and you go straight to what’s important.”

Sunim laughed and responded,

“I think so.”

Sunim approached another non-Korean and asked for their impression. This person answered in Korean.

“It was great. I wanted to ask a question, but just as I was about to get up my courage, it ended.”

Lastly, Sunim asked a non-Korean who was buying his book on their way out,

“I thought it was very good.”

“All the questions were set in this era, and the answers were quite powerful. One person said, ‘I’m fired, unhappy, and don’t know how to succeed.’ And you replied, ‘Congratulations on being fired.’ It’s as if, ‘You are dismissed from sorrow and misery.’ It seemed like he was saying. I was even more surprised by your response: ‘He should be congratulated because he was fired from a job that wasn’t for him.’ As you said, he was probably fired out of sadness because the job wasn’t for him. I was able to experience a shift in perspective, realizing that good news can be found even in bad situations. I lost my brother too, and I learned how to learn and succeed even in my grief. Thank you.”

Sunim extended a handshake to a woman, conveying his encouragement.

Among the volunteers who prepared for the Dharma Q&A were family members including a mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter, and brother-in-law. They wanted to take a commemorative photo with Sunim, so they took one together.

The son-in-law is American and volunteered last year as well as this year. After taking a photo, he expressed his gratitude to Sunim.

“I volunteered during the Korean Dharma Q&A last year too. It was very meaningful to have a Dharma Q&A for English speakers this year. It was really great to hear Sunim’s teachings in English. I believe today’s Dharma Q&A opened the door to holding Dharma Q&As throughout the state of Texas.”

Finally, Sunim took a group photo with all the volunteers who prepared the Dharma Q&A.


Everyone resolved to inform more non-Koreans about the Dharma Q&As, so they can hold a Dharma Q&A for English speakers again next year.

“Great job.”

After leaving the church, we returned to Han Yong-woo’s home and concluded the day.

Tomorrow morning, we will depart from the Dallas Fort Worth Airport to fly to Atlanta. In the afternoon, Sunim will give a Dharma Q&A for the Korean community in Atlanta, and in the evening, we will take a flight to Washington D.C.