May 7, 2024

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

May 2, 2024: North America East Coast Dharma Q&A Tour (4) Toronto, Canada

Hello. Today, the fourth Dharma Q&A of Venerable Pomnyun Sunim’s 2024 North America East Coast tour took place in Toronto, the largest city in Canada.

Sunim completed his early morning practice and meditation and headed to LaGuardia Airport in New York at 5:30 AM to catch a flight to Toronto.

We recalled an incident from last year when his flight was canceled due to a hurricane heading north, almost preventing Sunim from giving a Dharma talk. Fortunately, his departure went smoothly without any incidents this time.

He boarded the flight to Toronto at 8:00 AM after working on some tasks near the gate.

After about an hour’s flight, he arrived at Toronto Airport at 9:10 AM local time. It took an hour to complete the immigration procedures because someone in the group had lost their passport. At the Toronto airport, Jang Hyung-won, a member of the Jungto Society, warmly welcomed us.

After exchanging greetings, we loaded our luggage into the car and headed to Jang Hyung-won’s home, where we would stay for the night. The weather in Toronto was very sunny.

After arriving at our accommodations, we had lunch and then met with the Toronto Jungto Society members at 12:00 PM. Members of the Jungto Society’s Overseas Division and International Division residing in the vicinity of Toronto all gathered together. Although Sunim had conducted a Dharma Q&A in Toronto last year, he had to leave in a hurry after the event.  Today, at the earnest request of the members, a meeting was arranged. Many of the attendees had graduated from online Dharma School and Sutra Course and had become members of Jungto Society.

“It’s wonderful. Just seeing Venerable Pomnyun Sunim in person gives me the motivation to practice.”

He first introduced the volunteers who had accompanied him from South Korea, and then everyone went around and stated their names, affiliations, and roles. When some members were confused about their affiliations, Sunim provided a general explanation about the structure of the Jungto Society. After that, he took questions.

Members freely asked a wide variety of questions regarding the Jungto Society. One person expressed concerns about the need for simplicity in life due to environmental concerns yet felt the need for money seems to only increase as the environment gets more polluted.

“I want to live a simple life, and I don’t have much saved up. However, as the environment continues to get polluted, I  may soon need to buy water and even air purifiers. It seems like a lack of money might eventually make survival difficult. In that case, should I just accept death, or should I save money in advance?”

“These days, I’m wondering if I should buy an air purifier.”

“It seems necessary to prepare for the future.”

Recently, I selected the house of a poor family in Bhutan and remodeled it. It only cost 500,000 KRW (approx. 370 USD). After remodeling the house, I asked the owner if there was anything more he needed, and he replied, ‘I’m happy. I don’t need anything more.’ Of course, he might need more things over time, but for now, he is very satisfied. So, isn’t it more rewarding to improve a family’s life with 500,000 KRW rather than spending it on better clothes? That’s why I am carrying out various projects in Bhutan.

The questions continued.

– Why is Jungto Society divided into International Division and Overseas Division?

– Jungto Society has a significantly higher proportion of female members. Why are there fewer male members in Jungto Society?

– Attending Dharma meetings became burdensome after Jungto Society transitioned online and the weekly Dharma talks are now held on Wednesday evening, instead of Sunday morning, and it conflicts with my work schedule.

– I’m confused between the Middle Way discussed in Buddhism and the Dao discussed in Daoism.

– What would be a good translation for Sunim in Chinese?

– Can we begin the work to directly translate the Korean Dharma School material for Chinese audiences?

– How should we spread the teachings of Buddhism to those who believe Buddhism as a religion?

– What has been the overall atmosphere of Jungto Society since it shifted to being primarily online after the pandemic?

After an hour and a half of conversation, a group photo was taken, and the meeting was concluded.

Upon arrival at the venue, we could see volunteers welcoming the audience at various points. Venerable Pomnyun Sunim greeted them with a bright smile.

Subsequently, Sunim began to take questions. Eleven people had pre-registered their questions at the entrance of the Dharma Q&A hall, and more were collected on-site, allowing 14 people to converse with Venerable Pomnyun Sunim during the two hours. One of the questions was from a parent concerned about their ten-year-old child acting like a tyrant, wondering how to properly raise the child.

My Son Acts Like a Tyrant and Tells Me to Tie His Shoelaces

“I have a 10-year-old son, and he thinks he alone is the honored one in heaven and on earth. He acts like a king and doesn’t use formal language even towards adults. There have been times when teachers have pulled me aside in tears. Let me give you an example from just yesterday. My son plays hockey. Before heading to practice, he gathered his hockey stick and water bottle, and I drove him to the skating rink. However, when we got out of the car, we realized he had left his stick behind. So I asked, ‘Where’s your stick?’ and he told me to go home and get it while he went in to get ready. I was a bit angry, but I went back to get his stick. When I returned, he hadn’t even tied his shoelaces and was just waiting for me to do it. Then, he complained, ‘Why is this yogurt so sticky?’ I got really angry. You teach that a mother should be involved in raising her child until they are twenty, but I’m worried whether I’m raising my son correctly. My husband suggests sending him to a boarding school to foster his independence, but that feels like abandoning him to a nursing home, which makes me feel guilty. What would be the right choice for my son?”

“I did.”

“I did.”

“He resembles me.”

“Should I really use formal language with my child?”

“I really wanted to send him to boarding school, but because I misunderstood your teachings, I have not sent him yet. I’ll send him right away.”

“Thank you.”

Questions continued:

– I am living abroad to avoid my mother who suffers from depression, and I will soon have to meet her and my brother who is hard to talk to. Is there a way to get along without issues?

– Buddhism teaches the principle of emptiness, but we live in a materialistic world. What is the wise way to live with the discrepancy between ideals and reality?

– Living abroad, I feel jealous whenever I see my friends in Korea hanging out without me on social media. How can I manage my feelings?

– I would like to know Venerable Pomnyun Sunim’s views on religion.

– What is happiness?

– Busy with daily life, I am confused about what values I should hold.

– I get so stressed about relationships, so I try not to think about them, but it’s hard. How can I stop thinking?

– Since I was 17, I have pondered who I am and why I live, and I gained enlightenment last year. What enlightenment have you, Venerable Pomnyun Sunim, attained?

– How can I overcome my lack of confidence?

– What attitude should I adopt in meditation to feel less afflicted?

– I brought my two children with me to the U.S., and I want to send my elder child who doesn’t study back to Korea, while I want to have my younger child who is a good student to be educated here. What should I do?”

– After turning twenty, what values should I hold to lead an independent life?

At the end of the conversation with all the questioners, Sunim made some closing remarks:

The Dharma Q&A ended with a big round of applause and was immediately followed by a book signing on stage. Sunim made eye contact and greeted each participant.

As the Dharma Q&A concluded successfully, the faces of the volunteers filled with joy.

After taking a group photo, Sunim once again thanked the volunteers.

“Yes, thank you, Sunim.”

Leaving the Dharma Q&A hall, Sunim headed to his accommodations.

He arrived at his accommodations at 10:30 PM, concluding his day.

Tomorrow, after morning practice, he plans to conduct a live broadcast of the Friday Dharma Q&A at 6:30 AM, and then fly back to Dallas to give another Dharma Q&A with English interpretation for an English-speaking audience.