The Korean Seon (Zen) master Venerable Pomnyun Sunim (법륜스님) wears many hats: Buddhist monk, teacher, author, environmentalist, and social activist, to name a few. As a widely respected Dharma teacher and a tireless socially engaged activist in his native South Korea, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim has founded numerous Dharma-based organizations, initiatives, and projects that are active across the world. Among them, Jungto Society, a volunteer-based community founded on the Buddhist teachings and expressing equality, simple living, and sustainability, is dedicated to addressing modern social issues that lead to suffering, including environmental degradation, poverty, and conflict.
This column, shared by Jungto Society, presents a series of highlights from Ven. Pomnyun Sunim’s writings, teachings, public talks, and regular live-streamed Dharma Q+A sessions, which are accessible across the globe.
The following teaching was given in Frankfurt on 1 September 2023. This is the first in a series of articles taken from Ven. Pomnyun Sunim’s tour of Europe and North America—his first in-person overseas teachings since the pandemic—titled “Casual Conversation with Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: Come Talk about Life, Wisdom, and Happiness” from 1–22 September, taking in 21 cities: six in Europe and 15 in North America.*
Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: Today’s Dharma talk is not a place for life counseling. This is a place for learning about the truth.
The truth is nothing special. When a person with suffering is freed from their suffering, it is called truth. The criterion of truth is that it enables people to rid themselves of their existing suffering or to prevent suffering from arising in the future. We can call this “words.” The reason that Christians refer to what Jesus taught as “the word of Jesus” is that people’s afflictions disappeared on hearing those words. The words we exchange in everyday conversation are different from these “words.”
When anyone asks a question about their troubles, afflictions, or problems, it serves as the subject matter that helps us to talk about truth. This is what we call a “Dharma Q&A.” I’m not giving a one-sided lecture on the various problems that arise in human relationships. Instead, when you ask a question, we will use that specific example to converse on ways to free ourselves from suffering; we are talking about the way to be free from suffering. Now, shall we begin?
▶️ Published by BDG on September 7, 2023