Integrate meditation and peacework

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim. Image courtesy of Jungto Company

Korean master Seon (Zen) Venerable Pomnyun Sunim (법륜스님) wears many hats: Buddhist monk, teacher, author, conservationist, social reformer, and podcaster, to name a few. As a highly respected Dharma teacher and tireless socially engaged activist in his native South Korea, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim has founded many Dharma-based organizations, initiatives and projects that are active across the world. Among them, the Jungto Society, a community of volunteers based on Buddhist teachings and expressing equality, simple living and sustainability, is dedicated to solving modern social problems that lead to suffering, including the degradation of the environment, poverty and conflict.

The following article is part of a series of essays shared by the Jungto Society on notable highlights of Ven. Pomnyun Sunim’s writings, teachings, and regular live Dharma question-and-answer sessions, which are accessible worldwide.

Q: Can I ask about meditation as well as your peace work? I would like to know how these two elements are integrated. Obviously, this has a huge impact on the other work you do. Also, how can we introduce meditation into our lives to take steps towards peace?

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: Say you are angry. Understand that this anger produces hatred towards others. Any action that stems from this emotion becomes destructive. So if you’re looking to engage in peace activism, you can’t get mad doing it.

This is why it is important for you to gain peace of mind before engaging in peace activism. If you criticize while in a peaceful state of mind, your criticism becomes constructive.

I think the key point of meditation is to gain that peace of mind. There are three necessary conditions:

The first is to reduce any tension you have.

The second is to have a singular purpose for your mind. For example, focus on the tip of your nose or the in-and-out movement of your breath.

And third, you have to be aware and awake for that focus. You have to maintain a state of alertness.

For example, let’s say we engage in breath meditation. First, try to relax and release any tension in your body. Adopt a comfortable posture and focus your mind on the tip of your nose. Become aware of your breath, because we breathe every moment but we are not aware of it.

The focus on the breath: when you breathe in, you are aware of the inspiration and when you breathe out, you are aware of the exhalation.

If you’re panting right after exercising, you realize you’re panting. And if you breathe gently, you are also conscious. It is therefore not How? ‘Or’ What you breathe, just recognize the natural state of your breath.

Really focusing on the nature of your breathing is not as easy as it sounds, because we always have random thoughts running through our heads. If you lose concentration, you lose the sense of awareness of your breath. So forget the past and don’t think about the future. Just be here and now.

Focus on the breath and realize the existence of the breath here and now. If you manage to do this, you will gain a peaceful state of mind. And with a peaceful mind, our breathing becomes even smoother. But if your breathing becomes too soft, you will lose focus and allow distracting thoughts to emerge. This is why you need intensive concentration to maintain awareness of your breath. Then you can gain an even deeper and more peaceful state of mind.

There is always the risk of losing this focus. This is why the more aware you become of your breathing, the more you need to concentrate.

If you can concentrate, your breathing becomes really smooth and you can even feel the difference in air temperature. Then you reach a state of truly clear awareness of everything going on around you. From this state of calm, can your engagement in peace activism be constructive? But if you are angry and engage in peace activism, you tend to fight in the name of peace.

See more

Jungto Company
JTS Korea
JTS America
International Network of Committed Buddhists

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