Before the conference began, participants were invited to the Jungo Society’s Training and Education center in Mungyeong, 150 km from Seoul, for two days of mindful breathing, sitting, walking and eating guided by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim. All photos on this page are courtesy of JTS, Buddhist Door Global, Ryan Libre, Dexter Cohen Bohn and Taoz Dhanakhorn.
The INEB delegation was permitted a unique oppertunity to visit this majestic temple, usually closed to the public 364 days a year. Designated a special meditation center by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, Bongam-sa, founded in 879 CE, is renouned for its strict monastic discipline and inspiring grounds located at the base of Huiyangsan mountain. Bongam-sa is also Ven. Pomnyun Sunim’s root temple.
Oct. 26th, 2022 – The first offical conference event took place at Unmun-sa temple, the largest Buddhist nunnery and first Bhikkhuni ordaining school in South Korea. Built in 560 CE, Unmunsa became a nunnery in 1950 and has since produced more than 1250 bhikkhunis.
The INEB delegation was welcomed by the entire community of resident Bhikkhunis as well as 93 year-old Ven. Myeongsong Sunim, the temple’s leader since 1970 and a key figure in the re-establishment of the Bhikkhuni tradition in Korea and across Asia.
After a tour of the grounds, a special panel dicussion was conducted exploring the topic of ‘Bhikkhuni Solidarity in the 21st Century’ featuring Ven. Dhammakamala, Abbess of Thippayathandhamma Bhikkhuni Arama (Songkhla, Thailand), Dr. Tashi Zangmo, Executive Director of the Bhutan Nuns Foundation, and Ven. Dong Ho Sunim, ordained Bhikkhuni at Unmunsa.
Oct. 27th, 2022 – The main activities of the 22nd Biennial INEB conference began with a moving keynote address on ‘Buddhism in a Divided World’ from Sai Sam Kham, former Executive Director of the Metta Development Foundation (Myanmar) followed by a diverse panel dicussion on the same topic with INEB members from Korea, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Laos.
In the afternoon, participants spread into parallel workshops exploring the themes of Peace, Planet and Pandemic in greater depth through reflective social analysis exercises, group work and participatory discussions.
Oct. 28th, 2022 – On the second day, the group travelled to Jungto’s Mungyeong Retreat Center and split into smaller breakout sessions focused on key INEB engagement areas. These included; Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, Education for Change, Mental Health & Buddhist Chaplaincy, Digital Bodhisattva and Child Protection in Buddhist Institutions.
DMZ Visit and Public Symposium
Oct. 29th, 2022 – On the final day of the conference, the INEB delegation travelled north of Seoul for a visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). While at the Dora Observatory the group received a brief history of the North-South Korea divide from Ven. Pomnyun Sunim and engaged in a powerful metta meditation sending wishes for lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.
After the visit, the group returned to Jungto’s new headquarters in the heart of Seoul’s Gangnam district where a public symposium was hosted in the afternoon on the “Roles of Faith and Spirituality in a Divided World”. During the symposium INEB presented it’s Declaration of Concerns and Commitments from the 2022 Conference followed by a keynote address from Harsha Navaratne, Chairperson of INEB’s Executitive Committee. A stimulating panel discussion was also organized featuring two ambassadors (Harsha Navaratne, Sri Lankan Amassador to Canada, and Pekka Metso, Finnish Ambassdor to Korea) as well as leading religious and social activists from Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Singapore/Laos. Video recaps of the group’s week in Korea were also shared, providing context for the large public audience that assembled in Jungto’s Main Auditorium.
The INEB delegation also visited Jungto’s Dubuk Center where they observed a variety of socially-engaged practices including a large organic farm and ‘retreatment’ center where the local community upcycles unused goods, creating a sustainable system of circular and reciprocal exchange.
Following the second day of conference activities participants had the oppertunity to engage in Contemporary Experiential Learning of Spiritual Arts. These workshops included; Korean Tea Ceremony, Lanterns and Buddhist Prayer beads, making Kimchi, Taekwondo, and Hanbok (Korean Traditional Dress).
In the evening a special 90th birthday celebration was arranged for INEB’s co-founder Ajahn Sulak Sivaraksa with live preformances of traditional Korean dance, sharing messages of gratitude from friends and heartfelt dedications on the Tree of Hope.