December 23, 1950 |
Cheonan, South Chungcheong
Korea Institute of Brain Science
|Revised Romanization||I Seung-Heon|
Ilchi Lee (Korean: 이승헌, Hanja: 李承憲) (born Lee Seung-Heun on December 23, 1950) is a South Korean author and the founder of a variety of mind-body training methods, including Dahnhak(丹学), Dahn yoga, Brain Respiration, Power Brain Education, and DahnMuDo. Lee began teaching his methods in a park in the 1980s, and since that time the practice has developed into an international network of for-profit and non-profit entities.
Ilchi Lee was born in 1950 in Cheonan (천안 天安), South Korea. His father was a teacher, yet he reports having struggled in school due to his inability to focus and a preference for imaginative play. Later in life, he would identify himself as having overcome Attention Deficit Disorder through rigorous physical and mental training. He suggests in his books that these early experiences formed the foundation of the brain-based training techniques he would develop later in life.
In his adolescence he turned to the martial art Taekwondo (태권도 跆拳道) to help calm his restless mind. He eventually earned a fourth-level black belt, and opened a successful martial arts studio. He took the first term of Taekwondo master education hosted by Kukkiwon in 1972. After he graduated from Dankook University (단국대학교 檀國大學校) in 1977 with a B.S. degree in clinical pathology and physical education, he opened a health clinic, which according to his own account did well. He soon married and settled down to raise a family.
However, Lee recounts that he was still plagued by questions about the meaning of human life and the universe, even while on the surface living an ideal life. Thus, in his early thirties he set out to engage in rigorous solo training in the wilderness of Korea's Moak Mountain (모악산 母岳山) to engage in 21 days of ascetic practice and meditation without food, sleep or lying down. He writes that through this training he gained enlightenment and insights that would provide the philosophical underpinnings of his methods.
Upon his return to ordinary civilization, he began to teach his methods in a community park, at first to only one stroke victim. It was at this point that he took the name Ilchi (일지 一指), which means "finger pointing to the truth." Eventually, a larger group of people gathered in the park, and inclement weather necessitated that the classes be moved indoors. This led to the opening of the first Dahn Center in 1985 in Seoul (서울), South Korea, which would grow to over 300 Korean centers in the early twenty-first century In 1991, the first Dahn Center opened in the United States. As of 2006, there were approximately 146 Dahn Centers in the United States. In the meantime, many corporates and government organizations, including Samsung Group, Hyundai, POSCO, and Ministry of National Defense of South Korea employed Lee's program for their employees. Chung Ju-yung, the former Hyundai CEO, Chey Jong-hyun, the former CEO of SK Corporation and Cho Soon the former Vice Prime Minister of South Korea took personal training from Lee. Lee has been given a letter of appreciation from Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs and Ministry of National Defense of South Korea. Korean religions scholar Dr. Hai Ran Woo describes Ilchi Lee's Dahn World Co. (formerly Dahn-Hak-Sonwon) as South Korea's largest 'New Age' (or 'self-cultivation') 'meditation industry' with sales reaching $280 million in 2005. Dahn World has described their spiritual products as the most lucrative of all Korean exports; they plan to expand to 36,000 training centers worldwide by 2010.
Korean religions scholar Donald Baker regards Dahn World as one of the more noteworthy among more than 200 new religions in S. Korea that share a 'Korea-centric' view that Korea has become 'the spiritual center of the world' – with Dahn World asserting that Seung Heun Lee is a spiritual leader leading humanity toward an 'enlightenment revolution'.
In 2000, Ilchi Lee became a director of the Tao Fellowship, a non-profit religious charity and educational foundation, which purchased majestic property in Sedona, Arizona to house the Sedona Ilchi Meditation Center (SIMC). According to their Web site, the Tao Fellowship teaches and promotes Tao philosophy and provides training for a cultural movement for peace. The Sedona Ilchi Meditation Center is described as "the home from which the ideals of Tao Fellowship may flower and go forth to awaken the human consciousness," and as the location of 12 energy vortexes (Sedona is believed by many visitors and locals to contain healing energy vortexes.) Described by Dr. Woo as the "heart of the 'world mission' or 'global management,'" SIMC hosts 3,000 participants annually from around the world in a variety of programs based in Lee's Brain Education system, including youth camps, residential healing, retreat programs and advanced Dahn training programs such as Dahn Healer School. Recently SIMC was renamed the Sedona Mago Retreat Center (SMRC) and celebrated its 10th Anniversary in May 2008."Mago" means "Mother Earth" in Korean.
According to his official website, Lee is no longer in direct management of the Dahn Centers, instead focusing on developing educational applications of his training system and serving as president of the consulting firm BR Consulting in Sedona, AZ, which provides services to corporations that provide his training programs, including management of trainer education programs, training and licensing of trainers, marketing and media relations, business analysis and planning.
On January 8, 2009, Lee held a seminar at the United Nations on "The Role of Brain Education in Global Mental Health," as the president of IBREA. Coincided with the seminar, New York City declared this day "IBREA Brain Education Day," recognizing Brain Education's contribution to education, health and well-being of New York citizens.
Ilchi Lee considers the creation of world peace to be the ultimate goal of his training methods. Essentially, they are meant to facilitate a shift in human consciousness toward a more suitable world culture, according to Lee. He stresses a concept of personal enlightenment similar to those found in other Eastern philosophies, but emphasizes the need to take action based on that enlightenment. Appropriate action, according to Lee, should include some sort of action intended for the betterment of the human condition. Based on this notion, he has spearheaded what he calls the "HSP Movement," a movement intended to spread "health, happiness, and peace."
Lee also believes peace can only be achieved if humanity gives up nationalistic identities in favor of a single common identity. He contends that this identity should be rooted in people's mutual appreciation of and reliance upon the Earth, what he refers to as the "Earth Human" concept.
He believes that the Brain Wave Vibration training he created can help change negative thoughts which generate negative brain waves to positive ones, and understand the effects their actions have upon their brains.
In his book Human Technology, Lee asserts that people should become more self-sufficient in their own health care. Citing what he believes to be modern civilization's over-reliance on pharmaceuticals and specialized health care, he encourages people to rediscover what he regards as natural means of health maintenance, such as the traditional Asian methods discussed in the book, including acupressure and moxibustion.
The South Korean Government conferred the Order of Civil Merit (국민 훈장) on Lee in 2002, honoring his dissemination of Korean traditional philosophy and culture throughout the world through his founding of the Institute for Traditional Korean Cultural Studies (국학원 Kook Hak Won, or Kukhak Institute), an educational non-profit organization devoted to the study and development of traditional Korean philosophy
Through this and other affiliated NGOs and projects, such as 'Erecting 369 Tan-gun Statues in Schoolyards', which proved controversial in Korea in the late 1990s, Lee contributes to the revival of Korea's nationalist movement by mobilizing large numbers to revere Korea's legendary 2333 BCE divine founding father Tan'gun [or Dangun, Tan-gun, Dahngun], an indigenous tradition said to exist prior to the influence of foreign religions. Lee advances the belief that Tan'gun practiced a 15,000 year old Korean value called 'Hongik Ingan Ewah Saegae' ('Widely benefit humanity, rightfully harmonize the world') and that an ancient scripture exists, 'Chun Bu Kyung' [or Cheonbugyeong], that reveals that Heaven, Earth, and Human exist as One in each person. Lee maintains that this is the core Korean spirit that will prove key to Korean reunification as well as world peace, an ideal he contends to be attainable through his 'brain education' programs - resulting in a 'one world communal culture' of perfectly healthy and peaceful 'Power Brains' or 'New Humans'.
Religions scholar Massimo Introvigne suggests that Dahn World School is an offshoot of Taejonggyo, as exemplified by the large statue of Tan'gun at its U.S. headquarters in Sedona and memorization of passages from Taejonggyo's scriptures, "Heavenly Code," or "Chun Bu Kyung," by members. Practitioners, however, deny any connection to the religion.
Ilchi Lee's training methods have been described as focusing primarily on the brain and its development. Although actual practices resemble yoga, martial arts, meditation, and other recognizable Eastern disciplines, they have been modified with the said intent of uncovering the practitioner's natural brain potential. Lee's Power Brain Kids book describes that these practices may also be combined with other games and activities intended to develop mind-body connection and mental acuity. Collectively, the techniques have been termed Brain Education System Training (BEST) (formerly known as Brain Respiration).
Lee categorizes all of his training techniques under one or more of the five sequential steps that comprise the BEST method. The focus of each step is as follows: 1) Brain Sensitizing: Stress management, awakening of the five senses, physical health, and brain awareness. 2) Brain Versatilizing: Enhanced learning ability through the creation of new synaptic connections. 3) Brain Refreshing: Emotional release, emotional control, and positive mental outlook. 4) Brain Integrating: Developing latent brain abilities and increasing communication between diverse parts of the brain. 5) Brain Mastering: Improved decision making and developing a clear sense of life purpose.
Lee teaches that while the brain is the primary focus of his training methods, the health of the physical body as a whole is of primary concern in the initial phase of training (Brain Sensitizing). Exercises and practices followed during this phase are heavily influenced by the notion of ki (기 氣) energy as it is understood in Traditional Korean medicine. This typically includes a variety of exercises that are said to be designed to open up the energy meridian system of the body. and work to open up the body's seven major energy centers, known as chakras.
Lee's Korean Institute of Brain Science (KIBS), which was granted UN ECOSOC "roster consultative status" and Lee's International Brain Education Association (IBREA) report that Lee's programs not only help children develop better memory and concentration but also certain supernatural abilities (or Extrasensory Perception - ESP) due to "Heightened Sensory Perception," as their studies find that children could identify colors, shapes, and letters while blindfolded. - although this ability was found by KIBS to diminish significantly with less ambient light and greater filtering of the viewed material. While Lee asserts that these findings are based on cognitive neuroscience, mainstream neurologists generally regard such conclusions as strongly lacking in scientific support
One of the mental and physical health enhancement techniques that Ilchi Lee created, Brain Wave Vibration  (head-shaking), was used as a kind of moving meditation in a research study published in the international journal, Neuroscience Letters, in July 2010. Using two psychological questionnaires, this study suggested that regular practitioners of Brain Wave Vibration were less stressed and experienced more positive emotions and fewer psychosomatic symptoms. As well, regular Brain Wave Vibration practitioners had more dopamine in their blood than the healthy control group. The Ministry of Science and Technology of South Korea funded the research. Researchers from several departments of Seoul National University and the university hospital collaborated for the research along with the Korea Institute of Brain Science, of which Ilchi Lee is president.
Lee says that although the underlying philosophy has remained the same, he continues to "refine and improve" the methods. He recounts in one newspaper report that the techniques have evolved from breathing methods to meditation to its current emphasis on the brain. An early English-language book by Lee, Dahn Meditation, which was published in 1997, focuses primarily on Ki development through Lee's "practical and modern" version of traditional Korean Dahn Hak techniques and does not mention any exercises specific to brain development. The book describes stretching exercises ("do-in"), meditation for energy sensitivity ("ji gam"), energy dance ("dahn mu"), and energy building exercises ("haeng gong").
The Call of Sedona
In 2011, Lee wrote The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart and it is published by BEST Life Media. It has been listed as a New York Times Best Seller. It was on the Washington Post Best Seller, USA Today Best Seller, LA Times Best Seller, and the IndieBound Best Seller lists. This book made the author the first Korean author to rank on the four major bestseller lists in the United States.
In The Call of Sedona, Ilchi Lee shares his personal memoirs and the inspirations he received in Sedona, Arizona. The book also provides a range of advice on meditation and spirituality that will benefit anyone, anywhere. Though millions of visitors are drawn each year to the unique beauty of Sedona, Arizona's iconic red rock formations, Lee believes there is much more to be gained than what can be seen with the eye. Recounting his own inspirational experiences, in this book he tells how readers can discover something empowering within themselves by experiencing the spirit of Sedona. According to one review, "The Call of Sedona offers powerful guidance for all people seeking to connect with their inner selves, nature, and the spirit of this magical region." 
Lee not only feels a strong connection to Sedona, but also a deep sense of gratitude. In this spirit of gratitude, Lee is donating 30% of his royalties from the sale of his book to three Sedona area charities: Camp Soaring Eagle, Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Sedona Community Center.
Published Works in English
- "The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart". (2011). BEST Life Media. ISBN 1935127489 | ISBN 978-1-935127-48-2
- Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life. (2008). BEST Life Media. ISBN 978-1-935127-00-0
- In Full Bloom: A Brain Education Guide for Successful Aging. Co-authored with Jessie Jones, PhD. (2008). BEST Life Media. ISBN 9780979938849
- Principles of Brain Management. (2007). BEST Life Media. ISBN 9780979938801
- Power Brain Kids. (2007). Healing Society. ISBN 978-1-932843-19-4
- Human Technology. (2005). Healing Society. ISBN 1-932843-12-4
- Dahnhak Kigong. (2004). Healing Society. ISBN 1-932843-01-9
- Home Massage Therapy. 2 volumes. (2004) Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-9-3 | ISBN 1-932843-00-0
- Meridian Exercise for Self-Healing. 2 volumes. (2004) Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-7-7 | ISBN 0-9720282-8-5
- Peaceology. (2003). Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-6-9
- Brain Respiration. (2003). Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-3-4
- Healing Chakra. (2002). Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-4-2
- The Twelve Enlightenments for Healing Society. (2002). Hampton Roads. ISBN 1-57174-335-9
- Mago's Dream. (2002). Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-0-X
- Healing Society. (2000). Hampton Roads. ISBN 1-57174-189-5
- The Way to Light Up Your Divinity. (1999). Dahn Publications. ISBN 89-87293-06-8
- Dahn Meditation. (1997). Dahn Publications. ISBN 89-87293-00-9
In 2005, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Lee and other defendants over the death of Julia Siverls, a Dahn Yoga Center member, during a training hike. On November 13, 2006, the Court dismissed all claims against Lee, finding that "There is no evidence that Dr. Siverls-Dunham's death, or even her presence in Arizona, arose out of a transaction of business by Lee." 
In Barba et al. v. Lee et al. (Case No. CV-09-1115-PHX-SRB) filed in May, 2009, twenty seven former members and employees of Dahn Yoga sued Lee, Dahn Yoga and other defendants in the State of Arizona for fraud, undue influence, unfair and deceptive business practice, emotional distress, wage and hour law violation and civil RICO.
The Court dismissed ten plaintiffs in 2012. The other seventeen plaintiffs withdrew them and settled the case by mutual release. No money was paid to any of the plaintiffs by any defendants in this case. On the other hand, a Judgment was entered against seven of the dismissed plaintiffs awarding defendants $11,072.07 in litigation costs.
Two plaintiffs acknowledged that they brought this lawsuit primarily because of the misrepresentations made by their former attorney Ryan Kent about their claims and his ability to handle their case.
This case was finally dismissed entirely on April 1, 2013 by court order.
Jessica Harrelson filed emotional distress claims against Lee in both the Barba et al. v. Lee et al. case and another case filed in the State of Massachusetts. On January 31, 2012, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed Harrelson's case, finding that "Lee filed a motion ...... providing the court with a number of exhibits that tended to disprove, or at the very least, shed serious doubt, on Harrelson's substantive claims." On April 6, 2012, Harrelson was also dismissed in the Barba et al. v. Lee et al. case for failure to prosecute.
- Witchalls, Clint (November 3, 2005). "Clint Witchalls is surprised by the results of Brain Respiration therapy". The Guardian (London).
- Ilchi Lee. (2007) Power Brain Kids. Sedona, Healing Society. ISBN 978-1-932843-19-4
- Ilchi Lee. (2000) Healing Society. Charlottesville, Hampton Roads. ISBN 1-57174-189-5
- [기고] 태권도 바로세우기 - 1등 인터넷뉴스 조선닷컴
- 문화일보와 독자가 만들어가는 munhwa.com
- 인터넷 경향신문 - 경향닷컴 | Kyunghyang.com
- (Korean) 맛있는 정보! 신선한 뉴스! - 서울신문
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-  Daily Economy Newspaper 9/2/2005
- Woo, Hai Ran "The New Age in South Korea" Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies, 2008 Advance Publication. ISSN 1750-3295 (online). Accessed February 1, 2008
- Buswell, Robert, ed. Introduction chapter by Donald Baker The Religions of Korea in Practice, Princeton University Press, 2007. Accessed February 5, 2008.
- Arizona Corporations Commission, Public Access System Tao Fellowship record. Accessed January 30, 2008.
- The Story of Mago Castle Sedona Live article published on official Ilchi Lee Web site.
- Red Rock News, Sedona, Arizona Friday, May 2, 2008
- Arizona Secretary of State - public records - tradenames Accessed January 30, 2008.
- Tao Fellowship Web page "Sedona Ilchi Meditation Center" Accessed February 1, 2008.
- "Mission and Activities of Tao Fellowship" Tao Fellowship Web site. Accessed February 1, 2008.
- Frommers article on Sedona's "Vortex Power"
- Dahn Yoga Web site FAQ. Accessed February 10, 2008.
- Red Rock News, Sedona, Arizona Friday, April 18, 2008
-  Official Ilchi Lee Web site. Accessed February 1, 2008.
- BR Consulting, Inc. Official Web site. Accessed February 19, 2008.
- Ilchi Lee. Human Technology(2005) Sedona, Healing Society. ISBN 1-932843-12-4
- HSP Movement Website
- Ilchi Lee. Mago's Dream(2002) Sedona, Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-0-X
- Red Rock News, Sedona, Arizona, February 15, 2008
- Red Rock News, Sedona, Arizona, June 6, 2008
- (Korean) 맛있는 정보! 신선한 뉴스! - 서울신문
- Kukhak Institute University of Brain Education, (a/k/a Graduate University for Peace, Korea), founded by Seung Heun Lee (Ilchi Lee). Accessed January 30, 2008.
- Seth, Michael J. "Myth, Memory and Reinvention in Korean: The Case of Tan'gun" James Madison University. Accessed February 12, 2008. Page 10–11.
- Lee, Timothy "Beleaguered Success: How Korean Evangelicalism Fared in the 1990s" Page 20–21. Accessed February 12, 2008.
- University of Brain Education Web page Accessed February 18, 2008.
- University of Brain Education Web page Accessed February 18, 2008.]
- University of Brain Education Web page Accessed February 18, 2008.
- Kookhakwon Web site Accessed February 18, 2008.
- University of Brain Education, Web page Accessed February 18, 2008
- Ilchi Lee Peaceology. (2003). Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-6-9
- Introvigne, Massimo Book review of "Religions of Korea in Practice A Summa on Korea's New (and Old) Religions, CESNUR Center for Studies on New Religions. Accessed February 2, 2008.
- Ilchi Lee. (2007) Brain Respiration. Sedona, Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-3-4
- Ilchi Lee. (2004) Dahnhak Kigong. Sedona, Healing Society. ISBN 1-932843-01-9
- Ilchi Lee. (2007) Principles of Brain Management. Sedona, BEST Life Media. ISBN 9780979938801
- Ilchi Lee. (2003) Meridian Exercise for Self-Healing. Volume 1. Sedona, Healing Society. ISBN 0-9720282-7-7
- Ilchi Lee. (2005) Healing Chakra: Light to Awaken My Soul. Sedona, Healing Society. ISBN 1-932843-10-8
- Official Ilchi Lee Web page. Accessed February 21, 2008.
- Korea Institute of Brain Science (KIBS) Olympiad, Web page. Accessed February 19, 2008.
- Korea Institute of Brain Science (KIBS) Research, Web page. Accessed February 19, 2008
- Article in The Traffic Circle - Ulster County Press Accessed February 21, 2008.
- IBREA Web page: International Brain HSP Olympiad and Brain Education Conference (IHSPO) Accessed February 21, 2008.
- Acta Physiologica Congress, Web page Accessed February 19, 2008
- Acta Physiologica Congress, Web page Accessed February 19, 2008
- "Skeptical' neurologist works to separate science from sham". Accessed November 29, 2014
- Ilchi Lee. (2009) "Brain Wave Vibration". Sedona, Best Life Media. ISBN 978-1-935127-36-9
- "The effects of mind-body training on stress reduction, positive affect, and plasma catecholamines". Neurosci. Lett. 479 (2): 138–42. July 2010. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2010.05.048. PMID 20546836.
- Tyler Midkiff. Ilchi Lee speaks about the aging brain. Sedona Red Rock News. February 15, 2008
- Lee, Seung Heun. Dahn Meditation: A Spiritual Exercise to Perfect Health and Happiness Seoul, Dahn Publishing. ISBN 89-87293-00-9
- Red Rock News, Sedona, Arizona Wednesday, March 7, 2012
- "Ilchi Lee's The Call of Sedona Becomes a New York Times Best Seller" (Press release). PR Newswire. February 21, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
- Ilchi Lee First Korean on Four U.S. Bestseller Lists | Books | WideLantern.com
- The Call of Sedona | J. Cassidy | Common Ground
- "The Call of Sedona" - An Interview with Ilchi Lee | Edie Weinstein | Widsom Magazine
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