Who is Ilchi Lee?
Pioneering Brain Education and Visionary Leader for World Peace
As a student, Ilchi Lee had severe learning disabilities. Such things were not diagnosed at that time so he had many problems in school. His academic performance was so poor that his high school records include a degrading comment that labeled him as “a student with no promise for the future.” After graduating from high school, young Ilchi failed the college entrance examinations, twice. His learning disabilities were of the greatest concern to his father, a teacher at the local elementary school. He blamed himself for failing to educate his own child. Ilchi’s father retired early, which greatly affected Ilchi. So one day he decided to clean up a local garbage mound and creating a garden of pumpkins that he shared with his neighbors. Through this experience, Ilchi became aware of the transformative potential of work, the joy of sharing with others, and the value of his own contribution.
From left, Ilchi Lee in his early twenties; At Mt. Moak, where he had 21 days of intense ascetic practice; Anyang Pagoda Park where Ilchi Lee taught his Brain Education methods to the public for free.
After that experience, Ilchi exercised more regularly and was able to focus on his studies. He was later admitted to college on his third attempt. While in college, he majored in clinical pathology and at the same time he operated a Taekwondo studio. During that time he accumulated diverse intellectual and experiential knowledge about the human body. After college, Ilchi operated a private clinical pathology practice in his home town. He also continued to train and study in Taekwondo and other mind body practices. He developed an interest in the relationship between certain postures or stances and their effect on the body.
When Ilchi Lee was about 30 years old, his life changed abruptly. In the summer of 1980, he climbed up Mount Moak in South Korea in pursuit of answers to his questions about existence. Following 21 days of intense ascetic practice and meditation, during which he neither ate nor slept, he experienced a very special state of awareness. He came to an intuitive understanding that his amazing experience was directly related to the brain. Since that time, he has devoted tireless effort toward research, development and experiential learning in the utilization of the infinite ability possessed by the human brain.
Following his life changing experience on the mountain, Ilchi Lee felt a strong conviction to share what he had learned. He wanted to help people become physically healthier so they could make healthy choices, recognizing how many people making healthy choices would help improve society. He began teaching for free in a city park. First assisting a lone stroke victim, and then training large groups of people. After five years of lessons in the park, in 1985 he rented a space in Seoul that became the first Dahn Center.
Brain Education was born as a result of his tireless effort. Brain Education integrates the five thousand year old Korean philosophy and culture [of Sundo] with applied neuroscience, neurophysiology, and cognitive psychology into a system for optimal brain utilization. Brain Education comprises five steps: Brain Sensitizing; Brain Versatilizing; Brain Refreshing; Brain Integrating; and Brain Mastery, and is taught through a variety of over 360 programs. Brain Education offers wisdom for healthy living from children’s exercises to guidance for successful aging. These programs are currently being offered in 10 countries around the world.
From left, a Brain Education Conference at MIT in MA. Children practicing Brain Education exercises at the International Brain Education University in Korea
Ilchi Lee stresses the importance of putting scientific discoveries and research about the brain into practical use for creating health, happiness and peace. In order to achieve this, he established an institution specializing in research on Brain Education called the Korea Institute of Brain Science (KIBS). In 2003, the University of Brain Education (UBE) was established in South Korea as a world’s first government-approved academic institution to offer Master’s and Doctorate programs in the field. Since then, annual International Brain Education symposiums have been held around the world, forming an international network of renowned neuroscientists.
Ilchi Lee is president of BR Consulting, Inc., Sedona, Arizona, an innovative educational company providing business services and developing knowledge products related to Brain Education, holistic health, self-growth, and collaboration for peace for more than 50 clients around the world. He has guided its client, U-DAP in Korea, to conduct Brain Education programs, which have reached more than 1,000 corporations and government agencies and their 440,000 employees over the past decade.
Lee founded Dahn Yoga, which spread at a blazing speed and within a few years opened 120 locations in the United States and Canada, followed by centers in England, Germany, Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Sweden. Over 1,000 Brain Education-based centers are operating in 10 countries. In 2002 Ilchi Lee fully transferred the management and ownership rights in Dahn Centers to his students and began focusing on international peace efforts, developing educational applications, and providing consulting services through BR Consulting, Inc.
In August of 2000 Ilchi Lee stood as a guest speaker in the main hall of the United Nations building in New York City during the World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. He recited the Prayer of Peace he had authored for the occasion, and he promised himself that the prayer would not see its end as mere words. He vowed to someday return to the UN with practical means of achieving world peace. Since then, Ilchi Lee has made many efforts to establish a multi-level strategic partnership with the UN. His chief interest with the UN was to make contributions to its global peace and humanitarian efforts.
In 2001 he hosted the Humanity Conference in Seoul, South Korea, an event that gathered around 12,000 people from around the world to find workable means of fostering a more peaceful, sustainable global culture. Speakers at the event included former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, environmental activist Maurice Strong and renowned journalist Seymour Topping. In addition, Ilchi Lee continued to have public seminars and academic seminars in Korea at KIBS and UBE. In 2007, KIBS earned consultative NGO status with the UN.
Eight years after his determination as a guest at the UN, Ilchi Lee stood on the UN grounds not as a guest, but as a host. In June of 2008 he hosted an International Brain Education Conference at the UN New York headquarters with distinguished neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio and Jill Bolte Taylor as key speakers. At the event, the inauguration of IBREA at the UN was celebrated, creating a foundation for Brain Education to be utilized by the UN’s international peace activities, education, and welfare promotion efforts. In July of 2009, Brain Education was introduced to world leaders at the UN’s Annual Ministerial Review in Geneva, Switzerland during a seminar titled “The Role of Brain Education in Global Mental Health”.
From left top in a circular order, Ilchi Lee at the United Nations in 2000, Press Conference for the Humanity Conference in 2001, Ilchi Lee with Al Gore at the Humanity Conference, Ilchi Lee with Hilary Clinton, Ilchi Lee with Ban Kimoon, UN Secretary General, Ilchi Lee with Vice President Joe Biden
Brain Education is receiving public attention as an alternative solution for remedying problems in our public education systems. Schools that introduce the method are experiencing significant improvement in student performance, attendance and concentration. There have also been improvements in teacher-student relationships and communication, leading to a decreased number of misdemeanors and delinquencies. Three hundred seven schools in the United States have adopted Brain Education in their regular curriculum, as well as over a thousand schools in Korea through the Happy School Campaign that was developed to promote whole-person education and the nurturing of compassion in each student. Ilchi Lee’s efforts recently bore more fruit by receiving approval for the opening of a 4-year online university program offered by the Global Cyber University, providing a more solid foundation for BE to achieve its dream.
Based on his belief that humanity’s current problems can only be solved through a collective understanding that all people are one and that all are citizens of earth, regardless of religion, race, or culture, Ilchi Lee began the Earth Citizen Movement and its One Dollar Project. The One Dollar Project collects one dollar a month from those who wish to create a better future for the earth and humanity. Donations go to the United Nation’s efforts toward restoring the environment, restoring humanity, and fighting malnutrition, AIDS, and illiteracy. Currently, donations have been forwarded to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s The Billion Tree Campaign, UNICEF’s AIDS prevention efforts, and aid for Cambodian children.
To express his pioneering views about the brain and human consciousness, Ilchi Lee has authored a total of 32 books. Among these books are Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life (Gold Medal Winner of a Living Now Book Award), In Full Bloom: A Brain Education Guide for Successful Aging (with Dr. Jessie Jones), Principles of Brain Management: A Practical Approach to Making the Most of Your Brain, Know Your Brain, Know Happiness (with Dr. Hee-Sup Shin), Healing Society, and Human Technology.
Recognition and Awards
- The Order of Civil Merit by the government of South Korea in 2002, honoring his dissemination of Korean traditional philosophy and culture to the world through Dahnhak and Brain Education, and his promotion of national prestige.
- Fifteen American cities, including Washington, D.C, have declared Ilchi Lee Day in recognition of his promotion of the health and well-being of their citizens and his contribution to peace education.
- Twenty cities in the United States, including New York City, have declared “Brain Education Day” or “Brain Education Week”.
From left, Ilchi Lee Day in Gaithersburg, MD; Brain Education Day in New York City; Ilchi Lee Day in Atlanta, GA
I personally have been honored to collaborate with Mr. Lee, as both co-chair of the World Earth-Human Alliance and as honorary president of the International Brain Education University. His work is a constant inspiration, and I am deeply pleased to witness the increasing worldwide influence of Brain Education and its accompanying peace activities.
– Oscar Arias Sanchez, President, Costa Rica, Nobel Peace Laureate
I met Ilchi Lee through his work with the United Nations in his capacity as the founder of the International Brain Education Association (IBREA). I was immediately impressed with the educational initiatives launched by IBREA. IBREA is in a unique position to disseminate knowledge and to serve as a very effective platform for numerous worthwhile projects. Ilchi Lee should be applauded for his pioneering creative vision in conceiving and launching this innovative organization with a truly international outreach.
– Elkhonon Goldberg, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Neurology at New York University School of Medicine
Mr. Lee has dedicated his life to traveling the world, sharing inspiration and information about the potential of the human brain. From starting in this small park in South Korea, helping this singular stroke survivor to over 1,000 centers throughout the world teaching his method of training, the body and the brain, to working with the non-profits which are working with the UN, to teaching kids in schools in New York City and beyond, and finally at last tonight, on this great stage of the Radio City Music Hall.
– Tommy Tune’s introduction to Ilchi Lee at the Brain Art Festival 2009 in NY
For Ilchi Lee, enlightenment is not some obscure mystical path attainable only for those few who sit meditating on a mountaintop. He offers a common sense way to fulfillment for every individual. His philosophy guides us to a peaceful world in which all living creatures are accorded respect and compassionate treatment.
– Seymour Topping, Author and Professor of Journalism
I agree with Ilchi Lee that the brain will be at the center of cultural development. From the viewpoint of the brain, people will analyze and make plans regarding politics, economy, society, and culture. Brain Education’s development and delivery will foster the acceleration of cultural evolution in positive directions. According to Ilchi Lee’s philosophy, when humanity chooses happiness and peace, then substantial progress is possible. I expect that his Brain Education to be a major force in the world’s cultural advancement.
– Hee-Sup Shin, National Scientist Awardee, South Korea