“Ilchi” is the name Ilchi Lee chose for himself nearly 30 years ago, following a life changing spiritual experience. “Il (一)” means “one” and “chi (指)” means “finger.” “Ilchi” refers to the index finger, indicating “pointing the Way.” “The Way,” referred to as the “Tao,” is considered the essence of Oneness, the natural order of existence. Embracing the Korean Taoist tradition, known as Sundo, Ilchi Lee awakened to the universal principle that humanity is connected to the Cosmos, the Earth, and all of creation.
Born to a family of educators in South Korea during the Korean War, Ilchi Lee had severe learning disabilities. Though he graduated from high school, he was not able to pass his college entrance exam. This concerned his father, who blamed himself for failing to educate his own child and retired early.
With his father’s retirement weighing heavily upon his shoulders he was greatly discouraged until he found an opportunity to take action. He began cleaning up a garbage mound under his town’s main bridge. He carried several loads of garbage to a nearby field where It became fertilizer for a pumpkin patch. Later he shared the pumpkins with 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.
After that experience, Ilchi began running regularly. This improved his concentration and helped him focus on his studies. He eventually graduated from college with a degree in Clinical Pathology. Ilchi then opened a clinical pathology practice while training in the study of Taekwondo and other mind-body practices. He soon developed an interest in the relationship between certain postures or stances and their effect on the body.
From his early youth, Ilchi Lee had been driven by questions about the true meaning of his existence. Dissatisfied with intellectual answers, he learned that training his body helped him gain a sense of centeredness and peace. In the summer of 1980, he climbed up Mount Moak in South Korea to pursue answers to these questions. Following 21 days of intense fasting and meditation, he experienced a special state of awareness through which he found answers to his questions about existence.
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 park in Anyang, South Korea, first assisting a lone stroke victim, and then training large groups of people. In 1985, after five years of lessons in the park, he rented a space in Seoul that became the first Dahn Center.
The exercises he taught gradually evolved to include a wide variety of over 360 meditative and brain enhancement techniques, which he systemized into different programs and workshops, and organized into five steps. This system of mind-body-spirit training is now known as Brain Education. It integrates ancient, millennia old, Korean philosophy and Sundo culture with applied neuroscience to teach optimal brain utilization. Beyond exercises, Brain Education offers wisdom for healthy living and the successful development of children and aging of adults.
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 Millennium 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. To keep his promise, Ilchi Lee made efforts toward a multi-level strategic partnership with the UN. His chief interest was to make contributions to its global peace and humanitarian efforts.
In 2001, he hosted the New Millennium World Peace 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 the Korea Institute of Brain Science (KIBS).
Then in 2008, 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. That June, he held the Fourth International Brain Education Conference there, while at the same time celebrating the inauguration of the International Brain Education Association (IBREA). With this event, he created a foundation for Brain Education to be utilized by the UN’s international peace activities, educational projects, and welfare promotion efforts. At the International Brain Education Conference, several distinguished neuroscientists such as Dr. Antonio Damasio and Elkhonon Goldberg, Ph.D., as well as several other guests, lectured. In July of 2009, Brain Education was introduced to UN officials at the Annual Ministerial Review in Geneva, Switzerland during the seminar “The Role of Brain Education in Global Mental Health.” IBREA later gained special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC and has been active in El Salvador, Liberia, Coasta Rica, Sierra Leone, and the Phillippines, training educators, students, and communities in Brain Education.
Ilchi Lee also founded and serves as the president of the Earth Citizens Organization (ECO), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that develops leaders through Brain Education who create healthier communities for a more sustainable world. ECO leaders teach Brain Education in outreach classes, run community projects, and help people live mindfully.
Based on his earlier understanding of the transformative potential of work, the joy of sharing with others, and the value of his own contribution, Ilchi Lee taught this to others and developed a unique style of operating a business. Profit for the sake of helping others, for improving society, was the basis of his businesses. His unique business philosophy is embodied in the work of the management advisory company he founded but no longer manages, BR Consulting, Inc. Based in Sedona, Arizona, this company and its subsidiaries develop and provide advice on business methods and products related to Brain Education for more than 50 clients around the world.
To express his pioneering views about the brain and human consciousness, Ilchi Lee has authored a total of 41 books. Among the books he has authored is his most recent one, The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart, a memoir-style meditation guide that became a New York Times bestseller, and was also ranked on the The Washington Post, IndieBound, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today bestseller lists. The book, originally published by independent Sedona publisher, Best Life Media, was later picked up by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Simon & Schuster Audio published an audio book, and the popular title also inspired the development of an app for iOS and Android.
Other notable books Ilchi Lee has written are Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life (Gold Medal Winner in the Living Now Book Awards), In Full Bloom: A Brain Education Guide for Successful Aging (with Jessie Jones, Ph.D.), 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: A Prescription for Global Enlightenment, Earth Citizen: Recovering Our Humanity, Human Technology: A Toolkit for Authentic Living, Living Tao: Timeless Principles for Everyday Enlightenment (Bronze Winner of Foreword Reviews' 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award), and The Power Brain: Five Steps to Upgrading Your Brain Operating System.
To reach people around the world, many of his books have been translated into different languages, especially English and Japanese. Brain Respiration has been translated the most; it exists in eight different languages. Other popular books such as Human Technology and Healing Society can be found in five different languages, including English and Korean. Brain Wave Vibration will soon be published in seven, including Russian, German, Japanese, French, and Mandarin Chinese.
In his endeavor to share the infinite potential of the brain with as many people as possible, Ilchi Lee delved into documentary filmmaking. His first work, CHANGE: The LifeParticle Effect, premiered in 2013 in Sedona, Arizona and won awards from the Jakarta International Film Festival, the Costa Rica International Film Festival, The Accolade Competition, and VISIONFEST 14: The Other Festival. It was shown at events around the United States, as well as Seoul, South Korea, including the BolderLife Festival in Colorado. CHANGE was followed by a second effort in 2014, CHANGE: The Brain and Divinity. Ilchi Lee has plans to produce more films in the future.