Beating their livers and pulling their ears, followers of Dr. Ilchi Lee participated in a “global healing” seminar Sunday, the culmination of weeks of campus advertising with blue fliers and Prayer of Peace signs.
Lee, an internationally recognized spiritual leader, spoke at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall to an audience of about 700 people, according to organizers. Lee and other instructors of the Dahn Hak (pronounced don hawk) movement led the group in prayer and spiritual exercises designed to improve their “ki energy,” or bodily energy.
Audience members shook their arms and legs furiously, as if they were dancing, and tapped their heads and bodies to awaken themselves.
Participants stretched out their brains, at the enthusiastic urging of instructors from Chicago-area Dahn centers, by grinning widely and pulling their ears away from their heads. They then beat their chests and internal organs and screamed in short bursts in preparation for Lee’s address.
“I love you, my liver – very, very much,” they shouted as they beat their livers with their fists.
In his speech, Lee emphasized the free will of mankind and called upon the audience members to take control of their own destinies.
“The problem lies in whether you have confidence in yourself,” Lee said solemnly, speaking in Korean with a translator. “The important thing is not how you look but what kind of information is stored in your brain.”
He concluded that humans should take control not only of themselves but also of their world. Alluding to scientific evidence that “the future of the Earth looks bleak,” he called upon his followers to demand changes.
Declaring that mankind has expanded to its maximum capacity, he predicted that the age of spirituality would soon begin, bringing an end to human expansion.
“Now we have inhaled to our full capacity. It is time to start exhaling,” Lee said, using breathing as a metaphor to describe human expansion. “If you keep on inhaling and are stubborn enough to keep on inhaling, then you will die.”
At other points during the lecture, Lee emphasized the importance of ki. He suggested that although people cannot touch their brains through the traditional five senses, they can touch them through the sixth sense of ki.
In an attempt to demonstrate this, Lee had audience members rub their hands together to channel energy. Then he told them to hold their hands an inch away from their heads and feel the energy transfer.
“Now you feel the warmth radiate out from your hands onto your face,” he said. “If you do this every day as you wake up – give yourself a ki facial – you will have much better skin.”
Anticipating objections from some audience members, Lee said those who were unable to feel their brains using his method were not concentrating properly.
The event drew a diverse group of races and ages, including a handful of Northwestern students.
McCormick freshman Sharon Roberson said she decided to attend the event after a woman handing out fliers outside Norris University Center approached her.
“I thought it was interesting,” Roberson said. “It left me feeling happier, more relaxed.” But she said, she did not think she would pursue the technique of Dahn Hak any further.
Nancy Roos, a mother of four from Glenview, said she agreed with Lee’s message, although she has never practiced Dahn Hak exercises before.
“It was wonderful,” she said, “but I think this should be presented in countries that are truly in conflict. It would be wonderful if Dr. Lee could get into Afghanistan.”
The Dahn Hak headquarters in Arizona decided to organize a national tour for Lee this year, hoping to spread his message to a larger audience, local Dahn instructor Claire Gaudry said. Lee has been speaking at colleges across the country for the past two months and will continue to do so until his tour ends in November.
Gaudry said the group hopes to open a center in Evanston by the end of the year, but details are still in progress.