I have known the Ki Health organization for many years and would like to tell you what I know about it. I do not intend to convince anyone of anything, because, as with most things in the world today, people have already formed their own opinions. But for what is worth, here is the story.
I lived in the East for many years, and it would be impossible to set out in a few words the tremendous challenges I underwent in trying to understand and adapt to a culture so different from mine. Not just the language barrier and all that was “lost in translation”, but they also seemed to live by a different set of logical, ethical and moral codes from mine.
One such example was what I perceived to be their lack of moral dilemma regarding “lies”. They seemed to lie with a moral abandon that bewildered me. Eventually, I came to realize that what I perceived as lying was for them “protection”, i.e., to protect others from the pain and discomfort of the “truth”. From an early age they learn to “protect” their parents from the truth and vice-versa. There is a saying in Korean that loosely translated states that "if you want to lose a friend tell him what you really think of him."
Space does not permit me to go through all the assaults my cultural identity suffered in the process of living with people so diagonally opposite to me, but one stands out more than any other, which is the question of individuality. In the East, conformity is a virtue to be cultivated, and individuality a character flaw to be overcome. To hold one’s personal, individual opinion in defiance of the group’s consensus is either a heroic or foolhardy act. They have a word, “chung”, which defines the ideal of “group harmony”, and religion is one of the glues that binds the group together. Hence, so many religious groups flourish in the East. The group conformity has taken its most extreme shape in North Korea. In China, Mao Tse Tung had to outlaw religion in order for communism to flourish – religion being the main threat to the authority of the state. Up until this day, religious persecution is alive and well in China.
To give money to a religious organization is seen as part of their “chung” philosophy and to be doing good for the whole. The commendable “doing good for the group” has an ugly side – when things go wrong, not only is the group to be blamed but also torn down to restore a sense of dignity to those who felt betrayed by it. This lack of individual accountability set the stage for much of what happened to Jungshim Association in Korea. Official corruption, bribes, manufactured evidence, were all thrown in the mix, but that is a long story.
In all truth, nobody makes us do anything. When a person chooses to depart with large amounts of money that person is solely responsible for the consequences, and no matter how much you want to construct a moral argument around it, it will never replace individual responsibility. One example comes to mind. I lost all of my life’s savings in the stock market crash of 1987. No doubt I blamed the stock broker who advised me to invest all my money in the stock market, but with the sobriety of time, I realized that I was solely responsible for the decision I made, driven by, I am not ashamed to say, the prospect of making more money. Whether one is driven by the prospect of greater profit or the desire for better health, does not eliminate the individual decision of who or what one chooses to trust.
When a doctor presents you with a diagnosis and a prognosis, he is only speaking about possibilities and probabilities. There is never any certainty that a person will be cured no matter what method that person employs. If I were diagnosed with cancer I would not subject myself to surgery or chemotherapy or radiation even though doctors would be telling me that was what I had to do. I also wouldn’t be able to afford it. A relative lost her life as well as her life’s savings in her cancer cure. For her, the world ended even though she put all her trust and money in her “cure”.
So, on the subject of the world ending, indeed, the world will end for all of us, it is called death. When we look at some of the statistics coming from scientific and environmental organizations, we could be forgiven for thinking of them as doomsayers. Almost fifty percent of all the world’s primates are facing extinction, and you don’t need to be a Darwinian to know that primates are our closest relatives; if they go…. About ninety percent of all the world’s species have already become extinct and we are now witnessing the greatest rate of extinction ever recorded in human history. World leaders cannot agree on ways to tackle global warming, energy crisis, overpopulation, deforestation, water shortage, shrinking arable lands, desertification, AIDS, etc, etc, etc.
The founders of the Jungshim Association were warning people of the dire situation of our planet. Indeed, they believe that life is at a peril, as do so many scientists, who are not however, called doomsayers. Of course, one could argue that scientists are not taking large amounts of money to “save” people; they are instead, taking large amounts of research grants to come up with solutions to “save” people. The Jungshim founders, however, introduced a little known fact as yet undetected by science, which is, the planet is running out of energy – the very energy that sustains and supports all of the planet’s life systems as well as our own lives. Thus, they gave people a system to recharge the body with energy and the potential to heal illnesses. They also introduced many spiritual concepts that although unfamiliar to the modern human mind, were prevalent in ancient times. They believe that many of today’s problems stem from a lack of a spiritual connection with the source of life (some call it God). The twist in this sorrowful tale is that their message was so misunderstood, misinterpreted and hijacked by other religious groups with a vested interest in neutralizing the competition.
There is little doubt that a new religion will always be labeled a cult. A bunch of renegades following a man called Jesus 2000 years ago was, by every definition of the term, a cult. Hard to believe that a few hundred years later, it had become the dominant religion of the very people who had nailed its leader to the cross. Jungshim is not, however, a “new” religion. It is deeply steeped in traditional eastern beliefs that go back many thousands of years, and because these beliefs have been supplanted by more recent ones, does not make them false. Ancestral worship was practiced in many civilizations of the ancient world, from Egypt to India, from North and South America to Oceania and parts of Europe. The Etruscan civilization, which was overpowered by the Romans, had a deep and reverential respect for ancestors, believing that much of what happens to a person’s life has its roots in the past, in the way ancestors lived and died. They performed elaborate ceremonies to honor their ancestors. The founders of Jungshim also believe that we carry much karma from our ancestors. We may choose to believe or not that this is the case. No one can force us to believe it.
It is, however, not just a question of belief but how much one pays for this belief. It has been claimed that people have paid large amounts of money to do ancestral healing. Personally I have great difficulty with judging costs, but I do know that I have never given the organization any more than I wanted to. The “they made me do it” argument is a very thin one. Individual responsibility may not be a prominent feature in eastern culture but it is at the core of western culture.
When we decide to do something, whether it is a new healing method or buy a car, we know the risks we are taking. Even if I pay a large amount of money for a car, it may still break down or I might smash it. What usually happens is that when people feel that it has failed them, they want some kind of recompense. There may be many reasons why something fails, but from my experience, it is usually to do with our own selves. For many people this is too hard to digest, and it is so much easier to believe that the method failed.
That is however, a difficult argument to prove because of the thousands of people who regained their health through this healing method, me included. And yes, there is no doubt in my mind that the ancestral healing had much to do with it. Long ago, I reached the conclusion that there are no incurable diseases, but there are incurable people.
To finalize, to claim that people who believe in the Jungshim principles are cultists is akin to claiming that all Muslims are terrorists and all Catholic priests are sexual predators. People tend to absorb ready-made information that is easy to digest. Not many people have the time or the energy to reflect deeply about issues that are not usually covered by the mass media. What is the purpose of human life? What is God? What is my relationship (if there is one) with God? Is God, the Earth and humanity, one and the same? Is nature spiritual as well as material? Is the separation of spirit and matter the cause of disease as well as environmental breakdown? What is the reason and purpose of suffering? It is up to each person to elucidate the mystery of life or forever blame others for not giving them the answers or healing them. What I discovered was that only I could heal myself and only after discovering who I am and why I became sick. The Ki healing method simply gave me the tools to heal myself. It is trying to reawaken our connection with nature and the fundamental principles that govern life.
It sounds good, but what about the money? It is an often repeated argument that spiritual matters have nothing to do with money. Unfortunately, the landlord is not very spiritual, and neither are the electricity and phone companies or the supermarket. Most of the Ki centers are located in the most expensive cities in the world, some in the most central locations to make it very accessible to people. The cost of running a centre which also has to support its practitioners is very high. And they set themselves up a very ambitious agenda – to make this healing method available to as many people in the world.
The founders of Jungshim had a very ambitious agenda and a misplaced trust in people. They believed that people were donating large sums of money to them because they believed in what they were doing, and once they gave it they wouldn’t ask for it back. They can be accused of spectacular naivety or misguided trust but not ill-intention. They firmly believe that Ki energy is the solution to many of our world’s problems and want to share this belief with all people in the world. The way they went about it may be questionable but I am not in a position (and neither is anyone else) to fully understand what they know and what they see. Throughout human history there have been people with the capacity to use more of their senses than the rest of us. They seem to have a window into the future that others have no access to. But only in hindsight can we know if they are true or not.