New Values, New Culture, New World: An Interview with Ilchi Lee

Brain World: What is the meaning of “new values, new culture, new world?”


Ilchi Lee: Human beings have bestowed value and meaning on success and material achievements. Today’s civilization is built on those values. We have had convenient lives and benefited from the amazing developments of civilization in the 20th century. However, we have simultaneously experienced issues of reckless competition, conflict, and strife, global warming, environmental disruption, materialism, and conspicuous consumption.

We must change our way of thinking about these beliefs and the values that we are pursuing in our lives, because our culture and civilization is based upon our life’s values and beliefs. Now, we must choose hope to overcome the obstacles and challenges the world faces. We cannot avoid conflict and strife as long as we continue to pursue values based on material achievements.

The new value that humanity must pursue is completion. The concept of completion is in contrast with success. A success is represented as a kind of possession and control; a success always invites comparison and competition, and evokes winning or losing. There is no way to avoid conflict and strife with such values, because human beings have limitless desires for success, but the things that we wish to control and possess are limited.

Completion regards life as a progression of continuous growth. If you value completion, you do your best, in every moment, to accomplish your life’s goals. Success is a race to be satisfied on a first-come/first-served basis, whereas if completion is your goal, you race toward a personal, individual trophy. Only self-evaluation is important, rather than comparison to others.

The core value in pursuing a life of completion is the Hong-ik* philosophy. Everyone has a nature. We all want to be helpful people to our families, neighbors, society, and humanity. We do not want to only do what is in our narrow self-interest. I call this nature Hong-ik. When you pursue completion as your new value, your nature will begin to awaken.

This new value creates a new culture, and through this new culture the new world begins. When human beings accept the new value, completion, many will awaken and be freed from preconceptions of ideas, labels, character, and race. At this time, all the religions, nations and races in the world will truly become one, and create a harmonized culture and world.

The first step is the transformation of values. This transformation of values should be preceded by a correct understanding of humanity. Human existence is a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual values. A person cannot be happy when he or she values only success, and focuses only on material things. When we have satisfying mental and spiritual values, we will be truly happy.

BW: You have said that when people use their brains well, they learn that life is not pain but art. How can people reach this point?

IL: I think the core of art is creation. We have a desire inside us, which we want to express and communicate. When we express our desire in a creative form, it moves our mind and creates beauty. So, we call it art.

The best art you can create is your own life. An artistic life is a creative life. If you want to create, there should be something that you need to create. Your life is not just flying by, adjusting to every circumstance as it comes. Your life is an active creation; it is something valuable that you believe is meaningful. Always imagine life in this way.


It will be difficult to create if you perpetuate preconceptions and fixed ideas. Therefore, we should be free souls. Life is a creation of our own values and happiness, and an existence as a free soul — not perpetuating preconceptions or prejudices — and helping ourselves and others. This kind of life is an artistic life, which I’ve always admired.

If you want to have this kind of life, you should use your brain well. Up to this point, the study of the brain has been dominated by scientists, physicians, and other experts; however, everyone should understand their brains and make it possible to use theirs well, because we create everything through our brains. We all should learn about our brains. Through learning about our brains, we will realize the unlimited potential of creation. When we utilize the values of our brains freely, every moment in our daily lives will be a moment when we create works of art.

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