Recovering Your Human Integrity: An Interview with Ilchi Lee

These days we hear of “neuroscientific” findings everywhere. All kinds of industries depend on understanding revolving brain functions in an effort of expanding and making better sense of their own work. Neuromarketing, neuro-oncology, neuro-ophtalmology, neuroeconomics, neuropsychopharmacology — you name it! Education, economy, art, nutrition, therapy, meditation … are all jumping on the latest “neuroscientific” findings to give their message a scientific foundation.

Pioneering this wave, about two decades ago, The New York Times best-selling author, Ilchi Lee, developed a holistic brain-based educational program called “brain education” to improve health, stress management, emotional well-being, and cognitive functions for young people and adults.

Neuroscience helps us understand our human and societal behaviors, allowing us to make sense of why we develop the way we do. Understanding that is useful, but the most important thing now is to use those findings in order to recover our human integrity and unleash our natural rhythm or musicality. By balancing our nervous system, our hormones, our biochemical reactions, our temperature, we are all able to do that.

His latest book, “The Solar Body: The Secret to Natural Healing,” explains how since the human body is part of nature, when we recover our natural condition, we can be healthier, happier, and more creative. The key to recover that original state is education for character development and integrity, he asserts joyfully.

Brain World: What is “education for character development” and why is it important?

Ilchi Lee: The current education system is only focused on academic results. Character development is not a goal in formal education. I would claim social problems such as bullying, discrimination, gender equality, individualism, even religious conflicts and war, are ultimately a result of this absence of character education in the system.

Education for human integrity is essential for life. It’s as basic as physical health. When people lose their health, they are not happy. When they don’t have integrity, they are not truly happy either. And that’s because integrity is actually in our nature. Human integrity is like air, water, and sunlight. Without air, water, or sunlight, can we live? We can live without a good academic record, but we cannot live well without integrity. Education without integrity, politics without integrity, economics without integrity, religion without integrity, sports without integrity, can’t provide real solutions to our problems in the world.

Character education helps people realize that human integrity is our nature and everyone has it. But it can be misinterpreted as ethical education or religious morality. Ethics and morality is a man-made concept. Integrity refers to the basic human nature that we already have. It is not something that’s taught or learned, it’s something that is simply remembered. If we lost it, we can recover it.

BW: You said that character education helps improve our musicality?

IL: Musicality is in everybody’s nature. When you feel your natural rhythm inside of your body, your musicality can come out naturally. You can start to develop it with confidence. I think everyone can be a musician. But if you can’t connect to your natural rhythm inside, it’s difficult to develop your talent. When I ask people to sing (as part of their education), many people have a difficult time. They start with trying to remember lyrics and they make a big effort to make the “right” sound, hit the right key. And that is because we are always getting evaluated by others. Our brains are used to being “tested.” How can you connect to your natural rhythm like that? In that kind of mindset, you lose confidence right away.

I recommend not learning a musical technique first. It will make you lose your confidence and become tense. First, work to connect to your inside natural rhythm, then you will gain confidence. After that, you can learn techniques. Birds sing without any technique, and we can’t say that it is not music. They are creating music.

Before going to school, kids are full of confidence in what they do. Parents don’t test their children to learn words. They learn naturally. But when kids start to go to schools, many of them start to lose their confidence. In the current education system, sometimes it becomes very difficult for them to grow their confidence and integrity.

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