I feel compelled to share my experience with people about a fairly new group within the United States called the Dahn Tao Institute also known as the Dahn Center and/or Tao Institute--this is group led by the "Grand Master" Lee Seung Heun. They now have a headquarters/retreat in Sedona, Arizona. This group claims that it's here to "save the world"--through "energy" and "healing". This is supposedly done by "sharing love with the world." My wife became deeply involved with Dahn Tao Institute in Mesa, Arizona. The same "masters" that run this center also fly back and forth to Los Angeles, California. One master once taught at another center around Chicago--they are now expanding everywhere and have centers in Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Northern California, Illinois, Texas and Georgia.
When my wife first attended the center it seemed like a good place--a setting where people could go to improve their health through exercises. The center had posters of families exercising together and they looked happy. However, they actually misled my wife and I--as well as other friends regarding the their real purpose and hidden agenda.
During 1998 when my wife was first introduced to their exercises--she went every day at 6 p.m. after work and often did not come home until around 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. This was her schedule Monday through Friday. She said the exercises were actually about an hour long. But this did not make sense to me since they kept her there so late--even though they knew she had a family. After about five months my wife participated for two days in an intense form of Dahn exercise called the "Shim Sung". She told me this experience "opened her heart" and she had a physical sensation of release in her chest.
After this ("Shim Sung") stage more of the real agenda of Dahn Tao Institute began to surface. After this stage the center's "head master" told my wife that the "Great Grand Master" (Mr. Lee Seung Heun) had visited the Mesa center--looking for the next "enlightened being" to train under him. They told my wife she was the "chosen one"--a "special person". It became clear the Center had a special purpose for her.
For five months, my wife spoke constantly about all the energy and "Ki" she received through her meditation with the help of the group's "head master". The Dahn Tao Institute also proclaimed that they could heal themselves and others through energy and "Ki". However, it was somewhat interesting to observe that many of the masters I met wore glasses, which seemed odd. Why couldn't they correct their own vision through the "healing energy" they claimed to posses?
After some months of involvement with Dahn Tao Institute my wife asked for a divorce and my blessing to set out on her new "quest." She told me that she would no longer need or have a husband, mother and father from the day of transition to her new world--she would now live much like Buddha did. This seemed like a religion or a movement to me and NOT AN EXERCISE CENTER. She claimed that the Dahn center would take care of her food and housing and that all she needed to take with her was some clothes. I asked her if they would pay her or provide health coverage. She responded that there would be no pay or benefits, but they would provide for all her needs. This appeared like the arrangement Rev. Moon has with his devotees--once called the "Moonies" of the Unification Church. They often seem to essentially work for free while Rev. Moon molds their daily lives, but often provides little more than room and board.
The Dahn Tao Institute told my wife she could sleep at the center until they found a permanent place for her. Soon they planned to place her at their retreat in Sedona for "master training", but this did not make much sense. My wife had only been going to classes for five months and was at the "third level" (out of nine levels) toward attainting her "black belt"--which takes 36 months according to the program.
When I visited the center I saw several "masters"--they were all young, single men and women recruiting and working behind the counter. The "head master" taught from time to time. It is interesting to note the checks for classes were paid to a development business in Sedona called "BELL ROCK DEVELOPMENT COMPANY." They claim that Dahn Tao Institute also has construction and design companies too.
Throughout the week I tried to reason with my wife about this new radical transition in her life and asked her help for me to understand.
Dahn center gave my wife several books to read, one after another and as I looked through the book written in Korean the agenda of the Dahn Tao Institute's centers became even more clear to me. First the book was written by the Grand Master himself and he compared himself to Jesus and Buddha--saying he is enlightened like them. Then through the next series of books their agenda is discussed--of spreading centers throughout the world. And also--how this ultimately means they must recruit many new "masters" to perpetuate their growth.
It became clear to me that Dahn Tao Institute did not care how many families might be broken up and lives ruined by their ambitious expansion. They only cared about growing their business and meeting the goals set by the Grand Master. I spoke with other members I knew and people that I had met through the Dahn Tao Institute--they too were approached to give up everything in their lives to join Dahnhak for a greater quest and more important purpose. One person I spoke with involved in the center had a small child and a Dahnhak master inferred she might need to sacrifice that relationship to become a "master". Another person said they would have to give up a job and ties to family. They seemed to have brainwashed my wife into quitting her job and to seek a divorce--necessary to pursue her "quest."
When I told my father-in-law in Korea what was happening, he went to seven Dahn Tao Institute centers in South Korea. He was told him by center staff that typically they do not recruit married people, except when that person has special skills and abilities that may be useful. After hearing this, my father-in-law flew from Korea to the U.S. immediately and retained an intervention specialist.
During the subsequent intervention, their program unraveled. It was clear that the Dahn Tao Institute Center throughout the five months of my wife's involvement had prepared her through a kind of emotional breakdown, to reach a crucial vulnerable point--then they convinced her that Dahnhak and the Grand Master would play the pivotal role in her quest to become perfected. At least that's what my wife thought, but they camouflaged their agenda through an exercise ritual seemingly designed to gain her trust and manipulate her emotions. It became very difficult to understand what they really are. Dahn Tao Institute appears to be an exercise center, but when you dig deeper they act and sound more like a movement of some sort.
After the "Shim Sung" exercise the Dahn center told my wife that she was ready for the next level--ready to hear what they are all about. She was told to leave me and end our marriage. Though after some deliberation between the masters they told her not to divorce me--since she did not have a "Green Card", and that it would be more cost-effective to remain married so the center could save money regarding a sponsorship. After all, they needed money to open another center in Scottsdale.
The truth did finally surfaced through the intervention and my wife became "the enlightened one", but not as the masters had told her. She simply saw through their subterfuge and discovered the real intentions and true nature of the group. Three other members also found out the "truth" and left too. Frankly, serving a Grand Master through free labor and surrendering control of their lives was not their goal.
The Dahn Tao Institute goes to churches, schools and businesses to recruit new members. In doing some research I have found that they they don't pay actual salaries to much of their staff at the more than 300 centers in Korea, nor does it appear that they typically provide medical insurance for these devotees of the Grand Master. They are not a non-profit religious organization, but rather a for-profit corporation. The masters at their centers are most often young, single, or divorced and seem to be celibate. One member who went on a trip to Korea with the Dahn Tao Institute said she met a man who left his child and wife to become a master.
I hope that those who read my story will take this group very seriously. Dahn Tao Institute seems to be about recruiting more and more members for free labor and fees that will make the Grand Master richer--though he is already a wealthy man. This is the "vision" that appears to be the Grand Master's plan for the world through his movement of devoted followers.
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