The Words of the Sang Hun Lee
Dr. Sang Hun Lee at ICUS XIII in Washington D.C.
The questions listed are part of a paper delivered by Dr. Lee at ICUS XIII, held in Washington DC, in September 1984. They were asked by professors at a previous Unification Theological Seminar, held in Athens in June 1984.
1. Is it really possible to unify religions, thoughts, and cultures?
First I would like to clarify the concept of unification. It is the teaching of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon that unification comes when people love one another centering on a common purpose. According to the Unification Principle, when a subject and an object perform harmonious give-and-take action centering on a common purpose, unity is created. Accordingly, if harmonious give-and-take action is performed between religions, then the unification of religions takes place. The important point here is that both the subject and the object must recognize each other's existence and respect each other.
When one religion has give-and-take action with another, each side should be ready to acknowledge the existence of the other, should be ready to accept the differences in doctrine, and should refrain from struggle and mutual negation. Cooperation is an important part of unification. The common purpose of all religions is to eradicate all evils from this world and to build the world of goodness. Thus, to start a movement for the unification of religions means to guide religions to the discovery of their common purpose and to mutual cooperation.
The same principles apply to the unification of thoughts. In one sense, all thoughts are different, but in another sense they have something in common because all of them originated from human beings. Among human beings there are many common features; likewise among thoughts there must be common features.
The unification of thoughts, then, is an effort which seeks to discover the common features among thoughts and to guide thoughts into cooperation.
When the unification of thoughts and religions is realized, we have a foundation upon which to accomplish the unification of cultures. This is in brief the viewpoint of Unification Thought concerning the unification of religions, thoughts, and cultures.
2. What image does Unification Thought propose for the future?
One of the professors pointed out that Unification Thought fails to present a clear image of the future, and in this sense it is similar to Marxism, which presents it only vaguely. I think this is quite a natural question. Nevertheless, the standpoint of communism is quite different from that of Unification Thought, in what concerns the "vagueness of the image of the future."
When I first read the early works of Marx, I did not feel that he was criticizing and opposing capitalism for the sake of establishing communist society; rather, I felt that in order to oppose capitalism he created a fantasy image of "communist society," and then agitated the masses of people.
In contrast, Unification Thought maintains that the world of co-existence, co-prosperity, and co-righteousness which is the ideal society, or the Kingdom of Heaven on earth -- will surely come about through the providence of God -- in other words, through God's laws of creation and restoration and man's portion of responsibility. The statement that such a world will be brought about "through the providence of God" implies that it has been predicted in biblical writings, such as Isaiah and the Book of Revelation. It is a fact that a concrete image of the future is not presented in Unification Thought -- but there are reasons for that. And the reason is that the time is not ripe enough for a concrete image of the future to be presented. An Oriental proverb says, "Heaven dislikes it when heavenly secrets leak out."
This means that certain aspects of the providence of Heaven will not be known on earth until the coming of an appointed time. In other words, a concrete image of the future will be presented to the public when the right time comes.
Nevertheless, Explaining Unification Thought presents an image of the future, to a certain extent. I feel I have explained the ideal image of education, ethics, art, social life, etc., in considerable detail. Still, Rev. Moon has not as yet given concrete explanations about politics and economics. I suppose the ideal image of politics and economics will be presented concretely when the right time comes.
3. Why does Unification Thought criticize only communism, and not capitalism as well?
Though Marx criticized capitalism, his criticism was wrong. The fact that Unification Thought has criticized Marx's criticism (in other words the communist criticism of capitalism) means that Unification Thought has re- criticized capitalism. In addition to criticizing it, Unification Thought has even proposed a counterproposal, in order to overcome it. In other words, Unification Thought has proposed the idea that capitalism needs to be reformed and has offered ways to accomplish that.
4. Why does Unification Thought explain even God only rationally, but does not deal with the mysterious aspects of God?
According to the teachings of Rev. Moon, if human beings had not fallen, the relationship between God and humans would have been that of parent and child, and the loving God would have wished to teach His children all about Himself. Accordingly, to original human beings, God cannot be a Wondrous and mysterious being whose identity is unknown.
Yet the relationship of parent and child was severed through the human fall, and humans were put into the position of an orphan who has lost his or her parents, and so they have been up to the present time. Moreover, as a long period of time passed, people gradually became ignorant about God, and finally there has even come to appear an extreme theory of atheism.
Rev. Moon says that God has been making great efforts to save all humankind and to reestablish the parent- child relationship with men and women. And the reason is that God has longed to give human beings His love to an infinite degree, as a parent to all humankind. Thus, God has been enduring incredible hardships of persecution and sacrifice, together with saints, righteous persons, and prophets, searching for the first individual with whom to form the parent-child relationship. Rev. Moon has compared the image of such a miserable God with the image of a mother who has lost her beloved child and is desperately seeking for that child. He compared God with the miserable image of a mother with disheveled hair, wearing rags and with bare feet bleeding from thorn cuts, with an exhausted face due to lack of food -- just calling the name of her lost beloved child, frantically wandering around, crying in the wilderness, caring nothing about people looking at her.
God, who had long been searching like such a miserable figure, finally met one person -- Jesus Christ. God's joy was beyond description. Yet that was only a momentary joy, because Jesus was crucified.
The miserable God again has been seeking for a new person, enduring an extremely pitiful and painful path. After 2,000 years He has again met one person -- and this person is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. God communicated to Rev. Moon every kind of information about God and the creation of the universe, through revelation, and allowed all humankind to know about all that.
If God continued to be a mysterious being forever, the purpose of creation would never be realized on earth, forever. God created the universe in order to realize the purpose of creation, without fail. By sending the Messiah on earth, God allows all humankind on earth to know everything about God through the Messiah, in order to fulfill the purpose of creation.
For the reasons mentioned above I felt unable to write a mysterious account of God in Unification Thought. I am concerned, however, that Unification Thought has explained God too rationally, such that the dignity of God as the parent of humankind has not been clearly expressed; also, Unification Thought may have given the impression that God's authority has been slighted. These aspects should be corrected in the future, I believe.
5. If Unification Thought is the thought of God (Godism), then it is an absolute thought, because God is the absolute being; accordingly, the new world based on Unification Thought may also be absolute, becoming a society of absolutism. Isn't that, true?
Here I think we need to examine the concept of "absolute." Absolute in "a society of absolutism" means something different from absolute in "God as the absolute being." I think "absolutism" implies that all power is held by the monarch and that people are forced to obey absolutely, as in the society of absolute monarchy of France in the seventeenth century. "Absolute" in "God as the absolute being," however, means something totally different from that. I think that in this sense there are four meanings to the word "absolute."
First, God is absolute in the sense that God is the subject of absolute love. Absolute love means the love which is infinitely abundant and which does not change, eternally. God is the absolute being because God has such absolute love.
Second, God is the absolute being in the sense that God is the universal being, embracing the whole universe. All things are individual beings embraced by the universal being, because they are beings created by God.
Third, God alone existed before the creation of the universe. In that sense God is the absolute being -- the only being (the oneness).
Fourth, humans possess divine image and divine character because they were created in the likeness of God. In other words, everyone without exception has divine image and divine character as common elements. The divine image is also the common element of all things of the universe. Thus, God is the absolute being in the sense that God is the universal common factor.
Thus, God -- who possesses infinite and eternal love and is the only being, the universal being, and the common element of the universe -- is the absolute being.
Then faith comes from free will, and the life of faith differs according to the different religions (denominations). Thus, I felt it would be out of place to include specific matters of faith of a particular denomination in Explaining Unification Thought, which deals with a general theory. Those are the reasons why Unification Thought does not deal with concrete methods for individual perfection.
6. How is it possible to unify religion and science?
Religion is a field which deals with God, the spirit world, faith, values, etc., and science (natural science) is a field which studies natural phenomena and technology. Therefore we can say that religion deals with the world of essence, spirit, and cause -- that is, the internal world -- and science deals with the world of phenomena, matter, and result -- that is, the external world.
Now, essence and phenomena, spirit (mind) and matter (body), and cause and result were originally in the relationship of one body, which cannot be separated. There can be no phenomena without essence and no essence without phenomena; no physical body without spirit and no spirit without physical body; no cause without result and no result without cause.
Likewise, originally religion and science should have been in an inseparable relationship. Because of the human fall, however, the unity between man's spirit self and physical self was broken, and the physical world and the spirit world were separated. Therefore, religion and science have been separated for a long time.
The original, inseparable relationship between religion and science refers to the give-and-take relationship that is formed when religion, being in the position of subject, and science, being in the position of object, interact with each other centering on a common purpose -- the realization of the ideal world. Only then can religion fulfill its original purpose (the realization of the world of peace, efficiency, and abundance) for the first time.
To this day, however, the unification of religion and science has not yet been accomplished, and both religion and science have lost their original character. Religion has failed to prevent the collapse of values, and science and technology have come to be utilized even for non-peaceful purposes. Thus, the world is in terrible chaos today.
A new thought movement, including a movement for the unification of religion and science, is desperately needed today for the sake of settling this confusion. In order to unify religion and science, a movement which is based on new values and leads religion and science to the accomplishment of their original mission is necessary. In other words, religion and science can be unified centering on a new value perspective, because that new value perspective can become a common purpose for both of them.
The new values are values centered on God's purpose of creation. The purpose of creation can be fulfilled through the realization of the ideal of creation. The ideal of creation is the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Accordingly, the unification of religion and science can be accomplished only when both of them move together towards the common direction of realizing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
The same can be said about the absoluteness of God's truth (God's word). That is to say, God's word (thought) was established on the basis of God's heart -- that is, God's absolute love. Also, God's word is unique, since it has existed as a unique being long before human thought came into being. The whole universe was created by the word of God; thus, God's thought is universal. And just as in all humans the divine image and divine character are commonly held, so in all thought, more or less of God's thought is seen to be contained, directly or indirectly. Therefore, in that sense God's thought is also a common element.
The absoluteness of God's truth is a universality based on love, oneness, and commonness. Seen from the standpoint of God, this means the following: In the future society, all thoughts can be embraced by God's love; everyone can recognize common elements within all thoughts; and one can affirm that those common elements originate from God's truth. Therefore, when there is aporia (perplexing difficulties) within a certain thought, one can supplement that thought with God's thought, and then the aporia is cleared away -- and the real quality of that thought is enhanced, I believe.
Clearly, the future society to be established through God's thought cannot be an absolutistic society, like the absolute French monarchy of the seventeenth century. In that future society, life will be given to the individuality and thought of all individual persons, who will be embraced by God's love. In the future there will appear, I believe, a society in which each person's individuality is kept, a society as the solidarity of commonness; that is, as the union of harmonious numerous give and take relationships.
7. Unification Thought does not present any concrete method to perfect the personality of the individual person, whereas it presents a method to construct the ideal world -- why is that?
It is necessary, in perfecting the personality of an individual, not only to learn the truth (God's word) but also to fulfill the portion of responsibility given to each individual and to make indemnity conditions. To make indemnity conditions means to go through a kind of asceticism. In the Principle world, the perfection of personality is possible solely through education and through the fulfillment of the portion of responsibility -- and indemnity conditions are not necessary. Leading a life of faith is necessary in order to fulfill the portion of responsibility or to make indemnity conditions. Prayer, service, witnessing, training, and so forth, are the main parts of the life of faith.