The Words of the Russell Family

Living For Others: An Ecumenical Vision for Peace

F. George Russell
February 28, 2009

To live for the sake of others is truly a worthy commitment. This principle obviously motivates Venerable Cang Kim, who has been the Abbot of a Buddhist Monastery in Richmond, Virginia for the past twenty years. When he was told by his superiors, twenty years ago, that they had no one in Richmond to represent their Buddhist faith, Venerable Kim readily volunteered to take on the pioneering task. Since that time, he has invested himself time and time again to attend and serve those around him.

Venerable Kim was the keynote speaker at the Ambassadors for Peace (AFP) program that took place at the Niwano-Hana Japanese Restaurant in Downtown Richmond, VA, on Saturday, February 28th. The theme: “One Family Under God: The New Vision for Peace”, was heralded as the new hope for a desperate humanity experiencing chaos, cruelty and confusion in our time.

Venerable Kim told everyone: “I live being on call, 24 hours per day. Whenever I am called, doesn’t matter what time of day or night, I am always willing to go.” He now serves, not only through his religious vocation, but through the Cambodian Buddhist Association of Richmond which he helped to found.

He was born in Vietnam but grew up in Cambodia. He joked that he may have a strong Korean connection through his ancestry and surname, and that many say he looks like a Korean. In his speech, he told the attending Ambassadors for Peace and others who gathered that his life is to ‘live for the sake of others’. “It doesn’t matter who it may be,” he says, “I serve Pakistani, Indians, Cambodians, Africans, Vietnamese…, whoever needs our services.” He described a wide range of services provided through his organization which focuses on the needs of many immigrants to the Richmond area; assisting with housing, rent, meals, clothing, medical attention, counseling, spiritual guidance, and much more.

Extolling the fourth principle of the AFP vision -- “Live for the Sake of Others”, he told that he has been an Ambassador for Peace since 2005, and is very happy to exemplify this lifestyle.

Later in his address, which focused on “The Buddhist Approach to Peace”, he enlightened everyone on the Buddhist worldview of suffering humanity and the way to liberation through the Eightfold Path. He introduced the Buddhist Wheel of Dhamma having its 24 spokes which represents the twenty four aspects of the Four Noble Truths. He then elaborated on the twelve aspects of suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and finally, the Eightfold Path to resolve grief.

Abbot Kim is a gentle man of quiet humility, always greeting those around him with a smile textured in a joyful embrace. One cannot escape his bright penetrating eyes, those of a man who is steeped in meditation trying to grasp the tenets of the truths of life in order to bring the world to a new realm; one of freedom and enlightenment.

Though it was a small gathering of 15 people, the content was very rich. We addressed the current state of affairs in our society, the collapse of the present economic system due to avarice and irresponsibility, and the need for a higher standard of ‘truth expression’ to help the thought systems of the world attain the highest realization: “One Family Under God”.

The universal values proposed by Rev. Moon, the founder and inspiration behind The Universal Peace Federation and the Ambassadors for Peace project, appeared to have offered great hope to everyone gathered. In a time of unrelenting fear, drenched in confusion and ignorance, it is refreshingly pleasing to see a way forward to what God envisioned for humankind.

In the presentation of the five points of AFP principles, I explained that “the culture of our enemy was actually the culture of our brother. We had seen the enemy as one who is a stranger, an alien; one who is not like us, one who plots our ruin. He has robbed, raped and plundered us. But, in taking a second look; he is actually our brother. With this internal realization, there is new hope for true reconciliation.” Ambassadors for Peace are commissioned to work hard to build this family under God.

Great appreciation was allotted to Mr. Rodney Vaughan who emceed the program, and to Mr. Sato who did an excellent job is providing one of the best sushi meals, full of the tastiest variety. Participants ate to satisfaction. Generally, it was felt that: “Wow! If this is world peace, then I am for it.”

Rev. F. George Russell is the Richmond, VA coordinator of Ambassadors for Peace. 

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