The Words of the Spurgin Family
Notes on "Steps To A More Dynamic Spiritual Life"
A talk by Mrs. Nora Spurgin
Western culture has been shaped by Christianity. When the western world is exposed to The Principle coming out of the Orient, there seems to be one major cultural gap which affects our ability to comprehend and apply this teaching to our lives. Intellectually, we can understand it; emotionally we respond to it, but somehow our oriental brothers and sisters still observe in bewilderment our seeming lack of "deep faith and heart",wondering how we could have heard Father's words so many times and still not understand.
I believe that this gap lies in our understanding of the spiritual world. While Christianity gives hope of heaven to the faithful who anticipate reunion with their families and friends and with Jesus and the saints in heaven, there is little explanation given to the role of those "faithful departed" in the spiritual world or to their connection to those on earth. Throughout Christendom, interest and involvement in the spiritual world has been at best relegated to the school of mysticism and at worst considered the work of the devil. Even today with contemporary interest in channeling and spiritual things, spiritualism sends up a red flag to many Christians. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the only acceptable intervention from above in the lives of Protestant Christians, while the cannonized saints are also acceptable for the devout Catholic.
When western members study The Principle, we are often intrigued with this new understanding of the spiritual world and its answer to otherwise unexplained phenomena. Intellectually, we come to believe in and understand that the "keys to the Kingdom" lie on earth. However, in our everyday life experience there is little foundation for the vertical process of restoration which is rooted in the long line of historical figures and ancestors who have an interest in participating in our lives for their own resurrection. We can explain it, but do we have the kind of experiences which make it second nature to invite spirit world to participate in our every action; to restore history through us; to restore themselves through us? Do we really know how to engage spiritual help? In the remainder of this article I would like to share some ideas based on Father's words, advice from elders and my own personal experience. It is my hope that we in the western world can participate in historical restoration by better understanding it.
Father Lives Purposefully
Father's own life provides us the richest example of living a purposeful life. If one is around True Father very much, one must come to believe that his every action is a purposeful one and has both present and historical (vertical and horizontal) significance. Whether he speaks, goes fishing or gives a gift, we can assume that he has attached spiritual or restorational significance to his every act.
In September of 1989, Father spoke at Belvedere, explaining that he had caught his first King Salmon in Alaska. That had significance, but what? As Father continued to speak about the Pal Chong Shi ceremony he had held in Alaska, he explained the eight stages of restoration from servant of servants, to the God position. He spoke of parentship and kingship. Oh, yes, he had now entered the God position stage, having step-by-step restored the others. He is trying to tell us do we understand? In a speech given May 1, 1977, Father said, "I organized the 7,000-year history of mankind's failures into a 7-year course, and I have showed you how to walk that course." We are to be going through these eight stages ourselves.
Incorporating Our Faith
Our oriental leaders have understood spiritual laws in a way which most of us in the western world can only guess at and try to assume by faith. As leaders, they interpreted Father's purposeful style of living for us by setting up structures in the church centers which took spiritual laws into consideration.
Thus, often unknowingly, we were able to engage spiritual help in our everyday lives. In faith we were obedient to the structure and success came. However, if we moved away from that support system we suddenly felt no power. I witnessed this happening to some members when they went pioneering, members who came from the M.F.T. to the seminary or to other missions with less structure, to couples when they began family life and no longer lived in centers, or when we started doing home church work.
I witnessed this when members started working in non-church jobs. Our leaders witness this and question why, after so many years of dedicated hard work, we suddenly lose our faith. Father must be so frustrated with this seemingly "rocky soil" upon which he has sown the precious seeds of truth! And we, as westerners, wonder why we can not be entrusted with greater leadership. By western standards, we have become mature, capable people, but that awareness of the spiritual, internal connection to every action in our external lives is not second nature to us. Without making a conscious effort to think in these terms, spiritual laws are simply too far out on the edge of our consciousness and we are caught up in the externals of organizing and action.
As an IW in 1978, I visited some of the missionaries in other parts of the world. There was an American, a Japanese and a German missionary in each country. I found an interesting pattern; often the American missionary was frustrated and critical that his/her Japanese co-worker stayed home and prayed, studied and fasted. The Japanese missionary, on the other hand, was critical of the great flurry of external activity with seeming lack of prayer and internal foundation which was manifested by the American. I could certainly see why Father puts us in situations together!
In all our western creativity, we often lack in the discipline necessary for a deep, spiritually attuned life of faith.
Personally, I felt that Heung Jin Nim saw this lack of understanding and made a strong attempt to address these internal things in the conferences throughout the world.
Let's take a look at some of the spiritual disciplines which were built into the structure of our center life:
(1) Take time to make the connection. Without communication we function in a vacuum on our own strength only. We may think, "Well, God knows anyway." He may know; spirit world may know, but can and will they intervene without our request? Often we hold up Father's words, "I never prayed from weakness," to mean that we cannot share our struggles with our Heavenly Father.
We may often feel that we don't have the time for deep meditative prayer, yet it is this type of prayer which connects with God and the spiritual world, and brings spiritual fire to our souls. Within Christianity, this kind of connection is often labeled, "filled with the Holy Spirit" and manifests in such spiritual phenomena as speaking in tongues, healing, prophetic speaking and other spiritual gifts. The experience of unity with God, spirit world and creation, and the spirit of oneness with others who have shared this experience is so deep and powerful and impossible to describe that it becomes exclusive to those who experience it.
There is no reason, however, why we cannot have such deep connecting experiences. We understand that it is not only God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit but the whole of spirit world which may seek union with us. When we really connect to the higher levels of spiritual beings, unearthly power, energy, joy, confidence and peace and incredible love encompass our own spirit. This is the power which enables us to carry out the tremendous tasks of restoration and to face persecution. It is the power Father embodies and seeks to have us experience.
But how does one tap this energy source? I believe it is through meditative prayer with an attitude of complete yieldedness and an absolute focus on God and our True Parents. The cliche "let go and let God" applies. We speak out our hearts in prayer, and we listen for God's response. The latter part is where we often become anxious to get back to work! Father has also said that "love is the key to propell you into high places." When we love we can touch the spiritual world and when we touch the spirit world we gain greater ability to love. Personally, I can feel the difference when I have touched the spiritual world and can sense that the same is true for others.
One member shared this experience, "I found something very helpful about 'listening' in the Bible that helps my prayer life: 'Be still, and know that I am God.' I often pray outside. Before I open my mouth to physically speak words to God, I have to remind myself to grow quiet and become aware of Him. I think to myself that He is already speaking to me in a million different beautiful forms of nature. I usually wait until I can hear Him, I can see Him. Then the nature of the prayer is intimate, intense and personal. If I just jump out of the starting gate with my prayer, I usually continue talking at God, but I don't find Him."
(2) Begin with Repentance. Father once said, "Repentance must be the first thing on our agenda." (December 1986) In most Christian churches, repentance is connected directly to one's personal sins. However, in the Unification Church, we also know God's suffering heart and the many failures of history, both within and without the church. Rev. Kwak, in a speech to 120 Day trainees, testified that when Father came to understand God's suffering heart, then he naturally repented for historical mistakes. "As an historical representative, he repented for all of mankind and all of history. Father told the early members that the way of the Unification Church is to continue to cry for three years after joining the church. Tears sprang up when we prayed, gave sermons or listened to testimonies. This is historical repentance; it is our connection to God."
Repentance in the Unification Church is not only for our own sins, but for the sins of our ancestors all the way back to Adam and Eve. As the earthly link to our True Parents for our own lineages, we are essential to the salvation and resurrection of our ancestors. It is through us that they repent before God and True Parents; it is through us that they bow before God and True Parents; it is through us that they serve the providence and make amends for their sins; it is through us that they attend God and their True Parents. If we can come to understand our value to our ancestors, then we can begin to include them in our everyday life of faith, allowing them to repent and serve through us. How frustrated they must be when we lose sight of our value as a channel for them to repent and serve! In this light it is no wonder Father tells us to begin each day and each activity with repentance.
Father once explained how the Japanese members understand and use repentance in their missions: "The directions Father gives to the Japanese leaders are so high that the Japanese have never heard the like of them before. But Japanese members, even if they think the directions are difficult, always try to repent. And they complain, but not to God. They complain to themselves that they have so little ability and goodness.
They search themselves to discover why they are not so Abel-like. They torment themselves to try to repent for their fallen condition. They pray sincerely to God, 'I am so weak and I should do so much more; so please, God, help me.' They do that before they act. This is not a concept but it is a practical technique that works." Sometimes we wonder why, in spite of our hard work and prayer, nothing seems to happen and we cannot seem to engage help from the spirit world. "Now you know the secret," Father explained. (from TODAY'S WORLD, July 1983.)
In a speech on "Witnessing", Rev. Kwak challenged the members: "Some people repent for not doing more, for not being pure enough, for not sharing our True Parents' path more than they do. Not just one time, but every day. Do you repent for these things?" (from personal notes)
(3) Make Clear Goals and Plans. If we want the help of the spiritual world, we must make very clear goals and plans, report them to God (and spirit world) and then act upon them with sincerity. Father tells us that he promised God that he would never give up until the world is restored. With clear goals, our spirit world can line up for duty and be ready to march with us. They are like an army standing at attention and can be commanded in the name of True Parents. If we are wishy-washy and unclear, they will seek out a leader on earth who has a clear plan so that they can see a distinct road to their own restoration.
When we were sent out as pioneers in 1975 in America, Shin Wok Kim (Lady Dr. Kim) instructed us to have a regular spot and time to pray and a regular place and time to witness, so that our spirit world helpers knew how, when and where to prepare people to meet us. It would be such a disappointment to them if they worked hard to bring someone and we had changed our minds and were not there to meet them.
Father told the leaders that when they have good organization, a deep sense of responsibility, and carry out their plans meticulously, then they can pull the spirit world down to cooperate with them. Rev. Kwak said (in Sunday Service, May 1, 1984): "If we make a condition to street lecture, we should not change the time of these lectures. If we continue at the same place at the same hour every day, the spirit world can give inspiration to somebody to visit the lecture place."
(4) A Daily Report. At leader's conferences True Father has frequently instructed us that it is important to report to Heavenly Father at the beginning and end of each day. Morning is the time to recapture the momentum which will stay with us throughout the day. Go over your goals and plans with God; then at the end of the day, share your victories and repent for your shortcomings. By centering before going to sleep, your spirit rests in heaven. It is clear that Father himself does this regularly. This is also a pattern we have been taught by our leaders on the M.F.T. and in church centers. It should be a pattern which we naturally incorporate into our daily lives, no matter where we are or what we are doing. If we stopped doing this when we left center life, then we obviously viewed it as something we had to do in the center which we no longer find necessary or meaningful. I would like to propose that we often did not understand that this was related to spiritual laws which allowed us to engage the help of the spiritual world in a more powerful way.
Therefore, although it brought success, it never took root within our own internal being it was only seen as one of the external rules of the center.
I once saw a checklist which the members in Northern California used. Jennifer Hager explained this checklist as follows:
The checklist (often called "a repentance sheet") ennumerated attitudes and actions both those we wanted to encourage in our daily lives, and those we wanted to eliminate. Each night it was a form of personal reflection and repentance for each of us privately to take time to go through the checklist. We would note our progresses (and/or regressions) on each point, which in a sense divided our offering of the day. Then in our individual nightly prayer we could offer God our victories and effort, and repent and unburden ourselves of the things we were resolved to improve the next day.
I always kept a daily journal along with the checklist, recording important things in my own growth. This was a great benefit for me, as I was aware that I was growing every day, and I could more easily forgive myself for mistakes and start fresh. Also, the daily checklist gave me punctuation, needed breaks in the big lifelong battle, so that I could literally take one day at a time. I could stop and evaluate, repent, pledge myself anew and really count my victories. For many of us with lower self-esteem, this was our way of boot-strapping ourselves into a self-image as a heavenly citizen.
Although we may react to such systematization of our spiritual life and growth, I do believe that basic spiritual laws which we do not easily apply were automatically applied when one followed such a regimen. I believe the same is true of the disciplines and schedule Heung Jin Nim gave us at the conferences in 1987.
(5) Making conditions. Making special indemnity conditions was easier when we planned them with a central figure or did them with the center members. Indemnity makes the condition for spirit world to come and assist us. Even a small offering in the right attitude will bring results quickly at this point in the providence.
(6) Serving others. We learn that the first stage of restoration is to be a servant of servants, and we begin our church life in this position. Built into our church center system, the opportunity to serve allows us to grow quickly to new levels. However, when we reach the family level, do we remember that we must go back to the servant of servants stage as a foundation for the family level? Perhaps not. Serving a spouse as a servant of servants is often much more challenging than serving a more mature leader.
(7) Creating an Atmosphere. A good spiritual atmosphere is essential for the spirit world to work with us. In a sermon, Rev. Kwak explained that such an atmosphere can be created through harmony. "If one does not have good relationship with other members in the center, the atmosphere suffers. You should be spiritually high and have an open heart to the assistance of good spirits," he said.
Singing, especially holy songs, also creates an energized atmosphere. The repetition of phrases expressing love, praise and petitions are like a harmonious, unified prayer which is truly music to God's ears. Beautiful background music also cleanses the atmosphere so that spiritual connections can be made more readily. The repetitions of exercises such as chanting can also create an energy level which can connect and engage the spiritual world.
When using any music, song, poetry or chant, it is important that they are of the quality which will attract the higher levels of the spirit world.
Our prayers and thoughts, directed toward someone on earth, can change the spiritual atmosphere around them. It is wise of us never to speak badly of anyone, for in so doing we can also bring negative energy around them. The reverse is true in speaking well or praying for someone which brings a positive force around them into which a higher spiritual world can connect.
We have always been taught that to mention specific names in prayer may be just what's needed for a visitation from the spiritual world.
I would also like to include in this section a quote from Father regarding True Parents' photo: Without the protection of God, I could never have survived the untold hardships and difficulties I have faced. So for anybody who carries my picture from now on, it will serve as protection for them. At the time of the Jewish Exodus, God sent a plague upon the houses of the Egyptians which killed all of their first-born sons. All the houses which had the blood of the lamb on their doorways were spared that tragedy... By the same token, isn't it possible that during some calamity, those who are carrying my picture would be spared? That's the way spirit world looks at it. Now that Heung Jin has passed into Heaven, the spirit world is intervening more and more in worldly affairs. So those who are carrying the True Parents' picture will unquestionably by given protection by angels and good spirit world.
(8) Teaching and Witnessing. Volumes could be written about teaching and witnessing. Here I want to mention just a few points relating again to the spiritual aspects. Not so long ago Father emphasized that all of us should consider teaching the Divine Principle as our main mission and everything else as secondary. At headquarters, a teaching schedule was installed and staff members took turns teaching, whether or not there were guests. This became a very meaningful time for several of us, for we decided to use it to specifically invite our ancestors, acquaintances and religious and political leaders to come and hear the Principle. At first it seemed strange to be speaking to an empty room as if it were full. But we soon became more and more free, believing that the spiritual world was so grateful for this invitation to hear the Divine Principle. Father often told us that when we speak or teach, the spiritual world listens.
Father has also told us that our ancestors do not understand the Principle, so they often do not know how to help us. "You should attend Principle lectures and ask your ancestors to come and listen with you," he said. Through prayer we can give them precise instructions.
Also when we witness, we are not only witnessing to the person on the street but also to many of our ancestors who have yet to learn of the Messiah and to the myriads of spirits who are also seeking for truth.
(9) Expressing our Gratitude. "Don't forget to say thank you," our parents admonished us as children. It might be helpful to remind ourselves at this point that a heartfelt "thank you" will keep help coming. Without appreciation, no one earthly or spiritual, can continue in joyful service. It is common practice in dynamic Christian circles to include praise as a regular part of worship. Did you ever notice how good it feels to sing "Praise God" to the tune of Amazing Grace?
Develop an Historical Awareness
Father always wants to know the history of any new place or project on which he focuses. This is because he can make deliberate conditions to restore historical failures related to that place or project. So, for example, if one works in a part of the country where there was historical racial tension and oppression, then one must find opportunities to serve other races and offer this up as a resolution for historical racial resentment. The opportunities come in unexpected places even in one's own home, with a spouse, a relative or a neighbor. It is my observation that the oriental viewpoint is to view difficulty as some obstacle put in our path to be overcome for the sake of resurrecting our spiritual world as well as bringing about our own spiritual growth. If we do not view obstacles in this way, they become only a source of frustration and the object of our own external failure and certainly to be avoided wherever possible.
Regarding historical intervention, Father once said,
If the kings who ruled 120 nations while on earth come back to earth and become one in heart with the kings who are currently ruling in those nations, then the kings on earth will automatically come to be connected to the realm of True Parents' love. Therefore the kings of every nation, their people, and other notable persons should be moved, even beyond their conscious intent, to join the Unification Church.
Father said at Heung Jin Nim's second memorial service that by doing a special ceremony that morning,
The unification of the physical world and the spirit world has been accomplished on a deeper level. The content of my prayer at this service was to allow those past kings who served loyally in Christian monarchical societies to be resurrected and become one with the Christian churches and the statesmen here on earth.
We lose so much on earth if we work alone, not keeping an awareness of, and helping to make the connections to, these great historical happenings. "Who am I? Just an ordinary Moonie witnesser...to think that some great king of the past may begin to work with a present-day senator through me?" we might question, but Father is depending on us to make these connections for him.
Finding Value in the Difficult Course
One of the characteristics which makes True Father our Messiah and God's True Son is that Father has come to understand the meaning and method of restoration; consequently, he consciously chooses to go the suffering course as a life-long pattern, enabling him to break through the barriers and lead mankind back to God through the same course.
Thus, we are challenged to look difficulty in the eye, overcome it and offer the resolution of our struggle to God as a condition for our own personal restoration as well as historical restoration. Historical misunderstandings among different races and nationalities, for example, are resolved in daily living, side by side, in intercultural or interracial marriage. Any marriage with its daily confrontations is an opportunity to polish off the rough edges of our own imperfect character and make an offering of historical restoration. Serving under a leader with different ideas and feeling that your abilities or offerings are not appreciated is another opportunity. This kind of suffering, however, has value only in its resolution which will bring about a more perfect heart.
Satan often intervenes in our daily lives through the person closest to us. Father advises that if we get knocked down, we should get right back up, but if we dwell on our sins, then Satan will grab our feelings. If we become obsessed with our mistakes then we are unable to serve God.
To Avoid or to Offer?
Those of us who were raised in "middle America" have been raised with the mindset that we should seek prosperity, honesty and good-living, being considerate of human rights and generous in helping those who are less fortunate. These are ideals which our Christian heritage has bequeathed to us, and we, in turn, bring these ideals with us to the Unification Church. Unfortunately, the concept of seeking out suffering, or even accepting it as helpful, is foreign to many of us. Even though western Christianity has a history of persecution and martyrdom, contemporary Christians often place willingness to accept a course of suffering in the category of having a "martyr complex" or a touch of emotional sickness. It is, therefore, no wonder there is a tendency to think that those who suffer are not blessed by God. In a nation of plenty, we are often unsympathetic to suffering.
To seek the suffering path, then, we must first understand its value, and second, experience its value. We have been taught about Father's course of indemnity, but I believe that without a living experience with the spiritual world, these are concepts only. According to Father, the purpose of suffering or indemnity is to restore history, including our own; this means restoring our past, our ancestors and historical figures who were political and religious leaders of our fallen past all the way back to Adam and Eve.
Through the Principle, we are taught how to restore historical mistakes. But without an everyday consciousness of the effect we are having on our spiritual world and the fact that they are placing restorative opporunities in our path, we often find ourselves and fellow members repelled by our church lifestyle and the difficult situations in which we are placed. By our knowing the Principle and participating in central restoration, we stand in a position for the spiritual world to desperately want to resurrect through us. In a Feb. 23, 1977 speech, Father said, "Tens of thousands of spirit men have been assigned to each of you. If you reach out you can feel them... you will be successful."
Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, restoration is taking place. If we avoid the difficulties, less restoration is taking place and we feel no spiritual benefit or growth; life as a Unification Church member becomes a burden. Father teaches us that we can attract many disciples by mobilizing our ancestors, but without a spiritual life we have no assistance from the spiritual world.
"Persecution in the fertilizer for our growth," Father advises us, pushing us to go forward fearlessly. I believe that, although Father has already paid much of the historical indemnity, by our moving forward fearlessly, God can still work miracles in America which has been so prepared, so blessed.
We must, however, learn to recognize and offer our response to difficulties which come into our paths as opportunities for restoration. We need to come to a deeper experiential awareness of the value of offering every difficulty for God and spirit world to use in restoration. Doing this has not only spiritual value, but indeed emotional (psychological) value as well. There is nothing to be bitter about if we believe that everything difficult can have value when offered and will return to us as a blessing. This fosters a life free from fear. Things which look like external failures may have great spiritual value. The suffering course in the innermost and central core of the church is the foundation for miracles to take place in the periphery of the church and even outside. We believe that the worldwide political changes in 1989 have much to do with the course Father and members of the Unification Church have taken.
Over the last few years I have become so much more aware of looking for a way to offer every obstacle, every difficulty for some historical restoration. Because I believe that this is the way Father has lived, I have faith to believe that it will also work for me on a less cosmic level. I am learning to offer even the most common everyday things. For example, recently our neighbors showed us a hole in their window made by a BB gun and brought us a bill for a new Anderson window. My boys knew they must have been the culprits, but that bill was a hard one to digest! We made a plan to reimburse them for the new window, and I told my boys that we would offer this for our tribal messiah work in our community. This did not ease the pain for the boys, but it certainly helped me to refrain from becoming angry at our neighbors for their insensitivity and make a positive thing of it.
Indemnity Makes Sense of it All
The law of indemnity is not one of God's original laws of creation; rather, it is part of the re-creation process. It is only God who can make it possible for a conditional offering to allow man to regain his original free status. Rev. Kwak once said that, far from being a curse, indemnity conditions are of "supreme value to be cherished as jewels in the stairs of restoration." Rev. Kwak, in using the original Korean word tang gam, expanded on the concept to bring us closer to the real meaning of the word.
The most significant part of the principle of tang gam is God's grace and His acceptance. Offering conditions of tang gam may be difficult for us unless we view it as the amazing blessing that it is. Too much emphasis on making conditions themselves will only serve to exhaust you spiritually. By including the fuller view of tang gam in our concept of indemnity, we can begin to see that every opportunity to overcome something negative is an opportunity as well to receive God's blessing; God cannot give His blessing to us outside of this avenue. Therefore, it is our privilege to accept and overcome negative things within our lives, or obstacles and difficulties, with the heart of gratitude; knowing that this opportunity is not there for everyone.
By knowing the law of indemnity, we can consciously make conditions to bring about restoration. In using this law, restoration can be shortened by chosen people consciously taking the road of suffering and choosing to reverse self-centeredness. To the extent that this is understood, we can participate in taking great leaps forward, thus putting an end to the countless prolongations God has had to endure in leading His errant children back to their original home in His heart. Indemnity is the greatest tool whereby we can be reconciled with God and receive His grace.
Pastor Lee, another of the 36 Couples and director of training in Korea in 1970, explained to the 777 Couples who were attending the Blessing in Korea that the most valuable indemnity for us personally is the internal indemnity of changing our character from that of a fallen or selfish person to that of a perfected or unselfish person. In denying whatever our fallen nature demands, we can starve Satan, thereby gaining the greater result for God and ourselves. External conditions such as fasting, prayer, witnessing and teaching conditions all of which have great value are actually overshadowed by the supreme value of perfecting our characters through the denial of selfish desires.
Generosity Pays Off
Our commission is to embrace the whole world. One way to begin this overwhelming task is to stop weeping for ourselves and begin weeping for others. Such tears are pure and divine. The fall was caused by selfishness and jealousy. We must not lose precious time, wallowing in self-pity, or view with miserly eyes the gifts God has given us. Father tells us that we become charming and charismatic only when we share ourselves with others. It is a beautiful life when you live it with God and for the sake of others.
Father once said, "Happiness is having found someone to whom you want to give and give still more, for whom you want to do many favors and do still more, and for whom to bring joy and bring still more."
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