The Words of the Tanabe Family
The highlight of our seminar -- meeting with True Parents.
The First International Seminar on Unification Thought and VOC Theory for Special Lecturers was held at the Unification Theological Seminary, Barrytown, New York, from July 23rd through August 12th, 1989. Over 30 Unification scholars participated in at least part of the 21-day program. Twenty of us completed the program and graduated, receiving certificates signed by Dr. Sang Hun Lee, president of the Unification Thought Institute, and Dr. David S. C. Kim, president of the Unification Theological Seminary. The experience was unforgettable, culminating in an invitation to lunch at East Garden with our True Parents, after which Father talked to us for so long we had to be invited to stay for dinner!
Before the seminar I am sure all of us had some apprehension. The initial plan had been 120 days of training in Korea, and we were not quite sure what would happen in 21 days! I had never met Dr. Lee, but I heard from attendees of previous Unification Thought seminars that his style of lecturing was to speak in Japanese, followed by English translation by one of his staff, and not to have any give and take with the audience. Questions were to be submitted in written form and few, if any, answers would be received. Also I heard that there would be tests every second evening!
To further complicate my feelings about the seminar, I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child. I felt that sisters have a great challenge to succeed in the world of academics, but I am proud to say that of the 20 graduates, two of us were women!
I gained determination to succeed knowing that Father had asked Dr. Lee to hold this seminar. Also, the location and timing had been changed so that it would run concurrently with Rev. Ahn's 40-day workshop for new UTS graduates. I could feel God's hand at work bringing these two great teachers to UTS at the same time and felt that I was being called to participate in a historic event.
The seminar was a beautiful experience. There was a warmth of love as though we were all one family under our True Parents. On one side of the building we were being guided by our elder brother Dr. Lee, and on the other side, by our elder brother Rev. Ahn. God was truly present guiding us all. Many times during the break I met brothers and sisters from Rev. Ahn's workshop and found that his lecture and Dr. Lee's lecture had covered similar points, or that information Dr. Lee had just given was complementary to what Rev. Ahn had just been teaching.
In our classroom the unity between Dr. Lee and our beloved president of UTS, Dr. David Kim, was a beautiful catalyst to this spirit of harmony. Dr. Kim provided all the external support necessary by hosting this seminar at UTS, and really invested his heart to provide the foundation for us Western Unification scholars to receive the teachings of Unification Thought. When we saw our two elder brothers so deeply committed to this seminar it was easy for us to invest our own hearts and minds. This is the way education should be!
And the lectures -- yes, Dr. Lee speaks Japanese without much give and take with the audience, but the translation time allows plenty of time for taking good notes! His lectures are by no means boring or just factual, but they are filled with personal testimonies of his life of faith and his experiences with Father. Dr. Lee's sincerity and conviction comes through loud and clear.
Questions and answers? Yes, we had a question and answer period before lunch each day. (I learned to eat a snack in the break so that I would be able to enjoy these sessions!) Dr. Lee tried very hard to answer our questions, although of course sometimes the answer was that it would be covered in the next lecture. And sometimes he spent almost a whole lecture answering a question. One of my questions resulted in a whole new set of diagrams being produced, at the cost of his staff losing sleep that night to work on them! Even if Dr. Lee was not available directly, his three staff members patiently listened to our questions, and our sometimes heated discussions over lunch, reporting our comments to Dr. Lee. The bottom line, we realized, was that we had set the time limit on the seminar by not being available for the original 120 or 40 days. Had we been willing, Dr. Lee would have spent more time with us.
I am sure that everyone who participated gained different insights from the lectures. My personal experience with Unification Thought had been that when I joined the Unification Church I immediately read Unification Thought and was totally inspired. I had been doing research in psychology and I wrote my final report saying that what was needed was a new philosophical foundation and that Unification Thought would provide that and so
I was going to research it. That was in 1979. During the next 10 years of church life I managed to find time to read Explaining Unification Thought when it came out and felt that there were many things left unexplained, but that was the limit of my research. This seminar has revived my inspiration and belief in Unification Thought as the new philosophical foundation that is needed in every discipline. There are still questions to be answered -- I wrote a whole list of them on "Epistemology" to Dr. Lee -- but it is our responsibility to work with Dr. Lee to find the answers.
The experience of hearing Dr. Lee himself was a rare and precious one which I will never forget. His determination to understand Father's thought and present it to the scholars of the world moved me to tears. He gave his testimony of the fast he did in order to understand God's heart, because as a man of intellect he had been unable to shed tears for fallen humanity and for the creation, and did not feel God's suffering heart. That and other testimonies he gave showed us his intelligence and his dedication to truth, and yet his humility and absolute faithfulness to Father. I felt that this man is truly qualified to develop and teach Unification Thought. At East Garden Father confirmed this, saying that he chose Sang Hun Lee to develop Unification Thought because he was the most serious person he found, serious enough to die if he could not find the truth, like Father himself.
Father's feelings toward this seminar were shown clearly in his repeated apologies to us for not having visited us at UTS during the course of the seminar. Father never apologized to me before! In this I felt the truth of what Father told us when he said that we should not waste time trying to understand Father, just know that he is our Father of love. God is a God of love and Father is our Father of love -- that's what we need to know.
So, after all the intellectual discussions are forgotten, what will I cherish as my memory of this workshop?
When Dr. Lee commented on the lectures we gave, his face was shining when he said that God had prepared us all as the vessels to receive the truth that he had brought. All he had to do was to give it to us and we were ready to use it and bring it to the whole world. At the closing ceremony Dr. Lee said that he had waited 30 years to teach Unification Thought to Western scholars and this seminar was the fulfillment of that dream. I hope that we will all fulfill the great expectation that Dr. Lee, our True Parents and Heavenly Father have for those of us who participated in this seminar, and that the fruits will soon be seen as the world comes to know and use these great truths which have been so long awaited on the earth.