A Bald Head And A Strawberry - Hyung Jin Moon
Part 2 - Enemy
"Abba, when you were in prison, what did you talk to the guards about?"13
"What do you mean?"
"When they tortured you, was there anything you said to them?"
"I told them that they needed to know Hananim."
Upon hearing his response, I viscerally saw an image of a man swinging a bloodied baton, as if I was watching a movie. The camera caught this mans wicked grin, as if the was saying, "Yeah, I want you dead!" I could hardly see his hand as it flashed towards the camera, once, twice, three times. I closed my eyes. All I heard was profanities and thuds, like meat being beaten, and flattened. I winced at the imagined pain, and as I opened my eyes, I could even see dark ruddy droplets floating through the air -- they fell with the inevitability of silenced horror, creating splatter art as they dissolved onto the wretched floor.
When I reflect on what Abonim had to endure, I am over whelmed by the humbling feeling that any of my difficulties or hindrances are quite paltry, at best. I don't know how he did it. I can't fully grasp how he could manifest a "response" of forgiveness and compassion to those who bombarded him with malice, literally beating him to a pulp, tossing him out like discarded leftovers.
It's remarkable what he has in his reservoir of life -- experience. I do sometimes; get a glimpse of his scarred body when he receives acupressure, or electro-stem. He doesn't like to get pity over them you know. The shiny, repaired gashes and cuts glisten under the lights, as he walks from the den to his room.
At moments like that I almost find myself asking, "What histories are behind those scars?" Each of them have their unique story of horror; each of them, a little novelette of torn flesh, but impenetrable will. You know, I sometimes find myself saying, "Abba is amazing" When I see those scars, they, in some strange way, remind me of this sentiment.
I cannot know what psychological processes Abba experienced. I cannot know the sheer emotion that accompanied each of the torture sessions. I cannot know what Abba was thinking or what words he repeated in his mind, but in some way I got a clear glimpse into his soul. I saw his authenticity.
I saw his genuine laugh and his baby-like eyes smiling. I saw his tenderness as he held my son in his arms, gently rocking him back and forth. I saw an effulgence of radiance in the way he extended his scarred hand with loving-compassion towards the man who ordered his death-embracing him as a brother.14
This is an incredible message of forgiveness and almost literally divine compassion. To forgive and even love the man who wants to murder you is undoubtedly one of the most difficult religious and spiritual developments and growths to actualize. To ask for no explanation, apology, but to simply and deeply love was what Abonim practiced.
There is something immensely enriching, when we can realize that even ones own enemy can be forgiven and even, dare I say, loved. There is a freedom in understanding that love is much more potent, powerful, and lasting than hatred and resentment. It got me asking. "What kind of hate and resentment do I harbor?"
Stop staring at me
You know, I wasn't always so spectacular in my reverence for my parents. In fact, many times in my adolescence I was quite the typical resentful, ministers child, suffering from self-idolatry, narcissistic ego and divided child syndromes.
I was the "seventh son and eleventh child." I was born September 26, 1979 in Westchester, New York. From that day, I entered into a world that my elder siblings were already dealing with. We were surrounded, constantly, by members. I would wake up to get a glass of water and lo and behold there was, in the hallway, a complete stranger taking pictures of me! I felt like attacking them but scowling at these intruders would have to suffice. "Who do you think you are?! I never invited you here. I never gave you permission to walk up and snap photographs for your viewing pleasure!" I could hear myself saying, "Give us a little breathing room!"
As a toddler and young child I wasn't really bothered by the constant public life we were being forced into, but as I got into my adolescence I began to get more sensitive and the constant public charades began to become somewhat dizzying, at the very least. I was skateboarding at the time, and was dressing in oversized, baggy jeans with long hair; a stark contrast to most of the members who always dressed very conservatively. We would be brought out in public, on all occasions and I would stand there, feeling the cold judgment of all those faces, staring at me, interpreting me, labeling me good or evil, (or so I felt). I could literally feel the stares, so I stood cockily impatient, with the face of irreverent indifference plastered on my visage. I knew they all would look at me, with their little, or big expectations and I wanted them to know that I didn't care!
A bitter hatred began to emerge. Every time I saw these members (strangers to me) anger, resentment, hatred began boiling up from inside. "They were the reason why I didn't have a normal life! They were the reason why Parents were never home! They stole Parents from us! Not only that, but they came into our house, saw that we were angry at them, at Parents, and judged us as bad children, and all the while, we were supposed to be standing there smiling, and saving face."
I sat and seethed in anger many nights, as I drifted off into sleep. I hated these get-togethers. I hated this house. I hated all things about public life. I hated myself. I hated life.
Home is where the heart is
In my first year in college, I began to read prolifically, especially pertaining to the topic and discussion of a universal intelligence or presence. In researching the matter, I learned of an astonishing discovery of modern science, namely in the field of quantum physics. According to quantum physics, at the smallest most indivisible level of atomic and sub-atomic existence, there is the quantum (quantum means "amount" in Latin). These quanta cannot be divided, and compose every and any molecule, whether it is one of the molecules constituting air, a tree, even you as you read this book. It is the most fundamental building block of existence. But the irony is that it is not even a block but more like a vibration (as delineated in the superstring theory).
Einstein's discovery of the theory of relativity (E=mc2), where energy equals mater, blew the scientific community out of the water. It reshaped the world, that our pre-existing Newtonian "billiard ball" explication of the laws of physics, portrayed. But more amazing than this was that Einstein, whom we learn about in high school, considered himself to be a deeply spiritual person. He said, "The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."15 Here is the most well known genius and scientist, exclaiming his devout belief in God! I never remembered hearing that little point in school -- personally, I would have liked to have known!
This gave me a new perspective. I could learn a lot in school but what I learned would just be basic. It was just scratching the surface of the truth. These leaders in physics, whose lives were devoted to finding out what we know and don't know of existence, and who were much more learned than I, had deep and profound spiritual lives. "There must be some validity to the notion of a God that I am not exactly seeing," I would think. I pondered these and many other elements of research and physics, deriving much needed inspiration, in the realm of my spiritual resuscitation
This research revealed to me an entire new level of understanding. I realized that if quantum physics is correct, then there is a universal energy (sound familiar?), since all matter is comprised of molecules that are comprised of atoms which in turn are comprised of electrons, protons, neutrons and other sub-atomic entities, which are comprised of quanta. All my life I had been hearing about a Universal Prime Energy, 16 that was everywhere -- that embodied all of reality and was even the reality that was embodying. For the first time I could cognitively and tangibly see proof of this concept. I was astonished but also resistant.
If this was true, then what I heard of Omnipresence while growing up, was true, even by scientific standards. I grew up in America with a firm belief, learned by cultural and academic conditioning, in the validity of science. Could I now throw this credence out the window because it gave credibility to something I really didn't want to have faith in -- a God? Even science was telling me that there was an omnipresent quanta level, basically to me, a scientific appellation for God.
I was enraged, perplexed, and oddly satisfied. I realized that it was due to my own shortcomings of emotional instability, anger, hatred, and resentment towards religion, that my conceptual grid (the filter through which we see reality) was clouded and congested. These negative, afflictive states were clogging this filter, and the water was exiting even more filthy than when it entered. But at the moment when I realized that it was due to my own ignorance and disbelief, this conceptual filter began to become more of a purifier instead of a poisoner. I knew the cause of my suffering -- I was responsible.
At first, I didn't want to hear it. What do you mean I'm responsible? I never asked for members to be invading our lives. I never asked them to take Parents away from me. I never asked to be who I was, how could it be my fault!? I didn't want to be born in a fish bowl. I didn't want to be filmed whenever we had a celebration. I never wanted to be forced into public life. How could it be my fault!?
In calming down, I was able to think more rationally and logically. I realized that at each moment of anger, resentment, whatever, I had a choice. I had a choice to, on the one hand, get exceedingly frustrated and angry, and on the other hand, not let it affect me. I was creating my own suffering.
The Indian teaching of the historical Buddha describes it as being like poisonous arrows of hatred, anger, resentment, striking you. It does no good to ask what wood the shaft was made of or whether or not the feathers were dove feathers or pigeon feathers. The fact is you have arrows embedded in you. The arrows represent negative, afflictive states, and we always want to blame it on this or that person, or express how irate we are, but all the while the arrow is still there! We choose to complain about how the arrow is poisoning us, how we are deteriorating and rotting as a result of these arrows, but we don't choose the take them out. Thus, I realized that it was due to my attachment to my resentments and anger, that I could not handle the pressure.
From this point on, the world began to become brighter and brighter. I didn't have a constant rain clouds hanging above my head, following me wherever I went. I was beginning to feel more at home with life. I was more able to cope. In fact, I slowly began to even enjoy being in the presence of those towards whom I had been resentful.
I thought Father was.
I transferred to Harvard and it was during this time, that members saw me with a totally new look. I now came down to public gatherings for spiritual readings with a completely shaven head, a long grey robe down to my ankles, and meditation beads around my wrist. Many members jaws dropped in disbelief and the criticism would only become more intense. I was told by some that I was "shaming Father." Or that, "Buddhism was satanic". These views made me realize that if we as a movement believed such things, we would never be able to help the world, heal the world -- to contribute to world peace. We could only make division, be embroiled in anger, and spread hate.
I received judgment -- filled looks and even knew that Father was receiving criticism for not setting me straight. I wanted so much to respond with defiance, but I realized that hate would only build more misunderstanding, that fighting fire with fire would lead to a larger blaze -- only a loving mind could heal the fires of hate. So whenever I felt judgment from someone I would intensely repeat as I breathed: "May you find true and lasting happiness. May you be free from suffering. May you be kind to yourself and to others with ease," trying to send a heart of care as opposed to a heart of hate. Most everyone had something negative to say but no one imagined that it was Abonim that never criticized. Instead he spoke well of and even encouraged me to pursue more religious studies and understanding.
Honestly speaking, I, as with 99.999% of the members, even those extremely close to Abonim believed that Abonim would be intensely opposed to my studying and looking like a Buddhist monk. I thought he was a fundamentalist who viewed Christianity as the only true path, so thus with my interest in Buddhism and Daoism, I thought I would be ex-communicated. However, this was the exact opposite of what I found. Abba was elated that I was deeply interested in religion, and to this day tells me that I must continue my study of religions. This got me asking, "If I as his son completely misunderstood Father, then how much could others not fully understand?"
I found a tremendous liberation, a freedom that Abba gave me. I had yet to meet a single person who reflected what I found to be a true and cosmic heart that Abonim exhibited in my talks with him. I realized that in religious study it is critical to see a religious leader's theological development and progress. Most forget that Father lives beyond the Principle (or the early formulations of his teachings) and that he is continually developing and revealing.
It is unfortunate but frequent that followers are much more narrow-minded than the leader. I remember Father saying "my followers were content with the light of the lantern when they could have harnessed the light of the sun." Fortunately, I found that with the majority of Unificationists that I had met and spoken with, there was a deep sense of appreciation and respect for other religions usually deemed to be satanic by some faiths.
Religious fundamentalism is a serious poison, as it can always be used to justify terrible atrocities -- murders, invasions, crusades. Fundamentalism has, as its central failure, the inability to see all humankind as brothers and sisters stemming from a common divine source. It sees only in terms of saved and dammed. The blasphemers will all be doomed to the fires of hell for eternity, some believe. If this is so, think about what kind of God that would be. It would be quite a malevolent God. But Abonim teaches that we cannot enter the Kingdom alone, but we must enter with our family -- our human family. He teaches of universal salvation that even Hitler, Stalin, even the devil, Satan have been forgiven in the vastness of Gods Love.
But the fundamentalist poisons this view of the loving, compassionate God. The fundamentalist remains self-justified and filled with self-righteousness. Thus he can strap on a bomb and kill hundreds of idolaters in the name of God. Thus he can remain hateful, judgmental, spiteful, and vengeful. Imagine a world full of these kinds of peoples. That is not somewhere I would wish to be. This sounds more like a vision of hell than of heaven to me.
Gems in Hawaii
A recent example of this kind of religious discussion was in Hawaii, February 2003, after the renewal of True Parents wedding vows.
The second to the last day of our stay, Abonim came out to Hoon Dok Hae and was not in a favorable mood. He castigated the leaders then looking over to his right, saw me with my sports hood on. In the heart of the moment, he said, "Take the hood off!" He immediately saw my bald head which led him to spurt out, "It's about time you grew your hair." I knew he said it spontaneously, but because it was said in front of dozens of people that I did not know, I also knew there would be plenty of rumors that would circulate pertaining to how I got into trouble with Father because of my bald head. I was a little depressed.
But just to add to my trepidation, at the breakfast table Mother proceeded to show off the Maitreya Buddha necklace that she had asked me to buy her the day before. The leaders at the table held their breath. Abonim smiled without any quibbling and asked, "Oh, he bought it for you? How much was it? It's beautiful."
On the way back to the hotel (we had to stay in a nearby hotel as there was not adequate space at the small house), my wife told me to have strength. I told her that I wasn't worried about Abba, he knew where my thinking was, he just said it in the spur of the moment. It was just all the people that he said it in front of that would cast their judgment.
Lunch time came around and we were called to have pizza together at a place downtown. I was a little down, so Abonim asked what the matter was. My wife said softly that I had been a little worried ever since this morning, because of what was heard at Hoon Dok Hae. I then exclaimed, "Abba I am not superman like you I am human. The shaved head, the uniform, serve as reminders, "bells of mindfulness," so that I don't unknowingly slip back into secularism. It is the way that I am constantly called back to the spiritual path."
Abba then said with a proud smile, "Then shave it." I was elated as his approval was given in front of the elder leaders. Some minutes later, someone remarked, "Abba is Christian, but you like Asian religions so much." I immediately answered that I didn't believe Abba was only Christian for if he was it would undercut the declaration that he is the Messiah. I said, "If he is only Christian then he can save only part of the world, what about the other billions of people? Should we throw them into the water? Drown them? How about kill them all?"
I also reminded everyone that Abonim changed the name of the movement from the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. The emphasis expanding from mere unity of Christianity to the more encompassing mission for world peace gives the marriage Blessing (Unificationism's only major sacrament) to married Buddhist monks, Hindu gurus, Muslim imams, Jewish rabbis, Christian priest, Jain priests, Native American chieftains, etc.
Continually emphasizes that we are a movement that must be, "transcending religion, nation, race and even the world (Cho-jong-gyo, Cjho-gook-ga, Cho-in-jong)" affirms the view of heaven as one where Jesus calls Buddha "honored Buddha" and says, "let us worship in both the Christian way and the Buddhist way." Where Jesus addresses Christians saying, "what would you think of me if you saw me now, being together here with the Buddha whom many Christians call an idol worshipper? What would you think of me?" Where Confucius and Mohammed report on the unity of the religious leaders. Where religious peoples keep their respective religious identities (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.) and are united under the unity of Hananim.
Mobilized thousands to advocate the establishment of an inter-religious council at the United Nations, consisting of all religions, not just the Abrahamic religions (many believe that Abonim views only the Abrahamic religions as real religions and the others as pagan religions):
I said, "Whether or not one believes these very recent affirmations is up to the individual. However, as religious scholar, these new teachings and affirmations of ecumenism and true inter-religious harmony seem to suggest interesting progression in the development of the Unification tradition and its founder's perceived mission."
Abba was beaming. We ended up riding together for two hours to a ranch, but during that time in the car I spoke on this very issue. I explained how professors and outside people are utterly surprised when they find out I'm Fathers son. They see that Father is more open, and not a narrow-minded fundamentalist Christian who just speaks and chants inter-religious "this and that."
I reminded all in the car that the mission of the Messiah which is as stated in the Divine Principle, namely to unite all people, religions and races. I spoke about the religions waiting for a savior and how I was inspired to learn that the savior is a common religious motif found in most traditions -- in Shiíte Islam: the Mahdi; in Buddhism: the Maitreya Buddha; in Christianity: The lord of he Second Advent; in Hinduism: the Kalki Avatar; in Judaism: the Messiah.
At the end of it all someone said, "Wow, Abonim learned a lot today! You're not going to applaud what your son said, "No, no, I'm sorry, Abonim didn't learn anything today. This is all what he teaches." Abonim applauded.
This experience was critical as it showed all in the car that the trajectory of the movement, as perceived by the teacher, was not that we become another Christian denomination, but that we must become a movement that embraces all traditions, as the savior should be the "servant-leader" of all the traditions, people and races. This was another experience that gave me immense hope for the future of Unificationism.
We also see this parallel in early Christianity. There were two major theological position. The "Petrine" which held that one effectively had to become Jewish to find Jesus, and the "Pauline," which held that all, even the Gentile, could go straight to Jesus without circumcision, dietary restrictions, etc. Scholars believe that because Christianity adopted the Pauline view, early Christians were able to influence the world more readily.
What becomes a critical question for the future of Unificationism is whether people from a certain faith can go straight to True Parents, or must they first affirm Jesus? Well, if one is paying attention to what Father affirms such as:
Sharing ones most central sacrament (the Blessing) without requiring participants to change their religion.
Spiritual messages depicting a view of heaven that attests to various religious communities showing respect for other traditions while keeping their own religious faith.
Canonizing Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, and other historical figures, as saints of the Unification tradition.
This is a vision that I believe can change the world, can make true and lasting peace, and unite all people of all races, of all nations, of all religions. These were the true gems that were found in Hawaii.