A Bald Head And A Strawberry - Hyung Jin Moon
Part 5 - The Eight Stages of Perfection
Abonim frequently talks about the eight stages of perfection. We usually think of them in terms of steps, like that of a staircase. We tend to say thus, "I will first do the individual level then move to family level, then tribe, then society, then nation, then world, then cosmos, then Hananim." We see these stages as separated, divided, segregated. This understanding is utterly wrong.
When we look at how Abonim draws the eight stages of perfection he never draws them as a staircase. He always depicts them as a circle within a circle, within a circle, within a circle, and so on. What does this teach us? Well, that there is in fact just one circle -- there is one center. They are all united, connected, interpenetrating.
Thus the very happiness we seek as individuals is the very happiness that all the individuals of our families ultimately seek. That the very peace we desire to have is the very peace that our societies, nations, world desire. That the very love we yearn for is the very love that Hananim wishes to experience.
We normally separate method and the goal. We usually see them as two different entities with one leading to the other. But perhaps that is a limited understanding. We think to ourselves, "okay just five more steps to peace, happiness, love, etc." However, if we think in this manner, peace will always be evading us. It will always be someone else's fault, someone else's problem, etc. Peace cannot be thought of as a goal, but rather living peace is both the process and the goal. Each step of the way, we must be peace. Then we won't have to chase it. Peace will already be here.
Remember Jung Sung Sung? -- "To become your word." So if we talk of peace, we have to be peace. If we talk of love, we must be love. If we talk of compassion, we must be compassion. And so on.
This is the great hope of this profound word that characterizes Abonim and that he shared with me as being the most important, most central word that we should understand. Within this character of sincerity (word + to become = sincerity) we see the key to peace, love, happiness. We see the possibility of the actualization of world peace and harmony. The key is to be it again and again at each moment, with each new breath, with new effort and dedication.
100 million dollars
Wouldn't you like to have $100 million? It would give you financial freedom, security, protection. You could then devote yourself more fully to helping others, etc. You could stop working. You could get that car and house you always wanted. You could buy more toys for your kids, etc.
Today, you (the reader) will be able to leave with $100 million. But first you must do just one thing -- one minor, small thing. Do you want to know what that is? Do you want to know what you must do to receive $100 million? (Are you ready?)
Okay, all you have to do is...
(Do you still want to know? Are you curious?)
Okay, here it is. All you have to do is ... hold your breath for 60 minutes. After you do that, in one hand I will have 100 million dollars, in the other, air to breathe. Which do you choose?
Everybody I have asked this question to has told me they would choose to breathe. "But why?" I ask. "Didn't you want the $100 million?"
What is admitted is that one breath of air is worth more than $100 million! Each breath of air is a gift -- a divine blessing that we normally are so ignorant of. What is the first thing we do when we enter the world? We breathe in. What is the last thing we do before, death? We breathe out.
You see, so even in one breath we breathe the value of our entire life. Without the breath we die. We cannot survive without it. It is that fundamental to our existence. This life affirming / giving force is the string that hangs us between life and death. It is the divine chance to find, to breathe in life once again.
In one hundred years, it is (most probably) the case that, none of us reading this book will be breathing. We will have breathed our last breath. The question is while we are able to breathe this incredible gift, can we be aware of the incalculable value of this gift? We usually are grateful when someone gets us an expensive gift. But we don't recognize that Hananim gives us a gift worth more than any sum of money, every time we breathe.
If we begin with something as fundamental as the breath, how much easier is it to truly be thankful for your spouse or your children -- truly be concerned for a mother in China, a grandfather in Russia, or a child in Africa? You see, it is all connected. It begins and ends with our own awareness of life and death. When we know we are not going to be here in 100 years, it allows us to prioritize the things in life that are truly worthwhile.
After experiencing the loss of my brother, and realizing at a visceral level my own mortality, I know that for myself, my priorities have changed. They are not, simply wanting to be cool, or rich, or great, anymore. They are rather, the training to be compassion, love, humility, gratitude, benevolence, truthfulness, patience, forbearance, equanimity, empathy, forgiveness, care, understanding, thankfulness, and so forth.
These are principles that have no limit and so thus we can experience a sense of limitless happiness, contentment, and strength from these principles -- and of course this also means that we can give limitless happiness, understanding and strength to the world.
However, I admit that I am inadequate and fail often. I get frustrated, angry, hateful, resentful, etc. I tell people that I am the biggest hypocrite. I believe that knowing your own hypocrisy is essential on the spiritual path. If one is not aware of it there is only room to become more of a hypocrite. If one is aware of it one has hope to get beyond it. To me the spiritual life is to always know that one is a hypocrite. In fact I find it quite liberating to sincerely admit to myself that I am a hypocrite. Then I can address my inadequacies and deepen my spiritual practice.
To me, these are the core teachings of our True Parents. These are the values that will last forever. These are the values that are truly transformative. But they have to be remembered. If not, we will become a self-centered movement with its own success as its only objective. We will forget the suffering of the world, Hananim and ultimately defile the very life of Parents.
To me, being a Chun-il Gook owner is as simple but as difficult as this: the Unification Movement is only as loving as myself. The Unification Movement is only as compassionate as me. The Unification Movement is only as peaceful as me. Every one of us is the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. You are the movement. You are the, Temple of God, so to speak.
For me the most important question is, "will we be able to become these things? -- Will we be able to be sincerity (Jung Sung Sung)." If we don't, we will only be always chanting about making world peace and happiness and not doing something much more important -- being it.