The Words of In Jin Moon from 2009

The Power of Kindness

In Jin Moon
July 26, 2009
Lovin' Life Ministry
Manhattan Center, New York City

How is everyone this morning? It’s wonderful to see you again on this beautiful Sunday morning. I hope all of you had a wonderful week. I’m sure all of you have worked hard every day. Here at the Manhattan Center, the New Yorker, and Headquarters I also am trying my best to make each day worthwhile. This last week has been particularly difficult for me. I always see any difficulty as God’s way of giving me an opportunity to grow, mature, and become victorious, and this last week was one of those weeks.

But when I come here on Sunday morning and I see all of your faces and such a fantastic performance by the band and the choir, and I hear such beautiful songs selected with very much thought, starting with the song “Man in the Mirror” and then “The Climb,” it brings me back to why I’m here in the first place. It reminds me to start my day by looking in the mirror and asking myself how I want to carry out that day. And at the end of the evening before I go to bed, when I brush my teeth and I look in the mirror again, I’m always hoping that I’ve spent a day well lived.

It was on Friday, after having a very tough week, that I found myself a bit tired and enervated. But something maybe seemingly insignificant happened to me that day. Late in the afternoon when I was checking my e-mail, I got a wonderful message from a very good friend of mine, who said, “Knowing you, you probably had a hard day. You probably had a really difficult day. But this is a simple reminder that I love you and I’m hoping that perhaps you can get a good night’s rest. I am not Jewish, nor am I a mother, but I’m hoping that I can be your comfort chicken noodle soup. Just give me a call when you need me.”

It was just one of those simple, off-the-cuff e-mails, but when I read that, that little bit of kindness, warmth, and understanding just melted away the whole week’s worth of difficulty and, in that instant, made me feel all warm and fuzzy and made me feel so loved. I felt like this was God speaking through my friend and how grateful I should be to have such a person in my life.

Sometimes when we live day to day in a superficial, fragmented world, we feel that the world is cold. I read a book recently by a gentleman named Piero Ferrucci that was given to me by a friend. The title of the book is The Power of Kindness. All of us are confronted with different types of living conditions and have experienced the breakdown of both what we used to know as the nuclear family and of the extended family. We have suffered through a decline in moral values, and everyone has been isolated to some extent. The world has gotten more technologically efficient, and we can do things with greater ease. But it’s interesting how the more we advance, the more detached we become from each other because we need each other less.

In an agricultural society, everybody had to work together to reap a good harvest. But here we have machines that can do this; we have different types of people whom we rarely think about who produce all the things we need to carry out our day. Without a second thought, without being grateful, we just go on our merry way and take things for granted. In the course of time, we become more isolated and fragmented; ultimately we feel very lonely.

Mr. Ferrucci says that we are living in the Ice Age of the heart. We have so many things and we’re such a huge superpower, but in terms of our ability to experience warmth in our day-to-day lives, it’s almost nonexistent, or very difficult to find. He says that it is no wonder that there is such an increase of depression, panic attacks, and even suicide; this is because people feel so devastatingly alone and isolated.

Here come my parents, looking at this epidemic of depression, panic attacks, and suicide. My father is calling for a new revolution. Do you think he’s talking about a physical revolution in which we are going to go into a country, overthrow the regime, and start all over? No. What he is talking about is raising the fundamental consciousness of our young people so that they are able to feel again. Probably one of the greatest gifts that God gave us is the ability to experience the greatest force in the universe, and that force is love.

My father is asking us to usher in a time when we can have a revolution of love, so we can start to feel, to appreciate each other, and experience the emotions that truly make us feel alive and connected. So when I read the Bible, I like to look at I Corinthians 13:4-7, where it teaches us that love is patient, love is kind, and love is not arrogant. I think that we who are well versed in the Divine Principle understand the attributes of what true love is supposed to be, and those attributes are absolute, unchanging, unique, and eternal.

But when we think about how we manifest or apply these attributes in our daily lives, what does true love look like? What does it feel like? How do we experience it? I think the answer is in the Bible. First of all, love is patient. What does patience mean? It means taking the time to care.

I often like to talk to my children about a wonderful little story, told time and time again, about the wind and the sun. They see a man walking down the road, and they decide to have a contest. The wind says, “Hey, Sun, let’s see who can get that man’s coat off.” The sun says, “Okay, you go first.” The wind blows and blows and tries his best to blow the coat off the man. But lo and behold, the harder he blew, the harder the man hung onto his coat. In the end, the wind was not successful.

So the wind turned to the sun and said, “All right, it’s your turn.” So the sun slowly but lovingly, and in a smiling way, opened up his rays and slowly began to warm up the atmosphere, making the day a whole lot warmer. The man looked at the sun, and saw it was so brilliantly beautiful. He felt the warmth that the sun was sending him, so naturally he took off his coat and continued on his way.

This tale is interesting not only because you can experience it visually. It’s talking about the quality of love. Love does not necessarily happen quickly. When we’re young and immature, a lot of us are thinking, “I’m crazy about this person, I’m infatuated. It must be love.” But for those of us who have been married for quite some time -- like my husband and I, married over 25 years -- we know that love takes patience and a great deal of time: Time to practice caring and living for each other for it to be actualized in a relationship.

The Bible tells us that love is kind. When I think about the word kind, to me it connotes a feeling of incredible warmth, like the sun. In The Inferno, Dante told a tale of how the lowest point in hell is a place where it’s silent and icy. He described how traitors so overcome with the evils of their sin are eternally immersed in a frozen swamp forever. In Dante’s description, hell is truly a place where there is no emotion, absolutely no feeling.

Then afterward Dante climbed the Mount of Purgatory, the whole process of the climb symbolizing the purification that takes time, effort, and diligence to accomplish. But when he got to the apex of the Mount of Purgatory, who did he find? He finds his long-lost love, Beatrice, who symbolized truth. When he met her, he was hoping that maybe she could embrace him with open arms. But she was cold and aloof. Worse than that, she reproached him, asking, “Why did you neglect me?”

So here he was, feeling the full weight of his forgetfulness and neglectfulness toward his old love. Dante was frozen because he could not feel. But just as the rays of the sun have a warming effect, he went through a cathartic experience. He wept, and through his weeping, he began to feel. The warmth of his tears, the warmth of his emotions, was what allowed him to be pure enough to climb to the stars, to the heavens. Warmth and kindness are prerequisite to becoming a pure person. He has described for us the importance of human beings feeling warmth in daily life.

Early in the 20th century, psychologists tried to understand how human beings develop socially: Is it nature or nurture? Is it instinctual, or is it learned? Is there a difference between somebody who physically nourishes the babies and somebody who, by giving warmth through the power of touch, actually heals and encourages the child to become a socially interactive person?

One scientist, Harry Harlow, created two metal wire “mothers” and put them in cages with a baby rhesus monkey. One “mother” would give the monkey milk; the other “mother” did nothing but had terrycloth over it. Harlow watched carefully to see which one the young monkey would go to, whether his understanding of “mother” would be just physical nourishment, meaning the wire “mother” that he got milk from, or whether it would be the “mother” that gave physical comfort and warmth.

In another cage Harlow put another baby monkey in a different cage with just one wire “mother” equipped with a bottle of milk. He watched how these two monkeys grew up, asking how they would interact with other monkeys. Would they interact differently?

The conclusion of that experiment was that the touch or warmth of the terrycloth was just as, if not more, important than the physical nourishment. In fact, often babies born to mothers who do not want any physical contact with them will die from this lack of warmth and comfort. Harlow’s experiment clearly showed that the monkey with the terrycloth mother was better adjusted emotionally because it had the terrycloth mother to go to whenever it felt the need for touch. When the two monkeys were put back into an interactive environment where they had to associate with other monkeys, the monkey that had the terrycloth wire “mother” did a whole lot better, again reinforcing the idea that a little bit of kindness can go a long way.

The Bible teaches us that another manifestation of love as applied in daily life is that it is not arrogant. That means we need to live a life of humility. In all my years of studying different religions, one of the most beautiful is an offshoot of Islam called Sufism. The word Sufism comes from the word suf, meaning wool. Devotees of this religion were called such because they used to wear woolen robes all the time. One of the greatest mystical poets that came out of Sufism was Rumi. From time to time I’d like to share some of his works with you.

The reason I have such respect for this mystical poet is that when you read his poetry you really sense how much he loved God. He constantly longed for God, as he would for his beloved. His poetry is so intense, so passionate, and so sensual. It affects you when you read it, and you wonder how this ascetic person could express so much feeling in each word that he chose.

One of the things he liked to teach his devotees was that we must always be vigilant against arrogance, against complacency, against the constant desire for praise. Some of his devotees took it to an extreme and formed their own sect in the 10th and 11th centuries called Melamatiya, coming from the root word melama, which means “to blame.” They locked in on the concept that it’s not good to be praised and took it to the extreme by saying that it’s far better to sin and be blamed than to seek one’s own renown or fame.

Of course the Sufis, having encountered this sect, basically said, “No, no, you’re going too far now. Of course it’s not good to sin externally; of course it’s not good to always seek praise because our end goal in life is to really seek rida, which means contentment or grateful acceptance.

Sufi teachers like to share with their brothers and sisters a story about how one fervent and zealous devotee asked God in his prayers, “Are you satisfied with me because I am satisfied with you?” Being a Heavenly Parent, and like a grandparent chastising a young grandson who’s being naughty, God replied, “You idiot. If you were satisfied with me, you would not be asking me whether I was satisfied with you.” It’s a wonderful little tale that is really something to think about. Here is a childlike devotee saying, “I’m satisfied with you. Will you be satisfied with me?”, thinking, “I’m doing all these wonderful things and being a wonderful child of God. Are you going to give me some kind of reward?” God is basically saying, “You are your own reward. Why do you need to seek something else?”

The wonderful thing about Sufism, for me as a woman, is that it gave birth to this beautiful eighth-century saint, Rabi Abasri, who was an exceptional person. I came across her in lectures and readings; what she stood for and how she taught people about her faith were quite enlightening. She was known not just as a faithful servant of God but was renowned all around her community for being a woman of great physical beauty, with olive skin, black hair, and huge black eyes. Everyone who saw her fell in love with her, but the only thing that she wanted to do was love God.

She saw the way her brothers and sisters were walking the life of faith, and she thought that she had to do something to help shake them up a little bit, to rethink what their life of faith was all about. She’s very famous for going out into the marketplace and streets of Basra carrying a bucket of water in one hand and a torch in the other. When people approached to ask her what she was doing, she replied, “I am carrying a bucket of water because it symbolizes quelling the fires of hell. In my other hand, I’m carrying a torch of fire because I want to symbolize burning the concept of paradise.”

What she meant by this interesting display, the basic message was, “We are so concerned about our own salvation in the afterlife that we’re not appreciating what we have here. We’re too concerned about the rewards and punishment we will have in the afterlife -- if we do this then we’ll go to heaven; if we don’t do that then we’ll go to hell.”

People are almost like elementary school students. One of the most effective ways a teacher reaches that age group is to say, “If you finish your project, you get a cookie at snack time. If you do such and such a thing, then you will receive a reward, like a sticker for a sticker book.” That’s the way you encourage young children to try to be good students.

What Rabi was asking people to think about was the very question: Do we always want to be good simply to be rewarded and not punished? What about being good just because we want to be good? What about being kind just because we want to be kind? What about taking care of each other just because we want to take care of somebody?

This woman saint was trying to push her brothers and sisters into realizing that we need to love God in the genuine beauty of it all. This means in the genuine beauty of love -- love that is not conditional, like a reward and punishment system that many of us have perhaps been adhering to. It’s the genuine beauty of love that naturally springs forth just because you love your child. It’s the heart of a mother. Strong feelings and emotion just naturally spring forth because you love your child. That’s the kind of love that God has for all of us. That’s the kind of love that this woman was asking us to think about.

Like others in public roles, I see a lot of calculated love moves in my life. Maybe people want to get to know me because I’m the CEO of the Manhattan Center. Or they want to get closer to me because they want to see what they can get out of our relationship. Or people want to touch me because they seek their own salvation at church. But what I desire more than anything is unconditional and natural love that flows out simply because we are sons and daughters of God.

When I was trying to explain the Rabi story to my children, I said, “What she is trying to teach us is that we need to live our lives and do good things just because. Not for any other reason than “just because”; “just because” you want to make your father and mother happy. When you see your dad and mom at the end of a long day and dad struggles to put food on the table, what about helping him set the table, thanking him, telling him, “I love you”? Or better yet, what about giving Mommy and Daddy a big bear hug?

Sometimes going through our teenage years, we want to avoid any bodily contact with the parents. Guys are saying, “Look, Mom, I’m tough, a big guy. Don’t touch.” And they build a physical wall. It’s not cool to have a mother. What moves me incredibly is when my children see me at their school and come running to me and don’t feel any embarrassment, giving me a big hug and telling me they love me.

Whenever my eldest son answers the phone when I’m calling, he says, “Hello, my love!” So sometimes when he’s out with his friends, they wonder, “Who are you talking to? Is she your new girlfriend?” He says, “No, I’m talking to my mom.” They look at him, probably thinking, why does he call his mom “my love”? But it melts my heart. As weird as it might be to some people, it’s just wonderful for me to hear my son say to me, “Hello, my love!”

The world is a really cold place. When you’re working in a corporate setting it’s sometimes just deadlines, the bottom line. Sometimes you have to wonder, where is the love, the warmth, the comfort? But when my father is asking all of us to think about a revolution of love, I understand that to mean raising a generation of peace.

Why is the word generation so important? Because generation implies a continuation of what came before and what’s going to come after. It implies being part of a family. A child does not come to be out of isolation. A child has parents, a family. If we want to raise great kids who really espouse the themes and contents that are inherent in the word peace, it becomes incumbent upon all of us as parents to create a family that is supportive, that is nurturing, and that is encouraging and empowering for our children.

We have seen young people name themselves Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z. Now we’re up to the Millennials. So many people have told me, “You know what Millennials stands for, right? ‘Show me the money.’” It’s truly a symbol of the times. We are suffering through the Ice Age of the Heart; we are dealing with the superficiality and the fragmentation of relationships in our families, societies, and the world.

How are we going to address this problem? We have to help our children by experiencing this revolution of love: the love that is patient, that is kind, that is not arrogant. And we must help our young people realize that we need to give birth to a new generation of young people, a generation of young people called Generation Peace.

What kind of people should this Generation Peace be? It needs to be a generation that espouses love, that manifests and applies love in daily life. When I want to remind myself of what I’m trying to carry out, I think of the word wise. The word wise can stand as an acronym to explain what I understand wise to mean. I want to be a WISE person, meaning I want to be someone who loves the World with Integrity, Service, and Excellence.

When I think about the word peace, I very much understand it as encouraging us to be the kind of young people who truly take Pride in loving our Heavenly Father, our God, as our Heavenly Parent. So we take pride in loving God as our Heavenly Parent, and also in knowing that we are Eternal sons and daughters of God, meaning that we have a purpose to our life, that we have a reason why we are born, that we have been given this incredible opportunity to build and experience this thing called an ideal family.

The letter A stands for living a life of Altruism, living for the sake of others, loving people just because you want to show them how wonderful they are, “just because” you want to make their day a little brighter, “just because” you want to remind them that we are here as a tapestry of God’s love. And then the letter C for me symbolizes the importance of practicing Compassion in our lives, living a life with a spirit of cooperation, with a spirit of truly standing up against violence of any sort. And in the kindness of our actions, in our loving gestures, we can express the divine in all of us. I think that we need to encourage ourselves to be a little kinder, to be a little more loving, to be a little more compassionate.

It’s interesting that the Dalai Lama explains his understanding of what his religion is all about as kindness. He said, “My religion is kindness, it’s compassion, it’s caring for somebody.” That is truly incredible. If we can practice all of these principles, then we can truly be the embodiment of Excellent human beings: excellent not just internally but excellent externally, meaning that there is a unity of what’s inside and what’s outside our heads. If we practice by living and doing what we believe in, then we ultimately become the kind of people that we want to be. We are shaping ourselves; we are becoming our own agent of change.

Depending on our unique and individual God-given gifts, it’s our duty in our lifetime to nurture them, to support them with great discipline, effort, and diligence. If you happen to be musically talented, don’t just throw it away. I would love to see you up on stage with the band one day, and maybe that will be a launching pad for you to become a phenomenal musician. Or if there are any young ladies in the audience who feel compelled to come to the pulpit, I’d gladly make room for you any day. Maybe you will become a great woman leader like Mother Theresa or Catherine Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. Or like Harriet Tubman, the great Moses of the American African slaves. Or maybe a young boy here, like my father, will grow up to want to serve the world and make it a better place for everybody.

We’re given a wonderful thing called life, and we have only one lifetime to live it. How wonderful if we can live it not just to make ourselves famous but to raise everyone up around us so that everybody can be great.

One of the things I like to think about from time to time is this great quote by Aldous Huxley, a famous English writer. A lot of people asked him the very question “What do you think is the most effective technique to transform oneself?” He sheepishly smiled and said, “Try being just a little bit kinder.”

It’s the little kindnesses, like that e-mail I received, that just melt my heart and make me feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s the simple greetings that we can give to each other as dignified sons and daughters of God. It’s the wonderful attitude of service that we can show our parents, who take the brunt for the not-such-good parts of us when we’re growing up. Just say “thank you” every once in a while.

It’s the little things like perhaps writing a little note when you pack the lunch boxes for your children before you send them off to school, just to remind them how much you love them and how much you miss them. But better than that, even though I’m a mother myself, I like nothing more than to receive a great big bear hug from my father and mother. It’s that simple touch that says so much. If we can become more loving, more compassionate, more caring, then we can initiate this wonderful revolution of love that my father has been talking about.

I hope that you can have a wonderful Sunday and truly “rub” [love] members of your family, give them a nice bear hug, and let them know that you really love them, care for them, and appreciate them.

Have a wonderful week, and God bless you. 

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