Essentials Of The Unification Principle
by Thomas Cromwell
14. Global Preparation For True Parents And The Rise Of Asian Religions
Since the mission of God's chosen family is to free all humankind from Satan's dominion, the providence preparing for its coming, although for many centuries centered in the lineage of Jacob, ultimately embraces all peoples. No one is excluded from God's restoration plan. Furthermore, restoration itself is not an exclusively spiritual phenomenon. It has to do with both mind and body entering a state of perfect harmony with God. This means that people have to achieve physical as well as spiritual well-being. Consequently, the history of restoration, while focused on uniting humanity with God, has included the development of human ability to achieve true dominion over creation. Both the internal and external advancement of humanity serve the purpose of preparing an environment in which true parents can establish an ideal world.
In the time period before Jesus came, God worked through prepared individuals and groups in several parts of the world to raise the consciousness of people everywhere to accept the messiah and his bride. This work of global preparation embraced all fields of human knowledge and activity, from the establishment and renewal of religions to the discovery of scientific principles and the invention of new technologies. These dramatic transformations shook the whole civilized world, from Greece and Rome in the west, right along the length of Asia, through Persia and the Indian subcontinent, to China in the east.
The trigger for this unprecedented global awakening was the repentance of the Israelites in Babylon (c. 600 BC), when they asked God's forgiveness for their sins and committed themselves to heed his words by returning to the true faith of Moses. Since the restoration providence was centered in the people of Israel, their purity of heart was an essential condition for God to realize His will through them. Since the Israelites were chosen for the central role of preparing for true parents, their course determined events throughout the world. Once they were firmly grounded in their commitment to prepare the way for the messiah, God could begin the preparations of other peoples in other places.
All of humanity is nothing other than the single family of God. All people are descendants of the original parents Adam and Eve, who themselves were created by God. Religion became necessary for members of this family only because its founders, the original ancestors, left God and fell into the hands of Satan. Religious history and all history moves toward the moment in which the victorious true parents reverse the actions of Adam and Eve, dissolve fallen reality, and establish an eternal lineage connected to God's original creation. It is inevitable that every human being will eventually participate in this final restoration. The immeasurable benefits of restored lineage are not meant for people of only one religion. All true religion must, by definition, have the same goal and purpose, which is to release its members from vulnerability to evil and establish them in an eternal, unbreakable relationship with God. Religions carry out this mission by preparing their followers to engraft to the family of the perfected original ancestors, where they are embraced eternally by God. The unique aspect of the Jewish religion is its development around God's efforts to establish a purified lineage. However, by no means can it be reasonably concluded that the blessings resulting therefrom are meant solely for members of that group.
In anticipation of the birth of Jesus in Israel as the true parent, God and the spiritual world initiated a worldwide program of spiritual instruction and revelation. This spiritual outpouring occurred simultaneously with the preparation period for the messiah in Judaism. The repentance of the Jews in Babylon led to religious renewal, guided by Ezra, Malachi and other prophetic figures, as well as reconstruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, under the leadership of Nehemiah and other wise governors. The new era of religious and cultural inspiration that dawned after the Babylon turning point prepared all regions of the known world for the imminent advent of true parents in Israel. This era, which gave birth to most of the world's major religions, has been termed the Axial period.
In East Asia, God raised up the philosophers Lao Tzu (604-531 BC) and later Confucius (552-479 BC) to provide a principled social order through which people could prepare for the heavenly social order centered on true parents. Confucius understood the providence of God as the Mandate of Heaven, and, living like a prophet, he urged leaders of his time to conform to ethical laws.
In the Indian subcontinent, God sent Buddha (563-483 BC) and Mahavira to purify Hinduism. These founders of Buddhism and Jainism, respectively, taught the path of self-discipline to be trod by those who wish to fulfill their true purpose by becoming pure, perfected beings. Buddha rejected the Hindu worship of idols, and by denying the material world made himself a true object of God. so that he could be enlightened by God's love and truth.
The Iranian prophet Zarathustra (c.600 BC) taught an ethical monotheism. Zoroastrianism flourished in Persia and introduced important concepts about God to the people living in the geographic area between the Israelites and the adherents of Eastern spiritual paths.
To the west and north of Israel, Greek civilization flowered. In Greece, God nurtured a civilization which developed many important concepts and principles for organizing societies, nations and the world. Greek thinkers wrestled with the cosmic questions that have challenged humanity down through the ages, and were particularly concerned with logical explanations of the phenomena of life.
Even when explained in outline, each of the world religions and philosophies that developed during this period can be seen to contain important insights about God and the creation. Even though the expression of these truths often differed from monotheistic teachings, the new concepts and beliefs served to complement the revelations given to Jesus later on.
No major new religion, except Islam, has arisen since the Axial period because the pinnacle of spiritual knowledge necessary for human beings to engraft to the true parents' family was already fully given at that time. God anticipated that the new religions and philosophies would readily unite with the Kingdom of Heaven expanding around Jesus' family. Through them people were elevated to a fully prepared state, ready to make the final step in which they would be permanently released from Satan and united forever with God. When the faithlessness of those prepared to attend Jesus led to his murder, these spheres of near perfect spiritual preparation found in the world's religions were left unfulfilled. The mechanism for taking that final step, however, was thwarted with the abrupt and tragic abortion of Jesus' mission.
This phenomenal period of preparation for the messiah occurred throughout the civilized world with remarkable coincidence. No adequate explanation has ever been offered for this global phenomenon. In the context of the Principle, however, this period of religious awakening is clearly explained. It is simply God prepating the world for the birth of the true parents and the subsequent expansion of the original ideal. God provided visions of truth and love to Lao Tzu, Confucius, sages in the Vedic tradition, Mahavira, Lord Buddha and Zarathustra, who established lasting religious traditions, and God inspired philosophers, scientists and artists who pioneered new vistas of human knowledge and creativity.
Despite debate about the origins of Taoism, most scholars affirm the historical existence of its founder, Lao Tzu (604-531 BC), who probably wrote the seminal text of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching (translated either as The Way and its Power, or The Way and its Virtue).
Taoism is the religion of "human at-homeness in the universe." Its metaphysics acknowledge the oneness of the ultimate principle which is limitless and beyond rational analysis. Tao is "the Mystery of Mysteries. "
The ideal human response to this ultimate is expressed in the elusive concept of wu wei. Successfully applying wu wei allows one's inner radiance to shine forth. It is "doing without doing, acting without acting." When one is still, quiet, passive and receptive the Tao itself will act through that person. Wu wei:
Can make the small great and the few many Requites injuries with good deeds Deals with the hard while it is still easy With the great while it is still small Therefore the Sage knows too How to make the easy difficult, and by doing so Avoid all difficulties (Tao Te Ching 63)
Here is a religion of humility, self-surrender for the human being and harmony with the natural world. It is a way that seeks to enter into the mysterious oneness of the absolute principle. At least one additional element that is readily identifiable as preparation for true parents is the strong influence of yang-yin, the ancient Chinese philosophic al principle at the base of all Chinese religion. Yang and yin describe complementary polarities characteristic not only of male and female interaction but also the harmonization of heaven and earth.
Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius) was born 553 BC (d. 479 BC) in Shantung Province, China. Although nine books constitute the primary corpus of Confucianism, it is commonly acknowledged that the Analects is a faithful rendering of what Confucius said to his disciples, and basic to understanding his life and thought.
The starting point of Confucius' thought revolves around hsiao, or filial piety, obedience to elders. This core principle underlies the entire development of a system with values that Confucius rightly believed would result in a good society, a good government and a good life for families and individuals. Grounded in hsiao, each person, family or leader of large political units should seek to embody five special characteristics. These are: first, chung tzu, the qualities of a superior individual, one who is "broad-minded, not small-minded, conciliatory but not flattering, dignified but not arrogant... has a kind expression, respectful manner, and is sincere in what one says"; second, jen, true virtue, benevolence, good will, "human-heartedness"; third, li, good manners, propriety and respect at all times (one should approach all things in life with the same reverence, awe and humility with which one performs ritual and offering); fourth, te, heavenly power that comes from harmony; and fifth, wen, the arts of peace.
The training ground for the acquisition of these virtues is the constellation of relationships which revolve around hsiao. The cornerstone of goodness, hsiao is given naturally. Because humanity owes its existence to parents, respect for them grows naturally. When people love their parents and serve them gratefully, their moral sense is born. Following this is the relationship of husband and wife, elder and younger sibling, elder and younger friend, ruler and subject.
Education through these relationships creates the ideal character for both leaders and the population at large. Confucius was most concerned about leadership and proper governing. Once, when asked by a powerful ruler for wisdom and advice about how he could better rule the subjects of his province, Confucius quietly replied that the emperor should first learn to rule himself. In The Great Learning, Confucian political philosophy is expounded in terms of three principles and eight general rules. The principles are: to manifest illustrious virtue; to show love for people; and to rest in the highest good. The rules are: to investigate many things; to extend knowledge; to be guided by sincere thoughts; to "rectify" your heart; to cultivate personality; to regulate your own family; to govern your state well; and to bring peace to the world.
Confucius understood himself to be an instrument of divine providence. Heaven, in Confucianism, is the transcendent and benevolent power that brings peace and justice to the world through conferring its mandate upon men. The Mandate of Heaven comes to righteous kings who bring prosperity to their subjects. When a dynasty becomes corrupt and oppresses its people, heaven's mandate departs. Heaven hears the cry of the oppressed, taught Confucius, in words similar to those of the Hebrew prophets.
Confucius saw himself as a teacher of kings and princes, who was to educate them in good government, that they might do the will of heaven. Yet his advice was rarely heeded. Only a few people recognized his greatness during his lifetime, among them a certain gatekeeper, who said of the master:
The kingdom has long been without the principles of truth and right; Heaven is going to use your master as a bell with its wooden tongue. (Analects 3.24)
Confucius came to the end of his life with virtually no external trappings of greatness. Lao Tzu's external legacy was even less. The latter never even attempted to create a following, and is said to have reluctantly written the Tao, Te Ching in a day or two at the request of another gatekeeper at a westerly mountain pass. Astonishingly, the influence of these two teachers, themselves like yang and yin, brought the China of their day, and in centuries to come, out of the horror, brutality and inhumanity of the plummeting Chou dynasty, an age of war without chivalry and unthinkable social disintegration. By the time of Jesus, China was enjoying, under the Han dynasty, a flowering of Confucian culture.
Hinduism, the religion of the Vedic Aryans in India, underwent a transformation remarkably similar to the Persians at virtually the same time. Both Aryan settlements derived from the same period of migration, and both had developed similar religious and cultural aspects in their community by the time of this age of preparation.
Pre-Upanishadic Hinduism was rooted in the polytheism and ritualism of the Vedas, the most sacred Hindu scriptures. Vedic religion was primarily a household religion revolving around Agni, the god of fire. Agni was experienced both in the hearth-fire of each home -- the fire that cooked their food and warmed their homes, and the mighty Sun (Savitir), the fire that dispelled the darkness of night. Agni was worshiped as a source of fertility in human beings, animals and land. The other god to whom a large number of hymns of the Rig Veda are addressed is Indra, the warrior god who led the Aryans to victory and settlement in northern India. Besides Agni and Indra, the Vedic Aryans honored and worshiped a number of other major gods and many minor ones.
These gods could make human beings happy if they themselves were made happy. The primary way to achieve this was through the performance of ritual. In the late Vedic period, the time of the Atharva Veda, these rituals came to include charms against disease and danger, and magical formulas for cursing personal enemies. Thus the use of magic, though proscribed in the early books of the Rig Veda, came to be sanctioned.
In the midst of this corrupted Vedic religion a major reformation took place, emerging just at the period upon which this chapter focuses. From c. 700 BC philosophical speculation began to be collected and preserved, some in the form of dialogues between famous sages of the time and their questioners. These collections were called the Upanishads. There was one question above all with which the early Upanishads were preoccupied: Is there one single eternal reality that is the source and essence of the multiform variety of the experienced world? If there is such an ultimate reality, what is it and how might it be known?
These metaphysical explorations led the sages to identify the ancient idea of the all-pervasive, holy power Brahman as the answer. Brahman was thought to exist independently of the universe, as its source and essence. Of course, the strong element of immanence, derived from the linked concept of Atman (individual soul), established an enduring interface with a monist cosmology. Nevertheless, it is startling to find in this period of global revelation that the great Vedic sages Yajnavalkya and Uddalaka Aruni, for the first time in ages of Vedic history established a foundation of either monotheism or monism relating to the concept of "one ultimate reality that is the source of existence and value for the whole world."
In addition, this is also the very time in which the doctrine of karma is developed. Essentially, the doctrine of karma teaches that suffering and happiness are determined directly by one's own actions. Here, in short, are the necessary foundation and metaphysical moorings of personal responsibility. It must be acknowledged that these doctrines, such as karma, did not appear in popular Hinduism until later in the Laws of Manu, but the changes were already taking place earlier in the Upanishads.
The infusion of monotheism and the foundations for absolute personal responsibility was equaled in importance by the end of Indo-Aryan isolation in the region. The Vedic age came to an end with the intensive encounter with the cultures that lay to the east and south of Vedic territory, beginning about 500 BC. This significant degree of contact between Dravidian people and the Aryans, who had hitherto kept to themselves, further indicates a synchronicity with global preparations for the birth of Jesus. Through the opening of cultural exchange, religious reform and development occurring outside Indo-Aryan territory could spread throughout all ethnic areas. This condition for emerging unification in the region was a necessary element for receiving the Adamic culture without added obstacles of isolation and religious exclusivism.
One such development outside Vedic territory was the reformation of Jainism. For eight centuries Jains lived next door to Vedic Aryans. The two communities had virtually opposing religious views, and, for all intents and purposes, no substantial contact. In the sixth century BC, there arose Mahavira, "The Great Hero," the 24th Tirthankara (completely enlightened man). There was a fundamental transformation of the status of Jainism from the time of Mahavira. Although 23 Tirthankaras preceded him (the 23rd having taught c. 900-800 BC) the record of their appearance, according to Jain teachings, occurred over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. Thus from the perspective of religious history, little of Jainism can be known or considered prior to the 23rd Tirthankara. Today's Jains are entirely oriented to the life and teachings of Mahavira.
Mahavira taught a rigorous doctrine of karma which empowered the religious call for personal self-discipline and control of physical and fleshly impulses. The second important contribution of Mahavira was his strong teaching against the caste system. Here, again, the inner impulse which generated this position (apart from the abuses of the Brahmins) was a concern and advocacy for personal responsibility. Mahavira recognized a Brahmin not by birth but by how he acted. People may be born in a higher or lower caste, but by a life of purity and love a slave girl could be as saintly as a priest.
As Jainism in this period entered into dialogue with Indo-Aryan religious thought, there developed a balance between the transcendent ultimate of the Upanishads and the human response as personal striving.
A contemporary of Mahavira, although a younger man, was Siddhartha Gautama, called "the Buddha," "the Enlightened One." The rise of Buddhism during the sixth century BC in India also parallels the writings of the Upanishads. The life and teachings of the Buddha are far better known than those of the sages of the Upanishads, or of the Jain Mahavira. The Buddha's biography is an exciting one which results in a simple but challenging doctrine embedded in the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path.
The Four Noble Truths define the world view which one must have as a foundation for personal liberation. The Eight-Fold Path consists of a tightly conceived system of ethics requiring believers to bear right views, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. This simple program for liberation provides a radical emphasis on human responsibility. (In fact the non-theistic foundations of Buddhism may distinguish it as the most radical of all world religions in the matter of human responsibility.) Together with the Buddha's (like Mahavira's) thorough rejection of the caste system, this made of Buddhism a powerful force for religious reform.
Buddha taught the importance of mind as the causal factor in all of life. "As one thinks, so one becomes," is an encapsulation of his thought. Buddhist discipline in right mindfulness requires first awareness and then control of every thought, desire and feeling that arises in consciousness. Buddha taught that since these can be brought to awareness, they are not identical with the self and can be expunged; that since they continually arise and decay, they are but impermanent phenomena and therefore not ultimately real. The Buddhist learns to abandon attachments to all phenomena, both of matter and mind, in the quest for what is ultimate and permanent. Thus the Buddhist quest has as its goal the unchanging beyond.
Yet Buddhism is reluctant to name this goal. Sometimes it is called nirvana, the state beyond any description. To describe it would be to create a false phenomenal image of what is beyond phenomena. Many Buddhists believe this goal to be the same reality that the Christian or Muslim describes as oneness with God. But doctrinally it is difficult for many Buddhists to affirm God in the sense God is understood by Christians and Muslims. The Buddha rejected any notion of a Creator-God, because in his world all such concepts were bound up with the Hindu gods and worship of their idols. Buddha's rejection of Hindu idolatry led some people to call him an atheist, but in fact he was rejecting worship of the creation. He viewed Indra and other Hindu gods as finite beings who, like mortals, are trapped in the material realm, ignorant of truth. Thus he sought a truer vision of the absolute God.
Buddhism recognized the Absolute to have the divine qualities of wisdom (prajna) and compassion (karuna). A person who realizes Buddhist enlightenment develops the qualities of wisdom in conduct and compassion for all living beings.
Buddha denied the efficacy of external rites and ritual sacrifices. Neither bathing in the Ganges nor inflicting self-immolation would serve to purify the believer, according to Buddha. Buddhism denounced the magic, ritualism and increasing abuses among the Brahmin caste. Buddhism clearly was part of global preparations to receive true parents.
Thus the unprecedented religious ferment on the Indian subcontinent elevated the people of the region to radical new spiritual planes. Throughout the region religious life turned away from polytheism, ritualism, magic and, at times, even dark and destructive spiritual practices. Through the influences of the sages of the Upanishads in north-central India. and Mahavira and Lord Buddha to the east and south, these areas were under intense spiritual influences in preparation for the advent of the messiah and the easterly expansion of the true parents' culture of the original ideal.
Zoroastrianism, traced to what is now Iran, at one time occupied territories which included Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and, at times, Palestine and Turkey. Zoroastrian Iran was finally defeated by the expansion of Islam, but for over a thousand years Zoroastrianism was the official religion of three major world empires, making it perhaps the most powerful faith of the time. Its later settlement in India is not relevant to our present discussion.
The dates for the Iranian prophet Zarathustra, or Zoroaster, as his name comes to us through ancient Greek writers, are debated. Those around which greatest consensus occur place him in the sixth or seventh century BC, around 600 BC, within a century of the establishment of the Achaemenid dynasty. The Persian King Cyrus, who released the Israelites from captivity, was Zoroastrian.
Zarathustra was a prophet of righteousness, a teacher who in the name of ethical idealism opposed the degraded popular faith of Persia. He was a spokesman for the one God in a land where religion was dominated by a sacrificial cult to nature deities, presided over by a priestly class. At the age of 30 he had his first vision of Ahura Mazda, the supreme God, which was followed by six other visions in which six archangels successively manifested themselves.
Because Zarathustra spoke of an evil "twin spirit" of the one true God of goodness, the first crude efforts at comparative religion among Western scholars produced the notion of "Persian dualism." This has since been shown to be a misinterpretation. In the Pahlavi book, the Bundahishn, God enjoys a certain advantage over His foe from the beginning so that the ultimate victory of good is assured. Zoroastrianism, like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is a monotheistic religion.
It is taught that human life is set in the cosmic encounter between the almighty Ahura Mazda, creator of all that is good and who alone is worthy of worship, and Angra Mainyu, the malign source of violence, evil and death. Individuals are free to choose between these two powers. The righteous will oppose evil, spread the good religion of Ahura Mazda, care for the good creation (plants, animals and fellow human beings) and worship God in purity. The eternal destiny of human beings is decided by the use they make of their free will, both at the individual judgement after death and at the universal judgement after the resurrection. The righteous go to heaven and the wicked to hell. With these beliefs, as well as the powerful record of Zarathustra's own spiritual and practical achievements and the conversion of the Iranian King Vishtaspa, the mighty kingdoms to the east of the small nation of Israel turned from violent and amoral polytheism to the exercise of personal responsibility in the effort to worship God in truth.
The rise of classical Greek civilization in the sixth century BC is perhaps the capstone of the Axial period. The very foundations of western civilization were laid precisely during this brief worldwide awakening. Indeed, the Principle views the invisible hand of God behind this unique and unprecedented age of creativity, spanning the full range of human knowledge and activity.
The ancient Greeks contributed much to the internal understanding of human life and spirit. Socrates (470-399 BC) rejected polytheism (he was executed by the Athenians for "atheism") and taught that people should seek truth in its most transcendent meaning by investigating the moral life. His disciple Plato (427-347 BC) rejected materialism and taught the reality of a unitary transcendental sphere, the world of form, whose highest value was the Good. Aristotle (384-322 BC) wrote of the First Cause, the creator of all things. These three philosophers all strove with reason and insight to probe the mysteries of God.
As Greek philosophy developed in the centuries preceding the coming of Jesus, it pursued a strongly ethical trend. Epicureanism taught that pleasure was the goal of life, but emphasized that one should be willing to endure pain in the short term as a price for attaining greater happiness in the long term. The highest pleasure, that of the mind, was to be won through proper discipline of the body. Stoicism taught the importance of virtue and duty: man should not be changed by external circumstances but should be guided by his internal moral compass, centered on virtue.
Merely listing some of the notable figures who contributed to various fields of knowledge (and in some cases founded sciences) gives an indication of the extent to which Greek civilization played a providential role in developing human understanding (all dates are BC):
Philosophy:Thales (640-546), Anaximander, Anaximenes and Heraclitus (6th-5th Centuries), Leucippus (480-410), Socrates (470-399), Democritus (460-370), Protagoras (480-410), Georgias (485-380), Prodicus of Ceos and Hipplias of Elis (5th Century), Antisthenes (444-370), Plato (427-347), Diogenes (412-323), Aristotle (384-322), Theophrastus (372-287), Autolycus (360-300), Epicurus (342-270), Zeno (335-263);
Mathematics: Pythagoras (582-500), Hippocrates of Chios (5th Century), Aristotle (384-322), Theaetetus and Eudoxus (4th Century), Euclid (2nd-3rd Centuries);
Science/Technology:Pappus (4th Century), Archimedes (287-212), Hipparchus (2nd Century);
Astronomy:Claudius Ptolemy (2nd Century), Aristarchus (3rd Century);
Navigation/Geography:Pytheas (4th Century), Eratosthenes (3rd Century);
Drama:Aeschylus (525-456), Sophocles (496-406), Euripides (484-406), Cratinus (484-420), Eupolis (455-410), Aristophanes (448-380);
Literature:Homer (8th Century), Sappho, Alcaeus and Tytaeus (7th Century), Aesop (6th Century), Lysias (456-380), Isocrates (436-338), Aratus (315-245), Theocritus (310-250);
History:Hellanicus (490-405), Thucydides (471-400), Herodotus (484-424), Xenophon (434-354), Polybius (200-120); Music. Pythagoras (582-500), Simonides (556-468), Pindar (518-438), Bacchylides (516-480); Sculpture: Polykleitos, Phidias and Myron (5th Century); Painting. Euphronius and Douris (5th Century); Architecture: Callicrates, Mnesicles, Ictinus and Polykleitos (5th Century), Dinocrates (4th Century), Pythius (353-334); Politics (innovative Rulers): Solon (638-558), Periander (625585), Pisistratus (554-527), Polycrates (536-522), Aristides (530-468), Pericles (495-429).
Science and Technology
The development of religions at this time was complemented by a number of significant developments in other areas, such as science and technology, politics and economics. Religion addresses the realm of spirit, but people also need to understand their bodies and the physical world, the province of science. The ideal world will be one of harmony between spirit and body, religion and science.
The Greeks played a critical role in the development of science, establishing it as a major force in human development and founding many of the branches of knowledge that have become essential parts of the scientific corpus. They explored the mathematical and philosophical principles that underpin art and science, developing the basis for the scientific method itself, which derives from Socrates' approach to knowledge through hypothesis and deduction, and Aristotle's induction, based on experimentation.
The Greek approach to knowledge was not divorced from religious belief but it relied more on observation and speculation than on faith. It focused primarily on the tangible person and the visible world known to humankind. rather than the invisible world of spirit.
The Greeks made many remarkable discoveries which have held their value to this day. Behind this outpouring of knowledge, God was working to prepare the world externally for the fulfillment of the three blessings, through which human beings will gain full dominion over themselves and nature in accordance with the will of God. Without understanding themselves and their environment human beings are incapable of achieving a world of true love.
Greece, and later Rome, which inherited and supplemented much of Greek civilization, also devised various new weapons, such as the torsion engine, the ballista (a siege engine) and the pillum (a balanced throwing spear). They developed cavalry, fast naval vessels (like the Greek bireme and the Roman galley) and armor for soldiers and horses. Iron and steel were used widely in tools as well as weapons, advancing agriculture (the sickle, scythe and the olive oil press, for example) and construction. Greece introduced iron and steel to the West, through Rome. The Romans developed an excellent network of land and sea routes enabling them to communicate throughout their vast empire. In northwest Europe, the iron plough and steerable wagon wheels were developed.
In East Asia, the Chinese made many discoveries during this period as well: piston-bellows, canals and dikes, silk scrolls and pointed brushes for writing, draw-looms for weaving, reeling machines for silk working, cable suspension bridges, mast-and-batten sails, rotary winnowing machines and seed-drill ploughs. Alchemy flourished in both Greece and China, and the Greeks produced much of the basic equipment used in science laboratories to this day: stills, furnaces, flasks and beakers. The Chinese produced works on botany and the natural sciences.
Thus the centuries leading up to the birth of Jesus witnessed an unprecedented development in elemental science and basic technologies that transformed the way people worked and communicated. By the end of this preparation period there was a significant unity of civilization in the Mediterranean basin, providing an environment for the introduction of the new culture of true parents, to be established in Israel. The Roman Empire, built on the foundations of Greek philosophy and science, provided the physical and ethical foundation that awaited the spirit of an ideal world to be ushered in by Jesus.
The global development of civilization during the period of final preparation for true parents was driven by religious awakening and the dramatic development of science and technology. The whole world was touched, directly or indirectly, by these developments. The spark for this explosive human advance was the repentance of the Israelites in Babylon, which enabled God to work more actively than ever before in the enlightenment of fallen humanity.
In this cursory overview of the birth of these great religious traditions and fields of knowledge, one clearly sees the opening up of heaven over most of humanity in the six centuries leading up to the coming of Jesus. Each aspect of human transformation appears, from the profoundly metaphysical and transcendent in the Upanishads, to the social reflection of the ideal of heaven in Confucius, to the insights into nature of Greece's great thinkers. God, human responsibility and social relations reflecting the ideal were taught at once. These teachings reversed the dark ages and began to create civilizations which can respond well to the enlightenment of the true parents when they seek to order life and society according to God's original ideal.
The advent of Jesus in Israel was the hinge on which all these historical developments would turn. Had Jesus been accepted by the Jews as the true parent and messiah, all the foundations could have been harvested and brought together for the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The combined wisdom of these spiritual and scientific movements, unified through the truth and love of true parents, would have fostered a world of material prosperity and spiritual attainment. Tragically, when Jesus was rejected in Israel, these preparations could not fulfill their original, providential purpose.
Over time, when no higher end made itself evident, when the constant spiritual struggle in the world's religions was not relieved by the establishment of Jesus' heavenly kingdom, it came to pass that these religions began to think of their revelations and saints as ends in themselves. When the death of Jesus ensured continued activity for Satan, God allowed these religions to strengthen themselves and become the purpose of life for the followers in the different cultural regions. In this way, God could provide at least some protection for people. In the long run, however, the strengthening of the independence rather than inter-dependence of religions increased the difficulty of achieving the eventual goal of uniting all people within a single heavenly culture of true parents.
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