Creating a World of Peace - The Thought and Works of Sun Myung Moon by Joon Ho Seuk

Volume 5 - Education for a Culture of Peace [Part 4 of 5]

4. Reverend Moon's Education

Reverend Moon's own education has been a life-long series of diverse experiences. He learned much from the lifestyle and traditions of his own immediate and extended family. Nature also featured as one of his most inspiring teachers. He has learned through books and academic study at all levels, from the small village elementary school to a prestigious college in Japan.

With the attitude that all situations provide learning experiences, Reverend Moon has developed his understanding and knowledge of the world through every circumstance he has encountered, whether it was planned or forced upon him.

Ultimately, though, his primary education has come through his relationship with God.

A. Family

Reverend Moon's family was known for its hospitality and integrity. His father was known as a man who could live without the law to regulate his actions. He could not bear to be in debt and always paid back what he owed on time and with interest.

Their family tradition was to give food to every visitor. Although times were hard and food was scarce, no one ever left their house hungry. His mother never complained, although she had to work so hard her legs would become swollen. From this he learned the value of generosity and serving others, and to do so without complaint.

Reverend Moon's Family Tradition

From Gathering for Reading and Learning Series, Volume 5: Raising Children in God's Will, Washington DC: FFWPUI, 1998.
The reason why I feel grateful to my mother and father is because it was one of our family practices never to let people who visit our house go away without feeding them first.
My mother never even gave a beggar a cold reception. My grandfather was like that, too.
It was a family tradition. If a beggar came to our house asking for food, if my mother or sister-in-law didn't prepare food for them in the kitchen straight away then my grandfather or my father would take out their own dinner tray to give to them. It meant sometimes they didn't eat. However, in their eyes it was all right to miss a meal if you were giving it to a beggar. This is why I am doing what I am for the world today.
In order for people from the Honam area, or the Yongnam area or from all over Korea, to go to the North, they all followed the main road. So if they came to our village to find a place to stay for the night they were always told, "If you go down there you'll find the Moon family's house.
You will be able to stay there for the night." So the guest room was never empty all the year round. Sometimes three rooms were full.

Their extended family had customs that exemplified this type of generosity. Each family would take turns providing a feast for all the relatives on the occasion of a marriage in the family. In this way the young Moon experienced the joy of sharing with others.

Reverend Moon's family experienced great success in his great-grandfather's time, but for the three generations beginning with his grandfather there was much suffering. He realized that this course was one of "indemnity," similar to that experienced by God's chosen people throughout history, to secure a foundation for God's blessing.

Lessons Learned from His Family Situation

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
Looking back upon my life as well as my family's experiences, I see that at one point God gives a blessing but later He is harsh and merciless. Our family experienced much grace at the time of my great-grandfather, but by my grandfather's time we underwent a course of indemnity.
Indemnity would always follow a blessing, similar to the history of the Israelites. After receiving ten blessings, there would have to be that much indemnity received. In order to keep something strong, and to leave a seed, indemnity must be received. Especially if it was to leave a seed for the clan rather than for the family, Satan would pour more trials onto the family than the blessings they had received.
Therefore, until I received the call from God there was great confusion in my family. Our family lost its entire fortune, including some of its members as well. Prior to my embarking on this mission, there had been indemnity in three generations of my family. There was indemnity during my grandfather's generation and during my father's generation, and in my generation my older brother paid indemnity.

B. Nature

As a child Reverend Moon lived in a small village and so was able to take advantage of the surrounding countryside to explore and learn from God's creation. He was naturally drawn to spend time outdoors and knew every place around his village. He studied all the plants, insects, birds, fish, and other animals, following them for hours to see where and how they lived.

Reverend Moon's Love of Nature

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
There was no flower among those I saw that I didn't directly touch when I was young and going around the mountains. There was no flower I didn't know. There were many times when I stayed out in the creation after the sun had gone down. I would fall asleep and, at 12 o'clock at night, I would be found by my parents who would take me back to the house. I liked nature so much.

All Creatures Come in Pairs

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
Because I lived in the country, I caught a lot of insects. There probably was no kind of insect I hadn't caught. Moreover, there was no kind of animal I hadn't caught and brought home. Well, I didn't catch a tiger! I caught wildcats, raccoons, and rabbits, among other animals. It was of such a great interest to me. I thought they were living alone but they all had partners. All things come in twos.

Through intense study of nature he learned many basic truths about the world. He learned that all creatures come in pairs -- male and female. Even when he found a solitary animal and thought it lived alone, eventually he found its mate. Thus he realized from nature that all creation exists in relationships.

He also learned about character from his experiences with nature. For example, after observing the intensity of bees which have found a good source of nectar, he determined to act with such seriousness in his life.

A Lesson from Bees

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
We did a lot of beekeeping. Acacia honey tasted so good. When a bee sits on an acacia and sticks its head inside and feeds, it spreads its front and back legs and sets its behind under it and sucks. If you try to pull its behind with a pair of tweezers, it won't let go even if its behind falls off.
How serious is that bee! The guy who is pulling the bee so that its body will fall off may be brutal, but the bee that won't let go of the flower for the taste it is experiencing is so serious! I saw that and thought that's how I should act as well.

C. Schools

Reverend Moon's schooling began in the small village school in his hometown in the northern part of Korea. This was a traditional school in which the primary method of instruction was to have students memorize the sayings of Confucius. Reverend Moon notes that if he concentrated hard he was able to complete the day's assignment in only 30 minutes, and so was able to spend the rest of the day outside in nature.

Memorizing Confucius' Sayings

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
When I was ten and going to the village school, I had to memorize a page a day. I usually finished memorizing it in thirty minutes. If I concentrated, I could do it in thirty minutes. All I had to do was show my teacher that I had memorized it. What I could do in thirty minutes, other students had to spend a whole day on. After I did my portion for the day, and my teacher took a nap, I went up to the hills to play.

He did not accept limitations placed upon his education. When he encountered anything that limited his acquisition of knowledge, he worked to overcome it by challenging his teachers or even by transferring to a different school. He was not content to have his education limited to the study of the sayings of Confucius.

He recognized at an early age that the world was changing and education in modern science and technology was essential for the future development of his country. Therefore, he left his village school and traveled to attend a school teaching more modern Western ideas.

Desire to Learn More

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
Although my parents paid one year of tuition for the village school, I insisted on going to a better school. I persuaded my parents, my cousin and my grandparents. I was the first one in my family who thought of going to a school teaching new things from the West. I revolutionized their way of thinking. I knew that we should not just be memorizing what Confucius had said while other people were building airplanes.

His elementary school was founded by one of the patriots of the March 1st Independence Movement, and so students were not permitted to speak Japanese. However, he was determined to learn the Japanese language in order to understand and finally overcome his enemy. Therefore, after transferring to a different school he studied hard and learned to understand and speak Japanese fluently.

Learning the Enemy's Language

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
Osan Elementary School did not permit the students to speak Japanese. It was founded by Mr. Lee Seung-hoon, who was one of the thirty-three patriots who had stood up to the Japanese [proclaiming Korean independence on March 1, 1919]. So the school's tradition was to oppose Japanese colonialism. That was why they would not allow students to speak Japanese.
I had to get to know my nation's enemy. Without understanding the enemy, no one can make a good strategy to beat them. So, I took another test to transfer to Jeongju Elementary School, which was a public school at that time.
I learned to speak Japanese fluently there in order to graduate. In the meantime, I came to think about the fundamental questions of life as well as about life of faith -- all the difficult questions.

Reverend Moon's teachers often struggled because he never held back from asking the most difficult questions. He demanded detailed explanations for everything so that he could learn on the most detailed level. He never accepted an answer as true just because it was given but questioned everything to be sure he understood how the answer was reached and that it was correct.

Challenging His Teachers

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
Do you know how many teachers ran away from me when I asked them questions they couldn't answer? I would ask questions like, "Who worked out this physics formula? I can't accept it. Please explain it so I can understand."

D. Life Experiences

Reverend Moon's life has provided an incredible wealth of experiences from which he has gained deep insights into the human condition.

Although he experienced the worst kinds of suffering, he never became resentful or bitter. He always found a way to learn from each situation, believing that God needed him to learn from every encounter and overcome it. Through these experiences he determined to find solutions to all the problems of human society.


From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
I was born in 1920 during the Japanese colonial administration of Korea. I have experienced firsthand the pain and sorrow of a weak nation trampled on by a powerful neighbor. During my youth, I thought seriously about how to bring salvation to this tragic world of war and evil.

Japanese Colonial Administration of Korea

From the time of his birth he has experienced challenging and difficult situations. During his childhood Korea was suffering under Japanese oppression. His family was particularly persecuted for their participation in the March 1st Movement, which had attempted to overthrow Japan's rule in 1919.

Difficult Times

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.

Korea in the 1920s, the time that I was born, was going through a very difficult period -- during which there was a three-year famine. It was also a time when a new struggle against Japanese oppression started based on the March 1st Movement [a nationwide uprising against Japan's colonial rule in 1919]. I was born based on the foundation of the difficulties my family had to undergo in relation to the March 1st Movement.

In Japan

As a student in Japan, he experienced life in his enemy's country. He learned about all kinds of people there and believed that one day the Japanese people would change. In this way he could forgive his enemy. He found solace walking in nature, reminding himself that all things ultimately belong to God and one day would return to their rightful owner.

In the Enemy's Country

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
I used to walk around downtown when I was studying in Tokyo. There is nowhere I did not see in Tokyo. I was making a plan in my mind.
I thought, "In a few years, the young people in Japan will definitely rise up." I studied people, from scholars to simple laborers. I walked around the back streets of Tokyo. I was not happy there, being a patriot for Korea. I talked to nature, the trees and rocks in Japan: "You know you are in the enemy's territory but you must know that you belong to God." That was what I thought.

Meeting All Kinds of People

He did not limit his education to the experiences that were given to him. He deliberately sought out all kinds of situations and met all kinds of people, spending hours talking with laborers, homeless people, and even prostitutes to learn about their lives.

Experiencing All Types of Situation

From Gathering for Reading and Learning Series, Volume 7: The Way for Young People, Washington DC, FFWPUI, 1998.
I have done everything. I even became a beggar. I even did what beggars do. I was even a champion of digging tunnels in mines. If I go to the mountains, there is no grass which I do not know. I know which grass we can eat.
I know everything. When you are chased by someone and hiding in the mountains, you cannot die from hunger. You must eat and stay alive. There is no exercise I have not done.
Therefore, I'm telling you: don't waste your youth. The period of youth will never come twice. It is very valuable.

Learning to Appreciate the Little Things

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
No one likes prison life, but it can teach you to appreciate the little things more.
Prison is the best place for you to learn to appreciate the little things in life. That is the best education. I'm telling you that it is not an entirely terrible thing to be in prison.
Even a single fly can be the object of your love: "If you could speak, I would send greetings to my hometown." You could make friends with even a fly. Nobody likes flies, but they can become your bosom friends in prison. Prison is the only place where you can receive such precious education. My point is that going to prison wasn't just a negative experience I had in my life.


Reverend Moon has been in prison six times. He acknowledges that it is far from an enjoyable situation, yet, at the same time, he regards it as a valuable learning experience. There are things experienced in prison that are not experienced anywhere else, and so these are precious. One thing he learned was to appreciate even the smallest things, such as the companionship of an insect.

Learning from Miserable Situations

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
I never lapsed into self-pity even while in prison.
When I was derided in chains, I thought to myself, "All right, go ahead and laugh at me.
I am going the way I am going because I need to learn something through this." That was what I thought, and to be sure, I learned so much from the most miserable situations.

Knowing that prison is something many people throughout history have experienced, he never indulged in self-pity but always sought to learn from his time there. Rather than dwelling on his own difficulties, he shared whatever he could with fellow inmates, whether it be food, help with their work, a reassuring smile or a comforting touch. In such situations Reverend Moon practiced the true meaning of living for the sake of others.

Truth from God

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
It was my experience as a sixteen-year-old that led me to know God. Over the next nine years, following that initial encounter, I came to live continually in the presence of God and Jesus.
I experienced the spirit world so many times.
Gradually, God revealed to me the amazing truth.
It was like passing through the darkest night and the sun was finally rising on the horizon. I could see the first streak of light of the glorious new culture. The revelation I received then is now called "the Principle." God told me that I must spread that Principle to the end of the earth.

E. God

Reverend Moon did not choose his course of his own volition, or at the suggestion of family, friends, teachers or colleagues. He was called by God and taught directly by Him.

After receiving his mission in 1935, he spent the next nine years of his life in prayer and meditation, studying religious teachings and asking God for answers. He lived in a state of heightened spiritual awareness, in which he could communicate with Jesus and other saints and sages of the past. He was also able to communicate directly with God.

God Has Suffered and Sacrificed for Me

From Sun Myung Moon's Philosophy of Education, Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2002.
Whenever I was undergoing suffering, I could never complain to God because I knew only too well how much more suffering He had had to endure than I. However heavy the cross and however many trials I might have to bear repeatedly, because I knew that there was a God who had experienced far greater agony, I was able to pass through tribulations seemingly effortlessly and overcome the harshest conditions.
Thus, to you who are following in my footsteps, I should not be someone who saps your strength, but rather someone who enriches and energizes you. That is God's way.
That is the teaching I received from God. I am your teacher. Just like God, who has always been there for me, never hesitating to make sacrifices for me, I want to be the shoulders you can lean on and the parent who will empower you and inspire you. I am doing my level best to fulfill this day and night.

Thus God directly taught him many truths about the creation of this world and the history of humankind. Through his spiritual search Reverend Moon was able to uncover God's painful path as He strove to educate His lost children and establish the original ideal world of peace.

Understanding that God has been suffering unspeakable agony since the fall of the first human ancestors, Reverend Moon never complained about his own situation. He has lived in constant awareness of God's presence, realizing that God has placed His hope for the future of humankind in his hands.

In such a situation, God has given him so much love and support, like the true parent He longs to be to all His children. God has encouraged and uplifted him every step of the way. From these experiences, Reverend Moon has learned that a true educator must love his students as his own children, must inspire and encourage them to fulfill their potential, and must always be there for them no matter how difficult the situation is for the teacher.

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