True Family Values
Joong Hyun Pak and Andrew Wilson
Chapter 2 - Loves VerticalAxis [Part 1]
2. Our family pledges to represent and become central to Heaven and Earth by attending God and True Parents; we will perfect the dutiful way of filial piety in our family, patriotism in our nation, saints in the world, and divine sons and daughters in Heaven and Earth, by centering on true love.
Conventionally, people think of love amidst the intimacy of personal relationships, which ought to flower in the family. This is not the way of true love, however. Horizontal love between people must be founded upon the vertical axis of our relationship with God and our individual responsibility to perfect our character. Once our individual love connects with God's vertical love, we have the foundation to properly relate with others in true love. Otherwise, our relationships will not be balanced, and they will wobble and fall apart.
The second clause of the Family Pledge describes how we establish the vertical axis of our love. The words by attending God and True Parents describe the way we orient the vertical axis toward heaven. Our love is fixed in God through our dedication to Him and His will. The words to represent and become central to Heaven and Earth show us the way we ground the vertical axis in the earth. It is anchored at its base as we take responsibility for ourselves and our circumstances. This means our family pledges to stand firm and fulfill our public responsibility in God's providence, regardless of what anyone else does or does not do.
This clause of the Family Pledge delineates the vertical axis of love in another way by defining an ascending ladder of public love. Its starting point is the dutiful way of filial piety. The filial son serves his parents without complaint and thus honors his family above himself. It expands to civic virtue and the way of patriotism. This means to love our community and nation by living for the sake of others. Higher still is the way of a saint, by which we embrace the world by loving even our enemy. The apotheosis of public love is the way of divine sons and daughters in Heaven and Earth, as the scope of our love expands to embrace the cosmos and reaches even to the heart of God. Step by step, as we serve higher centers going up the ladder from family and community to nation, world and cosmos, we approach the throne of God. By thus establishing the vertical axis of love, our love and life comes to resemble God's love and God's life.
Attending God and True Parents
Attendance (moshi) is the basic attitude of faith. It includes dedication to God, but also much more. The word moshio comes from the ethic of chivalry, practiced in the royal court. It nevertheless describes a universal principle of loyalty and service. One who attends the king dedicates himself to the king's welfare. He obeys and serves without complaint. More than that, he comes to feel like a junior partner with the king, sharing the same mission to defend the nation. The king's concerns are his concerns, the king's welfare, his welfare, the king's suffering, his suffering. The king loves such an attendant as his own son or daughter. The king can rely upon him totally to carry out any responsibility. He becomes the king's second self.
In the same manner, our attitude towards God, our Heavenly King and Parent, should be one of attendance. Through our service and dedication to God, we grow in knowledge of His will and heart. We want to share His burden as He strives to cleanse all evil from ourselves, our families, our nation and world. We become His trustworthy attendants and His champions in the cause of goodness.
Ultimately, we discover that we have been transformed into His likeness. Attending God and True Parents means just this. Outwardly, we are co-workers with God and the True Parents, participating with them in the great providence to restore this evil world to the Kingdom of God. Internally, we emulate the True Parents' lifestyle, attitude and heart, with the goal of embodying the True Parents' image in ourselves.
Every religion speaks of faith in God in different ways and with different terms. Yet all have some notion of attendance, as these passages from the world's sacred books illustrate:
O you who believe! Be mindful of your duty to God, and seek the way to approach unto Him, and strive in His way in order that you may succeed. -Qur'an 5.351
Quickly I come to those who offer me every action, who worship me only, their dearest delight, with undaunted devotion. Because they love me, these are my bondsmen, and I shall save them from mortal sorrow and all the waves of life's deathly ocean. -Bhagavad Gita 12.G-7
A sacrificial vessel: The superior man, taking his stance as righteousness requires, adheres firmly to Heaven's decrees. -I Ching SO
Make [God's] will as your will, so that He may make your will as His will. Make naught your will before His will, so that He may make naught the will of others before your will. -Mishnah, Abot 2.4
St. Paul is a good example of a person who attended God and Christ, the True Parent. In his second letter to the Corinthians, he described his service: "Whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him [Jesus Christ]." (2 Cor. 5:9) He understood that God had entrusted him and his fellow evangelists with an important ministry, "God was... entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:19) They were Christ's representatives: "We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us" (2 Cor. 5:20) and co-workers "working together with him." (2 Cor. 6:1) Attending God and Christ in this way, Paul describes himself and his fellow workers as renewed and transformed: "If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17) and "the love of Christ controls us." (2 Cor. 5:14) At the same time, Paul was given a bodily weakness, a "thorn... in the flesh," to let him share in Christ's sufferings as his own. (2 Cor. 12:7-10) Paul devoted himself to serving the Lord Jesus, and in doing so, he was transformed into the image of Christ whom he served.
Nevertheless, when we know the real Jesus, we recognize that there is a deeper level of attendance than even what Paul knew. This is oneness at the level of heart (shimjong) with the living Jesus. Did Paul know anything of Jesus' heart of frustration that he could not fulfill the deepest hopes of his heavenly Father? Did he understand God's heartbreak at watching His only begotten Son go to the cross without being able to realize the dream of the Kingdom? Many Christians to this day, who follow Paul as a model of the ideal Christian, have not fathomed this heart. Is our relationship to God like a newly adopted son who rejoices at his good fortune in receiving his father's bounty? Are we content to know that Jesus and God are well pleased with us? We should rather search out Jesus' deeper sorrow and fathom his unresolved han - a Korean word expressing deep, congealed resentment and pain. We should try to identify emotionally with God's situation as a Parent whose children are still lost in deep darkness and distress, insensible to His love and deaf to His wisdom.
In tears God revealed to Rev. Moon the depth of His pain. His only desire has been to comfort God and relieve His profound grief. By attending God to this degree, our True Parents have realized the same heart as God, who agonizes as the Parent of all humankind. Since they have attained such a parental heart, they could become the True Parents on earth.
Therefore, the way to attend God and True Parents is to develop a parental heart. We can then resonate with God's heart and become His co-workers in relieving the suffering of humankind. The way of attendance is "as a servant, but with the heart of a parent.2 While we serve the people with our bodies, our minds regard them with the heart of parents. When our hearts are parental, we cannot think in a self-centered way. A parent never runs out of patience with her children. Her heart perseveres in loving for eternity and forgives her children a thousand times.
If you relate to your wife always from your own perspective, there will be no end of troubles, but if you can take a parent's heart towards her, any difficulty can be solved. The parental heart means to have God's standpoint in loving others. It is the secret to overcoming one's fallen nature. Knowing God's heart at all times and in all situations, we have the strength to love and rise above our pain.
Conventional spiritual and religious teachings tend to be excessively individualistic. Typically, they depict each person standing alone before God and the universe, making his own future by his faith and his actions. What of his family? What of his love for his wife? Is love and family only a temporary state which ceases at death? Will the loving husband and wife then be separated and sent to different destinations, for perhaps only one of them is saved? Some religions describe life as a spiritual journey to enlightenment through many lifetimes. Is the family merely a classroom in which the individual learns the lessons which he will carry into his next incarnation, when he will have forgotten the love of his former life and now love a new spouse? If we possess the heart of a parent, we will never be happy in heaven if our wife, our children or our parents suffer in hell. We would rather stay in hell with them for eternity, if that is how long it takes to rescue them. Neither would the opportunity for reincarnation have any appeal. If God is a God of true love whose divine heart is as a parent's heart, then He must have made provision in His creation for families of true love to last for eternity.
The Family Pledge calls us to attend God and True Parents as families. It is as families that we are meant to approach God and resemble Him. Our family life should mirror God's life. The divine love which flows among the persons of the Triune God should likewise flow in the relationships which compose the family. Such families are eternal; their true love lasts forever. Living in families and communities of love, we will unite the world's people with one heart.
We Will Be Responsible
The earthly pole of the vertical axis of love is described by the phrase, Our family pledges to represent and become central to Heaven and Earth. The family which represents (taep yo) the cosmos and the family which is central (jungshim) to the cosmos describe in two different ways the attitude of taking responsibility for one's circumstances. The Divine Principle teaches that I as an individual should take responsibility not only for myself but for every problem in my community, my nation and my world:
I must take up the cross of history and accept responsibility to complete its calling. To this end, I must fulfill... all the unaccomplished missions of past prophets and saints who were called in their time to carry the cross of restoration. -Restoration 3
In the Divine Principle we have the term "central figure" - an individual who takes responsibility for God's will and the advancement of God's providence. The Family Pledge recognizes the reality that we take responsibility as families. Every leader, whether in business, politics or the creative fields, stands upon the support of his or her wife and family. When one member of the family takes a public position, the rest of the family must sacrifice. Politicians' spouses and children join them on the grueling campaign trail. Ministers' wives spend long hours supporting their husbands, often financially, often opening their homes to a constant stream of meetings and visitors. When one sacrifices for a public mission, his entire family stands together in the same position.
A family that pledges to represent the cosmos stands up for the will of God, declaring before heaven and earth its love for God and determination to do God's will. That family becomes the object partner with whom God can work. Abraham's family was such a representative family. Abraham obeyed God's call and left his home to journey to a strange land. Through three generations of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, his family fulfilled the conditions to lay the foundation for the Messiah. Through that one family, God could bless the entire cosmos. (Gen. 12:1-3)
The family that represents the cosmos is the master of its circumstances. Its attitude is one of total dedication regardless of the situation, regardless of what anyone else may or may not do. This was the heart of Martin Luther when he nailed up his Ninety-five Theses on the Wittenburg cathedral door, daring to proclaim what thousands of others also believed but were too afraid to say in public. A few years later when he stood before a Papal delegation, he said, "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me." Luther stood up for righteousness when everyone else was cowering in silence. 'therefore, he was the person whom God could lift up as a leader in His providence. Such people can change the course of history.
In the Unification Church, we have a tradition of pioneer missionary work; members go out alone to a strange town for 40 days or more. Such a lonely situation is ideal for cultivating the attitude of standing as God's sole representative. A pioneer missionary has no one else to lean on. Should he fail, no one else will step into the breach. On the other hand, families who live in a large metropolitan area where large numbers of members are concentrated can easily become lax, believing that others will take up the slack. They can lose the sense of being the representative of their community before God. When Rev. and Mrs. Moon embarked on a public speaking tour to every state in America in 1993, they had success even in states where the membership was small and scattered. In fact, the ratio of guests to members was often higher in states with a smaller membership, because those members had the attitude that each was God's sole representative. With that heart, they worked with desperation to bring a good turnout. In this light, only a handful of truly committed people can turn around a nation.
The family that represents the cosmos is also a witness for the will of God before the millions of other families in heaven and earth. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world ... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 5:14-16) When a family stands for God, its behavior is on display. By showing genuine love, it glorifies God. Yet all too often religious people have, by their hypocrisy and disunity, engendered confusion and doubt in people's minds. The anti-religious spirit of the European Enlightenment in the 18th century arose largely due to revulsion over the horrific religious wars of the 17th century. Conflict among religions is thus more hateful to God than the bloodiest massacres by secular and atheistic forces, since religions are meant to show the way. Likewise, when we in the church disunite, criticize our elders, and indulge in quarreling and backbiting, we cripple the progress of God's providence. This is why Jesus aimed his last prayer at Christian believers, praying, "that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou bast sent me and loved them." (John 17:23)
Like it or not, anyone who claims to believe in God, in Jesus and the True Parents stands in a position to represent God, Jesus and the True Parents. We should reflect upon whether we represent them well. The family which represents the United States is the President and First Lady. As Americans, does it please us when we see our President on display as a philanderer? We would rather that our leaders be exemplary, to give our country a good face to the world. God, too, certainly feels this way when he surveys the families which claim to represent Him on the earth. Through their good example, He wants to be proud of humankind and He wants humankind to give honor to Him.
The responsibility of a family to stand as an object partner before God is denoted by the phrase to represent... Heaven and Earth. The dimension of responsibility as it relates to others is denoted by the phrase become central to Heaven and Earth. A central family takes responsibility for the welfare of the people in its domain. Depending on the scope of its mission, a family may be central to its clan, its community, its state, its nation, the world or the cosmos. To represent thus describes the vertical aspect of responsibility, and to become central describes the horizontal aspect of responsibility; this is diagrammed in Figure 2.
Figure 2: The Family That Represents And Is Central To Heaven And Earth
The president is the central figure of his nation; the governor is the central figure of his state. Their policies affect the welfare of all the people in their domains. A hastily declared war can bring misery and death to millions; a misguided economic policy can bring on a depression with widespread poverty. However, there are also central figures who are responsible for the internal, spiritual welfare of a nation and its communities. Even though we may not have an external position or a dignified title, if we bear God's love and blessing we stand in a position to benefit countless others. Such persons are the internal pillars of society, as recognized in many spiritual traditions:
The holy sage stimulates men's hearts and the whole world is thenceforth at peace. - I Ching 313
"He makes no show of his moral worth, Yet all the princes follow in his steps." Hence the moral man, by living a life of simple truth and earnestness, alone can help to bring peace and order in the world. - Doctrine of the Mean 33
Rabbi Assi and Rabbi Ammi, on an educational inspection tour, came to a town and asked for its guardians. The councilmen appeared, but the rabbis said, "These are not guardians, but wreckers of a town! The guardians are the teachers of the young, and instructors of the old, as is written: `Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain' (Ps. 127:1)." - Lamentations Rabbah
In the Bible, the actions of central figures in God's providence affected not just themselves, but all their people and even the course of history. For example, Moses picked twelve leaders to spy out the land of Canaan. Their faithlessness brought misfortune to the entire people of Israel, who had to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Conversely, Joshua's faithfulness brought victory for Israel everywhere they went. Israel in the days of Jesus was chosen as the central nation through whom God intended to establish His Kingdom on earth. When they failed to recognize Jesus as their Messiah, and he went to the cross, it blocked the Kingdom's establishment for two thousand years, with much ensuing suffering for all humankind.
As central families living in the days of the True Parents, we are participating in a critical moment in history, parallel to the time of Jesus' advent. We have an opportunity not available to people since Jesus' day to build the Kingdom of God on earth. We can open the gate for millions to enter the Kingdom along the path we have pioneered. If we devote ourselves to serving God and the True Parents, we will steer the course of history to the benefit of all humankind. On the other hand if we fail, billions will languish in misery. The world could degenerate into a cesspool of immorality with civilization collapsing, AIDS running rampant, and people bereft of hope succumbing to the law of the jungle. The way of the true family is the world's last, best hope, but whether or not people find it depends upon us. In this sense, our families are central to the cosmos and pivotal to its destiny.
The second pledge sets up a vertical ladder of love, extending heavenward to God and grounded in our public responsibility on the earth. In specifying further the several rungs on this ladder, the pledge calls us to perfect the dutiful way. The Korean word for dutiful way is do-ri, composed of two Chinese characters: Tao means the Way or path of conduct, and li is the term from Confucian metaphysics meaning the immanent principle of nature or, when applied to human beings, one's innate virtue. Do-ri means the path of virtue, the way of duty. It is the way of life which is in harmony with the order of the cosmos and which illuminates one's innate moral goodness. In the Family Pledge, the path of virtue is defined by a fourfold ethic of public responsibility, or four levels of vertical love, four applications of a single ethical principle. Simply put, the ethic of filial piety defines the fundamental principle which applies at each level: filial piety at the level of the family, patriotism for the sake of the nation, saints who live for the world, and divine sons and daughters who live for the welfare of the entire cosmos. We can climb the vertical ladder of love by practicing these four levels of filial piety.
In contemporary Western society, we tend to think of ethics as the way we conduct ourselves in our dealings with other people. An ethical person is honest, trustworthy, keeps his promises, and treats others fairly and with respect. These are all ethics arising in horizontal relationships. American democracy is a society based upon brotherhood, and our ethical values bear this out. Conventionally, Americans think of ethics as honoring personal relationships voluntarily entered into. The down side of this view is that it can sometimes be ethical and honorable to end such relationships - particularly when the going gets rough. Indeed, in contemporary society, many of us hold on to our relationships no more seriously than to business contracts. When people marry, they may hire a lawyer to draw up a prenuptial agreement. Divorce may be painful, but when it is done with the willing consent of both spouses, it is like a decision to end a contract. The ethics of relationships presumes that we are atomized individuals who choose when to enter a particular relationship and when to leave it. The love generated within a relationship can easily grow cold. The ethic of filial piety, on the other hand, teaches that living up to one's commitments even without always feeling like it is the essence of character and nobility. In comparison with filial piety, conventional voluntaristic ethics is shallow and often self-serving.
We do not choose our parents. We do not choose the circumstances of our birth. Our parents remain our parents forever. We cannot divorce them. Our relationship with our parents is not voluntary; we must digest whatever difficulties may arise. Nevertheless, we still experience the relationship with our parents as one of the few enduring relationships in our lives. If we cultivate the ethic of filial devotion to parents, we naturally prepare for a marriage that will last "for rich or for poor, in sickness and health." As we regard our parents, we will likewise regard marriage not as just a relationship but as an eternal, unbreakable bond.
It is written in the Ten Commandments, "Honor your father and your mother." (Exod. 20:12) In former times, a dutiful son or daughter devoted to his parents' welfare deserved praise. Today, though, many Americans have forgotten the ethic of filial devotion. They think that when they leave home at age eighteen to go to work or college, they carry no further obligations to their parents. Their parents, they believe, expect them to fend for themselves while they live out the rest of their lives unencumbered by children. Moreover, they expect to have little to do with their parents' welfare, since their parents' pension and social security will allow them to retire, move to Florida, and enjoy their sunset years. Yet in reality, what their aged parents desire more than anything else in the world is to enjoy the company of their grandchildren. They regard their grandchildren as the fruit of their lives, the reward of years of toil. Although many senior citizens want to live independently, they also want their children and grandchildren to visit often. They treasure the bonds of love which these visits sustain. Sadly, millions of lonely seniors in our society are all but ignored by their families, miserably warehoused in nursing homes or languishing in retirement communities until death takes them.
"Even crows bring food for their parents," goes one Korean proverb. In today's society, some people are so devoid of love for their parents that they approach them with calculation, thinking, "Maybe if I serve my parents for a few years, they will give me a large inheritance." Otherwise upright citizens turn their parents into paupers in order to avoid large health-care expenses that might drain the nest egg which they expect to inherit upon their death. In the infamous Menendez case, two young people killed their parents to obtain their inheritance and then convinced one jury that they were justified due to years of abuse. The Menendez brothers are symptomatic of our times, when filial love has been replaced by scheming for the parents' bank account. It is time Americans rediscovered the ethic of filial devotion which is in fact explicit in our own Judeo-Christian traditions.
In Asia, the ethic of filial piety (hyo) exalts filial devotion as the highest virtue. It teaches good sons and daughters to feel a debt of gratitude to their parents, who have shed their tears, sweat and blood to bring them into the world, to feed, raise and educate them. From childhood, children schooled in filial piety offer their parents willing obedience. As they grow older, they come to understand their parents' deepest ideals and longings. They uphold their parents' values and want to make their parents proud of them. To give some examples, filial siblings will strive to get along harmoniously with one another because they know it makes their parents happy. Again, many immigrant parents take menial jobs and scrimp and save to send their children to college; when their children become successful professionals, they fulfill their parents' dream. Parents are also proud of their children when they deal with life's challenges with courage, faith and compassion. They see the best of themselves in their children, who manifest the very ideals which they inculcated in them. Finally, filial children take care of their parents in their old age. Should they become senile and incontinent, they would never wish to ensconce them in old age homes, but will take them to their bosom and care for them like children. The noblest expression of filial piety is when children sacrifice their own comforts to take care of their parents.
Nobody's parents are perfect. Often parents will do things that are harmful to others or hurtful to their children. Nevertheless, a good child is filial. The Gospel of Luke records that when Jesus was twelve years old, his parents left him in Jerusalem. They were a day's journey out before they discovered the boy's absence. We can guess from this incident that his parents did not have much regard for their son. They certainly were not devoted to him as the Christ, neither could they comprehend his behavior when he said, "I must be in my Father's house." Nevertheless, Jesus remained obedient to them as a filial son. (Luke 2:51) _
In the Orient, a filial child is expected to remonstrate with his parents when they take the wrong road, urging them to refrain from evil that could stain the family's reputation. He does not become selfrighteous or oppose his parents, but remains always their humble child even as he tries to guide them. In the Confucian tradition, the legendary example of a filial son enduring hostile parents was the ancient Chinese King Shun. Shuns parents were so evil that they wanted to kill him, yet he never departed from filial piety. Once Shuns parents made him dig a well, intending to throw the dirt on top of him as he worked at the bottom of the pit and bury him alive. Shun was informed of their plot and dug a side chamber; thus he survived and later dug his way out. In those days, the kings of China did not promote their own children but scoured the kingdom for the person whose virtue would make him most suitable for the throne. Shuns filial piety was so renowned that King Yao selected him as his heir and gave him the throne of the empire.
In both the East and the West, many children have the problem of resentment against their parents. If a child holds his resentment inside, it can fester and cause permanent damage to the spirit. It is better for the child to find some outlet to express his righteous heart, for example, by striving harder to go a righteous way even in spite of the parents' bad attitude. The knowing child understands and makes allowances for his parents' faults. He takes a lesson from them and strives not to make the same error in his own life.
For examples of sons who had reason to harbor resentment and complaint against their fathers, we need only look to the Bible and its accounts of Isaac and Ham. Surely Isaac could have complained in his heart after his father Abraham had stumbled while making the offering of the animals because he did not cut the birds in two. (Gen. 15:9-16) Because of his father's foolish mistake, Isaac's descendants were fated to become slaves in Egypt. How would you have felt if you were Isaac? And yet, when Abraham asked Isaac to offer himself as a human sacrifice, Isaac dutifully complied. Instead of distrusting his father for failing, Isaac determined even to sacrifice his life to help his father redeem himself before God. His devotion to God and filial piety to his father in the face of death is celebrated in Jewish literature:
Isaac willingly and gladly went with his father to Mount Moriah, to offer up his young life to the God whom he adored. As they were wending their way to perform the will of God, Isaac said to his father, "O father, I am yet young, and I am fearful lest my body tremble at the sight of the knife, causing you grief; I am fearful lest the offering shall not be a perfect one, perfect as I should like it to be. - Genesis Rabbah 56.114
Noah's son Ham had a painful childhood. His father probably demanded that he work long hours helping him build the ark. He was likely teased by all the other children as the townspeople called his father a fool and a madman. The Bible reports that after the flood, Ham showed disrespect for his father while he lay naked in his tent and swayed his brothers to join him. (Gen. 9:22-25) In that deed Ham expressed years of pent-up resentment. But the result was disastrous. Ham was cursed for being an unfilial son. Worse, because of Ham's sin, God's providence through Noah was broken.
Isaac and Ham are two examples for us. Just about everyone has cause for resentment against some elder in the church. Anyone can criticize a leader's mistakes. The issue is, will we be like Isaac, determined to be filial regardless of our leader's flaws and even willing to help him overcome them? Or will we be like Ham, ready to criticize and even expose his flaws before others? Isaac digested his resentment and expressed it in a loving and constructive manner, while Ham let his resentment rule him and expressed it in a way that was hateful and destructive.
Among the most outstanding examples of filial piety are those persons who serve their parents-in-law with unstinting devotion, regardless of the circumstances. In the Bible, Ruth was such a filial daughter-in-law. When her husband died, she was still young and beautiful, and could easily have remarried. Nevertheless, Ruth preferred to serve her mother-in-law Naomi, who had also lost her husband. She accompanied her on the long journey back to Israel and an uncertain future. When Ruth married Boaz, she gave Naomi her first son. The people responded with praise, "May his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him." (Ruth 4:14-15) In Korea there are many such filial daughter-in-laws, who, though they might be widowed, still serve their husbands' parents faithfully even as they raise their own children. Rev. Moon says:
Today, when we ask a woman who is about to get married why she gets married, she will answer that she does so in order to be loved. This needs to be corrected. Rather, she should say that she gets married so she can love the father and mother and brothers and sisters of her husband, so that she can love her husband's whole clan and even the country to which they belong. When she does that, she will, in a decade's time, be raised up to occupy the position of the mother of that household, the position as grandmother of a palace-certainly more than a mere daughter-in-law. But if she demands love, her troubles will never cease: she will be pushed to the corner and the back room and eventually be chased out the gate.'
Filial Piety Is the Root of Public Love
According to a well-known Confucian ethical treatise, filial piety is the root of all virtues and the principle behind all moral teaching:
Now filial piety is the root of all virtue, and the stem out of which grows all moral teaching ... Our bodies-to every hair and bit of skin-are received by us from our parents, and we must not presume to injure or wound them: this is the beginning of filial piety. When we have established our character by the practice of the filial course, so as to make our name famous in future ages, and thereby glorify our parents: this is the end of filial piety. It commences with the service of parents; it proceeds to the service of the ruler; it is completed by the establishment of [good] character. - Classic on Filial Piety
Filial piety establishes the ethical model for the Principled life. What begins from serving one's parents in the family expands to the service of the nation, world and cosmos. This is the principle of serving the whole. The Divine Principle teaches us to place the whole purpose ahead of self purpose. The family is the first whole within which we exist. Our parents embody the family, live to support the family, and are ever concerned for its welfare. Hence, when we serve our parents, we are serving the whole purpose.
Why do we serve the whole? Because the whole loves us, cares for us and gives us tremendous benefit. Serving the whole is not to be coerced by law; it should be a joyful expression of gratitude. The part returns service to the whole as his portion in a transaction of love. The central principle of ethics is the duty to serve the whole. This ethic should be motivated by gratitude for what the whole gives us.
Our parents gave us life, "our bodies-to every hair and bit of skin-are received by us from our parents." They sacrificed themselves to nurture and raise us, forgetting their own comfort to give us what we needed. For this reason, we naturally feel gratitude to our parents and want to serve them and care for them. By the same token, our nation protects us by maintaining an ordered, lawful and peaceful society. It nurtures us by providing a flourishing economy with efficient transportation and communication. It upholds our freedoms and the institutions of democracy which empower us to contribute to the welfare of others. Imagine how difficult life would be without the supportive and protective matrix of the nation and its institutions. Therefore, we should be as grateful to our nation as we are to our parents, and should desire to contribute to its welfare as citizens and patriots.
Moreover, the world-meaning human society past, present and future-comprises the social environment in which we can flourish. We are indebted to the people of the world for the blessings of civilization, both spiritual and material. The products we eat and use in our homes come from all over the world: bananas, chocolate and coffee from South America, oil from the Middle East, television sets from Japan and clothing made in China. Furthermore, life as we know it today would not be possible were it not for foundations of civilization laid in places like Israel, Greece, Rome, India, China, Africa and Western Europe. The religion, philosophy, science, mathematics, technology, art and music which we take for granted were developed by the achievements of people of every land and of every race. Conversely, poverty and neglect in one part of the world can produce baneful effects everywhere; for example, a killer disease breeding in an impoverished population in Africa has become a world-wide epidemic. When we recognize how much we receive from people all over the globe, and how interconnected the world has become, we cannot but desire to help all the people of the world to have peace and prosperity. We are grateful to the world's people for their existence which enriches us, and in return we desire to work for the world's welfare by becoming saints who love the world.
Finally, we are indebted to God our Creator, and to His creation, both the physical and spiritual worlds. Our planet Earth nurtures us in innumerable ways, giving us our very life breath. All the earth's creatures contribute to our well-being. Therefore, we should work to protect the Earth from harm and to improve the environment. The Earth is suffering from chemical pollution in the atmosphere, rivers and oceans, and from nuclear waste buried under its skin. If we are sensitive to the Earth's suffering, we will do our part to clean up the unnatural pollutants which are causing imbalance and can potentially endanger our existence. The spirit world guides and inspires us with divine love and wisdom. Gratitude for the nurturing love of mother Earth and the guidance and wisdom of Heaven prompts us to put ourselves in service to their well-being as divine sons and daughters in Heaven and Earth.
From each of these levels, from the smallest to the greatest, comes nurturing, support and guidance as from our own parents. To each level we offer filial devotion and service with grateful hearts. Thus we complete the ever-flowing circuit of vertical love.
Furthermore, in supporting the whole, the individual comes to feel a sense of ownership in the whole. He can take pride in its achievements, which are due in some measure to his efforts. In turn, the whole values the individual and appreciates him as an inseparable part, integral to its function. For example, the filial son in serving his parents serves the family as a whole. He comes to feel pride in his contribution to his family. He feels a sense of ownership: His family needs him and depends upon him; he is truly integral to its well-being. In serving the community in which he lives, the individual becomes a pillar of the community. The mayor and other civic leaders praise him and rely on him. He is no outsider or passive recipient of his community's largess; he is an integral part of his community and is proud of his contribution to its prosperity. The same principle applies to the larger wholes of the nation, world, cosmos and God. We all want to take pride in our participation in the greatest whole and feel a sense of ownership over its accomplishments. Similarly, we all like to be valued and respected by our nation, by the world, and by God. Our inborn nature longs to have the highest value and take pride in the greatest things. To attain such a great value, we must serve the greatest whole. Therefore, the principle of serving the whole has no limit.
The ethic of filial piety derives from the law of nature. It is the universal pattern of the cosmos reflected in the human world. The natural world is organized on the principle that entities on a lower level serve and participate in those on a higher level. An electron finds a set position in the cosmos when it becomes part of a hydrogen atom. If the atom unites with other atoms to form a molecule of sugar, that electron now has the value of constituting a food fit for life. Incorporated in the cell of a carrot plant, it is now part of a living being. When a human being eats the carrot, that electron is incorporated into the body of a child of God. In this way a tiny electron, which could be lost in the vastness of space, participates in a being of the highest value. All entities in the cosmos at every level find their value by serving the whole. Human life is meant to be in harmony with nature; hence, human ethics mirrors nature's law.
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