An Introduction to the Thought of Sun Myung Moon: Unification Thought and V.O.C. Theory

Chapter 2 Ontology

Ontology is the study of the basic rules governing existing beings or entities and their common characteristics. In Unification Thought, each individual thing is called an existing being or entity. Hence, ontology is the theory that relates to these entities. According to the principle that all created beings resemble God, they also resemble the polarity and correlativity of the dual characteristics of the Original Image. To the extent that it resembles the polarity of God's dual characteristics, each individual being or entity is called an individual embodiment of truth. To the extent that individual beings together resemble the correlative nature of the Original Image, they are called a connected body. Thus, in summary, ontology is the theory dealing with individual embodiments of truth and connected bodies.

I. The Individual Embodiment of Truth

An individual embodiment of truth is an entity that resembles the Universal Image (the dual characteristics) and the Individual Image of the Original Image. It thus necessarily contains sungsang and hyungsang, and also yang and yin, i.e., the two sets of correlative elements, as well as the Individual Image.

A. Sungsang and Hyungsang

Resembling the Original Image, all created entities possess the two aspects of sungsang and hyungsang. Sungsang represents the invisible aspect (that of function, disposition, nature, etc.), while hyungsang represents material, structure, shape, and other visible aspects.

First, in the mineral kingdom, the sungsang appears in the form of physio-chemical reactions, while the hyungsang appears as the structure and shape of matter constituted of atoms and molecules. The sungsang specific to plants is life. Their specific hyungsang consists of cells and the organism constituted by these cells, their structure or, simply stated, the plants' shape and appearance. Thus, plants possess not only their own specific sungsang and hyungsang; at the same time, they also include the sungsang and hyungsang elements proper to the level of minerals. As for the animals, their specific sungsang is instinct and their specific hyungsang is their shape, structure, etc., including sense organs and nerves. Naturally, besides their own specific sungsang and hyungsang, animals also include the sungsang and hyungsang belonging to the levels of minerals and plants.

In the case of human beings, the specific sungsang consists of the mind of their spirit self (the spirit mind) and the specific hyungsang consists of the body of that spirit self (the spirit body). As for human beings' physical existence, the sungsang is called the physical mind, while the hyungsang is the physical body.

In that case again, humans not only have their own specific sungsang (the spirit mind) and hyungsang (the spirit body), they also include all the general sungsang and hyungsang characteristics proper to the levels of minerals, plants, and animals. Thus, human beings embody all elements of created entities and can be regarded as the integration of all things or a microcosm of the universe. Moreover, as the level of existing beings becomes higher – from minerals to plants, animals, and human beings – the content of the sungsang and hyungsang increases with each step or stratum. This is called the layered structure of sungsang and hyungsang in existing beings or entities, as illustrated in Fig. 7.

Fig. 7: Layered Structure of Sungsang and Hyungsang in Existing Entities

B. Yang and Yin

All things resemble the yang and yin nature of the Original Image and exist through a mutual relationship between a substantial yang entity and a substantial yin entity. Thus, animals exist through the relationship between male and female, plants exist through that between stamen and pistil, molecules through that between cations and anions, and atoms through the mutual relationship between the positive and negative protons and electrons.

As indicated in the chapter on the Original Image, yang and yin are also dual characteristics of God. At the same time, though, they are attributes of sungsang and hyungsang. Hence, sungsang and hyungsang each contain yang and yin. In the case of human beings, if man is first considered as a substantial yang being and woman as a substantial yin being from the point of view of the hyungsang, the difference between the two is obvious, because of their quantitative difference. Man's body has more yang elements than the woman's body, and the woman's body has more yin elements than man's. Contrary to this, in the realm of sungsang (emotion, intellect, and will), the difference between man and woman is qualitative. For instance, in terms of the yang-type quality of having a bright mind, the brightness itself is shared equally by both man and woman, but the quality of that brightness is different. In the case of man, there is a tendency to focus on the larger scope of things, while women tend to analyze things more in detail.

Similarly, in all things, yang and yin appear as the attributes of sungsang and hyungsang. As attributes of sungsang, yang and yin appear as fast and slow movements respectively in the case of animals, as growth and withering in plants, and as fast or slow physio-chemical reactions in the mineral world. Yang and yin also appear as attributes of the hyungsang of all things, as in the following examples: protruding parts and hollow parts, high and low, front and back, bright and dark, hard and soft, active and passive, clear and cloudy, hot and cold, day and night, summer and winter, heaven and earth, and mountains and valleys.

The process by which God created the universe, harmoniously mixing yang and yin elements, can be compared to a majestic work of art or to a great symphony. The harmonious interaction of yang and yin is indispensable for the production of change and development and for the expression of beauty. This leads to the conclusion that God placed yang and yin as attributes of sungsang and hyungsang in order to express harmony and beauty through them.

C. Subject and Object

1. The Three Primary Characteristics of the Individual Embodiment of Truth

Since all things exist within time and space, individual embodiments of truth possess yet another type of correlative pairs. That pair consists of the principal element and the subordinate element. These three subject – object pairs, i.e., sungsang and hyungsang, yang and yin, and principal element and subordinate element together form the three basic kinds of correlative relationships with which every individual embodiment of truth is necessarily endowed. In terms of their content, subject and object come under one of the following types:

First, there is the original type, which can be found in God's creation as the eternal relationship between the universal subject and object. For example, we have the relationship between parents and children, husband and wife, teacher and pupils, stars and planets, the nucleus of a cell and the cytoplasm, and the nucleus of an atom and its electrons.

Second, there is the temporary type, which corresponds to a situation such as the relationship between a lecturer and his audience, which lasts during the time of the lecture.

Third, there is the alternating type, which corresponds to a situation like a conversation between two persons where the positions of subject and object change.

Fourth, there is the arbitrary type in a situation where human beings can freely decide which side is subject and which side is object. For instance, in the relationship between animals and plants, animals discharge carbon dioxide, which is given to plants, and plants, in turn, discharge oxygen, which is given to animals. From the perspective of the flow of oxygen, plants can be regarded as subject; but from the perspective of the flow of carbon dioxide, animals are subject.

2. The System of Individual Embodiments of Truth in the Created World

All existing entities must have the correlative relationships of subject and object consisting of sungsang and hyungsang, yang and yin, and principal and subordinate. Let us now consider some concrete examples of subject – object relationships ranging from the largest or highest level, that of the cosmos, to the level of the infinitesimally small, that of the elementary particles.

No matter how large, the cosmos is also an individual embodiment of truth. It consists of the spirit world and the physical world. The spirit world is the universe that cannot be seen with our eyes; the physical world is the universe that can be seen with our eyes. The two stand in a subject – object relationship. The universe (the physical world) is itself also an individual embodiment of truth. The universe has a center, and nearly 200 billion nebulae similar to our galaxy are revolving around it. In this particular case, the center of the universe is the principal element, and each galaxy is a subordinate element.

Likewise, the Milky Way, in which we live, is its own individual embodiment of truth consisting of a nucleus (the principal element) and about 200 billions stars revolving around it (the subordinate element). In the solar system, we have the sun and the nine planets, and the earth has a core and a crust. In both cases, this implies a principal element and a subordinate element. In the family, we have parents (principal element) and children (subordinate element), husband (yang element) and wife (yin element), which are two instances of the subject – object relationship. In the same way, our physical body consists of the brain and the body's limbs, and a cell consists of a nucleus and the cytoplasm. The nucleus itself consists of chromosomes and nuclear sap. Each chromosome consists of DNA and proteins. DNA consists of nitrogenous bases, sugars, and phosphates.

The atom contains protons and electrons and, on the lowest level, elementary particles also consist of a principal element and a subordinate element.

Accordingly, in the created world, there are various strata containing innumerable individual embodiments of truth, ranging from the smallest realm of elementary particles to the vast cosmos, all containing the correlative elements of subject and object (Fig. 8). On the other hand, when seen from the perspective of an individual embodiment of truth of a higher level, an individual embodiment appears as a mere component of that higher entity. The reason for this is that each individual embodiment of truth resembles the two-stage structure of the Original Image, thus containing a subject – object pair within themselves, while at the same time externally maintaining a subject – object relationship with other entities. This dual (internal and external) subject – object relationship of individual embodiments of truth is expressed as the two-stage structure of existence of created entities.

Fig. 8: The System of Individual Embodiments of Truth in the Created World

3. Give-and-Take Action

When two individual entities standing in a correlative relationship of subject and object engage in the action of exchanging specific forces or elements, this is called give-and-take action. Through this give-and-take action, all things exist, multiply, change, and develop.

There are also several types of give-and-take action, depending on whether the subject and object act consciously and out of their own volition or not:

First, there is the bi-conscious type, which applies to a classroom situation where the teacher is subject and the students are object. In that case, both sides act consciously.

Second, there is the uni-conscious type. When the teacher writes on the blackboard, there is also a give-and-take action between him and the chalk he is using, only in that case there is consciousness on the part of the teacher, but not the chalk.

Third, there is the unconscious type, in which animals and plants unconsciously exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen. In such cases, even if one side or both have consciousness, the exchange itself occurs unconsciously.

Fourth, there is the heteronomous type, when neither the subject nor the object has consciousness and they both engage in give-and-take action through the volition of a third party. This applies to the relationship between the sun as subject and the earth as object.

Fifth, there is the contrast or collation type. When someone compares two or more things and discovers a certain harmony amongst them, these things can be considered as being engaged in some sort of give-and-take action. Hence, it is called the contrast or collation type give-and-take action.

4. Correlatives and Opposites

An individual embodiment of truth inevitably contains the elements of subject and object, i.e., correlatives. With respect to the assertion that in everything there must be two different elements, Unification Thought and the Materialist Dialectic have similar views, but they differ in their understanding of development. If we affirm that a common purpose is included, the two elements are correlatives; if not, we must call them opposites. Also, if the reciprocal action of the two elements is harmonious, it is give-and-take action between correlatives; if not, the action is of a dialectical nature. If both elements find themselves in the subject position, a conflictual relationship between opposites will occur; if their positions are different, the correlatives of subject and object will result. In essence, nature affirms the law of reciprocity, rather than the law of dialectics.

II. The Connected Body

When an individual embodiment of truth interacts with another individual embodiment of truth and realizes an outer four-position foundation, it is called a connected body. There are four different types of connected bodies, i.e., the connected body as seen from the perspective of structure, purpose, relationship and direction, and position.

A. The Connected Body Seen from the Perspective of Structure

When considered from the perspective of the structure of existence, all things are a connected body. When an individual embodiment of truth has realized an internal four-position foundation and then an outer four-position foundation by establishing a relationship with another individual embodiment of truth, this individual embodiment of truth comes to resemble the two-stage structure of the Original Image and is called a connected body.

B. The Connected Body Seen from the Perspective of Purpose

When seen from the perspective of the purpose of creation, all things represent a connected body. From the perspective of purpose, every individual embodiment of truth necessarily has dual purposes, i.e., the individual purpose and the purpose for the whole, which are related to the connected body. From the above, we can understand that the purpose for the whole should have priority over individual purpose. Also, within the purpose for the whole, there is a hyungsang purpose for the whole and a sungsang purpose for the whole. On each level, from elementary particles to the entire universe, created things exist for the sake of forming a created being of a higher dimension. But, at the same time, they exist for the sake of human beings. The former corresponds to a hyungsang purpose for the whole; the latter corresponds to a sungsang purpose for the whole.

C. The Connected Body Seen from the Perspective of the Direction of the Relationship

In realizing an outer four-position foundation, human beings establish a give-and-take action in six directions: above and below, front and back, and right and left. Above are one's parents, superiors and seniors; below are one's children, subordinates and juniors. In front are one's teachers, leaders and more experienced colleagues; behind are one's disciples, followers and less experienced colleagues. On the right are one's brothers and sisters, one's friends, and one's co-workers; on the left are those who disagree with us, those who oppose us, and those whose personality does not fit ours. Thus, each human being connects with others in six different directions. In this way, an individual embodiment of truth is also a connected body.

D. The Connected Body Seen from the Perspective of Position

From the perspective of order and position as well, all things are a connected body. The universe is an orderly system; the same can be said of a family, a group, or a country. Within such an organized system, each individual being takes the position of an object when facing a subject, and the position of subject when facing an object.

Therefore, within such a system, each individual being will at the same time have the position of subject and that of object. In this way, an individual embodiment of truth is at the same time a connected body.

III. The Mode of Existence

The mode of existence is a concept that only applies to the created world that exists in time and space. When the give-and-take action among God's attributes is manifested in the world of creation, it takes on the appearance of time and space. The give-and-take action within the Original Image is smooth, peaceful, and harmonious. When it appears as time and space in the created world, it takes on the shape of circular motion. Circular motion is thus the mode of existence of created beings.

A. Circular Motion

When, in the created world, two elements standing in the positions of subject and object enter into give-and-take action centering on purpose, a united body appears as a result. In the course of this give-and-take action, subject and object are actually the only two elements involved. Standing in the central position, purpose is itself not an existing entity, and the union or united body is merely a state resulting from the give-and-take action. The center of that give-and-take action does not reside midway between the subject and the object, but within the subject itself. This is the reason why motion resulting from give-and-take action manifests itself as circular motion centered on the subject. The perfect give-and-take of sungsang and hyungsang, centering on Heart (purpose) within the Original Image is manifested symbolically in its harmony and perfection through circular motion in the world of time and space.

B. The Types of Circular Motion

Practically speaking, each created entity can successfully fulfill its purpose of creation (purpose for the whole and for the individual) by performing a circular motion in two ways:

1. Basic Circular Motion

a) Circular motion in space: examples are the repetitive rotation or revolution of material entities such as the heavenly bodies and elementary particles. Here, the identity-maintaining give-and-take action within the Original Image takes on spatial features.

b) Circular motion in time: the repetition of life cycles and the succession of generations in living organisms come under this category. Here, the developmental give-and-take action within the Original Image takes on a temporal, spiral form.

2. Transformed Circular Motion

a) Motion with a fixed nature: this motion takes place when an individual entity strives to fulfill its purpose of creation. This is the case when a satellite remains on a fixed trajectory (e.g., in the case of atoms or the cells constituting the organism of any given living being).

b) Motion with an alternating nature: the term is used to describe the circulation of blood and lymph, or the flow of nutrients in plants, in which cells form the equivalent of circular movement (similarly, the circulation of goods and currency in economic life).

c) Spiritual circular motion: in human beings, the give-and-take action between the spirit mind and the physical mind is not material circular movement, but rather takes place as the physical mind responds to the requests of the spiritual mind (e.g., the harmonious interpersonal give-and-take in the family and in society).

C. Rotation and Revolution

When an entity performs circular motion, it always involves, simultaneously, rotation and revolution. This is because each entity is at the same time an individual embodiment of truth and a connected body, i.e., it performs internal and external give-and-take action at the same time. The circular motion that is performed through internal give-and-take is called rotation and the circular motion performed according to external give-and-take is called revolution.

IV. The Position of Existence

A. The Position of Existence Seen from the Point of View of the Connected Body

In the created world, the different positions of subject and object that are present in the Original Image are manifested as an orderly system. Each entity is at the same time an individual embodiment of truth and a connected body and therefore finds itself both in the position of object and that of subject. As a result, countless individual bodies are connected to each other in terms of up and down, front and back, and right and left, and thus form an orderly system of positions. Thus, the universe consists of innumerable connected bodies with a specific position. These connected bodies resembles the two-stage structure of the Original Image and exists as its extension, possessing the same two-stage structure, making the universe into one gigantic orderly system.

B. Order in the Universe and Order in the Family

Order in the universe is realized both vertically and horizontally. For instance, the order that is realized by reaching from the infinitesimal subatomic particles to the universe as a whole is vertical order, while the arrangement of the nine planets around the sun, for example, represents horizontal order. Vertical order is realized as follows: atoms -- molecules -- minerals -- satellites (the moon) -- planets (the earth) -- stars (the sun) -- galaxies (the Milky Way) -- the center of the universe. Horizontal order, centering on the sun, goes as follows: Mercury -- Venus -- Earth -- Mars -- Jupiter - Saturn -- Uranus -- Neptune -- Pluto (Fig. 9).

Fig. 9: Examples of Vertical and Horizontal Orders in the Universe

The family structure is a miniature of the universe and the universe is an enlarged form of the family. Therefore, the family also has both vertical and horizontal order. Grandchildren, children, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are connected vertically; brothers and sisters within a family form a horizontal structure around the parents (Fig. 10).

Fig. 10: Vertical and Horizontal Order within the Family

In the universe, order and peace are maintained through the law of perfect and harmonious give-and-take action. This is the "Way of Heaven". In the family as well, peace is maintained through the law of the give-and-take of love, i.e., through an ethical principle. This principle of love means ethics; thus, ethics and the "Way of Heaven" correspond to each other.

V. Universal Law

Universal law, or the "Way of Heaven" is the law that maintains the vertical and horizontal order of the universe, the law of give-and-take action (or simply law of give-and-take). This law, or principle can be subdivided as follows into seven characteristics, each one of these representing a subordinate law.

1. Correlativity. Every entity not only possesses the correlative elements of subject and object within itself, but also engages in external correlative relationships of subject and object with other entities.

2. Purposefulness and Centrality. The correlative elements of subject and object always possess a common purpose and perform give-and-take action centering on that purpose.

3. Order and Position. Every existing entity has its own position and thus maintains a certain order.

4. Harmony. The give-and-take action between subject and object is smooth and harmonious. There can be no opposition or struggle in that relationship, because God's love is always at work in it.

5. Individuality and Connectedness. Every individual entity, while maintaining its own inherent characteristics, has relationships with other entities and interacts with them.

6. Identity-Maintaining Nature and Developmental Nature. Every organic body maintains, throughout its life, an unchanging or identity-maintaining nature; at the same time, as it grows, it also has the aspect of change and development, hence a developmental nature.

7. Circular Motion. In the give-and-take action between subject and object, the object revolves around the subject and performs circular motion in space or in time.

Universal law originates in the action of Logos. Behind it we find the action of love, because when God created the universe through Logos, he was motivated by Heart and love. When applied to the individual, this law appears as morality; when applied to the family, it takes the form of ethics. In sum, the principles of the universe and the ethical laws of the family correspond to each other. 

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