Contemplating Unification Thought
by Dr. Jennifer P. Tanabe
How would it be if every adult in the world were perfect?
There are several possible reactions to this question, and I think I have experienced them all at some time. One is, "How boring to have everyone be the same!" Another, "Impossible, only Jesus (or True Parents) can be perfect, the rest of us are only human." A variation from those who do not believe in God might be, "Impossible, only machines are perfect, human beings always make mistakes." Yet another reaction, "I can't imagine it really, but I believe that some time in the future that ideal will come." And finally, "That would be great, it would solve all the major problems of the world, and I believe that it will happen soon because the Messiah has already come and shown us the way."
I think some of the reasons why such reactions occur are because of our misunderstanding of what it means to be "perfect." Other reasons are based more on what can be termed our fallen nature, or our tendency to take the easier way instead of challenging ourselves to greater heights in relating to others and in doing good toward others. For example, "I can't imagine it really" can be translated into "I won't ever be perfect because I have this and that imperfection which I don't think I am going to overcome in the foreseeable future, and everyone else I know is like that too."
So, what do we mean by perfect, if it is something that we don't think will ever apply to all human adults. First, since Unification Thought begins with God, let me start by looking at the "only machines are perfect" type of response. It's amazing really that we are willing to ascribe infallibility to machines made by imperfect human beings, but not perfection to ourselves or even our children. I guess it goes along with evolutionary beliefs that more complex life forms can come out of simpler ones, merely because of environmental demands, ignoring the role of design and designer. My experience of machines has shown me that they are definitely no better than the people who design, make and operate them, and often much more stupid. [Have you never cursed your "stupid" computer for acting in a ridiculous way by doing exactly what you told it instead of what you meant? Or for not being able to relate to another machine made by a different company?] So, for those of you who don't have any belief in God, please just suspend your skepticism for the time it takes you to read this article and try to imagine a world of perfect adults. At least, they would probably be able to make better machines!
Now, let me deal with the various aspects of human perfection from the Unification Thought perspective. For your reference, human perfection is discussed in the chapter entitled Theory of the Original Human Nature in Essentials of Unification Thought (Unification Thought Institute, 1992). So, in the context of those reactions to my original question, would it be boring if every adult were perfect? Absolutely not! One of the essential aspects of human perfection is individuality. Human individuality is much more advanced than the individuality of minerals, bacteria, plants and even animals, and creation on these levels is far from boring. There are three aspects to human individuality: individuality in appearance, in behavior and in creativity.
Human beings have unique appearance (except of course in the case of identical twins, who, as twins, have another uniqueness), although strangers of another race may at first appear to all "look the same." If we take the time to study the faces and whole bodies of people are
artists do, we can never be bored. But are these differences due to imperfections? Not at all. Some differences are, but these are not what make us unique. If each of us developed physically without blemish, without distortion of our physical body, we would still all be unique. It is not the man-made scars that identify us as individuals; we each have unique physical attributes that come from unique combinations of the genes of our ancestors. Will we run out of new faces? Well, have you looked at diamonds, or snowflakes, or roses? If perfect examples of these can show uniqueness, how much more uniqueness must be available to human beings.
Unique behavior: even if two people's physical appearance is similar, often their behavior is remarkably different. So this more internal dimension of uniqueness allows much more variation. To return to the identical twins, while they may have certain similar attributes even in behavior, often there are great differences which give others a better chance to discern which is which.
Finally, perhaps the most important dimension of uniqueness in perfection: creativity. For surely one of our most important human attributes is that of creativity. Here, indeed, we can recognize that human beings are truly unique through their creative expression. Imagine if every adult were perfect in the sense that they had all developed their creative potential and were able to express it in some way, whether that be through the visual arts, dance, music, poetry, drama, conversation, architecture, public speaking, design of cars or machines, home decorating, crafts, cooking, and on and on. Every one of us has the ability to be creative in a multitude of different ways, in small things in daily life as well as in ways that affect our society, nation, and even world. And each of us is unique in that creative ability.
So, we can conclude that a world full of perfect adults would never be boring. It is our lack of creativity that makes us boring. It is our lack of good behavior that degrades society not uplifts it. It is the imperfections that make us the same, not our perfections. So, have no fear, perfection will never be boring. Like a collection of old pictures that have become covered in dust and grime so that they all look the same, humankind will blossom and glow with incredible richness and excitement as we remove our fallen nature and grow to perfection.
The second reaction I mentioned, the "impossible, we are only human" one, is easily dealt with by explaining the Unification Thought perspective on human nature. An adult is a human being who has grown to maturity. Thus, an adult is one who has become a being with all the attributes of original human nature, namely, a being with Divine Image, Divine Character and Position. My goodness, divine image and divine character! Sounds like we will be like God! Well, before you go back to the "impossible" reaction, didn't Jesus say in Matthew 5:48 that we are to be perfect, like God? And don't we say in the Family Pledge #2 that our family pledges to be "divine sons and daughters in Heaven and Earth" (the new translation)? As Dr. Andrew Wilson explained in his article "A New Authorized Translation of the Family Pledge" (Unification News, September 1996), we are to be "divine" or "God-like," God's true sons and daughters. So if we take Jesus' words seriously and the pledge offered by all blessed couples seriously, being truly human means to become divine, God's true sons and daughters, and thus to be perfect.
But, you may well say, how is this possible? What does it really mean? Are there any examples, other than Jesus or True Parents, for us to imitate? Well, according to Unification Thought it is really possible. However, as yet, there seem to be pitifully few examples for us to imitate. But that is a different topic.
So let us look at the details of this original human nature. First, a being with Position. The basic point to be mentioned here is that there are always different positions in any relationship, and the ability to recognize one's position and to relate to the other from that position appropriately is essential to harmonious and successful human relationships. If all adults perfected this ability by the time they reach adulthood, it would be a simple matter for their children to learn this from them and from all the significant adults in their life. So, it makes sense that we all make greater effort to understand the different positions involved in each type of relationship and to succeed in fulfilling the responsibilities of each position in each relationship.
Next, Divine Image. This has three aspects: united Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, harmonious Yang and Yin, and individuality. Individuality has already been discussed. Briefly, united Sung Sang and Hyung Sang refers to a person whose internal character or values (Sung Sang) take priority over physical desires and material life (Hyung Sang). In other words, such a person will seek joy through a life based on pursuit of truth, beauty and goodness, a life lived for the sake of others and God, rather than a life spent pursuing physical, material goods for one's own individual pleasure. Harmonious Yang and Yin refers to the masculine and feminine elements in human nature, and ultimately, to the harmonious union of husband and wife. So Divine Image may be difficult, yes, but impossible to achieve? I don't think so. There are many examples of people who achieve one of the three aspects, if not all three.
Finally, to have Divine Character means to be a being of Heart, Logos and creativity, and it seems that we fall quite short in each of these. Creativity has already been mentioned, and it is clear that most of us do not develop our full creative potential. In fact, it could be said that none of us do, because we always seem to be limited by our own problematic life experiences, relationships, or practical situations. Logos is referred to in Unification Thought as Reason-Law, indicating that aspect of human nature which abides by intellectual rules or principles and also has free will. This means that true human nature includes both the ability to be responsible to remain within the boundaries of the principles of the cosmos, while at the same time having complete freedom within that system. The simplest example I can think of to explain this concept concerns our freedom to drive anywhere we choose on the immense system of highways and other roads all over the continent, provided that we all agree to drive on the same side of the road. Of course, again it is clear that on the world level we have not quite achieved perfection even on this simple level!
Now, the most important aspect of original human nature, a being with Heart. Here I say the most important and I guess the most difficult. For how many people do you know who are really united in Heart with God? Very few. And what does that mean, to be united in Heart with God. Surely it means the most wonderful thing, that everything such a person did would be God's will, would be something that would make God happy, and since God is a God of goodness whose purpose for creating us was to bring joy to God and all of us, naturally everything such a person did would bring joy to all of us. Too good to be true? I hope not. Imagine the problems it would solve: we could actually trust our governments if all politicians sought to make decisions that were in line with God's will and had the ultimate purpose of joy for all people; there would be no need to worry about our children's education if all teachers, school principals, etc. were always acting in line with God's will for the good of humankind; there would be no need to worry about corruption in the justice system, no more lawyers promoting lawsuits for their own gain not their clients, no need to worry about whether a jury of one's peers would come to a fair verdict, and so on. For Heart is the core of human personality, and it is our Heart that has been almost destroyed by our separation from God and God's ideal.
Well, I hope that I have at least opened your minds to what a world of perfect human adults would be like. Can we imagine living in such a world? Why not? Seriously, why not? What is stopping us? Are any of these characteristics of original human nature impossible to achieve? OK, they are difficult, but given that the Messiah has opened the realm of unity with God's Heart I don't think it is right to say impossible. It's easy to be discouraged when our attempts at behaving like perfect human beings meet with the selfish responses of others who are less than perfect. I had a school friend in high school whom I admired greatly because she always appeared friendly, kind, positive, and always giving to and taking care of others. She seemed a fine example to me. Imagine my shock when she announced one day, as we were getting close to graduation, that she was going to change once she left high school: she was going to change and take care of herself instead of always helping others. She had decided this based on her experiences with others. I have never forgotten her. And when I feel tempted to give up on others and just look out for myself, I remember how I thought her decision was wrong then and was sorry that she had given up her genuine niceness and any attempt to further develop such qualities.
I encountered another example of resistance to perfection in my recent reading of M. Scott Peck's In Heaven as on Earth. This takes the form of accusing someone (in that book the prophet Daniel) of being "too good to be true" when they appear to have only good qualities and no failings. In Peck's book, however, the main character is told by one of his guides that the impatience he sees to be his weakness may in fact be the very quality God wants to use in him. This reminded me of the chart in Essentials of Unification Thought showing Yang and Yin characteristics of human nature. In that chart it is clear that not all aspects of human character are those we usually consider desirable, and so we understand that without the ability to experience sorrow, forgetfulness and aggression we would not be truly human. Again, perfection necessarily involves individuality and uniqueness. Thus, the quality of impatience, just as much as patience, is one that can be valued by God in perfect human beings.
So, let's strive to achieve all these attributes of original human nature, and teach those who don't yet know by sharing this understanding and, more importantly, through our example. And, unlike my high school friend, let's not stop until all human adults are perfect. Then the world will stop being boring, frustrating, depressing, and full of mistrust and accusation, because there will be lots of exciting perfect people around, our imaginations will no longer be limited by our fallen nature, and all the major problems of the world will be solved.
Dr. Tanabe is the Dean of Students at UTS.
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