The Words The Kwak Family

The Spirit of Tuna

Chun Hwan Kwak
November 1980

For seven years, Father has gone fishing every summer. During the past four years, Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak has spent some time each summer with Father on the ocean.

In the past, Rev. Kwak reported that Father would leave the house around 4:00 a.m., but this year his schedule has changed. He would wake up and be out of the house before 3:00 a.m., sometimes as early a 2:00 or 2:30. It may take two or three hours to reach the fishing area, and early in the morning the wind is cold. There are places to rest inside the cabin of the boat, but Father always stays outside with the pilot, where it is so cold. Other members get groggy and fall asleep, but Father said that in seven years he has slept on the boat only once -- when he was feeling ill.

"You should understand how difficult it is to catch tunas," Rev. Kwak added. Early in the season the tunas caught average 600-700 lbs. Late in the season, there are fewer tunas, but they may weigh 900-1000 lbs. A 1000 lb. tuna is over ten years old. He is pretty knowledgeable by then and is not easily fooled by hooks and bait, so it is difficult to catch one. Tunas are very sensitive to temperature and weather. Most tunas feed in groups in areas where there are many small fish, but they move on when the temperature changes. However, some big, strong tunas feel independent and may stay in the area alone, after the others leave. It is a real challenge to catch these big ones.

How to attract tunas is very important. Near Gloucester there are areas where the ocean floor is relatively close to the surface, and many small and medium sized fish gather there. So the larger fish such as sharks and tunas come to feed. Early in the morning, we arrive at the fishing grounds and spend 12-18 hours waiting for tunas.

Father has been researching currents, bait, hooks, lines and all aspects of tuna fishing. In addition, he has been studying the habits of tunas, observing how they swim in cyclical patterns. We set up our lines and bait, usually seven lines at different depths, along the direction of the current. This way we have an opportunity to catch a tuna during several cycles of his swimming pattern. Then we send down an "invitation letter." This is chum, cut-up fish that the tunas enjoy eating. The chum is sent out heading downstream from the lines, so sometimes the tunas eat the chum and get so excited that they follow it along to its source and then get hooked.

Tunas are very strong. When they take the hook, they swim very fast, often at 35 mph. If the fishing boat is alone, there is not so much of a problem, but usually there are many boats around. So when a tuna grabs a hook and swims, it may catch the anchor cables or fishing lines of another boat. Maybe 80 percent of the tunas hooked escape.

Immediately when a boat hooks a tuna, it hoists a red flag, and all other boats nearby cooperate by raising their, anchors and lines. The boat that hooks a tuna must head in the same direction as the tuna and follow it. Sometimes neighbor boats get into a fight, because if one boat hooks a tuna, it is very dangerous when other boats are near. Therefore, feelings among fishermen are very sensitive.

This year, Father explained his philosophy of tuna fishing. Usually his philosophy is connected with God's heart and with witnessing, so it is not surprising that his tuna fishing philosophy also relates to those points.

According to Father, if you fight a battle without preparing your mind, winning is impossible. The same holds true for fishing for tunas. Father says that when you are on the boat waiting for a tuna, it is like waiting for God. You must focus on one thing -- meditation with God.

You may go through months of hard work, but if you catch one tuna, you are so excited that you forget the hard work. So Father compared fishing with our life of faith, trying to hook God. (Rev. Kwak apologized for using the expression "hooking God.")

So what is your bait to hook God? An indemnity condition. Actually, the tuna doesn't like to catch your bait, but it is different with God. If possible, God will grab your bait.

Remember when Rev. Kwak explained about original love and pitiful love? God wants to relate to us with original love.

Seasickness is terrible. All day the waves continue to strike the boat, so sometimes you are seasick. It is not easy. But if you wait with one hope -- to catch a tuna -- your situation is better.

Father compared seasickness to what happens when we join the Unification Church. We are like landlubbers setting out to sea in a large ship named "Unification Church." Therefore, we get seasick. The boat rolls according to the direction of the waves. We must keep our balance and follow the movement of the boat. The direction of the waves now is Home Church. Also, our viewpoint should stretch far out, towards the goal: the heart of God. Remembering the distant goal, we can keep our balance.

Rev. Won Pil Kim had the mission of cutting up the chum and throwing it over the side of the boat. In the morning, the chum is kept in the refrigerator, but when the sun gets hot, it begins to smell. Chum has a terrible smell. There is no escape from it. On one side of the boat, the chum is being cut up: on the other side you eat.

When a tuna grabs the hook, if you are the only person holding onto the line, it may tear your hands, and you will bleed. But even if you cut your hands, you will not give up, because you have been waiting so long for this moment.

Our main goal is to relate to God with original love. During this time if we have to shed some blood or make some sacrifice, still we can never give up.

Horizontally, Father does certain activities, but he is always thinking vertically. When he goes out to catch tunas, he never entertains bad thoughts. The fisherman's mind is very important. The external work is fishing but the internal thinking is ceremony or religion.

In the Old Testament age people waited for angels as messengers of God. Father thinks of tunas as angels, and thinks of waiting for them as waiting for God. If possible, he never sleeps while on the boat: he just prays.

"The Unification Church leaders need to have a special spirit," Father said, "You need the tuna spirit." To witness to the president, you use the tuna spirit. You wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., pray, work hard, establish your purpose, set out your chum. The tuna spirit is not only for catching tunas, but also for witnessing, home church and any kind of activity. 

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