The Words The Kwak Family

Reverend Sun Myung Moon: The Man and the Myth

Chung Hwan Kwak
March 1981
From Tongil Segye
Translated by Dr. Hae Soo Pyun

Reverend Sun Myung Moon. To me he is much like a mountain -- so high I cannot see its totality by just looking straight at it. He is also much like an ocean which simply defies my effort to fathom its depths. However, in any description I might give, I am beset with the uneasy feeling that I can never do proper justice to my subject.

I have known Reverend Moon very intimately for the last 20 years. Yet when I think about how much I actually know about him, I must admit that I really know very little indeed. I am no better than a frustrated mountaineer who, determined as he is to reach the peak climbing the steep and untrodden path, has not yet managed to get even a bird's-eye view of the whole mountain; its yet unconquered peak still towers majestically before me. There is, however, only one thing of which I am certain -- the higher I climb, the more intensely conscious I become as my eyes feast on a steady succession of various sceneries -- one after another, now enchanting and breathtaking, occasionally awe-inspiring, and then sublime. I confess, though, that even today I am still on my climb.

Looking back, I cannot help feeling that what surprises me now, even after all these years, is that the scenes I have thus far encountered represent only a part of the whole mountain in all its total harmony and beauty I become more and more certain of this feeling as the years roll by.

Each time I reach a new plateau, another towering peak or magnificent rampart-like cliff comes into view. After admiring from a distance the purling of a gigantic waterfall, I naturally anticipate seeing a lake as deep, crystalline and mysterious as it is soul-uplifting.

I have a passion to know Reverend Moon better. As I "drink" of the man, I thirst for more: my craving is not stilled. How I wish I could unravel the inner working of his heart! Sometimes for hours on end he appears incredibly engrossed -- staring beyond the horizon while in the midst of an immense ocean! What would I not give just to touch even the shadow of his being when he bursts into a gale of laughter! In all that he does, he is meticulous and alert, yet so sensitive. In fact, I am tempted to look elsewhere -- in the unobserved nook and corner of his rare moments of solitude -- to catch a glimpse of his unvarnished style of life. Above all, I should really love to discern what is hidden "inside" Reverend Moon. He is one who sojourns on this earth -- which is not yet prepared to accept him for what he truly is.

On many occasions when Reverend Moon and I happen to find only each other face to face, an awkward feeling comes over me. He is the one who mercifully breaks the silence. When he sits in meditation with his eyes closed, I find myself at a loss as to what to do with myself. I do not know how I can possibly avoid my inevitable feeling that he is so much more highly evolved than I and my worry that I might not be able to tune in to him at all. No wonder the subject I have chosen to write about is too elusive and difficult. Under such circumstances, I still want to offer a brief portrayal of the man who has graciously cast his own lot with so many of us throughout the world. I must say at the same time, however, that it is my own version, seen as it were through the opaque and imperfect lenses of my own understanding and emotion.

Reverend Moon's Appearance

In "A History of the Unification Church," Mr. Kwang Yul Yoo, head of cultural affairs of the Unification Church headquarters in Seoul, Korea, speaks of Reverend Moon's physical appearance in this way:

Endowed from his early childhood with a healthy and strong constitution, one could say that Reverend Moon stands out in the crowd. His face, slightly on the large side for his body, never impresses one as being common or coarse; on the contrary, with his high forehead, small eyes and the long broad bridge of his nose, he rather gives the impression of a clean-cut and well-harmonized countenance.

Compared with his large, powerful arms, his hands are small and expressive, yet extraordinarily agile and strong: his somewhat small feet are unusually nimble and powerful. When he walks, his steps are leisurely yet slow, firm yet dignified. Even so, if one is to keep up with him at all, one suddenly realizes how fast he walks. Indeed, an ordinary person can hardly keep pace with him.

As for his facial expression, it is always full of warmth, mellowness and humanity, braced with a strong will and an air of dignity.

When he moves, his movement has the grace of naturalness and freedom, his manner, the expression of carefree generosity: underneath all these qualities, one easily notices his sincerity and serious-mindedness, his unequalled power of observation, his abundant self-confidence, all of which go to command -- not demand -- the immediate attention of those near him with such authority and power.

I have no means of giving a more accurate description of Reverend Moon's appearance.

Reverend Moon's Style and Personal Touch

Reverend Moon was born with style. If God chose to "improve" his looks for effect, He would probably hesitate to add anything or take anything away. Indeed, all his movements bespeak his style, flair or personal touch. When he preaches, his masculine voice, sonorous and deep, stirs the hearts of all his listeners, easily moving them either to tears or to cheers. In a small gathering, he often sings and shows us his interpretation of dance. I feel that everything he does could never be said to lack his beautiful and unique style.

The most distinguishable characteristic is his big-heartedness. When he was invited to address the members of the U.S. House of Representatives, he said:

During the last 14 months I have become an increasingly controversial figure for the mass media and have made headlines in the newspapers throughout the country. Some magazines have even had cover stories on my movement and have put pictures of me on the cover of their magazines. I am flattered that some of the pictures were even more handsome than I am and that, although I am not paying for one penny of advertising, they are making me very famous. I do not know how to thank them properly.

This brought the House down! His keen sense of humor, along with his human touch, instantly broke the ice with the tense audience. As their laughter subsided, they could be truly receptive to what he had to say.

When he sometimes goes out dressed informally, with an open-neck shirt and sunglasses, strangers stop him -- no matter if he is in a major department store of a large city or a small out-of-the-way town -- and invariably ask him, 'Aren't you Reverend Moon?" Smiling enigmatically, he mumbles, "Maybe ..." in a natural and charming tone of voice. There is a personal touch in the way he handles himself on all types of occasions.

As soon as he began to address the audience at the Madison Square Garden Rally in 1974, several loud and noisy hecklers near the podium set about deliberately harassing and taunting him in order to distract and disturb the audience. As the courteous(!) policeman took his time in escorting these people out of the place, all Unification Church members felt reactions ranging anywhere from annoyance to fury. Yet, Reverend Moon kept calm and collected. He merely announced that he was going to sing a song. "In the mountains, flowers bloom, flowers bloom and bloom ..." With deep feeling he sang the Korean song, "Sun Yu Hwa." Call it his style, flair, cool, personal touch, showmanship, magnanimity, it somehow touched the right chord in the hearts of everyone. All 30,000 people in the audience were deeply moved. As silence descended, the audience was struck with awe and reverence. There was no member of our family who was not moved to tears at that point, seeing in the incident the providential hand of God moving to help the accomplishment of His will. The noble image of Reverend Moon standing on that platform was indelibly engraved in the memory of every family member.

Spontaneous and free, Reverend Moon is also a lover of nature. His intimate associates and followers know only too well how much he loves and appreciates nature and how often he seems enraptured by the beauty and mystery of God's handiwork. He is often observed sitting for hours in a meditative mood, admiring the grass and leaves that have just turned emerald green in the early dawn of April. Once, pointing to the delicate petals of a flower on the dinner table, he spontaneously exclaimed, "Are there fools who, seeing the exquisite beauty of a flower like this, still deny the existence of God?"

Anyone who comes in close contact with Reverend Moon usually falls in love with his humanity and warmth. On countless occasions people have observed him listening to an old woman's testimony of faith with more courtesy and attentiveness than any other person present, even though he may have already heard her testimony several times. While he was on an inspection tour of Unification Church local branches located in the rural districts of Korea, he was often seen in the company of an old farmer, talking and laughing with him for hours about various problems of farming in that particular district.

On the sandy beach of the Han River, he used to wrestle with the best student wrestlers. On a New Year's Eve, when our family members played the Korean game of Yute, he was more enthusiastic than any other participant. A friend to all during such festive occasions -- a strong, sensitive and humane leader always -- he is also a loving and understanding father to each one of US.

Reverend Moon, who has dedicated his whole life to the love and service of God, is also devoted to the well-being of his fellowman. He is keenly aware of not only their suffering and their hunger, but their possible feeling of "emptiness" as well. While he knows only too well an infinite variety of masks which man may wear, he usually pretends not to notice. He has always been a consistent giver. There are countless numbers of people who have known and enjoyed his generosity, good will and love. It is his personal style, so to speak, to give a great deal more than the beneficiary would ever hope for, so that the latter's gratitude is deepened by his contentment. It is no wonder, then that our family members never cease to feel true heartfelt gratitude and to hold him in the position to receive their highest esteem.

Reverend Moon as the Embodiment of Perseverance and Energy

Once he makes up his mind to undertake a certain project, he always brings it to fruition: he has never been known to abandon his projects. His perseverance is supreme: once aroused, his enthusiasm spills forth as uncontrollably as the eruption of an active volcano. This is why he usually attains all his goals, in spite of any difficult odds.

Indeed, it is his faith in and love for God which comprises the inexhaustible fountain of his enthusiasm and perseverance. Without his determination to do God's will and without his tenacity of purpose, the Unification Church would no doubt have been wiped out in its early existence, since it underwent incredibly cruel and relentless persecution. One time, when he spat up blood, Reverend Moon rubbed it in his palms and with this action renewed his pledge of eternal love and devotion to God.

His overflowing energy is astounding. Once he sets his heart on reaching a certain goal, he often forgets to eat, as he works day and night to accomplish it. His work schedule disregards common sense. He is constantly on the move, going from one Unification Church center to another, even visiting one of over 50 state headquarters in America on the spur of the moment. He guides the state leaders in the American Unification Church by constantly suggesting on the spot new and daring ideas which have inspired him. More often than not, the state leaders had never even thought of such ideas before. His creative ideas, always concrete and detailed, encompass all the different aspects of Unification Church activities -- from witnessing and spiritual counseling to business ventures, public relations and public rallies. Where does this steady flow of original creative ideas come from? What does this prove? Only that his power of concentration and his tenacity of purpose keep him constantly occupied with all facets and phases of Unification Church activities.

There was a time when, except for sleeping hours, I was constantly with Reverend Moon. From dawn until time for bed, which was usually long after midnight, his work schedule left him no time for himself. All this time he was occupied in meeting and talking with many new people, in going on inspection tours of the headquarters of many of our facilities, and in discussing various problems with different staffs. Since the Unification Church has its missions all around the globe, at all hours he is challenged by many unexpected and even unheard of problems.

When a staff member brings him an urgent problem that demands his immediate attention, Reverend Moon gives his answer without a moment's hesitation; it is sometimes so contrary to conventional wisdom he has to explain it to his staff member. It becomes clear, however, that his is not an answer which he pulled from the air, but rather the idea had probably been simmering in his mind for a long time. Often, I bid him goodnight and went to sleep. Yet instead of retiring for the night he became completely absorbed in thought, meditation or prayer until the wee hours.

As soon as a project is completed, his restless and superabundant energy constantly motivated by a sense of mission finds another project; he never takes time to enjoy his well-earned rest. Indeed, his creative energy, which comes from his faith in God's loving heart, tends to revitalize the lackadaisical around him. It is undoubtedly his whole-hearted devotion and sincerity, as well as his matchless energy and perseverance, that made it possible for the Unification Church to survive all persecution even from the early days and to lay the firm foundation for its present worldwide expansion.

Reverend Moon sleeps three to four hours a night. His daily workload easily exceeds that of four or five average men. People often attribute his boundless energy to his superb physique, and it is true that his stamina is indeed remarkable. Many young people cannot keep up with him when he takes them deep-sea fishing or mountain-climbing. It would be truer to say that his sense of mission, his tenacity of purpose and his power of concentration all contribute to the recharging of his energy which cannot simply be explained solely in physical terms. It is also well-known to many of his followers that he keeps on imposing upon himself an ever-increasing dose of self-discipline for endurance. It is, however, his utmost sincerity which pervades his energy concentration and determination that has made him so appealing to many thousands of people. The inevitable result is that the Unification Church daily expands in our missions around the globe.

His Leadership

In my opinion, there is no one in the world today who could seriously question Reverend Moon's spectacular success as a leader. In the early stage of the development of the Unification Church, a prominent person in one town once blurted out in dismay: "No matter what criticisms I may level against Reverend Moon, the fact remains that he is a great, successful leader. They (my wife and daughter) may not listen to me, but they are willing to listen to him and follow him...."

I wonder what this man would say today if he would witness with his own eyes how enthusiastically a group of people of all races from all over the world love and follow Reverend Moon and his teaching. In his sixties, Reverend Moon still has desire to do many things, but on the basis of what he has done so far, I can think of no other human who has influenced mankind as much as he has! In the course of human history who, among great sages or heroes, ever guided and led the youth of more than 120 nations in his own lifetime? Reverend Moon's leadership does not depend on political power, wealth or military might. On the contrary, his leadership is stamped with the approval of love and respect which common folk have for him. I can understand that for one man to win such esteem is probably the rarest thing in the world.

Here in the United States there are many who, antagonistic as they are to our movement, frankly acknowledge that Reverend Moon is a skillful leader who has accomplished many miracles. Yet, this does not tell the whole story Many Koreans living in this country, when they talk about him as a human being (apart from his position as a religious leader) almost unanimously agree that Reverend Moon is a great hero!

Reverend Moon always stands out in any group of people, attracts their immediate attention and becomes like their natural leader. Not only is his appearance quite impressive -- what's more, he teaches and guides the people by his own example. That he is a most charismatic leader is easily proven by the number of young men and women from all over the world who have given up their chosen careers to follow him. Furthermore, these young people, who previously may not have had direction for their lives, find so much hope for the world through his teachings that they may suddenly modify their physical appearance as they also change their way of life internally. There can surely be no greater proof of his wise leadership. Once these young people understand and appreciate his heart -- that it loves and cherishes each of them -- no hardship or adversity will be too difficult for them to overcome. When they look into his loving and compassionate eyes, the eyes which have seen so much of the suffering and tragedy of this world, people seem to find confidence to solve all types of problems.

Reverend Moon hungers for righteousness. His love and devotion to God are evident in every phase of his daily life, and after meeting him, anyone who has managed to preserve some part of his God-inspired nature will unhesitatingly accept his teachings and follow him.

His sermons in which he excoriates unrighteousness, distinguishes good from evil and makes the way of Heaven manifest to all, are not only eloquent and persuasive but thought- provoking and soul-searching. Those who have ever heard him pray with all his heart and soul are so moved; when I experienced listening to him, I felt a radical transformation took place in the marrow of my being. Thus, his leadership in doing God's will helps spread his teaching throughout the world, breaking down not only racial barriers but national boundaries as well.

The ultimate goal of Reverend Moon's leadership is the realization of God's will; yet it is not to be considered a dreamer's fantasy nor escapism from the stark reality of the world. Like a computer, he carefully maps out in detail the various necessary steps by which he means to actualize this ideal on the earth.

Reverend Moon has almost a photographic memory, especially of people. He has a penetrating insight into his fellowman. He takes something of a three-dimensional view of people; by this I mean that anyone who presents himself to him will instantly recognize his unerring judgment of man. As well, he gives of himself most generously when he leads his fellowman, and people will always find him broad-minded and dependable in every way. His strong and effective leadership coupled with his determination to translate his ideas into action, inspires young leaders and staff members with the necessary confidence in themselves to achieve great things. He abhors the idea of being indebted to anyone -- materially or heartistically. He has never asked anyone to do that which he himself is not prepared to do. Undoubtedly, this makes him a rare leader among men.

Reverend Moon: the Thinker

Reverend Moon is a great thinker -- one who thinks deeply about God. As a philosopher of sorts, he has opened up a new path to the understanding of the purpose of God's creation, of the laws of the universe and of the origin of sin. Through the Divine Principle, he shows us the way to overcome the satanic world and to fulfill God's will on earth. The miracle of the success of the Unification Church in the propagation of its truth throughout the world attests to the power of the thought and action initially instigated by Reverend Moon.

There are countless maxims and aphorisms of Reverend Moon. The reason they mean so much to us, his followers, and to our lifestyle is that he himself is the fruition and exemplification of these maxims. Whatever he thinks and says comes from the core of his being. Although his power of thought is outstanding, his thoughts are not the products of mere cognition, for he has so little time to think just for thinking's sake. Reverend Moon, the thinker, and Reverend Moon the doer are not two separate entities; both are harbored in one body and have a superb relationship of give and take. For him, then, his love of God on the one hand and his resolve to do His will on the other are one and the same. In other words, things which he thinks of are connected to things which he does.

Reverend Moon may appear to be impatient. He wants results at the soonest possible time. He despises ease and comfort, self-satisfaction and stagnation. Although he does his best to accomplish his goal within the shortest space of time, no one can be more patient than he when a situation requires patience. He is always willing and prepared to wait for a more favorable moment if necessary, as long as God's will is able to be fulfilled.

By way of illustration, let me relate some examples. Years ago, when he lived in a miserable shack that he himself had built in Pusan, Korea, he conceived the plan to send missionaries to every nation on earth. Even when he held rallies in various American cities, he constantly bore in mind to continue his desire to hold the biggest rally of them all -- the one which he would like to hold in Moscow sometime in the future. As I have already mentioned, some of his ideas are so contrary to common sense or so far above the understanding of the common man that he must take his time before publicly announcing them.

Without even considering his religious faith, one is bound to acknowledge the fact that Reverend Moon always speaks, practices and lives a sound philosophy of existence and value. He distinguishes between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness. Therefore, a petty man who desires to live his life by "just getting by somehow," in Reverend Moon's eyes would surely be considered a miserable flop.


When all that needs to be said about Reverend Moon is said, the truth of the matter is that for all his greatness he has not received the universal acclaim and plaudits due to him. His great work goes largely unappreciated. Though he has suffered so much humiliation and abuse as well as many insults fit only for the worst of criminals, he has borne it all with superhuman fortitude. Master-originator of many lofty ideas, he sweats and toils like the lowest of the lowly slaves to actualize them. To do God's will -- to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth -- he has walked a long, lonely and miserable path bearing the cross of unspeakable suffering. No one knows for sure whether the day will come when his sincerity and determination to bring about restoration for all mankind will be appreciated, or whether it will be forgotten altogether after he is gone. However, whatever we happen to know of him through our investigation is but a fraction of the whole. In his private as well as his public life he has continued to walk through a thorny thicket. We do not yet know all of his joy or sorrow -- what elates or grieves him.

He was born a free man, yet he has led a shackled life. Wherever he goes, every move he makes -- the personage of Reverend Moon is watched. By nature, he is so active that he cannot breathe freely when he is cooped up in the house for too long. Although the United States is a big country, it feels too small for him, for if he could he would like to go around the globe a thousand times a day.

Heavenly Father, please let the day come when Reverend Moon feels completely free and unshackled once and for all! Amen. 

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