The Words The Kwak Family
Rev. Kwak addresses the ICUS Planning Board on May 29.
This year's ICUS Planning Board meeting was held from May 28-30 at the Sterling Forest Conference Center in Tuxedo, New York. Fourteen members of the Planning Board, including the next ICUS chairman, Dr. Alvin Weinberg, and all the committee chairmen for the 1987 ICUS, were present. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Kenneth Mellanby.
Every spring the members of the Planning Board -- those scholars who have been involved with ICUS over several years and have sincere interest in its development -- meet to discuss plans for upcoming conferences and to evaluate the progress of ICUS. Among the topics discussed are conference organizing, publications, and research and development. The meeting also provides an opportunity for the scholars to receive, over three days, a deeper insight into the religious and philosophical foundations of the ideals of ICUS as envisioned by Father. On May 29, Rev. C. H. Kwak gave an address on the topic 'Absolute Value and Human Happiness'' which was much appreciated by all the scholars.
In Korea during this past month of May, many important providential events took place, centering especially on the founding of the Citizens' Federation for the Unification of the Fatherland. True Parents' schedule was very full. I was planning to stay in Korea and assist Father, but because of the importance of the annual meeting of the ICUS Planning Board I flew back to America on May 27, specifically to address the scholars at this meeting.
Last year I spoke to the Planning Board members on the topic of God's heart and love, and this year my topic was the meaning of absolute value. Although the theme of every science conference is related with absolute value, the participating scientists tend to be wary of this idea, so I wanted to share with the scholars more deeply Father's actual thought on this subject.
Not only scholars but all of us need to understand the meaning of absolute value, for, ideally, we as church members are basing our daily lives on this essential point. Therefore, I would like to read you some excerpts from the address I gave to the Planning Board on May 29 and explain the meaning more deeply to you.
Eminent scholars, ladies and gentlemen: Today I would like to speak about the concept of absolute value. Absolute value has long been one of the two themes of ICUS, along with unity of the sciences. Yet many people seem to reject any talk of absolute; they imagine that it might lead to absolutism or some sort of theocratic dictatorship. How much easier it has been for ICUS participants to discuss science and values in general, while conveniently ignoring the harder topic of absolute value. I believe this is largely due to misunderstanding what is meant by absolute value. Therefore, today I would like us to explore this concept together.
If a democratic society is to prosper, it must be based on shared values. If people hold values in common, they can more easily trust one another, seek common solutions to community problems, and live comfortably together in community. Democracy can function only when people of different political parties share enough values in common that they can live under each other's government without being driven to take up arms. Pluralism of religion and culture can likewise thrive only when there is civility and mutual respect based on a common ground of shared values.
But Western society is moving farther and farther away from shared values. The emergence of single-issue politics and the appeal of fundamentalism are symptoms of values in conflict. Youth without values turn to drugs, alcohol, and crime. People cease to trust one another and live in fear. If this trend continues, the United States as we know it will not survive.
What are some of the causes of the decline of values in present-day society? Why does their solution lie in finding absolute value? One cause is the expansion of man's consciousness to a global level. Previous value systems were taught each by a particular religion and inculcated through a particular culture; but in a world where all cultures and religions intermingle, these appear partial. Shared community values which were based on a single dominant religion are no longer adequate. What is needed is a view of value that can respect and promote the distinctive values of the individual religions and cultures and harmonize them in one community of religions and cultures. Such a view of value could be called absolute value because it is impartial and all-inclusive.
A second problem is the prevalence of materialism, combined with the artificial distinction between fact and value. In a materialistic worldview, fact, based on objective material conditions, is absolute, while value, determined by human subjectivity, is relative. Since human beings rely on absolute rather than relative things, they elevate fact at the expense of value. Yet this is a false position, because the objective facts of a situation are often influenced by the subjective judgments and values of the persons involved. The same flower may be beautiful to one person and elicit sadness in another. A technology for energy production might be a good for those who want to purchase energy cheaply but might be an evil for those concerned about its environmental consequences. In the Unification view, it is human beings who, for better or for worse, have been given dominion over the creation and are therefore responsible for it. Human beings are the creators of value in whatever material objects or technologies they employ. To depreciate values for facts is corrosive to human creativity, art, and the quality of life.
Therefore, we need to recognize the transience and relativity of objective facts and the supreme importance of the values from which these facts derive their meaning. No view of value as relative or instrumental or culturally-conditioned will do. Such positions inevitably fall back into materialism, since if a culture's values are relative, then they can be explained by objective material, social, and historical causes. Such Marxist and historicist thought is the logical outcome of maintaining the fact/value dichotomy. The alternative is to recognize the existence of absolute value, which is incorporated in various ways into diverse cultural expressions.
A third cause for the decline of values is the absolutizing of individual autonomy. Of course, the value of the individual is upheld by all great religions, but the modern distortion of this truth ascribes to the individual a value over all else. What the pursuit of autonomy ignores is that value requires a relationship with an object who can give value to the subject. Hence when a person in pursuit of autonomy looks only to himself, he finds paradoxically that he feels no value. Or he may seek the companionship of another autonomous person, and find that their pleasures are only fleeting. Lacking any clear place in the larger world, he suffers anxiety, and becomes lost. A person cannot ultimately find value only in autonomy and self-expression; deeper than the desire for individual self-expression is man's desire for what is eternal, unchanging, and secure. This search for a reliable anchor for life leads to the apprehension that there is a transcendent Subject which gives life a context and purpose. Upon coming to know absolute value which lies beyond the individual self, a person realizes that his own nature partakes of the nature of God. He will then find ways of self-expression that are grounded in eternity and finally fulfill his value.
Thus I am convinced that the way forward out of the present-day confusion and cultural decline is to promote a philosophy based upon absolute value. Absolute value should be embracing and impartial; it should be eternal and unchanging; it should lead to oneness and harmony; and it should satisfy man's highest aspirations for individual value, freedom, and creativity.
As Rev. Moon has said many times, the source of absolute value lies in God's essential nature of love and heart. God's heart, Shim Jung, is the source of love. It is that motive to seek meaning and fulfillment in acts of creativity. Love seeks the response of a loving object outside of itself. It is fulfilled in a free and spontaneous relationship of give and take. Love builds up and values its object, since the more valuable the object, the greater the love which he or she will return to the subject. Therefore God's heart is eternally creating value.
Rev. Kwak with the members of the ICUS Planning Board at the conference site in Tuxedo, New York.
As I mentioned, scientists typically don't like the concept of absolute value, and neither do most people. So it is important for us, as church members, to recognize the truth that if we follow the dictates of our original mind, we find that its direction is absolute. The original mind doesn't hide, compromise, or vacillate because it was created out of God's original, absolute idea. Our original mind has an absolute goal already built into it by God. Our task is to align our- selves with this absolute goal. We may say we want to reach God, Heavenly Father, the purpose of creation, love, heart, or Shim Jung, but it doesn't matter what terminology we use for the goal; we only need to recognize that our mind is ultimately seeking absolute being and absolute value.
However, in our daily lives we usually don't focus enough on absolute value. If we were truly centered on absolute value, we would live freely and be able to purely and spontaneously respond the best way in each situation. But many times our actions are based on small-minded thinking; we do something only because we are told to, or because we think it must be Korean tradition or church tradition. If we harbor this kind of concept, something must be changed.
We have to really dig in and research the content of our original mind. "What is my original mind asking of me?" Then we have to match our actions with our original mind's direction. We cannot look to someone else to give us our direction.
For example, to come here this morning you had to wake up very early, and your physical body didn't like it, did it? So what was your motivation for coming here? Perhaps you thought, "Oh, we have to go to Belvedere because it's church tradition:' If so, you have to graduate from that level to a higher stage, to a stage where you joyfully want to come and hear God's words. Of course, God appreciates that you are here, even if you are following only out of form. But you cannot comfortably stay at this stage forever. Ultimately you have to jump to a higher level.
Since God creates out of the impulse of His loving heart, God would seek the objects with whom He could share the deepest intimacy and greatest love. Thus the Bible says that God created man and woman in His own image, and Jesus taught us to relate to God as our Parent. A parent's love for his children is not fulfilled if they remain subordinate and dependent upon him; a parent hopes that his children will grow up to take their place in the world and become parents themselves. So man realizes his value not by an attitude of servile dependence upon God and obedience to His absolute will, but rather by realizing a God-like character so that his own heart matches God's heart of unconditional love for all.
Actually, this is our goal -- to link our hearts directly with the heart of True Parents. They don't want us to always simply obey and follow their direction or desire. Father is anxiously waiting for us to come up to his position, to a parent's position. Please compare this attitude with the teachings of other faiths. Many Christian denominations have a clear idea about salvation, but because they don't know the principle of creation, they have little insight about what comes after salvation -- what kind of lifestyle perfected people will follow, especially in relationship to the Messiah. The Unification perspective is amazingly clear, yet still some members struggle, vacillate, or feel afraid to go forward.
Perhaps some of us misunderstand the actual goal or ideal that Father has taught us. We often confuse the ultimate purpose of our life by mixing it up with our temporary situation. In order to progress toward the ideal, hard training, sacrifice, separation, and indemnity conditions are necessary in the restoration process. But we must understand that our present living situations are only temporary and completely different from the ideal life we are destined for.
I deeply appreciate your sacrifices, because even though you may not fully understand your ultimate destiny, many of you still continue to work very hard, following your central figure's directions and living a life of joyful obedience. This attitude is indeed precious. But actually, True Parents want you to mature beyond this level.
Simply by faithfully following the directions given over the years, many of you have deepened your love and become solidly linked with God's and True Parents' heart, the main source of absolute value. But others of you may follow your schedule and yet quickly become tired and develop a serious faith problem because you forget or misunderstand the main purpose of your life. We must understand that no matter what kind of mission we have, all Unification Church members have this in common: first, we have chosen to work toward establishing God's ideal, and second, our present activities toward that goal are not our ultimate destiny. Some of you may think that "absolute" means absolute burdens or absolute "musts:' Our true goal, however, is to become the sons and daughters of True Parents, absolutely one in heart with them. Thus we will naturally come to have absolute value in our eternal life. So please recognize our common base and don't forget our ultimate goal.
That is what the Gospel of John means when it says, "In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you."
An absolute value perspective cannot be satisfied by a theocracy in which a priesthood demands absolute obedience to authority in the name of God. Obedience is a useful virtue in the religious life, but it is not absolute.
Please understand that obedience is necessary to progress toward the ideal, but mere obedience is not the absolute stage. We follow True Parents' direction, tradition, and standard while learning to overcome our fallen nature. But when we center on our original nature and value, we will gain absolute freedom.
Neither can an absolute value system be based upon blind faith in a God who is Holy, and wholly other. Faith is also a useful virtue in the religious life, but it is required only because we live in ignorance of the truth.
Almost every other religion emphasizes the absolute necessity of faith, but, amazingly, Father does not. In the ideal world it will not be necessary to have faith because when we achieve the absolute standard of heart, we will automatically come to live a life of attendance.
Please don't misunderstand the meaning of attendance. You might think, "Oh, that means I have to serve all the time But wouldn't you feel happy and eager to attend True Parents? In the perfected parent/child relationship, the children joyfully want to serve their parents, without a moment's hesitation or any burdensome feeling. Loving response is true attendance.
An absolute value perspective cannot be the basis of a society in which absolute power is concentrated in the hands of a few. God's love is not for the privileged, but flows universally, seeking to promote value and nobility in all people.
An absolute value perspective would not depend upon the government to enforce a strict moral code. Morality is essential; its violation causes suffering and corrupts the spirit of countless people, but in this age of unparalleled freedom, people cannot be expected to act morally because of the pressures of social convention or admonishments from the pulpit. They must be convinced with- in their hearts that a certain ethical position is correct.
Furthermore, an absolute value perspective would not demand uniform assent to one particular dogma, religion, or ideology. Truth is not captured in particular words, symbols, or rituals, but is essentially a state of being true or sincere in love. Love seeks the reconciliation and harmony of all diverse dogmas, viewpoints, and religions which are themselves sincerely aimed at the goal of realizing absolute value. God's creation is glorious in its diversity of creatures which somehow exist in a harmonious whole; likewise for the diversity in a society based upon absolute value.
I emphasize here that truth is "a state of being true or sincere in love' Whenever Father speaks to us, we see how unrestricted and broad his mind is. It doesn't even matter what he's speaking about, or how often he jumps from one topic to another -- we are always intoxicated by his words. Father doesn't need to prepare notes for his sermons, be- cause everything that comes out of his mouth is true. He himself embodies "true and sincere love." Thus, no words are sufficient to fully communicate his content, not even Korean. We should try not to analyze Father's words literally from our own narrow point of view.
However, we must find a way to share with people about Father, the Principle, and the truth. We all have to witness. I am deeply concerned about how to increase the American membership, and so are other leaders. Heavenly Father's heart is in incredible pain, and He cannot be comfortable for even one second, knowing that millions and millions of His children are still going directly to hell. Some of you have many excuses: "Oh, I have no time to witness because of my busy schedule' or, "Right now we are focusing on bringing ministers to Korea!' However, the main reason for our limited growth is our own lack of true, sincere love. Children are not born by accident but out of a relationship of love. Father and Mother are waiting for you to gain many spiritual children through living a life of love.
Of course, to bring many members your centers need to organize workshops, develop witnessing teams, etc., but these are merely external considerations. Simply following your daily schedule is not your main purpose in life. If you are fulfilling your ultimate purpose -- to concretely demonstrate true and sincere love in your daily life -- many prepared people will automatically want to come and follow you.
We can envision that a society expressing absolute value will begin with men and women who live for others -- who embody the virtue that in Christianity is called agape love, in Buddhism is called compassion, and in Confucianism is called humanity. When people thus realize absolute value in themselves, they will naturally give value to others.
Please understand the importance of this automatic transfer of value. Witnessing does not require special methods or techniques. When we live with sincere love, we naturally give value to others.
The resulting society will not require coercion to enforce ethical behavior because people will act ethically out of their free will to realize value. Since absolute value is universal, such a society will not know racism or class divisions or war; neither will people accept hunger and poverty among their fellowman. And since heart seeks to harmonize all things, human creativity would naturally tend to the highest expressions of art, and to lifestyles that will enhance species diversity and environmental beauty.
To summarize, Rev. Moon sees human beings at the center of the creation, in the sense that we alone of all creatures have the power to either bring out nature's full potential for beauty or to destroy it altogether. Likewise, the human mind, the bearer of values, is at the center of the person, with the power to make that person either into an angel or into a beast. The destiny of man, and hence the destiny of this planet, depends upon developing a philosophy of absolute value. Absolute value alone can lead man to realize the full value in himself, and to live together in peace and harmony with all life.
If all people actually understood and embodied absolute value inside themselves, the world would be changed! All our actions result from the realization and decisions of our minds.
I know that all of you have appreciated Rev. Moon's unwavering support for scholars, and have benefited from it. This support for scholarship will continue; it is his firm commitment. You have also heard Rev. Moon speak many times of his vision of absolute values and the unity of the sciences. But he is only one person. Unless scholars willingly respond to this vision, interpret it so that others may understand, and assist in its implementation, then nothing of lasting worth will be accomplished. Please remember that civilization is in crisis. Who else, among scientists, philosophers, or politicians, has articulated such a comprehensive solution? If Rev. Moon's vision is correct, then it may be the world's best hope. Let us work together to implement it, while we can.
From my journeys around the world to various mission countries, I can see that God's dispensational work is bringing in the era of the "global village No country can exist on its own anymore. Mankind must come to share in common an absolute value system based on heart and love.
In earlier times, when the people of one tribe didn't get along with another tribe, all they had to do was build a boat and go downriver to get away from them. But in today's global village, we all have to relate with each other whether we like it or not. Although technologically and economically every nation is interconnected with all others, internally our hearts and minds are still quite distant. Thus, all mankind still desperately needs a unifying vision centered on absolute value and heart.
So, in conclusion, how can we relate this absolute value perspective to our daily lives? As Unification Church members, we know that the main source of absolute value is heart and love, and we are especially fortunate because we have True Parents. Most important, then, is how our hearts are linked with the heart of our Parents.
Let's think about the real meaning of a father and mother. A small child does not intellectually understand the significance and purpose of parents; he just calls his parents "Daddy and Mommy:' Even if we can't yet offer a mature attitude of attendance to True Parents, we can still call them Father and Mother with a child's heart of purity and sincerity.
Actually, purity means the quality of embracing universal values. Honestly speaking, we harbor so many impure concepts -- narrow-minded thinking based on selfish desires. We must clean up this tendency. At the very minimum we should try to deepen our hearts toward True Parents and check whether our attitude toward them is pure or not. We should make sure this purity is part of our day-to-day lifestyle. If not, selfish habits can easily take over our life; and though we may become "mature" -- responsible and capable of handling many tasks -- we will run into trouble. If we purely call out to our Father and Mother even if we are immature, they can easily accept us. But impurity damages us.
A small child knows nothing about the reputation of his parents in the society. He just recognizes absolutely, "He's my daddy. She's my mommy',' without any doubt or skepticism. What is true maturity? Maturity is not measured by anything external; it is the measure of your love toward True Parents. Please check your level of heart. If your heart is deeply connected to your source of absolute value, you can joyfully overcome any challenge you may meet in your daily life.
When you are struggling, perhaps with a health problem or over the fact that you are working far from your field of interest, don't focus your mind and energy on such matters. The main root of your problems is never your central figure, or your schedule, or your mission, or anything external; the problem is internal. The question you should ask is, "What is the quantity and quality of my love toward God and True Parents?" When you pray, what is in your mind? What do you imagine about Father and Mother? If you feel distant from them, you must try to focus precisely on changing this point. Don't blame anyone or anything else.
A central figure can guide you along the way of restoration, but only you can find your absolute value within yourself. When God created you, He gave you the potential for your ultimate perfection. Please discover this seed and focus your mind and heart on fulfilling your maturity. You will find that the main source of your power is inside you.
True Parents are teaching all mankind about God's heart -- the source of truth, value, and happiness. Father and Mother are asking us to make effort not just in achieving external results but in making the correct internal conditions. Our difficulties never come from outside, only from inside.
Always check your daily progress toward this perfected stage of development, and please keep in your heart and mind the ultimate goal of becoming God's sons and daughters.
God bless you.