The Words The Kwak Family
Chung Hwan Kwak
A meeting of the Planning Committee of the next Assembly of the World's Religion was held from June 17-20 at the Sterling Forest Convention Center in Tuxedo, NY. Thirteen religious leaders and scholars representing the major religions and regions of the world met to discuss plans for the second Assembly, scheduled for 1989.
On June 19 I had the privilege of addressing the Planning Committee of the next Assembly of the World's Religions as a representative of True Parents. Through my experience there, I felt even more proud of our True Parents and of Father's insight and vision for the future. Today I want to share some excerpts from my comments at that meeting and, in addition, give you deeper guidance concerning the main points.
Distinguished scholars and religious leaders: Thank you for coming to this first meeting of the Planning Committee for the Second Assembly of the World's Religions, scheduled for 1989.
The International Religious Foundation is sponsoring these Assemblies in order to promote the cause of world peace through inter-religious dialogue and harmony. Rev. Moon referred to this in his Founder's Address at the 1985 Assembly:
As far as I know, God is not sectarian; He is not obsessed with minor details of doctrine. We should quickly liberate ourselves from theological conflicts which result from blind attachment to doctrines and rituals, and instead focus on living communication with God. I think we urgently need to purify the religious atmosphere into one in which believers cm have living faith and every soul can communicate with God. In God's parental heart and His great love there's no discrimination based on color or nationality. There are no barriers between countries or cultural traditions, between East and West, or North and South. Today God is trying to embrace the whole of humankind as His children. Through inter-religious dialogue and harmony we should realize one ideal world of peace, which is God's purpose of creation and the common ideal of humankind.
Obviously, this goal will not be realized in just a few short years. Although the third Assembly, scheduled for 1993, will coincide with the centennial of the 1893 World Parliament of Religions, these Assemblies have a far greater role to play than merely commemorating a past event. Rev. Moon considers the Assemblies vital to the future of our planet.
Rev. Moon's hopes for these Assemblies, as he explained in 1985, are:
First, that world religious traditions respect each other and at least work to keep in check any inter-religious conflicts and wars. Second, that the Assembly serve the world by becoming a cooperative community of religions. It will hopefully agree upon and make resolutions calling religious people to practical action, encouraging all people to live by God- centered values and fostering the development of the human mind and spirit. Third, that the Assembly develop into an organization in which the major leadership of all religions participate. The Assembly has to lift up the highest values and purposes of life and offer them to all religious people, all groups, and all nations.
These are great hopes, and their realization will obviously require not only God's guidance, but also our extended effort. In Rev. Moon's thinking, the major responsibility for solving the world's problems lies with religious leaders. It is reasonable, after all, to expect great things from those who pray to, meditate upon, and act in humble obedience to the Ultimate. It is our hope that the Assembly of the World's Religions may lead to cooperation among the world religious leaders in over- coming obstacles to world peace and human happiness.
Who has the best plan to overcome these obstacles and establish world peace and human happiness? Of course, God. In our planning for the second Assembly, we must seek the Divine will, not just our own knowledge or wisdom. As religious people, it is important that we renew our experience of the power and love of the living God and revive our faith that God acts in the affairs of humankind. We find our feelings within the Divine will; we find our thoughts within the Divine will. We must base our decisions upon the Divine will. Actually, this advice is not only relevant for the members of this Planning Committee. Every one of us, as Unification Church members, must focus on finding the Divine will as we make choices in our daily lives.
True Father leads a song at a prayer meeting in the rain with his early followers.
A true assembly of world faiths can never be the property of any single religion or the work of any finite number of individuals. It belongs to God and to all humankind, and we can only assist in some small way toward its realization.
From among those with whom God is working in the world, you will select the participants for the next Assembly. Perhaps there are only a few people in the world who are able to lead millions. We must try to find such people prepared by God. When we make our selections and invitations with Divine guidance, we will be able to choose the ones who are already prepared.
Because the task of discovering those people that God has prepared is not at all easy for the Planning Committee, I shared with them how Father trained us in the early days of our movement to be able to do what seemed impossible.
I can remember in the early years of my own dedication to the Unification Church, Rev. Moon taught his first followers three basic points. First, he trained us to get along with less sleep and to take full advantage of our time every day.
Father once shared with me how and why he trained himself to go without a full night's sleep. After he received his initial revelation from Jesus and God, he spent the next few years researching how to accomplish this seemingly impossible mission. He told me that Heavenly Father directed him only about fundamental points, not details; to figure out how to actually accomplish God's will on earth remained primarily his own portion of responsibility. Father realized that a lifetime of less than 100 years would not give him enough time, but he didn't ask God to extend his life because he already realized that our physical lives are limited. The only way was to reduce the time he spent sleeping or relaxing, thereby being able to focus the maximum amount of his precious time on earth toward fulfilling God's will.
Thus he began to train himself. Before the age of 20 he reached his current standard of sleeping not more than three hours a night. From then until now, at age 67, he has unwaveringly kept this standard.
In the early days, Father's family lived upstairs in the Chung Pa Dong church, which is a very small building.
The church was overcrowded 365 days a year with people coming to workshops and meetings. Since Father's rooms and our rooms were not too distant, he spent almost 24 hours a day with us. Every night after dinner we sat in the main room surrounding him, and he spoke to us about principles for living. We were always amazed at his words. Sometimes he would ask a member, "Please share with everybody the vision you had last night" Father's spiritual senses were completely open at that time, so he knew, even though that member hadn't told him he had had a vision. Or Father would ask a sister, "Please share how y. were severely persecuted by your husband',' even though she hadn't complained. He would ask members to give their testimonies and then use that content to give us guidance for our lives. He often asked members to sing a song or even to dance.
At that time, most Korean Christians were very conservative and strict, and only hymns were allowed to be sung in church. However, Father would explain that sometimes human beings created very narrow church laws and regulations under the name of God. Since God's heart is broad, he said, God would not make a law against popular songs. He taught us that most important is our motivation for singing a song and who it is directed to. Most popular songs are about love -- horizontal love. But why not imagine the words are relating to vertical love, our love for God? Because we sang such songs, we were persecuted by the conservative Christians. Father didn't care if we weren't following the traditional way. "They don't fully know God's heart:' he would say.
Father would speak to us sometimes until 2 am, and our morning prayer meeting was at 4:00 or 4:30 am in those days! We had five official services during the week -- Sunday morning prayer meeting, Sunday 11 am service, Sunday evening service, Wednesday evening service, and Friday evening service, not including our early morning prayer meeting every day. Because of this, we had no escape from Father! I must confess to you it was really hard for me to sleep so little, and still my standard is far below Father's standard. When Father was speaking, we sometimes dozed off, but Father usually didn't say anything; he just went on teaching. Why did he train us in this way? Because he felt God's great urgency -- there were only a small number of Unification Church members on earth to accomplish God's will in a short amount of time. He exemplified to us that even more than 100 percent dedication and determination are needed to achieve God's ideal.
With this explanation I wanted to encourage the Planning Committee members to determine themselves to absolutely overcome their own limitations and the many kinds of obstacles on the path toward achieving religious harmony.
Secondly, Rev. Moon taught us to control our physical appetite for food, and so we had many fasting conditions -- three days, seven days, ten days, or 21 days. Some members even fasted 40 days.
The way of righteousness is not an easy task for fallen man, even with strong determination. Of the many kinds of temptations and challenges confronting us, the most serious are related to our physical desires. To try to control the fundamental desire for food is not easy, especially for those who never have enough food. But Father himself set the standard and asked his early followers to do the same.
When I joined the church it was a big challenge for me to do a seven-day fast, but fasting conditions turned out to be much easier for me than sacrificing sleep. Father's standard for himself and for all leaders was to fast every Sunday so that we could focus completely on praying for members and our public mission with a purified spirit. One year I fasted not only every Sunday but also did one 21-day fast and many one-week and two-week fasts.
Sometimes we would fast even without drinking water. The easiest way to lay indemnity conditions is to fast. Fasting can also be beneficial to your health, but after fasting make sure to treat your stomach well. There is an almost 40-year-old tradition in our church for all Unification Church members to do a seven-day fast. This helps us overcome the fear most people have of going without food.
Thirdly, he trained us to take control of our sexual desires as a key to overcoming fallen nature.
After joining the church, we come to understand the fall of man and how original sin is related to false love, so we voluntarily decide to control our sexual desires. One of the most important conditions for achieving a God-centered personality is to properly direct this desire, which we practice through a period of celibacy before being blessed.
A butterfly perches delicately on the flowering branch Father is holding.
Think about the situation today in most Western societies. Unwanted pregnancies, divorce, AIDS -- these things reflect severe internal problems in our society. Our Unification Church lifestyle, however, protects us from such tragedies. So, if Unification Church members follow Father's direction, we are automatically protected from these terrible situations. This is God's incredible grace.
These three points are the basic content of Father's education. Please focus on them. Overcoming the desire for sleep in essence means training; ourselves to be fully dedicated to doing God's will every day. If we sleep less than three hours a night but during the day take time to sleep or are not completely focused, what is the point of making a condition to sleep less? So don't interpret such a standard only literally. Remember that God and True Parents desire all Unification Church members to choose to completely dedicate themselves. Fasting helps us master our physical desires. And controlling our sexual desires trains us to focus on true, eternal love, not on false love or false relationships.
Because we have so many different activities and projects, you might be interested to know where all the funds to finance them come from. Since the early days, Rev. Moon has had a special philosophy about funding. After the Korean War, Korea's economic situation was miserable, and our church members' situation was very difficult. Every day beggars would come to our church for food. We would always share our meal with them, but they never came twice.
Do you know why? Because our food was so bad. We gave the beggars the same food that Father and all of us ate, but sometimes I saw the beggars throw the food into the garbage just before they left our yard! Often we had no money and had to buy rice or barley on credit. Sometimes it got to the point where, if we received a donation, we could eat, but if there were no donations, we fasted. So we not only made fasting conditions for certain reasons, we also fasted out of necessity.
Some people outside of our church as well as inside were concerned about this situation and advised Rev. Moon to start a business to provide a financial foundation for the movement. But Rev. Moon said always no. It is his belief that God created all things for man, and that when a man achieves a certain level of God-centered personality, all things will naturally come to him. If a man who has not yet reached this level seeks material things or money, he goes against God's law. So, although our church started in the early 1950s, it was only in the late 1960s that Rev. Moon approved of businesses being established to support our work.
Father always emphasized to his early followers the absolute, primary importance of developing an elevated, God-centered personality before trying to achieve any material gain.
Because of inexperience, these businesses lost money in the first couple of years. They only started gaining some profit in the early 1970s.
Not until Father came to America in late 1971 could he and his family live in a separate house. Until 1974 church leaders and their families lived in only one or two rented rooms. Several times I was kicked out because I had six children and the landlord didn't want so many people living in such a small house.
The present worldwide financial foundation of the Unification movement is the result of only 15 years of effort. Father has always stressed that the goal of all businesses our members start should be to use the profit for God's will. He teaches that if they use the profit for God's purpose, then God's blessing will come to their business, but if they use the profit primarily for self-maintenance, God's blessing will cease.
No matter how small or how big our budget, Rev. Moon taught us to divide it properly. One unit of budget is for the maintenance of the Unification Church, i.e., self-maintenance; three times that amount is to be used for inter-religious activities; and ten times that amount is to be spent for social, educational, and relief projects.
Please understand Father's heart and his policy regarding our church money. If Father were to stop all our social and inter-religious projects for one month, he could use that money to buy buildings for every state and city church center in all 50 states. Many regional directors or local leaders have asked Father for money to buy church buildings. Father understands the need, but he always emphasizes the greater importance of our social and interfaith projects. He stresses that the most important "church" is home church, and the most important temple is the individual temple -- ourselves.
The income of the Unification Church in America comes from three sources -- individual donations, business donations, and fundraising. The biggest part comes from donations, the smallest from fundraising. Most of the donations come from donors in Japan and Korea.
Actually, what our movement spends annually in the United States is 100 times more than the amount raised by our members' fundraising efforts on the street. I urged the theologians to recognize that Father's focus is to serve others, not himself. From reading about God's chosen people in the Bible, we know that God does not want to extend His grace only to them. After He chooses them, His desire is for those righteous men and women to spread God's love to the non-believers, through the chosen people's sacrificial conditions. Father's desire for our budget policy is exactly the same.
With God's help, I'm confident we can succeed in making the next Assembly a landmark event in the history of human progress toward God's ideal. It's ours to be makers of history and not merely followers of it.
As I have been meeting with religious scholars recently, I've found that more and more they are interested in Father himself. This is completely different from the past. These days I spend most of my time with them testifying about Father and his ideas and lifestyle. Because of their heartistic development and increasingly close relationship to Father, I can now encourage them to take more personal responsibility for the accomplishment of our many worldwide projects.
How does my guidance to these theologians and professors relate to us? I want to emphasize several points about our spiritual lives and daily discipline. We must always check ourselves to see whether we are stuck in routine habits or making ongoing progress in our life of faith. Our accomplishments will be fewer if our life is guided only by habit rather than motivated by genuine excitement and zeal.
Because of the weight of inherited bad habits under Satan's dominion, it is very difficult for a person to break out of fallen ways of thinking, acting, and feeling. After you join the church, Satan initially loses you as you enthusiastically lay indemnity conditions and begin to make progress toward perfection on the individual level. But Satan never gives up. He is still waiting to tempt you on the family, society, and national levels. Therefore, if you are not constantly excited and actively growing in faith all the time, your habits may actually endanger your eternal life. You can easily recognize the difference between those members who follow their daily schedule just by habit and those who follow the same schedule but are enthusiastic and always challenging and elevating their faith.
Because Father understands how difficult it is to consistently live a genuine life of faith, he taught us to always check our level of enthusiasm. You may become very inspired when you hear, for example, about religious leaders appreciating Father more and more, but whether you are able to build upon that inspiration depends on your basic attitude toward Father and God's will. If your heart is not growing, then you are not staying in the same place; you are in fact regressing.
All of us long for stimulation and benefit from whatever we do. However, if you center on yourself rather than on God and True Parents, you will always feel emotionally hungry and may lack the power to move ahead. At these times, please remind yourself of the amazing grace and benefit you have already received. Remember the times when you joyfully laid indemnity conditions with strong determination, and realize that Heavenly Father wants to give you His grace eternally based on the relatively small conditions you make now.
As your blessed children grow up, you blessed couples are probably thinking more and more seriously about how to impart eternal faith, heart, and True Parents' tradition to the next generation. Your children actually belong to God! Therefore, you have to carefully lay indemnity conditions not only to help them fulfill God's expectation, but also to prepare a good foundation for your future eternal lineage. You absolutely need God's protection and grace for your children and their descendants. Most important is helping your child develop faith in True Parents, True Family, and God's purpose. Perhaps you find it difficult to absolutely follow Father's and your central figure's direction, but you must be careful not to avoid the sacrificial way. Remember that Heavenly Father wants to bless you and your family for eternity.
The most precious attribute to cultivate in your children and grandchildren is not any external ability, but rather their internal faith and a close relationship with True Parents. Sometimes when young Western blessed children see me in the elevator at the World Mission Center, they say, "Oh, True Father!" I am very touched, but it's evident that it's difficult for Western children, as well as adults, to distinguish Oriental faces. Oriental children, however, easily recognize Father's face. Easterners, in turn, have difficulty recognizing Western faces.
This is an external point, but Westerners may also be at a disadvantage heartistically in feeling close to True Parents, and therefore they may need to make special effort -- by laying conditions. Please don't think of them as "indemnity" conditions, but rather as "blessing" conditions -- the chance to be able to receive Heavenly Father's acceptance and eternal grace.
In the future, your children need to maintain a faithful and deep relationship with True Parents. How can they develop this? Exposing them to the Principle and Father's speeches is important, but more essential is that, beginning as a small baby, they observe and take part in their parents' own life of attendance. They should see your dedication in holding morning service and prayer meetings with True Parents' photograph on your altar and should learn from you a life-style of attendance toward the True Family.
When you first enter your home, your children should see that it is your family's normal tradition to gather and bow in front of True Parents' picture and pray -- not just sometimes but every day. If someone brings a gift or even just one cookie, your children should see that you first offer it to heaven by putting it in a particular place or in a special dish. As they experience your own daily attitude of attendance, they can easily learn Father's tradition and Principle. Without being exposed early to this kind of life- style, they may follow the more convenient ways of the secular world.
Actually, if your living environment is very small and humble, you have an advantage. Then it is easier to demonstrate a simple and sincere attitude of service to True Parents. A small area of your room can be made the prayer area, and with just a small dish of three cookies you can spiritually attend True Parents. If you have a comfortable, more luxurious environment, how can you sufficiently at- tend Father and Mother with only three cookies?
Why did I share with you my address to the theologians? In the future, more and more famous people will want to attend Father. They may support Father in many excellent ways, but still you have an amazingly important advantage; your opportunity to develop a heartistic relationship with True Parents by laying precious indemnity conditions in miserable situations. If you recognize the dignity of your dedication to God and the value of your life of faith, your spirit can become much more excited and elevated. But if you don't recognize this priceless advantage and only compare your lifestyle with others on an external level, you will lose the precious value and meaning of your life.
Without maintaining the heavenly tradition, we cannot offer a beautiful future to our children or to all the people who will come to follow our True Parents. We should always seek to find the precious content of our life and educate our children to understand heavenly priorities.
Never be ashamed of your present humble, sometimes miserable environment. In the future, your children will be proud of the sacrificial lifestyle they experienced, compared to other children, and of the way of attendance and tradition they learned.
The time has come when we will see more and more development in our external environment, so we must take great care to maintain the internal preciousness of our life.
God bless you all.