The Words of the Swearson Family
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
There have been a number of you that are very curious about what actually transpires at the "coffin" ceremony in Korea.
I have for you 2 testimonies from American members that participated in that workshop "coffin" ceremony at the 40 day workshop in Korea.
The day that the workshop participants experienced our own death was divided into three parts. The morning session was devoted to offering 600 bows for True Parents and Heavenly Father. It was a way to unite with True Parents, as well as push ourselves physically to understand their heart more. Surprisingly, I had more energy after completing the bows than I had before I began them.
Following the bowing condition, we had a "Death Meditation" session. This included writing letters to Heavenly Father, True Parents, and our family as if we were going to die in five minutes. We all spent 30 minutes intently writing our letters. The experience was especially moving when we had to read our letters out loud within a group of 3-4 people. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. We all took the task very seriously and it was a chance to really reflect on what we haven't accomplished yet in our lives. We could feel close with our group by sharing our intimate feelings.
Lastly, we had the chance to experience our own death and Seunghwa ceremony by lying inside a closed coffin for 20 minutes. The Korean staff had about 100 coffins laid out in rows in the lecture hall. The lights were dimmed and there was light music playing in the background. They explained to us that once we passed a certain make-shift wall, that we had entered into spiritual world. We all put on the white Seunghwa robes and then stepped inside the coffins. Our wrists and ankles were bound, so that we could lie very still inside the coffin. We were supposed to imagine the scene around us of our family and friends surrounding you in the coffin. This experience brought many different feelings and emotions. Mostly it made me feel grateful to still be alive, and also how much more I need to accomplish. I felt so grateful for the fresh air when the coffin lid was opened. It truly felt like a rebirth experience, especially with the previous sessions during the day in preparation for the coffins.
After the rebirth experience, we had a "Water/ink forgiveness ceremony". Each person could go up to the front and pour a glass of clear water into ink-stained water, while forgiving a person that hurt them, or vice versa. It took much more clear water to finally bring the ink-stained water clear as well. This was suppose to demonstrate that once someone's heart is darkened or hurt, it takes effort and time for that person to be whole again.
Finally, all the participants had a dance party in the middle of the room. This was such a good way to end the day and resurrection experience, because we could feel like we were really celebrating life and the fact of being alive.
When people hear that you have been stuck in a coffin for about 20 minutes, how do you think they will react? Sounds scary right? Well, it may not be what you think. I was one of the participants in the Workshop for the World Leaders. The workshop was normal at first getting up and doing bows and reading father's words but then they came up with this idea to get us to understand father better; The Seven Deaths and Resurrections.
The night before the initial ceremony we did this session where we where supposed to think about all the people that hurt us and forgive them. Why? Well, in the front of the room, three brothers where reenacting a part of father's life. It was when he was being tormented by the Japanese Officers in Seodaemun Prison. We had to be like father and forgive the people that hurt us even though they hurt us so much. It was very moving, I could not stop crying. What kind of heart is that? To forgive someone even though they are killing you? I cannot fathom that kind of deep heart.
The following morning we did 600 bows to prepare ourselves for the ceremony. It was difficult but after the bows, I felt a lot more energetic. We then were lead to another hall where we had to imagine that we where going to die in five minutes. We then had to write a letter to God, True Parents and our beloved family members. After we poured our hearts into these letters we had to share them in a small group, reading them out loud. Tears filled everyone's eyes and we embraced each other. I felt so much love from everyone.
Finally, we where lead to the big lecture hall where 100 Korean style coffins laid on the floor. I wasn't really scared. I just thought it was weird that we where going inside the coffins. It was dim in there, soft music played and the staff told us to be quiet, and to take this seriously. They put white robes on us and we lay in the coffin. Our hands and feet where bound together in the Korean fashion… not tight, mind you.
Then they told us to close our eyes and imagine a scene where we died. In my thoughts, I didn't really care. I just thought, "Oh wow, I'm dead. Oh well." However, then they told us to think who would be the first to come to you? Who would run to you and morn you? Suddenly my mind was filled of images of my parent's tearful faces. I could not stop crying. How could leave them behind? My parents had suffered so much for me and I left so many bills and shattered their hearts with my death.
Then we where told to imagine our funeral. Our loved ones crying then we where told we being taken to Spirit World. Then I calmed down. It was a wonderful meditation. Next, they told us to imagine our ancestors guiding us, and finally we had to face God and True Parents. SLAM! It was then I was brought out of my thoughts and realized that the coffin lid was put on.
"OH SNAP! I AM IN A FRIGGEN COFFIN!" my mind screamed out. I really couldn't Move heck my hands and feet where bound but then I tried to relax again and think, "What have I done in my life for God? Did I do enough?"
As the soft music played and I looked around the coffin -- it felt more like a box I would hide in while playing hide and go seek as a child. Happy thoughts about my childhood then bounced in my head, the soft music they played made this even more relaxing. I could not help but smile a bit when I heard one of the brothers snoring inside one of the coffins. I almost missed the part when they said to imagine God and True Parents giving us a second chance, then the lids came off and cool refreshing air came in. It felt so wonderful to get out of that box!
Later we engaged in a Water Ceremony where one cup of water was tainted dark with ink; we where told that this was the heart of someone we hurt. As we poured clear water into the cup, the dirty water got clearer and clearer. I guess its proof that the more good we do for someone, the lighter their soul will be.
Overall, the experience was wonderful. I will never forget this peace that I felt.