The Words of the Dhakal Family
Ek Nath Dhakal leads FFWPU and UPF in Nepal. He was a key figure in the Southeast Asian Peace Initiative, a UPF project that was instrumental in persuading the leaders of a two-decade long Maoist insurgency to join with all the major Nepalese political parties in signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. There have since been some setbacks, but Mr. Dhakal, who since 2008 has been representing his political party in the Constituent Assembly, presses forward. We recently spoke with him, and also briefly with his wife.
How do you view your beautiful country in relation to our movement?
Nepal is a spiritual place; people practice meditation. There are different types of people here, but generally they are quite religious. Nepalese are both spiritual and open-minded, so they are quite ready to welcome new ideas or thought. That's why we have great potential to introduce our Principle and activities to Nepal.
The nation needs to change. If you see the economy, it's still one of the least developed countries. That's why Divine Principle and True Parents' teachings uplift people's understanding and encourage them. I think our movement and our Principle will be a great instrument for the Nepalese people, and for change.
You have a Hindu culture and a strong Maoist representation in the government. How is Unificationism viewed there?
We have a Maoist government, but I have many friends among the communist party leaders; they have also been involved in our movement. They appreciate True Parents teachings with its strong family values. If we promote the universal values of True Parents' teachings, then even an atheistic or Maoist government will give their support.
For example, family values are declining and family values are breaking down. Our Principle offers a clear and practical (not just theological) solution.
The members are now working to promote the holy Blessing Ceremony. We are giving the blessing to married couples, not only within the Unification community, but also to prominent members of society. People from the different religions have joined in the blessing ceremony and understand the value of the blessing and the marriage rededication ceremony -- which is so important to strengthen marriages. The work to solve family values issues is good for Hindus and Maoists alike.
Second, the reason Nepal is undeveloped is not due to poor education, lack of resources, and so on, but because of bad governance -- self-centered governance. Father applies family morals to good governance.
Third, there is also much fighting between different political parties; and different religions have different views. All our True Parents' teaching and activities from the past to the present have been to bring such groups together beyond religion, beyond political thought, and ask them to become one family under God. So I think of applying that strategy in Nepal, with different religions and political parties building reconciliation and unity.
We are not doing things casually. Each of our activities is geared specifically to solve problems in our society and nation, and that is why they are having a national level impact.
You mentioned that one of these activities is inviting people to the blessing... We are planning to hold a large Blessing Ceremony in November this year. We are inviting our international president Hyung-jin nim and Yeon-ah mm to be the officiators. Our whole Nepalese movement is now working to bring many families, couples and single people. We are busy educating them' and helping them prepare. This is the main activity of FFWPU.
On the more political front, how do you build relationships with the Maoists?
As FFWPU leader, when we connected the Maoist leaders, we always went with the heart of a Father, the heart that sees everyone as brothers and sisters, and embraces everyone one as members of the same family. If we have this heart, I think we are welcome everywhere. This is why we have been able to reach out to the Maoists.
Because we understand the root cause of the problem from Divine Principle and True Parents' teaching, we have a greater ideological solution than the Maoists.
Because of this, we were able to contact the Maoists because we feel we have something we can offer them that will draw them into the peace process.
How can one hope to reconcile different viewpoints?
One key factor in the peace process is communication. If the players in the peace process do not communicate among themselves, it is like stagnant water. Stagnant water has no life. What we try to do is to try to initiate and facilitate dialogue among the parties and so activate the peace process. There is always a solution.
You are a religious leader; what led you to seek political office?
I do not consider my two different responsibilities as separate, but complementary. Religion is one part of the human world; human beings have a spiritual aspect. We cannot understand the roots of problems by focusing only on politics. Yet if we just talk about religion, we may not grasp the practical reality. To make good decisions a leader must understand both aspects.
Recently, True Father and Hyung-jin nim signed a banner supporting the creation of a new constitution in Nepal, which was then taken to the top of Mount Everest. What happened with this?
The message we tried to give through bringing the banner to Mount Everest was a deeply spiritual one -- supporting the process of creating a new constitution for Nepal, so that the Constituent Assembly and the government can accept the values of both religion and politics.
At the top of the banner are nine different religious symbols. In the middle is our Unificationist symbol. This represents the unity of all religions, which our True Parents have worked for throughout their lives. Nobody objected to the arrangement. We explained what they meant. Perhaps it is a characteristic of Nepalese politicians that there is space for spirituality and religion in their hearts. The political parties' emblems were also on the banner.
Our climbers took this banner up Mount Everest at the risk of their lives, to convey the message of unity and peace and love. The nation's leaders and the people need to take up the challenge of writing the new constitution, a challenge that is actually greater than climbing Mount Everest.
The same principles that our climbers practiced there -- especially teamwork, helping each other so that the project would succeed -- also apply in nation building, and in building harmony and unity among different religions.
True Parents seem to have been well received in Nepal.
True Parents have had a great impact -- their influence, and this is openly appreciated by the top leadership of the various political parties in Nepal. True Parents have also been directly involved in solving different social problems. People in Nepal have a very positive attitude toward and great respect for True Parents.
Could you say a few words about your personal background?
I am the son of a farmer. My great-grandfather was the chief priest and adviser to the king in his time in Gorkha. My parents have a big cattle farm.
My family comes from the Brahmin caste. They have to maintain the highest standard of discipline in society because they are priests. They have restrictions on what they eat, what they do, where they go. They never drink. They must take a shower before they eat a meal. Ours was a very religious family.
My mother gave birth to eleven children. I am the second son of three sons. The first child, my elder brother, died as an infant, after which my mother gave birth to eight daughters in a row. I was the tenth child.
I was the leader of a student movement in my high school. I was also elected chairman of the Red Cross; each high school has a Red Cross society. I had deep interest in social work and social activities. I wanted to see change. In our Hindu society, there are many superstitions. For example, a person from this caste cannot meet with someone from that caste, or talk or sit or eat with such a person. That sort of thing was always eating away at my mind, especially because I came from a Brahmin family. I could not even talk to some of my classmates. I could not go to such a person's home or eat with him. If I brought him to my home, my parents wouldn't let him in, and he would have to eat outside the house.
What led you to join our movement?
I was always thinking that there must be something new, something higher than we know. I had visited several Christian churches and had started to read the Bible, in which I found many motivating things. I met the movement during my first year at university.
When my spiritual father introduced me to the movement and the Principle -- especially when he explained the Fall and that somebody had come to reverse this -- it really caught my interest. When, during the seven-day workshop, I was introduced to the Messiah, that was the main point. I saw that this movement was completely different. Understanding about the Messiah and his role was the most moving moment for me.
How has your wife helped you?
My wife is always there to help. This means she always sacrifices. I go out in the early morning and come back late at night. She always involves herself in our children's education and so forth; she is always there to solve all our family issues and matters. So I am able to continue my work in society.
Could you tell us a bit about your life here?
I've been living in Nepal for ten years. We have four children. I'm not so much on the front line. As you know, the family is also very important. I take the major role in making decisions in the family and taking care of the kids.
As for the church, I normally give husband my advice; if there are options, I always advise him to go for the higher choice.
My experience is that of a missionary; I don't have much experience with politics. At first, I had mixed feelings; I was scared, but at the same time, I thought something good, something unexpected, might occur. I wondered how I was able to foresee that.
My husband is someone who always wants to work beyond himself. From the very beginning, when I first met him, he has always tried to do that. So, I felt, I could never stop him. It's already natural for him; he will go to the front and he will go forward. I cannot stop him; I have to support him.
We heard his life has been threatened. Phone calls, at home and to his cell phone. Whenever these phone calls come, I tell him, "Ask what they want. Talk to them." Sometimes I put our family on alert; we have dogs in the house and sometimes I have to put the dogs on alert. Of course, it's scary, but I have confidence that this situation will pass. I also understand that it is not only us. People who have some [government] position have to experience that. It's part of it.
Your husband's Nepalese; you're Filipina. How does that influence your husband's work?
It helps him a lot actually. There are ideas, knowledge that they don't have here; I suggest that he go and learn from other political systems. Being from different countries helps a lot because it is not just one mind-set. Its two mind-sets coming together. That helps give him something to build on.
Ek Nath and Blessie Dhaka' were blessed in 1998 as part of the 3.6 Million Couples