A Bald Head And A Strawberry - Hyung Jin Moon
Part 4 - The Tale of the Shattered Diamond
The One looked down upon the world one day and decided to hide ten diamonds of unsurpassable beauty and brilliance. No one had ever laid eyes on diamonds sparkling with this manner of radiance and light -- the likes of which even the wealthiest king would die for. So that night, The One laid them secretly, one by one, until all were buried in places hidden from the world. But as The One hid the last diamond it cracked into numerous pieces. Heaving a gasp, The One gently placed the shattered pieces together and hid them among the celestial mountains. There the remains of the shattered diamond would lie.
As time passed slowly the story of the hidden diamonds seeped out into the world. Kings and vagabonds alike scoured the lands in search of these precious gems. In time, whispers of discoveries began to materialize out of the landscape. Stories of this and that buzzed into thickening swarms. There were killings and robberies -- all desired the diamonds. Blood shot eyes darting back and forth, paranoia, and insidious, rabid craving plagued mankind.
The world was darkening. Hunched impish figures now swept through the lands. Hiding in shadows, no one could trust anymore -- all desired the diamonds. The nine un-shattered diamonds were circulated through the hands of many, always being wrenched out by even bloodier, greedier hands. Screams were heard, as sounds of fright and distrust pierced through the thickening night. All seemed lost.
But one day a little child was playing in the mountains. That day the child saw something that would change the world forever...
Amidst a straggling crag, the child saw a shimmer of light. On looking closer, there emerged the remains of the last -- but shattered -- diamond. This diamond surely no one would want. It was in pieces. All the other diamonds were whole, dazzling creations. But this one was shattered. So the child returned every morning at the crack of dawn. Slowly, piece by piece, the child began to re-assemble the shattered diamond.
Years passed and now the child was an old figure, still piecing the shattered diamond together. It had been the task of a lifetime -- only three pieces remained and had to be found. The now old man searched day and night uncovering two of the three remaining pieces ... only one piece remained...
The old man could hardly walk, as he gasped for air. His throat was collapsing along with the hardiness of life. But he continued to look. As his fragile frame snapped under his weight he fell to the ground. There he lay, calling out to The One, imploring to help him find the last piece...
The snow fell quietly. The old man lay stiff in the expanding bed of snow. He held his frostbitten hand to the heavens, and one shimmering sparkle floated down from a tree, fitting into the final spot, completing the shattered diamond. The diamond shone with unceasing illumination as the light dispelled centuries of darkness. The shattered diamond, once pieced together, shone more fiercely than ten thousand gleaming suns -- its angles and cracks reflecting more light than could ever be extinguished.
The man mustered all his effort and with his remaining life, flung the gem into the heavens. "I am returning what has always been yours," he whispered as his last breath was exhaled. The One heard him and gratefully smiled.
Abonim told us this story about the shattered diamond. (In Chung Pyung dining room during the time I was in Korea for True Gods Day 2002.) Of course I have taken some poetic license in making it more dramatic, but the main essence of the story remains. Abonim said that one needed to search for the shattered diamond, because it was the gem that nobody wanted, or that everybody overlooked. But he said that a true -- filial son will take the shattered gem with just as much gratitude as for one thousand perfect diamonds, and then offer it to Hananim.
Talking on the phone ... with God?
Curious, I asked Abonim if he actually heard a voice when speaking to Hananim. He said that he did not hear a voice, but that he immediately felt and knew.
This is critical, as it points to the nature of our relationship to Hananim. If Abonim heard a voice, that would mean that Hananim and Abonim are separated, divided, apart. But because he felt, it shows, unity, singularity, and oneness. I have asked many members this question about whether or not Abonim can actually hear Hananim's voice. Overwhelmingly the response is a confident, "yes, of course."
Again because we misunderstand this fundamental nature of our potential relationship with the Divine, we can many times feel abandoned, unanswered, or not heard. Because we search for a relationship with Hananim outside, we can feel divided. In the Hoon Dok Hae series book, The Way for Students, Abonim states,
Then, where does God exist? He is not in the spirit world, but in our heart, the center of our hearts. (p.5)
This again, affirms that we must look deeply within -- polish the gem that is the Original Mind. We must be able to reconnect with our innate goodness, compassion, love, etc. If we are always trying to find Hananim in the sky, we will fail to see the loving gifts that are constantly in front of us. Most of us have the gifts of being able to walk, run, talk, and breathe. We have the gift of life, health, our friends, loved ones, the ability to see a gorgeous sunset (we are not blind), hear a bird chirping in the cool morning (we are not deaf, smell the fragrance of a blooming flower, touch the softness of a berg moss forest, taste the freshness of pure, clean water, feel awed on the peak of a towering mountain, think thoughts, hope dreams, and wish for others happiness.
Many in this world do not have the ability to do many of these profound things that allow us to intimately feel the wonder of being human. Many have ailments, diseases, or other medical conditions that prevent them from experiencing these gifts of life. I do not believe it is because we are innately better than someone else that we can experience these profound gifts. It is not because we are better, stronger, or more deserving. It was simply given. When I recall this, concentration on a simple breath can purify the worst anger or frustration. I can feel exceedingly grateful -- connected to life, the cosmos, God.
(In family room. daytime, exact time cannot be remembered.)
Things to appreciate
1 told Abonim that in my breathing and walking I was mindfully doing so. I said that I believed it to be important to always remain grateful. I added, "When I am walking I am trying to walk with Hananim. I mean, suppose I got into a car accident and lost my legs, I would surely long to walk again even regret that I wasn't grateful when I had the chance to walk. There are so many who cannot walk. So many who have difficulty breathing due to sickness. Can we live without the breath? If we don't breathe we will die."
Abba sincerely smiled and interjected, "Heart-beat also."
The conversation briefly continued but, as I recall, Abonim's lunch had come.
(April 1, 2002, 5:51 AM, my conversations with Abonim during spring break)
When talking with Abonim about my World Religions class at Harvard, I mentioned that for the first time I came to realize how extraordinary it was that he could move beyond the Unification Church and begin the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. As a religious founder Abonim was transcending the central organization he had founded, moving beyond his own original creation.
1 also talked about the critical importance of the Blessing. I discussed with Abonim that I was aware that people criticized him for doing nothing substantial and the, Blessing was evidence of the fact. I came to realize the way of the Blessing was a sacrament of healing the religious, historical, ethnic, and cultural divisions between groups and individuals, starting with the most intimate of relationships -- husband and wife. I asked, "What else do the members of the respective religions have in common, if they didn't get blessed?"
What does a Muslim from Egypt have in common with a Zen monk from Korea? -- Well, they both are human. They both breathe. But they are also blessed. Being blessed, thus builds an irrevocable spiritual bridge of communion and partnership that they (the participants of all faiths) would not have otherwise had. Even at the Blessing, there are representatives from all the worlds' faiths giving blessings to the couples and then Abonim and Umma finalizing the unions with vows.
I found myself pondering, "Which of the world's religions brings representatives of other religious traditions to give their members marriage blessings at an ecumenical service?" The answer that I arrived at was, "there is none that I know of." Thus, I realized that Abonim's vision was truly beyond religion. This Blessing is "switching the blood lineage from Satans to Hananim's." Thus it served, from a theological standpoint, as the mechanism by which the participants could reaffirm and profess the presence of the Transcendent in the most intimate of human relationships. This umbrella of faiths held together by Abonim's vision served as a binding and unifying force for all the participants. It was an amazing religious ceremony to witness.
1 thought about it like this: normally we think dialogue is enough -- in other words, that inter-religious work is dialogically based. However, can we imagine if our entire life with our spouse was solely dialogically based. Its like only being able to talk to your spouse on the phone, for the entire duration of the relationship. Think how unfulfilling and inadequate that would be. Think how long that kind of marriage would last.
Inter-religious activity, if it is truly going to be deep and long-lasting, has to be seen, I believe, as marriages -- marriages of friendship, understanding, and appreciation. It cannot only be talking about such virtues of peace, appreciation and understanding; of course that is not to say dialogue is unimportant, but it is to say that if it is the only method of give and take it is extremely truncated.
You see, the Blessing is an incredible model, with a profound underlying wisdom. That true harmony must be a lived experience. That true appreciation and love must be lived; that we must become true peace -- lived at each moment together as husband and wife, white and black, cast and west, north, south, etc.
(May 10, 2002, 5:04 pm. Returned from family room about 15 minutes ago).
As I looked into the pond -- depending on my focus -- an entirely different picture emerged. As I relaxed my eyes I could see the reflection of the vast blue sky, the cool canopy above, and birds drifting by with an occasional chirp. But as I focused into the water and not merely at the surface, I saw the profound world beneath. I saw rocks, animals, an entire ecosystem, but I had to maintain my focus, because if, for even a second, my focus relaxed that world beneath would disappear and the illusion of the reflections would re-emerge and dominate my reality.
It occurred to me that this very moment, this very insight, did in fact mirror the reality of our existence. Without the proper focus, with just the relaxed vision, the world of appearances would overpower any deeper, more profound, reality. What lies beneath the surface of this thing we call life? Most, unfortunately, will never penetrate it. The surfaces reflection is powerful, showing us our houses, cars, accoutrements to success, our dogs, etc. We can ineluctably begin to believe that this in fact (what we are able to see in our relaxed vision -- what we encounter on a day to day basis) is the reality of the entire world, universe, or Hananim for that matter. But what lies beneath?
This lingering question is of the utmost importance. Just as with the pond, we could never imagine dwelling below the surface with its slippery algae slopes, and dark, dank, wet, cold. The water is a fearful thing as we are substantially impeded within it. Our natural instincts of fight or flight are substantially affected when we are immersed in water. Our movement is encumbered, we cannot breath under water, we are in the most alien of environments, our vision is literally taken away (human beings process 90% of information through the visual field), etc.
This is also the case with the reality of the pond we call our world, our cosmos, our Hananim. There are children whose lives turn to shadow before them, as death lowers its veil over their eyes, as the mother weeps, wailing for someone to help. There are our fellow human beings, wading in feces-ridden homes, coughing up their insides only to die on the, cold dirt floor -- alone. There are those with nothing to eat; those with no sight, no hearing, no limbs. There is a Hananim that weeps with the mother seeing her emaciated, drooling child gasping for air ... for hunger ... for life. How much the world under the persistent reflection of our comfortable lives, suffers. It is cold, dark, suffering, filled with pain, anguish, illness, and death. We are in the pond, in the cold, in the alien world, we are in fear.
But what is the true existential nature of fear? It is an emotion -- a feeling or a combination of many states and feelings.
And who really has control over our emotions and feelings? We do. This world beneath the surface, this reality of our fellow brethren, and of our Heavenly Father is fearful to us because it forces us to look past searching for just our own happiness (What is happiness? -- To be discussed.) How convenient it is to cover our eyes when we see children in Africa dying or people walking in Manhattan as the living dead? How convenient it is to shield our eyes from our brethrens fetters of spiritual imprisonment. How convenient it is to forget about the world, cosmos, Hananim, or our interconnected suffering?
There is a sparkle though -- a sparkle of hope in these murky dark waters, however. If we can learn to control our fear, to direct it, it can be used as a companion. We can use that sense of fear, not to run away as usual, but to propel us with courage to embrace, to love, to serve this suffering side of the world. Fear itself can be transformed. If we live like this, with the constant awareness of the world beneath the reflections, we can lift people, lift humanity, lift Hananim from these suffering conditions. We can transform suffering into freedom.
Why do we get married? Father speaks of absolute sex. Is this mere yearning for sexual pleasure? Just to satisfy our own need? No. With our spouse we can completely let go of ourselves -- be spontaneous in the moment. We can give our spouse a deep sense of appreciation, respect, and adoration, and that is when sexual union is truly absolute and an experience of the Divine.
If one is engaging in free sex and craving sex for ones own satisfaction, that is our mind craving, desiring -- greed. We want to own someone for our own benefit. This most certainly does not increase our chances for lasting happiness and the avoidance of suffering. If we hold the worldview that others are, objects to satisfy our wants then fundamentally we poison our hearts. When they don't give us any more satisfaction, we lose our interest, our compassion, our care for them. The relationship becomes conditional only on how well the other is pleasing us.
This shows a fundamental ignorance to the fact that others, just like us, desire to find happiness and avoid pain. When we are just trying to please ourselves in our marriage, then we easily get frustrated at the person if they do not meet our expectations. "Why didn't you do this that way," or "why didn't you say that this way," or "I'm the subject, you're the object" etc. All sense of mutual respect and love is subverted.
When we have overwhelming expectations in our marital relationship we do two very oppressive things: we limit and confine our spouse and all that he / she has to offer and is offering, and we close ourselves and thus cannot recognize all the unique, only one in all the world characteristics that we are blessed to experience. We try to fit that person into what I want, I need, I desire, and insofar as we do so we blind ourselves from discovering the treasures within our spouse.
Love in marriage is not merely for oneself. Our giving love is dependent on the other to receive it and our receiving love is dependent on the other giving it. We are interdependent. So does absolute sex have a directly proportional relationship with happiness? Physical sex as such does not, if we did it constantly without end, we would be in a lot of pain.
Thus my definition of absolute sex is our entire relationship with our spouse. Absolute sex is union, an intimate embrace, an exchange of love. It is a perfect metaphor for our marriage -- we should always be united as husband and wife. When we are thinking of how to serve our spouse better, this can be absolute sex. When we open ourselves to communicate to our spouse we can serve each other better, this can also be absolute sex.
Try this meditation:
Sit relaxed, close your eyes, and visualize your chest opening, and your heart beating and pulsating. Offer this sense of vulnerability, nakedness, bareness. Open more fully, truly giving all that you have -- your love, your heart, your life. Expand this love so that it fully permeates your beating heart. Feel the sensations of warmth and tingling. Expand it further to include your chest, your back, moving upwards to your neck, your jaw, cheeks, eyes, brow, head. Let this opening of love fill your entire body, your mind, and your heart. Open further, and expand it fully to your spouse. Expand it to include your family, your children, your parents, grandparents. Expand it then further ten feet at a time to include your neighbor, your town, your city, your state, your neighboring state, and so on to include your country, your world, your cosmos, and God.
If you tried the above exercise you may feel a little different. We are usually closed in our relationships. We usually are defensive and self-justifying. For a truly fulfilling relationship we must strive to truly and fully give to the other. We can learn and practice this virtue and heart with our spouse most readily. When living with someone, we will inevitably argue or disagree.
But this is a great blessing. It is a chance, an opportunity to deepen our understanding of each other. There is a choice -- a choice to just be defensive and merely justify oneself, protect the ego. Or there is the choice of listening, learning, deepening.
In marriage, we can be the door to God for our spouse. We can be the place where the spouse loses the self of I and experiences the Transcendence. It is a place where we will definitely be tested and tried. We will get frustrated, self-righteous, angry, etc. But if we fall prey to these afflictive emotions we will quickly sour any chance of a true, fulfilling, lasting relationship.
Thus I realized that marriage is training -- training to minimize the selfish taking and to maximize the selfless giving. Freedom is found in this critical human relationship. Because it is the only situation where we and our weaknesses are utterly revealed, we are given the chance to become aware of those weaknesses and the challenge to create a loving and supportive ethos where we can both deepen our relationship and heart. We become free from our own self-serving desires and are challenged to love, serve, and give, for the sake of the other in marriage we are both one and two. So mind/body unity training becomes critical for our spiritual relationship as husband and wife. Through our individual training of minimizing selfish taking and maximizing offering, we become empowered to become true spouses, giving our spouse liberation and true and lasting happiness. We can either be the disease or the answer for our own, as well as our spouses, chance to be truly and lastingly happy. Welcome yourself and your spouse, to the dojo and get ready to train!
Exist for the sake of others
Abonim has said that his core teaching is none other than: live for the sake of others and find your true self. If we listen to that carefully we will realize what has just occurred. Our conventional mode of understanding the essence of reality tells us that the self is within us. It is in relation to the world as an individual truth incarnation: a distinct and unique entity that relates to thin s separate from us (clouds, trees, mountains, etc) and things within us that may be equally separated from our true, absolute self. The thoughts, emotions, suppositions, within us are, from our conventional mode of reality, real. However, what then is the absolute sense of reality? Is it merely the conventional mode of consciousness interpreting and reinterpreting the world before us?
Listen carefully to the statement, live for the sake of the other and find your true self. Did you hear it? Listen a little closer. Live for the sake of the other and find your true self. Where now is your true self?
Exactly... in others
How does this help us though? How is it a teaching whose time has come? Well, if it is true that our true self is in others then it must be conversely true that others are within us. This is both a perspectival as well as an ontological shift. It does not deny that we are here! For example, the reader is here reading this work. Normally we are thinking that our true self is within our self, thus we separate ourselves from the world around us. We become an island unto ourselves -- a microcosm of the world that is ironically separated from the world, at least perceptionally. We may find ourselves uttering such things as, "My life is my problem and your life is your problem."
That unfortunately has been the historical perception of the ontology of the self, or our true self for that matter. But let us turn 180 degrees around. Let us see our true self in others. What does this do? Well, something quite remarkable.
It shows us that we are not separate from the world around us, that we are interconnected and responsible. It elucidates the meaning of responsibility as the same as self-responsibility by pointing to the fact that when we hurt others we hurt our selves -- we are hurt by the poison, or hatred in our minds. It displays that we are much more connected, have much more in common, that there is a connectivity that binds us, but that lies hidden under the veil of the conventional world of separation.
There is no denying the self that needs to eat, that meets friends, that goes to work, that feels pain, etc; is most certainly real. But this is at our usual level of perception. Thus, when we say that the self is in others does that negate the self as conventionally described, namely, the self within us? Yes and no. on the level of conventional reality (or conscious reality) I relate to the manifest world as a separate individual incarnation. On the level of absolute reality, our true self is one, transcending dualities and separations with others, the world, etc. Both are real, but have qualitatively unique essences.
It is in this way that we realize the profundity of the teaching, live for the sake of the other and find your true self -- because here we see the co-existence of duality and oneness. We are told to exist for others (which suggests a me living for you, or in other words a duality) and the absolute reality of finding our self in all others, thus transcending the distinction of me and you and becoming one.
It is only through real experiential being that we can bring the oneness of duality into our lives. We normally are one -- sided insofar as we are dominantly in the realm of conventional reality. When we can become one with all, all becomes one. Thus when we enter back into our conventional mode of consciousness we are now changed. We do not see the starving children in third world countries and think that it is unfortunate. We now see our self as the child in that third world country starving for food, for love, for life. I am that child!
Only if we experience the absolute self, in absolute reality, can our conventional consciousness have a new filter to view the world and our relation to it. We can grow more compassionate in our interactions with the world, if and only if we have become the singular connectivity itself -- we no longer see the world as separated from us, but as intimately connected to us. Thus when we see the suffering world we do not see it as not related to us, but we see it as our own pain, our own hunger, our own suffering -- even Hananim's suffering as our own.
This is the meaning of true ownership. When we only focus on our own suffering then we operate out of a sense of despair and weakness -- we feel as though we have no control, no choice but to suffer. But when we see others suffering as our own, and practice seeing and feeling it as our own, we do so out of a volition to empathize -- we choose to experience the suffering of others as our own, by choice.
This marks a fundamental difference in only living for our self and choosing to live for the benefit of others. Living just for ourselves leaves us feeling powerless -- at the mercy of what life throws at us. But choosing to live for the sake of others we gain self-confidence through the inner-strength derived from our Original Mind of love. We have chosen to serve others on our own volition -- from a position of strength, not weakness or powerlessness. When we have this perspective we can truly live a life, living for the sake of others.