Cham Bumo Gyeong: Episode 42

Cham Bumo Gyeong
Book 2: The Birth of True Parents
Chapter 3: True Father’s Childhood and Youth
Section 3: School Days, Paragraph 4-14

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4  The Osan Primary School did not allow students to speak Japanese. As you may have heard, it was the school founded by Lee Seung-hoon, a prominent figure in Korean society who fought hard against the Japanese and whom they regarded as their enemy. He was also one of the 33 people who led the Mansei Demonstrations for Korean independence. Due to that background, the tradition of the Osan School was that students were not allowed to speak Japanese. However, I believed that we must know our enemies. I thought that we cannot devise a proper strategy to defeat our enemies if we do not know about them in detail. That is why I took another test and transferred to the Jeongju Primary School as a 4th grader. By the time I graduated, I had learned to speak fluent Japanese. All along the way I was deeply contemplating the difficult issues in my life of faith and other fundamental questions about life.

5  After I transferred to the Jeongju Primary School, I learned Japanese. It feels as if it were yesterday that I studied katakana and hiragana, the Japanese syllabaries. I memorized all of them in just one night. I had to, because in that school the 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-graders all conversed in Japanese. Even though I was a lot taller than most of the students, having entered the school at an older age, I was unable to speak even a single word of Japanese.

I felt ashamed, as if I were just a spectator in their midst, watching them having fun, dancing and singing, but not knowing what to do to be part of their group. You cannot understand how embarrassed and uncomfortable I was unless you have experienced it yourself. So in 15 days I memorized all the books that the students in first, second, third and fourth grades were studying. Then my ears were opened, and I could at least comprehend what they were talking about.

6  I was born with a pretty good brain. I am sure that I could have become a renowned scholar in any field I chose to pursue. But I began to question seriously: What good is it to study hard and become a world-renowned scholar? If I become a famous scholar, my life will inevitably take a predictable course: I will study and teach my students in front of a blackboard, breathing in chalk dust and holding a stub of chalk in my hand until my bones creak from old age and I eventually die. Living that sort of life, will I resolve the ultimate problems of the world? Absolutely not. I asked myself, “What is the most difficult path a human being can choose?” I wanted to walk the most difficult path possible, or the one that everyone thinks is the hardest. I thought of accomplishing something that no one in history—past, present or future—has been able to accomplish.

7  When I studied, I studied like lightning. In no time I finished materials that would take years for an ordinary person. My hometown is a small farming village located eight kilometers northeast of Jeongju. It seems like just yesterday that I was studying there, at night under a kerosene lamp. When I stayed up at night studying until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., my mother and father would tell me, “Go to bed, or you will lose your strength!” This happened all the time at home. I made friends with the insects that came out at night. Especially in summer I made many such friends as I sat still and studied until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Nighttime in the countryside is very tranquil. The sounds of the insects on such moonlit nights are simply mesmerizing.

Study in Seoul

After graduating from Jeongju Public Primary School, True Father went to Seoul. From April 12, 1938 to March 8, 1941 he attended the Gyeongseong School of Commerce and Industry, located in Heukseok-dong. He made sure he was always the first to arrive at school in the morning, and he often took responsibility to clean his classroom by himself. Because he was so exemplary, his classmates could not treat him lightly but afforded him respect. He protected the weak and did not hesitate to confront arrogant and strong bullies in order to teach them right from wrong.

Although he had an active personality, Father rarely spoke, being serious and sincere. In order to find the way to heaven and cultivate his character, he was silent much of the time. His report card records that he was “cheerful, active, sincere and serious, strong, healthy-minded, volunteers to do things, and hard-working.” It further states, “He is physically fit and strong, has a good attendance record, and likes soccer.”

8  Those who are humble are elevated. In school, there are students who just use their fists to bully others without knowing where they stand or what their situations are. However, there are also humble students who, even though they are superior in every way, are not arrogant. When you look at such people you feel small, without knowing why. They have an air of authority and dignity, and although you feel you want to approach them, you sense a certain awe for no reason. You may have known people like that among your friends. I hardly spoke during my student years. I never engaged in idle conversations with other students. There were days I did not utter even one word. This is why my classmates treated me with respect. To them, I was more difficult to approach than the teachers. I do not mean I threatened them or used violence of any kind. Yet they did not relate to me casually. Also, whenever they had personal problems they came to me and discussed them with me.

9  My school friends regarded me with a certain awe. Whenever my classmates got together they would do all sorts of things to have fun among themselves, but they could not do it with me. I never engaged in their idle games, yet many times I discreetly helped classmates who were in difficult situations. I was athletic. I was good at wrestling and soccer. I was also good at pull-ups. My body was big but I was very agile. When I moved to Heukseok-dong, within a week I met all the neighborhood gang leaders and found out who was the boss. But my thinking was that I should be the one to teach them what it means to be a real boss.

10  When I was going to middle school, I used to clean the school by myself. I wanted to be number one in loving my school; and with the heart to represent all the students I cleaned the school. When I first began cleaning my friends helped me, but I did not like their help; I wanted to do it alone. I wanted to make the school really clean, so I often ended up cleaning again the places my friends had already cleaned. After this happened a few times, my friends entrusted me with the entire task. So I naturally ended up doing it alone.

11  Once I start doing something, I never just let it go. I was like that even when I was young. I never believed anything until I verified it myself, whether in the village or at the school. When a teacher taught me a mathematical formula, I pressured him by asking, “Why is the formula like this?” I investigated it, examined it and dug into it again and again. Doing something only approximately is not my way. Doing things by half measures never works.

12  During my student days I had a way of knowing ahead of time the questions that would be asked on the examination. When the teacher lectured, I paid attention to how serious he or she was in making the points. I identified the teacher’s favorite student by the way he or she looked the student straight in the eye as he sat in the corner of the classroom. I paid attention to which student the teacher was looking at, and then marked the topics with codes, “A, B, C,” etc., according to how much the teacher emphasized the topic and how intently he looked at the good student while speaking of it. As long as I studied the contents that I had marked with the codes, I never failed the examination. I would correctly anticipate about 30 to 40 percent of the questions on the test, and I would study for them more than the other materials. I could do that because I was very attentive to the teachers in my classes.

Lifestyle and prayer

During the almost three years that he attended school in Seoul, True Father engaged in rigorous self-discipline. He lived independently and also at a boarding house where meals were provided. To cultivate his life of faith he engaged in near constant penance and various other activities, all the while keeping up his studies at school. In the beginning and for some time he commuted to his school from Noryangjin, in the Dongjak district. Mostly he lived in Heukseok-dong, first living independently and then for a time at a boarding house. His family sent him sufficient money for his tuition and living expenses, but he slept in a cold, unheated room. In the bitter cold of winter he cooked his food with icy cold water that he drew from a well. It was so cold that sometimes the chain on the bucket in the well stuck to his hands. He voluntarily lived this way because he wanted to personally experience the situation of those who live in hardship.

From that time on, Father fasted during lunch every day. Morning and evening his food was always the same, a meal consisting of one bowl of rice and a side dish. He willingly went hungry because that way he could feel closer to God’s heart. Also, he prayed more than 12 hours a day. His long and fervent prayers gave him calluses on his knees and elbows. Most notably he had serious, desperate showdown prayers in the pine forest near his school, at a rock on the side of Mt. Seodal behind a church, or at the foot of that mountain on the Dongjak district side. Through these prayers, he experienced God’s heart and made oneness with Him in heart.

13  When I was living alone and studying at school in Seoul, one winter was particularly cold. The average temperature was around minus 17 to minus 21 degrees Celsius (about 0 to minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit). The weather was that cold. During December and January of that cold winter, I lived in a cold room and I cooked for myself with icy cold water. I had an experience that I cannot forget: I used to draw really pure and tasty water from a well on a mountain ridge. That well was more than ten feet deep; it had a bucket attached to a chain, not to a rope that could be easily cut. It was so cold that when I grasped the chain my hands stuck to it, and I had to blow my hands to warm them enough to get them free. That feels like yesterday. Those were my circumstances when I began living independently from my family.

14  I wanted to do everything necessary to live by myself without having to depend on women. Since I had made the fulfillment of the Will my lifetime quest, I was determined to do it even if I had to live as a single man. Therefore, I learned how to take care of myself. That is why I can do everything myself. I can handle whatever I need for my life without being indebted to others. That is why I can cook rice well on a wood or charcoal fire. When it comes to cooking, I can quickly tell if people are amateurs by observing their cutting skills. I can also tell if they are good at cooking by observing the way they prepare side dishes. That is because during the more than seven years that I lived a single life, I prepared my own food and everything else I needed.

I do not need to eat many side dishes. Whenever I visit local churches, they make elaborate preparations and serve many side dishes on the table. However, I do not like that. To me, a single side dish is enough if it is something I like. By nature, I am the kind of person who likes to finish whatever I start. It is the same when it comes to food. Although there may be many dishes on the table, usually I pick one that suits my taste and finish it completely, although I also taste the others.

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