Pyeong Hwa Gyeong: Episode 136
Pyeong Hwa Gyeong: A Selection of True Parents’ Speeches
Book 3: The Mission of Religion in Achieving God’s Ideal
Speech 15: Understanding Life and Death, pg 474-477
Understanding Life and Death
December 19, 1998, The Washington Times building, Washington, D.C., USA
Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace 1998 Assembly
Honorable chairman, global religious leaders and respected guests:
I sincerely thank you for your attending this occasion in spite of your respective religious observances and important schedules during the Christmas season. I shall take this time to express my views on life and death, an issue that each religion has gone through great pains to resolve.
We live in the physical world, yet we know that this is not the only world that exists. Another world, the spirit world, also exists. The spirit world is a definite reality. We also know that these two worlds, the physical world and spirit world, are not meant to be disconnected from each other. They are linked together as one single world. We human beings were born from the spirit world and eventually return to that world.
Death is the return to the world of the origin
In Korea, we commonly use an interesting idiom in reference to death. When someone dies, we say the individual “has returned.” Where does that person return to? It is not to a cemetery. We mean that we return to the point of life’s origin.
We return across the vast expanses of history. In the process, we shed our nationality. We return to the world that brought forth the human ancestors. If a Creator exists, then we are returning to the world of the Creator. That is where we originated, so that is where we finally return.
The universe is engaged in cyclical motion everywhere. For example, when snow falls on a mountain and then melts, it forms a small stream. As the water flows downward, its volume increases until it becomes a river. Eventually it reaches the ocean. Some of the water in the ocean evaporates, returning to the atmosphere to complete the cycle.
All beings desire to reach higher ground, or a better place, through cyclical motion. Where then is the better place we go to in order to live eternally? While in the physical world, we live in our physical body. Our mind, though, is headed toward the eternal world. We are born into this world. We pass through our teenage years, twenties, thirties and middle age, and eventually we reach old age. Ultimately, we come to the end of our life, like the sun when it sets on the horizon. Those who know that the spirit world exists, however, know very well that the time spent in our physical body is relatively short, and that the world we encounter after we die is eternal. They know that our life on earth is a period of preparation for the eternal world. We are like students who have to earn credits in all our classes so that we can fulfill our school’s requirements for graduation. The school determines the extent to which its students meet its standard, and decides whether it can recognize them. The farther short of the standard a student’s grades fall, the more distant that student is from the school’s standard of value.
Likewise, the value of all beings is measured against a standard. Our life in the physical world is a period of preparation comparable to the time a student spends trying to earn good grades at school. In other words, we spend our entire life on earth preparing and striving to achieve “good grades.” Each day of our life is measured against a particular standard. We are accountable to that standard for our entire life on earth. Most people in society do not know with certainty about the original world to which we go after life in this world. They do not know whether there is life after death or even whether God exists.
Human beings are brothers and sisters
Eventually, everyone goes to the spirit world. It turns out that the spirit world is a single realm. It is not divided into many countries, as is the physical world. Then, what is the relationship between the spirit world and the physical world?
We can compare it with water that serves as the environment for fish. The presence of water is an absolute condition for fish to live. That does not mean, however, that there is only one kind of water. Some species of fish that live in freshwater cannot spawn if they remain in a river. They have to leave the fresh water and migrate to salt water in order to lay their eggs. They thus connect two worlds. In the same way, our mind, which is part of the spirit world, and our body, which is part of the physical world, need to connect.
At the beginning of human history, a unified global realm would have been formed to honor Adam and Eve’s birthdays, the anniversary of their holy wedding and the anniversary of their deaths. By sharing in the commemoration of those days, all people could have united. Instead of being divided, humanity could have lived in a single realm. If this had happened, Adam and Eve’s way of life would have been passed down through human history. The culture formed would have endured as long as people continued to exist.
Each of us goes through life ignorant of when we will die. We do not know if, for example, we will die in a traffic accident. I think some people will die saying, “Oh, Reverend Moon was right!” expressing regret only at that moment. We need to know that we are traveling on a very serious path in life. We need to use every second of our life preparing ourselves for the eternal world. We need to be aware how momentous is the path we are walking.
When people go to the spirit world, they can be divided generally into two types. The first consists of those who lived out a natural life span in this world, and the second consists of those who experienced an untimely death. Among the latter, some died as a result of punishment, and others died in order to pay indemnity for the nation or the world.
Suppose God established one person in a central position representing a thousand people. What if God made that person go the way of death in place of those thousand people? In such an instance, the grace and virtue of the one who died in their place would move the hearts of the thousand people. They would determine to live in the name of that person and model their lives after that person, living as he or she lived. Having done so, the thousand people would enter the same realm of grace as the one who died for them. The reason we try to follow the philosophy of wise individuals and model our lives after patriots is that we desire to enter the same realm of grace as these people.
Some people live with hope, while others live without hope. We can divide people’s hopes and aspirations into two general types: those that place human beings in the central position, and those that place Heaven in the central position. A newborn infant thinks that its mother’s bosom is the most wonderful place in the world. At a certain point in its development, however, the child leaves its mother’s bosom. As the child grows, he or she forms friendships, feeling happiest when with friends. Eventually, though, the young person will leave his or her friends behind. During our life course, we come to discover that neither loving parents, nor a loving spouse, nor even loving children can completely satisfy our hopes.
People have many kinds of hopes. Eventually, all these hopes pass away. We have hopes for our family, for our country, and for the world. However, the reality is that as we grow older, our hopes grow weaker. Some people boast that their hope represents the hope of all humankind, yet they lack the conviction to pursue it at the cost of their life. People fervently entertain many hopes during the course of their life, but when they face death, they abandon all their hopes. They desire to stay alive one more day. Day after day they wander in search of something new in which to place their hope. When they finally face death, though, all their hopes fade away and they fall into despair as they set out on their final path. We know all too well that this is true.
It may appear that a person, when viewed as an individual, possesses worthwhile aspirations. Yet no individual’s hopes continue beyond death. In my view, it is important for all people on earth today to give serious consideration to one question: How can we find hope that will not crumble in the face of death but will transcend it?