August 29, 2010, Limburg, Germany
Brothers and sisters, it is really great to see all of you here in Germany today. We don’t have so much time together. So we’ll want to focus on something that is very central to our spiritual life.
True Parents’ worldwide foundation
As you know, the broad foundation True Parents created is absolutely a miracle. I remember, when I was at Harvard University, we had to study also all these different religions, like Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. We also had to study these new movements like the Mormon tradition, the Baha’is, the Hare Krishnas, the Soka Gakkai and other traditions. And in that course we also had to study the Unification Church. Actually it was very much fun. It was not done in a negative way at all, but we were treated in a very fair manner. They taught how Father started, how he received the revelation from Jesus and his meeting with Jesus. We also learned how he was later tortured and put into prison and eventually was received by heads of states – very much according to the text book. So this was very surprising. It was so positive. It was unlike anything I had seen before. I was so surprised.
In Germany, we have maybe 400 to 500 blessed families and sometimes we feel very small. Islam is growing, many people are searching on different avenues. We may feel very small as a religious community and we don’t really have a sufficient foundation. We have to remember, before we move forward, how good God has been in bringing us up to this point.Yes, „Gott ist groß!“ We have to realise that there is no religion, in past or present, that has accomplished so much all the way from nothing until the world level while the founder is still alive. There is not one example. In Christianity, Jesus died after doing his mission for three years. If you study Buddhism, you realise, although Buddha has done great, he was not able to go to the world level. Even looking at Islam, Mekka and Medina became Muslim cities during the lifetime of the Prophet, but Islam was not yet able to move to the world level. Also when we look at other world religions, like the Mormons during the life of their founder Joseph Smith, or the Baha’is during the life of their founder Baha’ullah who died in prison – none of them was able to move to the world stage. The world’s religious leaders were not able to move to the world stage during their lifetime on earth. They were always persecuted and sometimes even killed.
Living a life of prayer
The fact that True Parents went from literally nothing, from the poverty stricken land of North Korea, to the world wide level, is unheard in all other religions. So we have to be proud of the history of the Unification Church and what we have accomplished. As you know, the real power behind True Parents’ success, behind their ability to touch millions around the world, is because of the Messianic mission given to them by God. Central to that Messianic mission is their direct relationship with God. And that relationship is built upon a life of prayer. Also for us a prayer life is very essential. It goes beyond the mundane and connects us to the transcendental, to God. But we have to examine what kind of prayer we are praying. Have you ever wondered, why God is not answering our prayers? I have asked Him so many times, I beg him, but why don’t I get answers to my prayers? You are laughing, maybe you have similar experiences.
In Math 6.9 Jesus is teaching us how to pray. Many people have been praying just repeating the Lord’s Prayer. But when Jesus talked about prayer, there are a few things he taught: don’t just pray for yourself, don’t go out on the streets and pray openly, this is not a prayer, He said, but pray in your room, to pray openly on the streets – that is not a prayer. Go into your room by yourself and close the door. He also said, God knows what you mean. This is how I want you to pray. If you know the Lord’s Prayer please speak it with me in English. This is what he said:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
Many people around the world feel they merely have to recite this prayer. But in reality Jesus is giving us a formula how to pray. He said, this is how I want you to pray. The first thing he said was: Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. That means very simply praising God first. Whenever we open our mouth for prayer, do we praise God first? Or do we say, gosh, I have a big meeting today, bless me! Oh God, there is this big contract and I need to get this contract, God bless this meeting! Oh God, I take a big test today. When we look at our prayer, we ask God very quickly for what we need first. This is called a petition prayer. Jesus said, this is not the right way to pray. So he tells us, the first thing you must do, whenever you open your mouth to pray, never pray for yourself first! Always praise God first!
The second thing he said: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. That means: thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Usually we are praying: My kingdom come, my will be done. I need this or that. God help me with this and that. But we should always remember what Jesus said: First, praise God, second, not my but thy kingdom come. It doesn’t mean that our prayers are not necessary. What it means is that we have to have the right order. We have to have the right set. Because this relationship it not what we decided but it is God who decides the rules of this relationship. This relationship is a gift, right? So it is not on our terms; it is not we that determine this relationship. It is in fact the opposite. If we want to enter into this relationship it is always on God’s terms first. This is what Jesus meant: Thy kingdom come.
Then, at the third stage, he said: Give us today our daily bread . That means: you can pray for what you need. So you have permission to pray for what you need on the third stage. Give us our daily bread. At that time in Jerusalem everybody was concerned what he is going to eat on that day. In the modern world we have different concerns, about school, about children and the family, about business etc. This is the same as the prayer and give us today our daily bread.
And then Jesus reminds us of the fourth stage of prayer. What did he say? Forgive us our sins! And allow us to forgive those who trespass against us. We must remember that we all have sin. We are not perfect in front of our Heavenly Father. So we need forgiveness. There is nobody who doesn’t need forgiveness. And God does forgive us. As God forgives us, we also learn how to forgive others who hurt us. That doesn’t mean you should let people walk all over you, step on you like a door mat. That’s not the meaning of it. But it means, even though we defend ourselves, we don’t hold any resentment or malignancy in our heart.
In the last stage he says: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. That means not to use our live for ourselves, use our lives for deliverance, to help save others. This is what Jesus taught us in his prayer.
Correcting our prayer life
If we look at our prayer life, and when we start praying, we should switch from the way we are used to pray. You will see, your life will begin to change. Not only your prayer life, not only your mind and your heart, but actually your life will start changing. It is in this very important relationship that we have to centre ourselves in the right way. Many people in the modern world believe God is like a very big vending machine. Do you have vending machines in Germany? You know what that is? You put some money inside, press the button and the candy comes out. There are many who try to tell you how to get all the candy you want in your life. They suggest telling you the secret how you can get anything you want from God or the universe. Put the money in and the candy will come out. If it doesn’t come out, just kick it a couple of times and it will come out. But this is not the right relationship – the real issue in our relationship with God. When we pray, we are not praying like this. When we pray and truly wish for God to work with us Unification family, then this is not the way we should pray. We pray by praising Almighty God first. Don’t say: give me good marks, give me bread, give me…, but we praise first. When you actualize this shift in your prayer life, your prayer life becomes stronger. You are not relying on your personal strength any more. You are no longer hyper focusing on your own desires and what you need for your own life. We will have a larger context in which God can use us and then God can move us into the right direction.
True Parents are of course in line with Jesus, they are the second coming of the Christ. They agree with Jesus. The first thing they do is to praise God and lift Him up. They pray for His kingdom to come first. Many Christians pray “They kingdom come” first. But we should go one more step beyond that. Inherit the heart of True Parents. Put the cosmos first, then the world, then the nations, then the entire families, and finally you might pray for your own concerns, your partner, your children and so on. When we pray like this, then our life, our prayer life, becomes very different because no longer are we only thinking of our individual situation. We are challenged to experience many different levels of reality. So True Parents bring us beyond our limitations. But the question is, are we also practicing this in our life? When we start practicing it, then the rock which is God and the power of God, the rock of salvation, becomes greater in our lives.
God is the rock of salvation
I remember, when I was a young boy, my father took us fishing. But many times, since we were very young, we didn’t have to actually go fishing, but we would simply just go off to the beach. They would take us in the boats, but the boats couldn’t go very close to the beach, so you had to jump and swim to the beach. We had to swim sometimes quite a distance. I didn’t like swimming in such deep waters in the ocean, in case there is something. Everybody was jumping out and went swimming, while the water was still very deep – maybe 30 feet to 50 feet – very dark, black water. That made me very uncomfortable. And when we jumped into the water, I immediately began to think of “Jaws”, the movie. As soon as I jumped in, I remembered the big shark from the movie. I felt as if there was something moving behind me. I thought I had felt something at my feet. And then we swam like crazy to the beach. I remember my brothers loved to tease me and said: Shark is there! And guess what: I would be swimming like crazy. I remember one time, when I was in that kind of incredible situation, when you feel something nibbling at your toes, as soon as the foot touched the soft sand, not even the hard rock, you feel so much relief. It felt like “jaws” is not going to get you anymore. You are safe now. You feel so much comfort.
This is exactly what the rock of salvation is. When we are in our daily lives like swimming in the ocean, big waves are hitting us. Big challenges are coming up. Big winds are hitting us. If you have nothing to hold on to and you are all by yourself, you always suffer trying to grab the waves and the winds. But you can’t grab the waves and the wind. Who made the wind and the waves? When we focus our prayers on God’s kingdom first, then God becomes greater in our lives. It magnifies God’s presence. Even though we are hit by winds and waves, we can hold on to something. We can find peace on the rock. And as we pray more, this rock becomes bigger, like a mountain. At some point, even waves can’t hit you, even the wind can’t hit you because the mountain is so big. People are apt to make a mistake. They may saw, look how great I am, I climbed this mountain. But it is God’s mountain. So when we pray, we should always praise God first.
God is the master of the elements
I remember, when I was in a plane, and we hit this monsoon, we went right into that storm. We were very high, some 20.000 feet or so, and we were entering this huge black monsoon cloud with lightning inside. Everybody was thinking, oh my God. Inside the cloud the plane began to go up and down, like in a roller coaster – it was terrible. I remember that my stomach went up into my throat because we were dropping so fast. In that situation I just looked around inside the plane. Everybody was tightening his belt and everybody started praying – everybody became a monk. As the plane was shaking so hard, even the doors of the hand luggage departments above the heads fell open. When this was happening I found myself in my own mind praying: ‘Oh God, please safe me, this is terrible, we are all going to die!’
Then I remembered, I gave a sermon last week on prayer and I am not supposed to pray like this – and yet here I was doing it right now! So I changed my mind quickly. I remember when I was praying: ‘Oh my God save me from dying, I’m going to Thailand for you, why are you killing me now?’ Immediately, I was filled with so much fear, I was so scared. You are at the mercy of the storm. When the storm comes you say: ‘God save me!’ – when it’s gone: ‘God, thank you.’ When the plane falls down: ‘God save me!’ – when it goes up again: ‘Oh, thank you.’ You have no control in that situation. You have no authority in that situation. But I realised, when I change the prayer, change the mind, when I stop praying just for myself, and change it to ‘God is great, God is the creator of everything in the universe. You created heaven and earth, the seas, the water and the wind, this little bit of rain is nothing for you, but you are incredible, you are almighty’ and so on. When you change your prayers like this by focussing on praising God, ‘God is great, He is the creator of the universe, creator of all the seas, mountains, the winds and everything’, then immediately all the fear is gone. But as soon as I concentrate on myself the fear comes back. Next time you are on a plane and it is shaky, you train like this.
When we change our prayer life, then we are changing our relationship with any type of storm. We are changing our relationship with any type of difficulty. We are changing our relationship with any opponent or any enemy. It is not about me winning over the situation. It is about me trusting in God. Through that I can become victorious in any situation, yes?Gott ist groß. Let’s give Him a big applause.
Overcoming secular Europe
We have to reflect on our relationship with God. Then I hope that this kind of meditation is helpful for you to analyse your prayer and start in a new way. Let’s make a fresh start by setting up the right relationship. If you set up the relationship like this then you will see that God will bless you. He will bless you not because we you are better or you deserve it. But He will bless us and He will use us to do great things because we are coming to Him in the way that He expects us to come.
Here in Europe we have a large Muslim population and many leaders are concerned about their rapid growth and the weakening of Christianity. But we have to remember something: in the Principle perspective, when Christianity lost track of faith, God sent Islam. If you know anything about Islam, Islam is very clear about the presence of God. When I was in France they told me, you can’t speak about God in public. In America you can, in Germany you can, yes? But in France you cannot! When our leader there met one congressman, he mentioned the word inter-religious! But this was already too much for the congressman who told our leader to leave religion at home. If the nation becomes that secular then God will bless Islam, because God will use Islam to remind us to come back to Him. In Europe, we may see this as a problem. But remember, believers in Islam are very strong in their prayer life, very strong about God, and very clear about Jesus being the Messiah as a man but not God. Their view is very principled. And they are serious and will not let anybody step on their faith. If you insult their faith, they will tell you. They will not let anybody walk on them in terms of their faith. And they will not let anybody say, you cannot talk about God. They will talk about God. This is actually what the Unification Movement has to be doing. We are the ones that God should bless to change the secular culture of the nation.
I was talking to the national leader and he asked me what to do because there is a fight between Islam and other religions. In Europe this is quite a large issue. Even in America, Islam is the fastest growing religion. The national leader of France said, I can’t talk about God and the Principle to the officials. I have been trying, but it is impossible. I told him that we have many friends among the Muslims. But they are also watching us. They want to see if they can respect us spiritually. You are a Unificationist, can I respect you? Are you as serious as me as a Muslim? I am praying five times a day, every day, centring myself on God. How serious is your faith? Then we made a special condition in France with the national leader there. We decided to pray even eight times a day. This is not some competition! But it is a way in which we express in our daily life reference for God. The only way to inspire somebody with tremendous faith is by having even greater faith. That’s the only way they will come to respect you.
There are many people here in Europe who are not happy with the secular trends, many people who know that in the end all of this will pass because we will go to spirit world anyway, and we should better think about God. When we reflect on our life as Unificationists then the question is, how are we actualising the Principle in our lives? We know the Principle, but the question is, how are we practising it? Mind-body unity training, husband-wife unity training, uniting with our children. How are we actualising this as Unificationists? People in this world do not only want to listen to what we have to say, but they always watch what we do. They watch how serious we are about realizing our spiritual teaching.
This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. None of us is perfect. And none of us can be perfect. I know that in Germany and also in Europe and America, there is confusion about the Divine Principle in this manner. In the Principle, we have formation stage, growth stage and perfection right? You remember that, yes? Formation, growth and perfection. This is a wrong translation. In Chinese characters and in Korean there are two words: there is won-seong and there is won-gyog. Won-gyog means perfection, it means no stain, you are perfect like God. This is impossible. Even if we would exercise all day, every day, every second, there is no way we could be perfect as God the creator is perfect. So this translation of perfection is wrong. It is not won-gyog. In Korean its formation, growth and won-seong, which means maturity. It means completion and maturity. That makes a lot more sense. Adam and Eve had to reach maturity before being blessed, not be totally perfect before being blessed. Nobody is totally perfect. So it is important to do our practise and our training and have our prayer life. But also we have to remember, this is not the path of perfection in the way God is perfect. This is moving on the path of completion and spiritual maturity.
The core teaching of the Principle
As we come together and reflect, one of the important things I struggled with as a Unificationist concerns the question, what is so special about our core teaching? What is our core teaching? Do you know what our core teaching is? Can we learn the Divine Principle in one sentence? You can, for example, understand Islam, at least the basics, from one sentence: La Allah ill Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah – There is only one God and Mohamed is his Prophet. That is basically the message of Islam. Can you learn the Divine Principle in one sentence? Or do you have to go through the whole thing? Do you want to learn the Divine Principle in one sentence? Yes! The Divine Principle is very simple: “Inherit the true love of God!” Once more: “Inherit the love of God!” – In the ‘Purpose of Creation’, what were Adam and Eve supposed to do? Inherit the true love of God. In the second chapter, what happened during the ‘Fall of Man’? Satan said: “Don’t inherit the true love of God.” And in ‘The Principles of Restoration’ all the way to the end, mankind has been waiting for the one who can inherit the true love of God.
Did you ever know the Divine Principle is that simple? The question, of course, is: What are we talking about? What is inherit, what is true love, and what is God? When we inherit, we have to receive something, some tradition. And the question is, of course, what is true love? I had big problems with this question, what is true love? We say it is the essence of God’s divinity. You know, I studied many other religions, like Christianity. In John 15.13, Jesus says: “Greater love has no one than him, who lays down his life for his friends.” In Buddhism, there is the notion of compassion for others. One of them is ultimate compassion, great compassion. It’s being so compassionate that one would not go into liberation and freedom from all suffering, choosing not to go into freedom in order to safe those people who are still suffering and safe them first, before going to heaven. To get everybody free first. This is in Buddhism. It is very powerful. And then let’s look at Islam. There is complete surrender unto God, complete love of God, focussing one’s attention completely on God.
Now the question is, when we talk about true love, isn’t it basically this type of love we are talking about? Then what is true love? In our movement we say, it is living for the sake of others. What is true love? It is a love that can subjugate Satan. It is love that gives and gives and forgets. But there is nothing special with that. Jesus lived for the sake of others; he had love that subjugated Satan. Jesus had love that would give and give and then forget. So what makes our true love so special? This was a big problem for me. At that point, I just graduated from Divinity School and started to go into ministry. I had to lecture about true love. But I did not know exactly what it was, and I did not feel the power of true love. How can it be more powerful than what Jesus said was the greatest love? If we are going to complete Christianity and complete all the other faith traditions, then the Messiah should bring the new truth according to the Principle. So what is so great about true love? Nobody could answer this question for me. Nobody had an adequate answer. I struggled very much with this. One day, I fell asleep at night and then I had a dream. When I was young, I heard all the stories of how True Father was imprisoned and tortured and so on. We all know these stories. He was imprisoned in Japan, North- and South Korea, even in the USA. In this dream, I saw Father being tortured. And then I saw his soul moving down into the realm of hell. There were many hell beings torturing the souls. True Father went down to this place and threw his soul into the arms of these torturers. And he said, “you can torture this spirit and you let my children go.” This was a very powerful dream for me.
Looking with spiritual eyes
When I saw this dream, I remembered something that I know from Christianity. Something all Christians must believe in order to be Christians. It is known as the Apostles’ Creed. It says that Jesus died for your sin, descended into hell, and on the third day was resurrected in the flesh and sits on the right side of the Father. I remembered this Creed and then I realized, no wonder we don’t understand what true love is. Christians understand that you cannot just have a relationship with your physical senses. If you see Jesus only with your physical eyes, you see a Middle Eastern man who did three years of ministry. Not even the 12 closest disciples could follow him. In the eyes of the state he was a criminal, deserving of capital punishment. All you see is a criminal, or at best a man who was failing his ministry. Not even the 12 disciples were devoted to him. But this is not the relationship that Christians have with Jesus. All Christians must open their spiritual eyes when they come in contact with Christ. They have to look at Jesus with their spiritual eyes and realise that this man died for my sins. He gives me forgiveness. He was sent as the sacrificial lamb to safe me. Then you have to give yourself to Christ and become a new person.
I realised that this is exactly the reason, why we as Unificationists do not understand true love. In the same way that Christians see Jesus with their spiritual eyes, we must also see the returning Christ with our spiritual eyes. If we look with our physical eyes only, we have to acknowledge that he is the most successful religious leader while still living on earth. He made an incredible worldwide foundation. But when we see with our spiritual eyes, we see somebody, who not only went the path of the cross, dying for the sake of the world, not just once. When we look at his life, he went the path of torture and death over and over again. I am talking about the six imprisonments and the cosmic event of the helicopter incident. A miracle happened and all the passengers, including two of my own children, were saved and survived. When we see True Parents with our spiritual eyes, we realize that this is not only the sacrificial love that is willing to die for the sake of others. It is True Parents’ love that is willing to die, and die, and die again and again. If you are a parent, you may get a sense of this feeling. If your children were kidnapped and tortured and you had the ability to change places with them, I think most parents would be ready to do that. The parental love is that great.
Then I realized that the true love that Father talks about is not just being kind to people or cleaning up after somebody, doing volunteer work. This is not what Father is talking about. He is talking about the parental love which will sacrifice the body, mind and soul to save the children. When I realised this, not just once, but over and over again, I understood: the true love that we are going to inherit from True Parents will shape history, just like Jesus’ love shaped the history of the past 2000 years. If the Unification Church can inherit this love of True Parents, it will change history from now till eternity.
We must be clear about one point. We do not believe True Parents to be a living God. This is a wrong interpretation. The Messiah is not the living God. He is not the creator of the universe. This is different from Christianity. For Christians Jesus is God the creator of the universe. But we don’t see the Messiah as God Himself. But we see the Messiah as the one who has inherited the true love of God, which is the essence of God. He has the value of God’s true love. When we see True Parents in that light, we can understand their preciousness. Then we can understand the preciousness of true love that we are going to inherit from the True Parents.
Brothers and sisters, let’s always remember our relationship with God starts from humbling ourselves in front of God in our prayer life. With this attitude we start every day, every moment, every step we are taking in our lives. Let’s summarize, first: praise God whenever you pray, second: His kingdom first, third: pray for the world, nation, society, family and then we can pray for ourselves. Also we pray for forgiveness and learn to forgive. It is not the length of prayer that matters. I remember one minister who was very handsome and could pray in a very poetic way. He prayed from the Principle of Creation all the way to the end for three hours. But what happened to him? He broke his blessing, ran away from the church. Now he has cancer and is miserable. See, it is not the length of the prayer. You can pray very short. Let’s all rise and finish with a final prayer. Put your hands up as if to touch the face of God, and let’s pray:
Dearest most beloved Heavenly Father, we are so grateful to be in your presence. You are great. Father, we thank you for sending True Parents, because they have inherited your true love and fulfilled the purpose of creation, redeemed the fall of man and walked the path of restoration. God, you are magnificent and you are the creator of all things and in control of our lives. Father, we pray that you may always guide us into your kingdom. Lead our lives into your kingdom. Father, move the spirit world so that all beings can come into your kingdom. We also pray for the world that it may be united and return back into your bosom. We pray for all the nations of the world. The scripture says when Christ returns all the knees will bow and all the tongues will confess that Christ has returned. We pray that the nations will become awakened and receive the Messiah whom you have sent. We pray for all the societies and tribes, that they may be directed in goodness, and for all the people ,that they may not fall into moral relativism, but know that there is evil and there is good.
Father, we pray for all the families in this world. We pray that you use our spousal relationship to light this world. We pray that you can use our family and our individual life for the sake of your path of salvation for all humankind. Father let us participate in this incredible path. We give you all the glory today. We want to lift up your name. We want to give you praise and thanks from the bottom of our heart. And we want to lift up True Parents, who are the Messiah who has come. And let’s be proud of who we are. Let us be proud of our faith and let us share our faith with others. We thank you so much and pray that all the brothers and sisters here may find a new relationship with you. We pray that we can receive forgiveness, for many times we are imperfect. And we promise that in our lives we will have the heart of forgiveness. We will train and practice that. We pray all these things in the names of our central blessed families, as we bow in front of you and True Parents, and in our own names – Aju.