Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What Kind of World do we Desire?

In Matthew's gospel 16:13, Jesus asks his disciples: "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" A priest writing for the Bible Life magazine from this question asks the readers: Who are we and what kind of world do we want to build? Religion gives us the answer to these two questions.

In John's gospel, he tells Mary Magdalen to tell the disciples: "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." We are all God's children. In Matt. 6:48, Jesus  raises our dignity: "You must, therefore, be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Buddhism and Confucianisms both have a similar teaching. They also have a spirituality. Everybody is of great value and possess dignity, a teaching of all religions. However, in our daily lives, we see discrimination and unfair treatment of others. We can't help but ask why this discrepancy from what we know to be true. This whole area of discussion is complicated but we have a responsibility to examine the reason for the ambiguity we face. Over 120 years ago both Buddhism and Confucianism were rebuked precisely on this point.

The writer mentions the English world traveler Isabella Bird Bishop who visited Korea in 1894 and in a period of 4 years traveled widely within the country and wrote Korea and Her Neighbors. In her book, she wrote: "In Korea, we have two classes, the plunderers and the plundered. The nobles and bureaucrats are vampires who have the license within society, four-fifths of the citizen are members of the lower class, commoners. The lower classes are to supply blood for the noble classes." According to this foreigner, the king and nobles divided society into higher and lower.  A peaceful mandate, which would maintain the status quo and their privileges, despite the harm to the greater society.

During this time Buddhism and Confucianism were inconsistent. Catholicism was busy building churches and looking down on the royal house from their high knolls. During this difficult time, there was one philosophy that was progressive and this was Tonghak. ( 'Eastern Learning' a nationalistic, syncretic religion that opposed Western culture and wanted social reform and the equality of all the citizens).

These were miserable times but many valued the presence of God within and if we accepted the presence of heaven within us we would have a brand new world order. Tonghak taught that we need to help one another whether one was wealthy or poor. When we have many doing this we will have heaven on earth. No reason for war and killings we can make a society without prejudice, without receiving or giving wounds, we will have a world of saints. We need not wait for a heaven after death but we will have it here on earth. These were the words of a leader of Tonghak to his daughter before being executed. 

The desire of putting the spirit of the Tonghak movement into the preamble of the new Korean constitution is heated. The leaders of the movement are praised and thanked for their efforts for independence and a new order: hundreds of thousands died for these ideas and a desire to give support to the movement  for their sacrifice to the nation. The first leader of the movement left four Chinese characters for his first disciple which asked him to fly high and far and spread the teaching of the movement.

The writer concluded the article asking the readers 
during the month of October, the mission month, to 
fly high and far to spread the goodness of God to the whole world.

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