- Chapter 5 - Loving families can change the world -
Leaving a legacy of love
A real life is one in which we give up our private longings and lead a life for the common good. This truth is taught by all major religious leaders past and present - in East and West, by Jesus, Buddha and the Prophet Mohammed. The knowledge of this truth is widespread; however, it appears that it has been devalued. However, the passage of time or the changes in the world cannot diminish the value of this truth. It is because the essence of human life never changes, even if the whole world around us is changing rapidly.
The teacher closest to us is our heart. Our hearts are more valuable to us than our closest friends and even more valuable than our parents. Therefore, in the course of our lives, we have to ask our hearts regularly: "Am I living a good life now?" Once you realize that the heart is your master, you will “polish” your heart and maintain a close relationship with your heart throughout your life. When you hear your heart crying and sobbing, stop immediately. What causes suffering to the heart will ruin a person. What makes the heart sad makes this person fall into grief.
In order for man to be able to polish his heart so that it becomes as clear as a crystal, it is imperative that he spend time in direct conversation with his heart, separated from the world and alone with his heart. It will be a time of intense solitude, but the moment we get closer to our hearts is the time of prayer and meditation. It is a time when we can become the true owners of our hearts. When we turn away from the noise of the world around us and allow our thoughts to calm down, we can look into the deepest parts of our heart. The long way inside will take a lot of time and effort to get to where our heart rests. It doesn't happen in a day.
Just as love is not only there for us, happiness and peace are not there for us alone either. Just as love can never exist without a partner, there is no happiness or peace without a partner. All of this can only exist in the context of a relationship with a partner. Nothing can be achieved when we live alone. We cannot be happy alone or talk about peace alone. Since a partner enables us to be happy and at peace, the partner is more important than ourselves.
Imagine a mother carrying a baby on her back, sitting at the entrance of a subway station in Seoul, selling homemade snacks to people hurrying by. So that she could get to such a place in time during the morning rush hour, she may have spent the whole night preparing the snacks. Then she took her whining child on her back and came to the ward. Passers-by may say, "Oh, you could be fine on your own if you didn't have to care for this child." But the mother lives her life for the good of her child.
Today life expectancy is around 80 years. 80 years of joy, anger, worry, happiness and all the other emotions together seem like a long time. But when we subtract the private time a person needs to sleep, work, and eat and then the time we talk, laugh, have fun with our family and friends, attend weddings and funerals, and we lying in bed sick, there are only about seven years left. A person can live 80 years, but of that only seven years remain to work for the common good.
Life is like a rubber band. The same seven years can be lived by two different people like seven or like 70 years. Time itself is empty. We have to fill it with action. The same is true of a person's life. Everyone wants a comfortable place to sleep and good things to eat in their life. But eating and sleeping just let time pass. At the moment when a person breathes his life out and his body is laid to rest in the earth, all prosperity and fame are nothing more than a soap bubble that dissolves. Only the seven years in which man has lived for the common good will remain as a memory and legacy for posterity. These seven years are all that is left in the world from a life that has lasted eighty years.
We do not come into this world nor go back from it of our own will. We are not given to determine our fate. We were born without our choosing. We live although we couldn't choose. We will die without our choosing. We have no control over these aspects of our life. Then how can we boast that we are better than others? We cannot be born of our own accord, have things that are forever ours, or avoid our death. Any boasting on our part would be pathetic.
Even if we rise to a higher position than others, the honor that comes with it is only temporary. Even if we accumulate more possessions than others, we must leave them behind on the verge of death. Money, honor and knowledge will one day wash away and disappear over the years. No matter how distinguished and great someone is, they have nothing but a deplorable life that ends the moment the thread of life breaks.
People have always struggled to understand who we are and why we live. Just as we are not born of our own will, neither is our life for ourselves. We must come to this knowledge. The answer to the question of how we should lead our lives is therefore simple. We were born of love and so we must also walk through our lives on the path of love. Our lives were created by receiving the limitless love of our parents. That is why we have to repay this love all our lives. That is the only value we can choose for ourselves in the course of our lives. The success or failure of our lives depends on how much love we put into these 80 years that have been given to us.
Everyone will at some point take off their physical body like an old robe and die. In Korean, the word "to return" is used as a general term for death. To return means to go back to where we came from. That means we're going back to our elementary roots. Everything in the universe moves in cycles. The white snow that gathers in the mountains melts and flows down the slopes, first in streams, then in rivers that end up in the sea. There, the water absorbs the heat of the sun's rays and turns into water vapor that rises into the sky and prepares to become either snowflakes or raindrops. To return to our starting point in this way is what we call death. Where do we humans return to when we die? Body and heart come together and create human life. Dying is the act by which we shed the body. So we are going back to where the heart came from.
We cannot talk about life without also talking about death. We need to understand exactly what death is, even if we only do so because we want to understand the meaning of life. Which way of life has a real value can only be understood by a person who faces death in an extreme situation and pleads with desperation to heaven to be allowed to live one more day. If our days are so precious, how should we live them? What must we achieve before we cross the threshold of death?
The most important thing is not to sin and to live a life that has no dark side. There are many religious and philosophical debates about what constitutes sin, but it is clear that we should not engage in actions that cause remorse. When we do something that makes us feel guilty, it always leaves a shadow in our hearts.
The second most important thing is to resolve to work a lot more than others. Our life is limited, it may be 60 years or 70 years or any other length of time. It depends on how we use this time. Then we can live a life two or three times more productive than another. When we divide our time into segments and live each segment meaningfully, our lives become truly valuable.
Let us live with devotion and care and say, for example, that we want to plant two or three trees in the same amount of time it takes others for one. Let's not just live for ourselves. We should not live for ourselves but for others, for our neighbors more than for our families; for the world more than for our own country. All the sins of the world arise when the individual puts himself first. Individual desires and ambitions harm those around you and wreck the whole of society.
Everything in the world will ultimately pass. The parents we love, the husband or wife we love, and the children we love will all die. Everything that remains with us at the end of our earthly life is death. When a person dies, all that remains is their legacy.
Let's see for a moment how we can show that we lived a life of value. The possessions and social position that we have accumulated during our lives will fall away. Once we cross the river of death, none of this will matter anymore. Because we were born in love and lived our lives in love, love is the only thing that stays with us when we are in our grave. We receive our lives in love, we pass love on throughout our lives and we return to the center of love. It is important that we live our lives in such a way that we leave a legacy of love.
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