Father’s Life in His Own Words – Part 13

View of Seoul in 1930, looking north to Mt. Bukhan; the large building near the mountain is the Japanese government headquarters, and the building appearing below that is Seoul City Hall, which is still used today.

Based on extracts from his speeches throughout his life

Part 13

Earlier installments are available here for reading.

I came to Seoul to attend school. I experienced culture shock. It was such a different environment from that of Chongju, my hometown, which was in a remote rural area. Seoul was such a big city. I remember many things I did to try to fit into that new environment.

When I was your age, I did not talk much. How could I say anything when I had not found the way [the truth] and was still seeking my path? You should train yourself to be confident enough to feel that if you open your mouth, nobody can stand in your way. You cannot enlighten yourself in a drifting, rowdy environment. You cannot put down deep roots there.

A humble person is not arrogant even if he is very capable. No one can take such a person lightly. We tend to take comfort from such a person, someone with a strong personal sense of identity. Even in the old days, I was like that. My classmates took me very seriously, even more seriously than they took the teachers. It was not because I threatened them or used force.

In middle school, I used to clean the whole school. Because I wanted to love the school more than anyone else, I thought I would clean the building as a representative of the student body. When I was thinking like that, I didn’t welcome others’ help.

Even without talking much, I became a close friend of many of my classmates. When they were in pain, they came to me to discuss things.

A desire to know

Many teachers hid from me, not being able to answer my questions. I used to ask, “Who created the formulae and definitions in the physics textbook? I do not believe them. Can you explain them to me clearly?” I did not believe anything until I verified it myself. When a math teacher taught me a formula, I chased after the teacher and asked him about it. “Who came up with such a formula?” I felt terrible because somebody else had come up with it before I had. I felt I should have been the one… [Laughter] I was digging deeper and deeper. There was no skimping. Doing things cursorily would not work with me.

Even from middle school, I used to give my teachers a hard time, asking many questions. When they were not able to give clear answers, I went to the library to research topics by myself and showed the teachers the answers.

Even when I studied for a test only the day before, things mostly worked out. I divided the lecture content based on the probability of material appearing in the exam and just focused on the parts with a high likelihood, ignoring the rest. When I prepared for a test based on a psychological analysis of how I would do things if I were a teacher, I was right about 70 percent of the time….. Yet however hard one studies, one cannot remember everything.

Physical training

From the day I dreamed of this great revolution of heart and received an order from Heaven that said unless I was strong and healthy, I would not be able to accomplish this great undertaking, I started tough physical training. I am strong and capable of easily defeating a couple of attackers that come at me together. There is no exercise that I have not done. I trained myself every day, day and night, until I was twenty-two.

I learned to box. I can do it even now. If I come across a bad man on the street, I can wrestle him down. A man should learn self-defense skills. I can jump over a fence even though I am kind of chubby. [Laughter] Because I went through that training, I can make all these movements look natural. Nobody will beat me in Korean wrestling either. [Laughter]

I am also good in such sports as soccer. Despite my rather large frame, I’m fast. In my younger days, I did all kinds of exercises, even on the horizontal bars. Even now, I do exercises that no one else knows. I developed my own exercises. Do you want to learn them? [Yes.] How much will you pay me? [Laughter]

When the body is trained, a base for the spiritual world is established. You then become a real man who will not float away. You should be bold and confident with the authority of an eldest son.

Speech training

If I want to speak fast, I can say ten words in the time it takes you to say one: “Hurrrr…!” [Laughter] I worked hard to become a champion at that. After people in Pyong-an Province say one word, they have to think around ten times what they will say next. When I came to Seoul, a lady with thin lips and small eyes at the lodging house where I stayed spoke so quickly, without pausing for breath, as she explained about the town. [Laughter] I thought, “I will speak faster than she does,” and I did beat her after lots of practice. [Laughter] The most difficult sound to pronounce was ddi [띠]. I wrote down such sounds as gal [갈], nal [날], dal[달], lal[랄], and practiced pronouncing them fast each morning and night.

That’s how I trained myself. Why did I do it? I wanted to learn to say everything I wanted to say right away, once I started talking. Hurrrr… [Laughter] Pour out everything from head to toe. For six months, in a small room, I practiced pronouncing all kinds of sounds, including the Korean alphabet. I practiced until I grasped all the pronunciation. That’s how I came to speak fast. It’s possible for a person to improve even the way he or she speaks.

When I was in my teens, I loved music. The owner of the lodging house where I lived had been a chauffeur. He was the eldest son of a wealthy man somewhere in Gangwon Province. At that time, about thirty years ago, a chauffeur was a good occupation. There was no place he had not been to in Korea. He knew all kinds of folk songs and had hundreds of albums. I devised a plan to impress the landlady, the owner’s wife. I greeted her every day and carried the little dining table for her, and I ran errands for her. As I carried out my plan in this way for a couple of days, she developed affection for me. She liked me so much she even said she would make me her son-in-law. All right! From then on, she lent me all the albums I wanted. [Laughter] I listened to all the recordings. Even if I borrowed several albums at a time, the owner did not mind. To listen to all the music over several days, I played the albums twenty-four hours a day! [Laughter]

It is good to sing well. A man who feels devoted to his mother sings while he massages her back. A young couple should sing well if they want to express the love in their hearts.

As a frontrunner in charge of the providence of restoration, I need to realize my goals somehow, don’t I? All of this has to do with my course. It was a foundation for my course. What did I do when sleeping at night? I played the songs under the blanket at a low volume. I go to extremes. Whatever I do, I do not want to be second to anyone.

A one-man show

God is very capable. He would say, “This rascal! You are shameless. You rascal!” He is also very good at joking. God is the king of humor. ….Taking after God, I am good at humor and improvisation. During my middle- and high-school years, I was a champion at one-man shows. At the school talent show when I performed, many parents would come to watch.

Having that quality is one reason I hold the position of founder of the Unification Church. Do you think it is easy to be in this position? [Laughter] Although church members are persecuted outside, you have fun once you come inside the church, don’t you? [Yes.] That’s because I put on a good one-man show. [Laughter] It is not a one-man show, but a real-man show. It is a real man’s performance.

In the old days, I liked to throw pebbles into the gentle waves of the Han River. It is better to do that in the evening than in the morning. Seeing people boating on the river against the evening glow is very beautiful, as the sun, which had been burning hot during the day, is setting behind them. Wind up a round, flat stone and throw it. It flies gently, skimming over the water; it appears to glide across on the river. Do you sense that feeling? [Laughter]

In my hometown, there were no persimmon trees. Although I had seen the fruit, I had never seen its mother. What is a persimmon’s mother? Isn’t it a tree? Of course, that mother grows from a seed in the beginning. In those days, a persimmon, a red-ripe persimmon, well… When I eat persimmons, I do not eat just one. If we have persimmons at home, I eat them all. [Laughter] Eating is my hobby!

To be continued.

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