Honorable Chairperson, distinguished scholars and clergy, participants in the Youth Seminar on World Religions. ladies and gentlemen:
I welcome you to Korea, the site of the fourth conference on God: The Contemporary Discussion, and the final destination of the third Youth Seminar on World Religions.
It is natural and appropriate for the Conference and the Seminar to be convening together here in Korea. Korea has historically been a unique meeting place of the world's religions. Here, Buddhism and Confucianism took deep root, maintaining harmony with each other in the context of the native Korean Tan-gun tradition and the Korean folk belief. Christianity has flourished in Korea: 1984 marks the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Catholicism, and the l00th anniversary of the arrival of Protestantism. Within our culturally homogeneous society, religions have coexisted and cross-fertilized one another, and the precepts of these diverse religious traditions are embedded together in the people and society of the "hermit kingdom." From this soil has sprung the Unification movement, a movement seeking unity-within-diversity on the world-wide level, and striving to establish a world of love, sympathy, and harmony based on the religious affirmation of the familyhood of all people under our common parent, God.
To create this ideal world we must have an overall model or blueprint. An important Unification image is that of a mature or perfected person, with mind and body united. From the mental and spiritual life of a person, centered on God, spring ideals and purposes. The nervous system transmits the resulting directives of the mind to the cells, and relays information from the physical body back to the mind. When this exchange occurs smoothly we say that the individual is in harmony. The mental and spiritual life of humanity can be likened to the mind, the economic life of humanity to the body. The spiritual ideals, aspirations, and love of God are manifested through religion, around which theology, philosophy, art, and all culture revolve. Religious leaders and theological and philosophical thinkers, then are a central nervous system, transmitting, interpreting, and developing impulses from God for the whole body of humanity.
I view religious leaders and scholars as vitally important for the betterment of the world and the creation of a new cultural revolution. Such leaders have always been the vanguard of cultural development - in ancient China, India, Africa, the Middle East, and Greece; in the rise of Christianity and the world of Islam; in the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment.
Today, however, with the great success of science and technology, and the failure of religion to speak to the realistic problems of the world, those taking the lead in social change are often under the anti-religious banner of Communism. But Communism welcomes violence as the means for change; it ultimately denies God, turns against religions, and tries to restrict our perspective to the material world.
I know that many supporters of Communism have high ideals, not limited by the confines of nation, race, and culture; but their energy and idealism must be complemented by God-centered thought and action. Accordingly, the world needs religious leaders and scholars as sacrificial pioneers. The God Conference, the Youth Seminar on World Religions, and all the activities of the International Religious Foundation exist as a forum and structure for the fulfillment of this ideal.
As individuals, you are called to a renewed dedication of yourselves and your disciplines to the world. As representatives of the world's religions, you are called to bring your churches, mosques, synagogues, shrines, and temples into a cooperative unity for the sake of world peace and human freedom, centered on God. Many people ask what religions can do in this secular age. I answer: the world's religions must provide a stable, universal foundation of values upon which governments can build true peace and harmony, science and technology can be fully utilized for the happiness of mankind, and the world's cultures can be purified, exalted, shared, celebrated.
Truly, the ideal I am espousing is nothing other than the kingdom of God on earth. I see it as a realistic goal toward which we can realistically work. People have been telling me that I am too utopian. I recognize that I am extremely idealistic, but I have no choice: God has called me directly, personally, to this task and responsibility.
I have been concentrating not only on teaching people about the ideal of God, but also on promoting the accomplishment of that ideal on earth. It is for this purpose that I have undertaken all of my activities, including missionary work, education, challenges to Communist ideology, an ecumenical movement, and social services. Among these, I put greatest emphasis on the ecumenical movement.
A major problem facing humanity today is the lack of spiritual unity among and within each of the world's religions. Despite all efforts to the contrary, divisions and animosities among various religious groups continue. Religious wars are still being waged, as they have been for centuries. In spite of various ecumenical movements, religious arrogance, intolerance, and bigotry are still prevalent among devout believers. Thus, although most religions have professed the same God and often even the same views for centuries, followers of those great religious traditions have continually persecuted and warred with one another.
We must realize that God is beyond denominationalism, doctrinalism, and factionalism. God's purpose is and always has been to save the entire world, and not merely a certain race, nation, or religious group. As religious people, we cannot help God in the task of salvation when we fight among ourselves. This idea is not new, but for numerous reasons it has been difficult to achieve.
The essence of my teaching is that inter-religious harmony is a necessary condition for world peace. Since no single religion has manifested God completely, religious differences have been inevitable. Yet, as many great religious leaders have taught, because we are all children of the same Heavenly Parent we are all brothers and sisters in one great family, and inter-religious conflict and divisive hatred are unnecessary.
In my years of spiritual search and struggle I encountered God many times, and I also spiritually encountered the founders of all the world's great religions. I feel the continual presence and inspiration of God every day in my life. Without God, how would it have been possible for a man born in an isolated farming village in a small, oppressed, and destitute nation to be able now to sponsor and address this august assembly of world religious leaders? I testify that the teachings of the Unification movement, its goals, and its projects, are the result of God's direction to me. They are not my personal theory and activity, they are God's.
The International Religious Foundation is planning to sponsor a Parliament of World Religions in 1993. That parliament will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1893 World Parliament of Religion held in Chicago in conjunction with the first World's Fair. Prior to the 1993 event, two preparatory meetings will be convened, one in mid-November 1985 near New York City, and the other some time in 1989. Each of these gatherings will bring together more than seven hundred spiritual teachers, scholars, lay leaders, artists, and young people. It is hoped that the three planned events will lead to other such programs in the future.
The 1993 Parliament of World Religions and the two preparatory meetings are designed to provide a new environment for global ecumenical contact. The objective is to move toward disclosing the Universal Principles that underlie all life throughout the world and to promote with equal vigor the fullest diversity of its possible expressions. In so doing the Parliament will seek to advance and develop the aims of international peace and harmony for which the world longs. Participants will be offered an opportunity to share their perspectives on our present spiritual condition and on the challenges of our present age.
The purpose will not be to legislate, either politically or doctrinally, but to promote mutual respect among the world's religions and to foster inter-religious cooperation on projects initiated by them. A variety of issues will be discussed, but the overall theme will be the renewal of spirituality and the establishment of world peace under God.
I thank you again for coming. I hope this conference will be centered not on human thoughts of God but on God's original ideal. I truly believe that your study and discussion will bring about tremendous progress in accomplishing the ideal of God on earth.