Contemplating Unification Thought

Exploring Our Comprehensive Philosophical System

by Dr. Jennifer P. Tanabe

I decided to write this series of articles while teaching a course on Unification Thought at the Unification Theological Seminary with Dr. David Carlson. As we neared the end of the course, I realized that the ideas which had been discussed during the term should be made available to more than the thirty or so students and two professors participating in the course.

I am sure that many have struggled, as I did, through several generations of texts on Unification Thought, sometimes inspired and sometimes confused, and left in the end with questions on what to do with the ideas. Through this series of articles I hope that clarification may come, and that Unification Thought will become more real and alive to many people.

For those who become interested in further study, I recommend the latest text Essentials of Unification Thought: The Head-Wing Thought, published by Unification Thought Institute, 1992. As an introduction to some of the basic concept, The New Cultural Revolution and Unification Thought by Sang Hun Lee, Unification Thought Institute, 1987, is a useful little volume. And, for those looking for additional material, Unification Thought Supplementary Materials, Unification Theological Seminary, 1992, which I prepared may prove useful. The Essentials text is available from the Unification Thought Institute, 481 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10001; all three are available from the Unification Theological Seminary Bookstore, 10 Dock Road, Barrytown, NY 12507.

As in studying Divine Principle, it is not enough to read the book(s) over and over, we also need to study the speeches and life of Reverend Moon himself. Although Unification Thought is the thought of Reverend Moon, and Dr. Lee is the first to make this clear, accepting no personal credit for this philosophical system, nonetheless it is helpful to know more about Dr. Lee himself. This first article, then, introduces not only the system of Unification Thought but also the person primarily responsible for its development, Dr. Sang Hun Lee.

Dr. Lee

Dr. Lee is a man of great dedication to truth. Before he met the Unification Church he was ready to commit suicide if he could not find the answers to life's question. After he joined the Unification Church he was told that God's heart was filled with suffering because of the situation of the world. As a man of intellect he found himself unable to shed tears for fallen humanity and for the creation, and he did not feel God's suffering heart. Therefore, he determined to fast until he experienced God's heart. His testimony of how he experienced God's heart at the time of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Reverend Moon's life was given at a seminar in 1984, and is reprinted in Unification Thought Supplementary Materials.

After the First International Seminar on Unification Thought and VOC Theory for Special Lecturers, held in the summer of 1989, Reverend Moon invited all the participants to lunch at East Garden. Reverend Moon told us that he had chosen Dr. Lee to develop Unification Thought because he was the most serious person he found, serious enough to die if he could not find the truth, like Reverend Moon himself. But Dr. Lee is not only serious about truth, he is also humble about his own abilities. For many years, he confirmed everything with Reverend Moon before writing it down.

Finally, Reverend Moon told him that he did not need to do that any more, but that through prayer Dr. Lee would find the truth himself. The experiences I have had with Dr. Lee, which I have written about in earlier articles in Unification News, are rare and precious ones which I will never forget. Dr. Lee's determination to understand Reverend Moon's thought and present it to the scholars of the world moved me to tears. And his faith in us, his students, as the vessels God had prepared to receive Unification Thought and bring to the world is truly an inspiring responsibility.

A new view of life

So what is Unification Thought? Reverend Moon has described it as "a new view of life, a new view of the world, a new view of the universe and a new view of the providence of history that has never before existed. It is also a principle of integration that can encompass the whole into one unity, while at the same time preserving the individual characteristics of all religious doctrines and philosophies." He explained further, "God's truth is sent to earth as revelation given through certain providential persons. God's truth is the absolute truth, which is an almighty key capable of solving any problem, no matter how difficult it may be. I have encountered the living God through a lifetime of prayer and meditation, and have been given this absolute truth. Its remarkable contents clarify all the secrets hidden behind the entire universe, behind human life and behind human history."

The character of Unification Thought, which is the philosophical systematization of this truth received as revelation by Reverend Moon, is described by Dr. Lee as: a philosophical theory dealing with questions of being, logic, cognition, value, art, history, and practice; a theory assuming theological nature in that it deals with the attributes of God, creation, providence, etc.; a theory of standards for settling actual problems; a reform theory which is aimed at restoration to the original world; a complementary theory which recognizes the truth in existing philosophies and theologies; a theory for cultural revolution which provides the basis for the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven; and the true liberation theory which aims to liberate all humankind from Satan and thus to liberate God.

This is a formidable list! Clearly, Unification Thought sets itself a great task, and the foundation for this work is the understanding of God. As Dr. Lee has said, "Unification Thought begins with God in its logical development. That is to say, this thought system starts with the theory of the attributes of God and the theory of His creation. Thus the first premise in the establishment of Unification Thought is the clarification of the attributes of God. The second premise is the creation of the universe, and the third premise is creation according to the law of resemblance. The reason why these three points are chosen as the premises for its logical development is that Unification Thought is revealed for the salvation of mankind through the settlement of actual problems."

Faith and Reason

Thus, the proponents of Unification Thought claim that it provides the basis for a global society in which true love is actualized, and all actual problems of the individual and society can be solved. However, does the very nature that forms the foundation for these claims give it a different status from other theories developed by philosophers and scientists, i.e. does it become a matter of faith to accept Unification Thought?

Dr. Lee has addressed this issue, and argues that when subjected to the hypothetical method Unification Thought proves tenable. He shows that two major hypotheses in the Theory of the Original Image are verified by scientific observation. These are that God is the harmonious Subject of the dual characteristics of Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, and of the dual characteristics of Yang and Yin. Since all things created according to the Law of Resemblance resemble God, they should reflect these two dual characteristics of God. By examining the characteristics of human beings, animals, plants and minerals, these hypotheses are verified. Thus, it need not be a matter of faith to accept Unification Thought.

Unification Thought is a comprehensive philosophical system. It begins with the Theory of the Original Image, an understanding of the nature and characteristics of God, the creator of the universe. A major feature of this theory is that God's central aspect is "Shim Jung" or heart, the source of love, that God's purpose in creating was to produce joy through love. Secondly, Ontology is covered under two headings: "Ontology," which deals with all created things except human beings, and the "Theory of Original Human Nature," which deals with human beings.

According to Unification Thought, all things were created to be the object of humankind with the purpose of producing joy. Human beings were created in the image of God, as God's children with eternal spiritual life, to bring loving dominion over all creation and to be objects of love to God. (Note: the term "object" in Unification Thought does not refer only to things, but may also refer to human beings. This point will be discussed more fully in subsequent articles.) These three theories form the root from which all other theories are developed, namely Axiology, Epistemology, Logic, Education, Ethics, Art, and History.

Unification Epistemology deals with issues of cognition (its origin, object, and method), while Unification Logic complements the insufficiencies of traditional logics. Axiology, the theory of values, provides the foundation for the theories of Education, Ethics, and Art, which correspond to the values of truth, goodness, and beauty, which are sought by the three functions of mind which are intellect, will, and emotion, respectively.

The theory of Education proposes three types of education, of heart, norm, and intellect, which correspond to God's three blessings in Genesis 1:28 (to be fruitful, multiply, and have dominion). The theory of Ethics states that the most fundamental ethical system is the God-centered family. The theory of Art details the elements of beauty, the conditions for creative work, and the conditions for appreciation. And, finally, the theory of History shows God's providence of restoration working in history through the laws of creation and restoration.

Thus, Unification Thought is a system which provides the basis for a new culture, the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. This series of articles will address the major tenets of each of these ten theories in Unification Thought, beginning with the Theory of The Original Image. Problems raised, both by participants in the recent ICUS conferences, and by students in the UTS course, will be discussed. I hope that the articles will be enlightening, and inspiring to the reader, and that through this series Unification Thought will become familiar to a wider audience.