Contemplating Unification Thought


by Dr. Jennifer P. Tanabe

Ontology, what's that? Well, it is the theory concerning all existing beings. In Unification Thought there are separate chapters dealing with the Original Image (God), which was discussed in the previous two articles, and also with human beings, which are dealt with in the Theory of Original Human Nature. Human beings are dealt with separately for two reasons: one is that they (we) have a special nature different from all other created beings, and the other is that human beings lost their (our) original nature because of the Fall. Ontology in Unification Thought is the theory of all existing beings in the ideal, not the fallen world.

Unification Thought holds that all things were created according to the Law of Resemblance, i.e. were created in the likeness of God. This means that all beings, or Individual Truth Bodies, have the same attributes as the Original Image, namely the dual aspects of "Sung Sang" and "Hyung Sang", and Yang and Yin. As explained in the Theory of Original Image, Yang and Yin exist for the purpose of variety and development, as well as for the expression of beauty through harmony. In the created world apart from human beings, this makes a lot of sense. When we come to human beings though, as will be seen in next month's article, all is not harmony and beauty!

All things were created only in the likeness of God, not identical to God, which means that they have "Sung Sang" and "Hyung Sang" aspects, but their manifestation differs according to the level of being. God first conceived of human beings as most closely resembling His own nature, and then lowered the dimensions of "Sung Sang" and "Hyung Sang" , and subtracted specific elements, to conceive of animals, plants, minerals, etc. This is called the "layered structure" of "Sung Sang" and "Hyung Sang" in existing beings.

An important point to note here is that Unification Thought agrees with the evolutionary order of the actual appearance of beings, from minerals upwards to human beings. However, the first beings conceived of were human. God first conceived of all things in His mind, in the Inner Four-Position Base, starting with human beings and then actually created them in the reverse order, through the Outer Four-Position Base.

External expression

As we noted in the Original Image there are both inner and outer four-position bases. This becomes substantial in created beings which exist not just as "individual" truth bodies, but also function as "connected" bodies. Within each individual truth body the "Sung Sang" and "Hyung Sang" elements relate as subject and object forming the inner four-position base, and simultaneously two connected bodies relate to each other as subject and object in the outer base. This demonstrates the importance of correlative relationship in Unification Thought, and that relationship is based upon proper order, i.e. the relationship of subject and object.

Here we have one of the major controversial issues in Unification Thought. The terms "subject" and "object" are loaded terms in Western philosophy, where subject refers to a self or being with consciousness, and object to the being or idea which is recognized or faced by the subject. This means basically that the subject is a human being and the object is not. In Unification Thought, however, human beings are often in the "object" position, which most people find objectionable, since they do not want to be treated as objects, i.e. things! Clearly, we have to understand that in Unification Thought the subject-object relationship can be applied to a human being and a thing, to two human beings, or to two things. Thus, both subject and object in Unification Thought can be either human or thing, so there is no need to take offense!

However, this is not the end of the problem. Dr. Nona Bolin, at the recent ICUS in Korea, eloquently argued that the distinctions in traditional metaphysics between inner and outer, subject and object, are no longer regarded as "neutral and benign." Modern philosophers, such as Nietzsche, Derrida and Foucault, have argued forcefully against the continuation of distinctions that perpetuate notions of discrimination, privilege, and inequality of value. She commented that the "correlative" relationship between subject and object in Unification Thought may be distinguished from the dialectic struggle of opposites and characterized as a relation of harmony of purpose, but it is still a power relationship. The relation is one of "dominion" of subject over object, and the object must remain object or become an unnatural subject repulsed by the natural subject.

As respondent to her paper, I attempted to explain that, unlike traditional Western philosophy, the correlativity between subject and object in Unification Thought does not refer to the polarities of truth vs. error, good vs. evil, sane vs. insane, well vs. sick, normal vs. abnormal. In other words, the concept that the second member of the pair is the negative, corrupt and undesirable version of the first is excluded from the dual characteristics, thus differentiating Unification Thought from traditional Western philosophy and its inherent problems. Since the Unification Thought texts do not discuss this criticism of traditional Western philosophy, I was grateful for Dr. Bolin's warning that Unification Ontology appeared to be carrying this "overwhelming metaphysical baggage."

Good and evil

Although the Unification Thought texts do not explicitly discuss the human fall and its consequences in detail, there is the underlying understanding that good and evil are not dual characteristics within the Original Image, nor are such dual characteristics present in God's original creation. The fact that polarities such as good vs. evil, sane vs. insane, etc. exist in the created world is the result of the human fall. The dual characteristics of created beings are derived from the Original Image of God, who is truly good and has no evil, and yet has dual characteristics. The dual characteristics are conceived of as two sides of a coin, two complementary and equally essential aspects of being, of equal value, which should exist in harmony as their counterparts in God exist in harmonious oneness. In the ideal, created beings exist in relationship of subject and object, both within themselves and with other beings.

So, how do subject and object relate according to Unification Thought? Unification Ontology stresses creation according to the Law of Resemblance, which means that the relationships within and between created beings find their origin in the Original Image. The prototype of such relationship is "the round and harmonious nature of the give-and-receive action between the Original "Sung Sang" and the Original "Hyung Sang" ." ("Essentials" p.72) In God there is no time and space, but in the created world give-and-receive action is expressed in terms of time and space and becomes circular motion. The participants in the motion are subject and object, and when they engage in give-and-receive action centering on purpose, the result is that both union and motion appear simultaneously. The center of the motion is within the subject, and the object revolves around in a circular or spherical motion [see figure].

Clearly this works for planets orbiting the sun, or electrons orbiting protons in the nucleus of an atom, provided we understand that "circular" or "spherical" includes the variations such as ellipses on the circular form. It is also helpful to understand that not all circular motion involves physical motion, but can include spiral motion as each generation of plant or animal performs a cycle of life which is repeated in spiral form through successive generations. Also, on the level of human beings, spiritual circular motion, or "Sung Sang" circular motion, is performed rather than actual physical motion. This means that you don't see people physically running in circles around their "subject" or their bodies running circles around their minds, although I often feel that my two-year-old daughter has me running in physical circles around her!

Empirical support

It is clear in observing the world, if we include all these variations plus allowances for more complex systems than a single subject and object, that spherical motion is the basic nature of relationship. Therefore, Unification Ontology seems to have a basis in reality. Additionally, there is a logical point that supports it, namely, that if subject and object are to continue in relationship the basic type of motion had better be circular or they will separate. Indeed, if the object moves in a straight line, there can be no long-term relationship with the subject. I recall one afternoon watching a pair of ducks swimming together. Their path was meandering, with no apparent goal or single direction, and they did not swim side by side all the time. But clearly they were constantly aware of each other's position, and adjusted their direction and speed to keep close together. At times it even looked like one duck swam in circles around the other! I was struck by the harmony of their behavior, as they stayed together and yet were free to go in any direction, looking for food or whatever.

This leads to a very important point in the relationship between subject and object, which is that a harmonious relationship exists between a subject and an object, not between two subjects, or, for that matter, between two objects. However, the positions of subject and object are "relative", each created being exists both as subject to another being, and as object to another being, and all created beings must be object to God the original and ultimate subject. So, a planet may be subject to its moons but object to the sun. While two planets may affect each other's orbits (hopefully avoiding collision courses!), as two objects they do not maintain a true give-and-receive relationship with each other but only with the subject, the sun. Two subjects, or two objects, naturally repel each other and this action strengthens the give-and-receive relationships between subject and object. In the ideal natural world this phenomenon maintains order and harmony.

Of course, in the realm of human relationships things get a lot more complicated and controversial. So next month's article on the Theory of Original Human Nature will deal with the subject/object relationship, and an even hotter topic, Yang and Yin in human beings.