Photo by Takae Goto
Religious and spiritual leaders must lead this peace process. Instead of advocating their own narrow doctrinal perspective, they must help all people of faith to recognize the shared values and principles that come from our common heritage in one God. —Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon (Global Peace Festival 2008)
Seeking out the Divine
The founder of the Family Peace Association, Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, has always emphasized the central importance of placing God at the center of our families, communities and nation, and world. He has also advocated for the special role of spiritual leaders and faith communities in doing this:
We have discovered that relations between faith traditions are not about mere toleration of one another’s prayers and rituals. A true interfaith experience is a celebration of the core principles that bind all God-affirming people together as one family.
It is with this understanding that we seek to provide a platform for like-minded partners to collaborate for the cause of building strong, God-centered families. Through attuning ourselves to look for spiritual truths in everyday places and through sharing the wisdom of our respective faith traditions, we hope to become ever-more conscious of how we need to live our daily lives. In this, faith communities need not approach one another as rivals but as brothers and sisters of faith in the journey of building greater spiritual consciousness in our nation and world.
Faith and wisdom traditions have always played a seminal role in helping people explore the meaning of life and individual purpose in life. The many people who go through life seeking meaning and purpose find them in his or her faith community. Whatever word that we might use: Ultimate Reality, the Absolute Being, the Transcendent, Brahman, Creator, etc., when we root our origins in the Creator, we then become grounded in the idea that we have a purpose. In order to know that purpose, we need to know then, the Creator, God. Different traditions may know this Being by different names but for our purposes, we use the term God to represent something that is ineffable and could never be fully expressed in words.
On a practical level, becoming spiritually conscious means to become more and more attuned to the spiritual laws and nature of life and then to align ourselves accordingly. Dr. Moon’s father, Rev. Sun Myung Moon outlined the most practical way to do this: in our families. In True Families: Gateway to Heaven, he explains:
Whether it concerns issues in your family or problems facing the nation or the world, the same formula applies: we must deal with relationships to those above and below, on the right and on the left, in front and in back. […] This is the case whether you are relating to your parents or your children, to your husband or your wife, or to your brothers and sisters. (True Families, Gateway to Heaven, pp 9-10)
It is in the family that we learn to love and care for our mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles. It is within this network of love and care that allows us to develop our character and cultivate emotional ties with other people as well as learn how to deal with others. What we learn in the family we can then extend to those around us:
The same applies as you relate to the nation and world. Your family should take the lead in your nation to embrace families in the east and west and north and south and encourage all families to do the same. Your family should embrace the civilizations of East and West and of North and South and embrace all the people of the world as your brothers and sisters. This is the way to bring about one world family. (True Families, Gateway to Heaven, pp 9-10)
To do this, we challenge ourselves to create plans to practice and embody God’s eternal truths in our everyday family life as concrete actions, behaviors and habits. The following is an activity to develop our spiritual consciousness – to seek out God in our everyday lives together as a family.
Creating Healthy Family Habits: Seeking the Divine Image
The steps to this activity are really very simple.
- First, plan out time for your family to go out into nature. The setting doesn’t matter so long as it is in nature – the forest, a beach, a field – somewhere you can ‘study’ nature. The purpose of this time is one in which we seek out reflections of the “Divine Image” in nature.
- Take something for each person to take personal notes, questions, sketches, etc. While it’s fine to talk as you go along, you want to make sure that you don’t lose focus on the activity of investigating.
- Some general themes to observe:
- What does nature need to grow?
- What limits growth?
- What are the different stages of growth?
- What is the general dynamic of life in an ecosystem?
- Did you observe important roles each species plays in the ecosystem?
- Did you observe instances where the energy did not flow (air, water) – what did that look like?
- If or when you observe “invasive species” – what are the qualities that make them invasive in that ecosystem?
- Then, to wrap up you want to take some time to share with one another your observations and questions. What patterns did you see?
This activity can also be used for younger children when teaching universal principles.
This might be a bit awkward in the beginning and we encourage you to try it in different ways until it starts to feel more natural. For some people, it is like training a muscle and we need time and consistency to see or feel results.
It will also take time to be able to draw lines of connection between observations made about nature and the laws that govern nature and the laws that govern the human world. These types of shared experiences together as a family are important as they set a basis for which to later explain lessons from the natural world to our spiritual lives. The more we engage and learn to share and explore with one another about life, universal laws, growth, and nature the easier it becomes to share on anything and everything else. We encourage you to treasure these moments and make efforts to make it a central part of your lives together as a family.
For all these reasons and more, this is an activity that can be repeated without end. In fact, all of the activities we include in this book is of that nature. And every time the activity is done, a new layer of knowledge, consciousness, skill, etc. is added – we ourselves have become different. In that way, every time we do an activity, in some sense we are different people from those who did the activity before!
For an approach for younger kids, click here.