What does it mean to apply the Principle to life? Does it mean that we just understand that the world has the potential to be much more ideal than it is, and then go off and read the ideas of others who are succeeding in life? Or does it mean that within the Principle itself, and in the many speeches of Rev. Moon, there lie the principles upon which human beings can succeed in building a more beautiful world into the future.
For the last 10 years, because of my teaching work, I have had to ask this question every day. Over time, I believe I have gained new insights into how both the Principle and principle-related concepts are helpful in understanding human well-being and success.
My first deep insight was a revelation I received at 2 a.m. on a bus to Russia where I was to teach a marriage enrichment seminar eight years ago. Let’s start with a simple scenario.
If you were the head of a project team at work, what questions might you ask to be sure the project was on track? Some of your most important questions might be:
- Is everyone on the team clear about the end goal, the vision?
- Is there the right mix of people on the team — talents, skills, diversity of backgrounds — for the project to have a reasonable chance of success?
- Through discussion, are we now all clear about each of the baby steps we need to take to reach the end goal (project management)?
- Do the staff feel inspired – motivated by meaningful work, are they working in an uplifting work environment, etc.? Also, have we identified the key features in the end product that will bring joy to the end user or make it beautiful for the end user to use?
- Are all staff having the ongoing training they need so they are best prepared to fulfill their individual role in the project goal?
- Do all key stakeholders in the project feel respected – are the views of other departments, of the project employees, of the boss taken into account? How about the health, safety and requirements of the end user; or the natural environment, etc.? Is respect consistently present?
- Are there enough feedback loops to keep the project on budget, on time, to deal with staff concerns, to find any potential hidden problems, etc.?
What is interesting about these questions is that they follow a predictable pattern. This means that whenever humans have a worthwhile goal to achieve they ask themselves a similar set of sensible questions – no matter what their goal actually is.
This being so, even though creating a marriage, running a department in a company, or managing a football team might seem like very different goals, they all achieve success on the basis of asking similar questions – on the basis of using a similar set of principles.
What are these goal-fulfilling principles and how do they connect with the Principle?
If you go through the above list of questions, you might be surprised to find that the questions you asked as a project leader follow the outline of the Principle of Creation – Chapter One of the Divine Principle. Put simply, as one goes through the Principle of Creation one can extract various principles that are useful to follow when seeking to achieve any worthwhile goal. I have extracted seven core goal achievement principles that flow from the outline of the Principle of Creation – and named them “The seven principles of creation.”
Let me explain how I received this insight. In 2002, I decided to learn more about the field of marriage education. I bought over 50 books and worked my way through them – but apart from “You should love your wife,” I found it hard to connect the content of these books to the Principle. The revelation that took place on a bus four years later showed me how the majority of the books I had read fell into four different types – and each of the four types of books related directly to a section in the Principle of Creation (i.e., gender differences; communication skills as a means to an end; affection and romance; and lastly respect – dealing with infidelity, abuse, divorce, etc.)
It became immediately evident to me that each type of book was trying to say, “If you, as a couple, live this specific principle – which is referred to in the Principle of Creation — to a higher degree of competence, then your marriage will receive more of God’s eternal blessings.” After finding this “secret aspect” of the Principle of Creation, it wasn’t hard to find three other principles worthy of note.
Let’s look at how these principles help us understand some of the most important dynamics within a healthy marital setting:
- The Principle of Identity – Clarity of vision or goal. What is the core identity of our marriage, e.g.: Fidelity? Approximate number of children? Till death do us part? A place of personal growth, a school of love?
- The Principle of Diverse Inputs. Two different people creating a life together. Can we value and honor our different strengths, the different natural gifts we both have – both practical skills and love skills? Can we both honor the different, natural gender strengths?
- The Principle of Give and Take (in order to create an agreed plan of the “Baby Steps” forward). Many key issues that are part of the marital home have nothing to do with romance. Can we talk and find a reasonable level of common agreement on: finances, roles around the home, parenting rules, leisure time, work/home dynamics, religious and/or community involvement, relatives and friends, etc. Even in successful marriages, there are typically 10 issues left unresolved. The more unity, the less negative moments occur.
- The Principle of Including Love, Beauty, Truth, Goodness, Joy and Meaning in our Goal. Marriage is not just about finances and parenting — we all need to keep that romantic connection alive — to regularly fall in love again. So what do we do as a couple to make this happen? Date nights, romancing, outings, learning each other’s love language, creating family traditions, etc.
- The Principle of the Growth of the Individual in Order to Support the Growth of the Whole. Human systems work best if each individual in the system works to develop themselves over the years, e.g., do we read a marital enrichment or parenting book once a year? Do we go to a marital enrichment seminar every four years? Do we seek advice from a mentor couple?
- The Principle of Respect for All Key Stakeholders. As the center of cosmic harmony, it’s important we respect each other’s marital dream and the dreams of other key stakeholders for our marriage (e.g., our children, parents, our religious community, the wider society). Some of the typical issues concerning respect include: No infidelity; no physical or psychological abuse; seeking help from a marriage valuing counselor when in difficulty; no addiction to food, shopping, gambling, pornography, online games, drugs, etc.
- The Principle of Gaining Vitality through Feedback. Feedback, when done well, inspires new growth. Do we offer praise when we see our partner doing something right? How do we gently convey a room-for-growth request for change? Do we sometimes celebrate what we have achieved together – sharing what we appreciate about our marriage?
“The seven principles of creation” are a useful tool for analyzing strengths and weaknesses in any human organization. If you work in a business, are married, are a pastor in a church, or if you just have a personal goal, take a few minutes and ask yourself how these principles might help you understand the strength and weaknesses of your approach to achieving your goal.
Two further comments. Firstly, men and women didn’t lose their ability to use the seven principles of creation after the fall of man. For example, Abraham used them to build a successful business. We use our common sense, our rational thinking, to derive and apply them. One of the key reasons why we understand these principles as being “common sense” is because they are intrinsically embedded within the natural world. All living species use the same goal-setting principles in order maintain health and well-being over the course of millions of years — and because we are a part of the natural world, we pick up on these principles. Well-run companies, organizations and marriages naturally develop through consistently using these same principles, not just in a static, “use once only” way, but through using them as an ongoing, dynamic, feedback loop.
Secondly, the inner contradictions within fallen man can have an impact on the application of any of these seven principles. For example, “respect for all key stakeholders” might get narrowed down to “respect for me, or certain key stakeholders, at the expenses of other stakeholders” (e.g., some modern-day banks). Also, fallen man might refuse to want to grow in order to support the growth of the whole. And yet again, “what is seen as beautiful, truthful, meaningful, joyful or loving” might get warped through the application of a more selfish, trauma-driven, inner-conflict perspective (e.g., most modern-day soap-operas).
Of course, there is a limit to the amount of success that applying these principles can bring. The majority of divorces, company bankruptcies or personal failures do not occur because of a failure to apply “The seven principles of creation.” Most failures happen because we so often find it hard to know how to maintain healthy, growth-oriented interaction in our significant relationships, but that is for another day.♦
Stephen Stacey (UTS Class of 1990) has been teaching at universities in Finland for the last 12 years. He pioneered a course on marriage education, and taught courses on cross-cultural competences and professional development.
Graphic at top: “Blue Compass” courtesy of Highgraphic.com