What is “Attendance”? Musings on a Core Unificationist Practice

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By Andrew Lausberg

75995_459821110372_999357_nAccording to the Unification Principle, the Completed Testament era is the one in which human beings are to resurrect both spiritually and physically, justified by attendance. As one of the fundamental concepts of the practice of Unificationism taught by Reverend Moon, a clear understanding of “attendance” seems critical.

When looking at the question “What is attendance?”, one has to factor in Korean and, to a lesser extent, Far Eastern culture. On the other hand, Korean culture alone cannot provide a complete answer to this question because it has never yet risen to the level of a Completed Testament culture. The answer must bring together Completed Testament elements (as introduced through Father Moon, e.g., the supremacy of true love, purpose of creation, human responsibility) with the Korean context (Confucianism, Korean history, Korean character and environment).

In Korean, the word we use to signify attendance is 모심 — [moshim] (attendance, pronounced “moe + shim”) or 모심생활 [moshim saeng hwal] (attendance life/practice). Moshim derives from the verb 모시다 [moshida], which is related but not identical to the Japanese concept of [haberu] 侍る. The cultural interpretations of Korean and Japan are different when dealing with “attendance.”

Considering Korean culture, we should recognize that it comprises both “fallen” aspects, which we should avoid, and “original” (unfallen) elements we should learn to recognize and embrace. Unfortunately, just as is the case with Unificationists from other cultures, Korean Unificationists can also fall into cultural traps. A fallen expression of “attendance” in the Korean mode would be, for example, the expression of false loyalty, or the giving of reports designed to make Father (or the leader) “happy” but which, in fact, misrepresent how things actually are. This corrupted form of attendance is the semblance of loyalty at the cost of true inner service. It pays lip service with the primary goal of maintaining one’s position or perks, or avoiding difficulty.

On the other hand, the original (unfallen) expression of true attendance — moshim — that is expressed within the Korean context is something I think all Unificationists need to learn. In this context, moshim means, first and foremost, having a powerful longing and yearning in heart for the Beloved (님 [Nim]). Next, it means a longing to lift the Beloved up, to see the Beloved happy, fulfilled, peaceful. Moshim seeks expression by honoring and loving the sacred within the Beloved, by valuing the Beloved and being responsive to their desires, hopes and needs. Moshim means to rescue the Beloved if he is in distress, to ease her pain if she is in pain. Furthermore, moshim seeks to do this by serving or sacrificing oneself for the Beloved’s sake.

This heart of moshim is infused with an attitude of gratitude, which, at its root, is based on the idea of the benevolence and goodness of the Beloved. If the Beloved is a teacher, moshim means, for example, striving to be a great pupil who makes the teacher proud and fulfilled (the premise being that the teacher wants the pupil to learn, be successful and grow). If the Beloved is an authority, then moshim means to facilitate the goals and desires of the authority (the premise being that the authority wants what is best for those under her authority). If the Beloved is one’s parents, moshim means to be the best child one can be, to listen and pay attention to the parents’ lessons and desires, to make them happy (the premise being that the parents want what is best for the child, and to see him or her happy and healthy). After the desires of the Beloved have been accomplished, moshim then seeks to make the Beloved comfortable, to see that she experiences the fruits of her efforts, investment and heart.

In this sense, moshim is the supreme virtue an object can express to her subject, and although this virtue is grounded in the idea of a subject that is benevolent, moshim also seeks to be constant and unchanging, even in the face of failure by the subject to be all he should be. This constancy in heart is expressed in the classic sijo poem written by Jeong Mong Ju in the 14th century and known to Unificationists as the holy song “Tan Shim Ga”:

Even if this body of mine dies and dies, even if it dies one hundred times,
Even if my bones are ground into dust, even if my very soul is gone,
My unchanging heart, my burning devotion to my Beloved, how could this ever change?*

The context for moshim exists where the beloved is someone who is higher or precedes in the scale of natural order, like a parent, a teacher, an ancestor or predecessor, or in the scale of responsibility, like a superior, or boss, founder or king. Thus, in a restoration context, it is appropriate for an older brother “to attend” his younger brother, or for a parent to attend her child when the child is responsible for much greater things. Dae Mo Nim [Grandmother Hong], for example, would want to attend her daughter, True Mother, but True Mother would also want to attend and comfort her mother, in the context of natural order. In Father’s view, the prime example or archetypical model of moshim is the attitude of the child towards her parent.

Jeong_Mong-ju

 “Jeong Mong Ju” (정몽주) painted by Yi Han-cheol (1880).

Thus, moshim is a path of dedication to the Beloved through love. It is “living for the sake of the other” (the Beloved), such that the Beloved achieves or fulfills her desires and then arrives at that place of contentment, joy and happiness. This is what Father wants us to be towards God. It is also how Father himself lived towards God.

Although many Korean Unificationists will have certain views on what correct moshim is, moshim in the Unificationist sense transcends Korean culture. While Father and Mother are the model of moshim in their relationship towards God, each is also a unique person with a unique character and personality. Accordingly, in building our relationship with God and True Parents, each of us must necessarily find an expression of moshim that brings together the universal elements mentioned above (heart and attitude) as well as our uniquely individual nature. How you interpret or accomplish moshim, in relation to your Beloved, will naturally differ depending on who you are and what choices you make.

For example, one Unificationist’s view of attendance may be “doing as True Parents have asked me to do in terms of mission.” Another’s may be “taking care of my local community.” Such views don’t discount anyone else’s approach to moshim, neither do they mean that they are the one and only standard. Moshim needs to be an expression of you and your relationship with your Beloved (i.e., Heavenly Parent and True Parents) encompassing both universal and uniquely individual elements.

Above all, one point needs to be understood and recognized: moshim is a particular attitude and heart, expressed in some way, rather than some externally regulated cultural practice or dogma that everyone must follow. How it finds expression will inherently rely on the uniqueness of one’s individuality, through personality, cultural background, character, circumstances, and the quality of your relationship. How moshim best finds expression depends on the individual, family or community that practices it. We cannot substitute external formality for true inner devotion and responsibility.

While studying both ancient and modern Korean literature, I discovered a certain sweetness, a closeness, and a profound dedication of love that defines the (original) Korean experience of moshim. Combine that sweetness and love with the Unificationist understanding of God and God’s life and path, and you start to get the answer to the question “what is attendance” from Reverend Moon’s viewpoint. Father’s view and practice of moshim is the model for each of us as Unificationists (that is, the attitude and heart, not necessarily the form, which inherently requires the expression of one’s unique individual character).

We might conceive of the heart of moshim as having a similar quality as the heart of the newborn mom or dad towards their son or daughter, but directed towards those that precede us or take responsibility for us, in some way, on a greater level. For example, Father had this level of devotion to Jesus as his elder brother:

“Why then is it that we have faith and hope in Jesus? It is to become a true son or daughter of God, and thus become a true family member of Jesus, who can live attending him. ….In your family, living in the attendance of Jesus as your own elder brother, you should possess a heart that can take his sorrow as yours, his pain as yours, his concern as yours. Thus, you can comfort him.”**

Thus, we practice moshim to Jesus by understanding what Jesus desired to accomplish, what his deep intent was, and then honoring and pursuing it to fulfillment, such that Jesus could stand back and sigh, and say, “now it is finally done. I am at peace. Thank you.”

If there is something our Korean brethren must recognize and learn to share with us, it is this “original” Korean experience of moshim. Of course, this is easier said than done. The Korean experience of moshim must find its purest expression, and then be elevated through Father and Mother’s spirit. Only then can it be a source of guidance for the rest of the world. A corrupted or external form of moshim cannot provide the elements we need to understand this most essential aspect of Father’s life practice. Father discovered his path in the Korean context, so like it or not, the communication of important lessons from the Korean experience to the worldwide UC community is a critical aspect of the global Unificationist path. Unfortunately, to date, this providential requirement has not been that successfully met. I leave it to the reader to ruminate on why this might be.♦

* Author’s translation 

** From “Let Us Become a True Member of Jesus’ Family,” Seoul, Oct. 18, 1957. 

Andrew Lausberg is a linguist and translator with extensive experience in Korean, Japanese and Australian culture. He lives with his wife, Shizue, and four children in Melbourne, Australia. Andrew and Shizue are part of the 6,516 couples (1988) and served as National Leaders of Vanuatu during the mid-2000’s.

9 thoughts on “What is “Attendance”? Musings on a Core Unificationist Practice

  1. Thank you. I have great hope for our movement when I read articles so well expressed on such significant topics.

    One question I have had is whether one can truly “attend” another when they are in a position of dependence, e.g., when they are an employee, or on welfare. It seems attendance is likely compromised by an economic conflict of interest. When I hear statements of loyalty to a boss, or a company from people on a payroll, I can’t take them very seriously. They may simply be trying to please someone in order to get favors for themselves. However, when an independent person shows loyalty, it always seems more genuinely living for the sake of others, with no ulterior motive.

    • Gordon,

      Thanks for your generous remarks. The question you posit here is not one specifically for me, I assume, and I’m not certain it is really a question of attendance but one of genuineness or integrity. As with giving, serving, leading, etc., genuineness in attendance is, I would say, predicated on motive and heart. An immature child is in many ways dependent on her parents, but this would not necessarily preclude genuine attendance. The genuineness derives from motive and appropriateness of expression, and is grounded in the (divine) creative nature imbued in us by God, i.e., one’s ability to make choice. If the child chooses to be obedient, and is not coerced externally by force, or internally by ulterior motive, then the obedience would be an expression of ‘true’ attendance, I would say. Also, just because an employee is obligated to do certain things, this doesn’t preclude his doing them for the right or wrong motivation. There is always a choice involved. Even abdicating our responsibility/ability to choose is a choice. So I would say it depends not on the external parameters of the relationship, but on the choices and the motivations behind them which defines whether it is a “true” expression of attendance or not. However, that motivation must be completed or manifest in an appropriate way, not an inappropriate one, to be fully complete.

      I think, in the end to judge, we may need to know the person quite well.

      • Andrew, I agree with what you are saying. My concern is that in the real world, even in a mature society, assumptions must be made about economic conflicts of interest, which I’ve seen in the highest levels of government and also in our movement. One question for me is whether it would be wise to accept a CIG Constitution that assumed members of the Supreme Council or other bureaucratic posts would be true attendants as you have defined it. I have enough practical experience to assume that if someone employed by a church school or company was on the Council, and a matter came up regarding funding of that institution, that he should not be allowed to cast a vote on the matter. Therefore, as we move forward we want to seek and encourage true attendance, but must create institutions that assume it doesn’t necessarily exist. This is especially true of any bureaucratic post, because in that case most members will not “know the person quite well,” as you say.

  2. Like it or not, the actual UM definition of “attendance” is: “absolute obedience.” This is the expectation from above and any other understanding is missing the mark.

    • Dan Fefferman’s AU Blog article on this topic is a good one to mention here.

      Our own conscience is, ultimately, what needs to be attended and, I believe, we are all on our own journey of discovery to what our purpose is, here in this lifetime of ours, as co-creators.

  3. Of course, the word `attendance` has such a wide meaning. The ability to “give” of oneself is obviously an important part, and Koreans in general cannot be easily superseded in this aspect. Because of my work, I myself traveled a great deal in the countryside of Korea, visiting schools, and very often I hitchhiked my way around. I was struck by two things. First of all that females easily took me in their cars, and secondly that people that gave me a ride very often brought me right to where I wanted to be, even if they had to drive up to 10 miles more, or far out of their way. They’d say something like: “moshidaterilkayoh“. I think this is the “moshim” that the writer was talking about. It is not easy to find that in other cultures, as folks seem to be much more calculating elsewhere. This seems to be the main aspect of “attendance.” Sincerity is of course an important aspect as well, but this value is important in all virtues. So is honesty. Honesty, being true to the word, is perhaps more developed in the Judeo-Christian culture, as here the “Word” and being true to it was stressed for a long time, and indeed this aspect of “moshim” is carrying much weight too. In cultures where honesty is valued high, much development takes place because of more trust and cooperation. Obviously, East and West have something to teach each other here. Economic interests will easily get priority over absolute honesty though (as Gordon Anderson wrote), and because of that, few people of total integrity can be found. Perhaps therefore inter-dependency (a CIG value) is better than dependency. I have written articles on international ethics, as we lived and worked in four continents. See the one about honesty below.

    Honesty.

    Perhaps honesty is more a virtue than an ethic, but they are closely related though.

    In the Christian world, (sometimes blunt) truth and related honesty is seen as so correct, that it becomes more important than anything else.

    I remember that in my youth, when we found a wallet with money in the street, our parents taught us to bring it to the police station, so that the people who lost it would then be able to find it there. Many years later, in Italy, I found a wallet in a public phonebooth with a few hundred dollars, but when I called the owner, who left his phone number inside, to pick it up, an African guest who was at our house at the time thought there was something wrong with me – clearly, we were brought up with different value`s concerning this aspect of life.

    Those days we were taught to absolutely be honest in word and action in all circumstances. Even when it would mean hurting someone`s feelings along the way. Not even “white lies” were permitted.

    In the Orient and in Africa I learned that things were quite different. In Africa when I asked the way to somewhere, people found it very hard to disappoint me, so even if they didn`t know the way, they would somehow try to make some effort to try anyway. Particularly, in those places, it is “not done” to tell the truth if it means folks will be hurt by it; this is really a very positive approach of not telling the truth sometimes, as it is not good to hurt people`s heart.

    In the East I learned that individuals also more easily go around the truth, especially when it involves making other persons feel bad unnecessarily. A lady may ask how she looks, and even indeed, if she wouldn`t look so good, it would be highly improper to tell her so. There are many more examples. The British are known for bringing the truth in a diplomatic way.

    What happens when our friend, brother or sister does something against the will of their parents (or the law of the land) and it is serious enough — for instance doing drugs, using alcohol or looking at wrong pictures, abuse, fraud — or at the company we find a colleague doing something wrong. Do we snitch, blow the whistle, apply the truth no matter what? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Sometimes we have to talk directly to the person, at times we have to be patient, and exceptionally also to mind our own business, as we do not know the “inside-out’s”. On other occasions we may have to gather courage to “blow the whistle” on someone and be ready for the repercussions of it; sometimes it may mean to tell the person as well, and be ready for a fight!

    To be truthful is very important indeed to keep integrity, because if we make a habit to twist the truth or even lie for our own benefit, we might get in real trouble and/or confusion. So it requires much wisdom, sensitivity and even courage to apply the truth in every aspect of life.

    • Frans’ description of what to do in the case of finding behavior that misses the mark of complete integrity is interesting. This is obviously a reflection based on personal experience. It reflects an awareness that heart and love, rather than a surgically implanted sense of truth, are ultimately more effective in bringing unity and harmonious consensus, especially in the context of the family.

      “What happens when our friend, brother or sister does something against the will of their parents (or the law of the land) and it is serious enough —- for instance doing drugs, using alcohol or looking at wrong pictures, abuse, fraud —- or at the company we find a colleague doing something wrong. Do we snitch, blow the whistle, apply the truth no matter what? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Sometimes we have to talk directly to the person, at times we have to be patient, and exceptionally also to mind our own business, as we do not know the ‘inside-out’s.’ On other occasions we may have to gather courage to “blow the whistle” on someone and be ready for the repercussions of it; sometimes it may mean to tell the person as well, and be ready for a fight!”

      It wasn’t until I was 52 years old that I found 12 step groups, which are, in my opinion, the growth stage completion of dealing with effectively removing sin in one’s life and the greater society at large as an extension of the extended family that the outside world should function as for the growth of the individual. Because the process of recovery from alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, smoking and food addiction is essentially a process that only works when an individual wants to surrender to a Higher Power or God, this kind of association can be seen as the true example of Christianity’s attempt to deal with the problem of fallen nature and removal of sin. Folks not familiar with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, as practiced by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob, would be well advised to study the development and track record of this movement. It took 2,000 years and an environment well-grounded in American democracy for the AA Movement to develop. It has since evolved into many twelve step anonymous recovery groups, each helping people personally afflicted by addiction (which is the method of delivery of sin that has most effectively been developed by the Satanic lineages brought forth from the lineage of Adam and Eve), and I notice that Unificationism has not yet reached that level of growth and evolution where true honesty and transparency can help individuals and families heal from the legacies and lineages of sin and addiction. In regular scheduled meetings.

      Perhaps small groups of families meeting together, based on bringing a sense of honest repentance toward God, without any kind of judgement, can eventually develop in Unificationist communities in the future, but until that can happen freely and willingly, in a very natural way to effectively surrender to God’s plan for us all, I see a long road of marching through the fog as a weather report for where we all seem to be.

  4. Yes, how sweet the sound of True Father’s sweet, sweet devotion.

    A small, comment on this (below) particular expression from the exegesis:

    “Father’s view and practice of moshim is the model for each of us as Unificationists (that is, the attitude and heart, not necessarily the form, which inherently requires the expression of one’s unique individual character).”

    Why is it so hard to simply (or carefully, at least, try to) add “everybody” here, instead of simply “each of us as Unificationists”?

    First off, as one who also values words, many of “us” are not, in fact, “Unificationists.” Some of us might, in fact (or instead), be referred to as “unification advocates” or “unifiers in training,” or something else.

    I am sorry, truly, but it is this kind of omission (though slight, it may seem) that continues to make the association for some with anything “Unificationist” difficult.

    Yet, I still dream that beautiful dream of living by the river with my family…

  5. Father has said that “sincerity” is that which moves heaven in the most dramatic way. The two Chinese characters for “sincerity” (as I understand it) are, “word” and “become.” All of us are in a mode of “becoming.” We’re on a path toward the river. (Joe Longo wrote a terrific song about this). As EG Pierson correctly observes, we are not yet “Unificationists” incarnate, even though we may be in the “era after the coming of heaven.” Our ability to “apply” the Principle to all aspects of our lives remains our essential trial.

    Andy Lausberg’s critique of the “one-size-attendenance-fits-all” (form) is one that resonates with many of us. We have different talents, abilities, interests and aptitudes — as do our children. Our individual gifts are God-given, therefore our individual courses in the mode of attendance are highly varied. DP posits that Asian philosophical thought does not hold the ultimate worldview because it doesn’t view the Supreme Being/Creator/Godhead as a parent (p. 21). The parental heart desires to see children use their abilities to the best of their abilities. Of course, this should be done in accordance with the moral and ethical precepts as defined by God and DP. Our sincerity to do that as God’s children, as spouses, as parents to our children, as citizens in our communities — in short, as tribal messiahs — is a significant part of the equation. Motivation and intention are key factors in our attendance.

    A significant issue for many of us is that we advocate the concept of the family — the place where all problems can be worked out in a harmonious fashion — yet, our institution doesn’t quite manifest that. A family modality in which problems can be worked out requires “sensitive speaking and painful listening.” It’s a two-way street. Gordon Anderson’s views regarding employment, politics, dependence vis-a-vis the “honesty” issue that Frans Baatenburg cites, remains thorny. Various manifestations of what we might call “cultural DNA” or “cultural patrimony,” have not as yet allowed for the kind of adaptability needed to assist the process of “becoming” the kind of examples that the world is drawn to. “Natural surrender” seems a long way off.

    We are in transition, no doubt, and we have a great deal to “ruminate” on. Thanks to Andy for his fine essay.

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