Challenges to True Mother’s Leadership

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Part II of a two-part article. Part I can be read here.

By Thomas Selover

2014-04-23 15.01.09 croppedMany factors can be identified as contributing causes to the direct challenges that True Mother’s leadership has faced. Here I will focus on two elements of East Asian culture, the concept of filial piety and the Korean royal tradition.

The Problem of Filial Piety

One of the issues concerns the strength as well as the limitations of the traditional concept of filial piety (효孝). The centrality of filial piety in East Asian culture is widely recognized. Moreover, there are many passages in True Father’s teachings that emphasize the father-son relationship, particularly toward God as Heavenly Father.

A specific Confucian requirement of filial duty relevant to understanding the present controversies in the Unification movement is that a filial son should not make changes to his father’s ways for three years after the father has passed on. According to Confucius, “If for three years he makes no change from the ways of his father, he may be called filial.” Therefore, according to this tradition, it is a son’s duty not to make changes for at least three years. Thus, from a son’s point of view, objections to changes that were made during the three-year mourning period for True Father would have the backing of centuries of Confucian moral sensibility.

Filial piety is indeed a strong cultural virtue in East Asia, especially in Korea, and is good as far as it goes. But, in contrast, the classical Confucian tradition offers very little content on the husband-wife relationship. At best, the ontology of East Asian philosophy supports a concept of reciprocity between husband and wife, based on the yin-yang model, but reciprocity by itself can be emotionally cold. The Buddhist tradition also, with its emphasis on celibacy as a path of spiritual discipline, is lacking in persuasive accounts of relational love and virtue between husband and wife. The way that True Parents teach about the relationship between husband and wife, emphasizing true conjugal love as the core, is a missing ingredient in East Asian tradition.

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