Let Us Be Grateful
Sun Myung Moon
June 18, 1978
Translator – Sang Kil Han
No one planned to be born. We just find that we have been born. And although your parents gave birth to you, they couldn’t plan what kind of personality their baby would have. Now science has progressed and parents can find out the sex of the baby before it is born, but previously, parents never even knew if they would have a boy or girl.
Have you ever thought about what you would like to be if you could plan ahead of your birth? Now you are grown up and you have some concept of your life, but if you could plan your own image in advance of being born then no doubt you would be a very special baby. However, even if you turned out according to your plan, would you be satisfied for very long?
Even if you could be born to your own specifications, that would probably have little to do with your satisfaction. There would still be many, many elements with which you would not be satisfied. No doubt many of you, especially the women, complain to yourselves, “Why didn’t my parents make me a little more beautiful? Why is my nose like this and my mouth like that?” Have you ever felt that way at one time or another?
Many times I have asked women whom everyone agrees are beautiful whether they feel pretty and beautiful. Almost always they reply, “No.” They were dissatisfied with many things about their appearance. Everyone admired one sister’s eyes, but she thought quite differently; her eyes were the part of her face that she hated most. They reminded her of an enemy of her father’s and every time she looked in the mirror that unhappy memory was renewed. Although many people envied her beauty, she had all sorts of complaints about her appearance. No person is really satisfied with himself even though many other people feel that he should be. This is a very common thing. You can see that this is not a simple matter.
Someone was happy to find you just the way you are
Conception begins with two cells that keep dividing and by the time a person is an adult the number of his cells is truly an astronomical figure. We can imagine that the distance from the tip of our foot to the top of our head is comparable to the distance from one end of the solar system to the other. A baby in its mother’s womb is already a big universe.
The cells don’t know how the whole being is going to be shaped. Imagine that the eyes didn’t find their right place and ended up at the navel instead. Perhaps one palm might be turned outward while the other faced the normal way. The nose could have been made crooked by one simple misalignment of cells, or the teeth could have grown from the fingertips. Imagine how easily the parts of your body could have been misplaced. But they were not. Instead, everything took its proper position. Even if you don’t feel handsome you can feel relieved and happy that you were born normal.
Do any of you women feel that you were very unfortunate to be born as a woman? Considering all the complicated processes of your body you have every reason to be grateful to be born as you were. Many mothers confess that when they are in labor it is so painful that they wish the baby were very small like a fist so that birth would hurt less. But then once the baby is delivered, the mother’s concern turns instantly to her child and she checks everything to see that all is normal. She examines the eyes, ears, nose, hands and feet and opens the mouth to make sure the baby has a tongue. It is a great relief when the baby has its first bowel movement and the urine flows out right. This might sound funny, but the mother is quite serious about making sure the baby is functioning normally. Can you feel that or do you think the mother is worrying too much? The mother has great anxiety until the baby takes its first milk; then for the first time she knows that she has a perfectly normal baby and she is relieved.
You should know that someone was happy to find your eyes the way they are and every part of your body the way it is. Your own mother was the first one who really rejoiced at the way you function. What about your father? Your mother was so happy after making sure that everything was in the proper order that to see her relief your father was also happy.
When nursing her baby, does any mother think that it would be better if part of her baby’s face were different? Even though the baby may be clearly out of proportion, she never thinks that way because she is happy that her baby is healthy. Does the father feel happy too? Does any father bring his child up thinking that she will have to have plastic surgery when she grows up because she is not very pretty? On the contrary, even though the father does not think she is beautiful he still believes that as she grows up everything will come into proportion. Don’t you think the father and mother will feel like that?
Have you heard the saying that when a baby is very pretty at first she generally grows up not being so attractive, and when a baby is rather ugly when she is born that she grows up to be more beautiful? This seems to hold true generally. A girl who looks very pretty when she is 20 or 21 years old seems to become less beautiful as she ages. If she looks a little plump at 21 or 22 years of age then she will look good the rest of her life and not be ugly when she gets old. No matter how beautiful a girl is, it seems to be difficult to retain that beauty after she has given birth to three children.
Your parents were the first to be concerned about how you looked, and once your mother was satisfied that everything was all right she prayed and hoped and did everything for you. Now that you are fully grown what right do you have to complain about the way you look? It is unjust to complain about the way you look. If you keep your mind beautiful as you grow older, then always the appearance of your face and body will improve, becoming more and more beautiful.
Whoever can feel grateful in the midst of impossible circumstances will find himself in the highest place
If you don’t like the way you look then do you wish your face could be molded to your satisfaction? Of course not. No two petals on one flower look alike, and if you examine all the small stones and pebbles on a mountain carefully, you will see that they are all different. That is one of the beauties of nature, and so is the way you are born. To begin with we ought to be grateful for the fact that we were born normal, that our eyes are not malfunctioning or in a different place than other peoples’ and not worry about whether we have attractive features. We ought to feel very happy to be born in the first place; then we must go on to be grateful to our own parents. If you are not happy at the way you are born then how can you ever be grateful to your own parents?
Now you have grown up and you have done many things before finally joining the Unification Church. Is the fact that you are in the Church a source of complaint, or should this be a reason to be grateful? What are you so grateful about? You have to get up early on Sunday morning and then come here with sleepy eyes, and then after my talk you find yourselves out in the world, caught up in all the frictions of dealing with people. How can you say you are grateful?
The fact that we are alive and get tired and sleepy is a source of gratitude. Last night I talked until 4:40 with one of the older members who recently came to give a report. I never slept at all, and when it was time for service I just washed my face and then came down here. Even though I was utterly tired I felt I needed to speak to you family members. It is not easy sometimes, especially after a sleepless night, but then I felt grateful for that. You know how satisfying it is when you push yourself bard without rest and then finally you get a chance to sleep.
In your own lifetime, especially in the future, do you think there will be more moments of being grateful or more moments of being unhappy? Will more unsatisfying things happen or more happy things happen in your lifetime? Can you call yourselves happy now? Do you feel grateful?
Why do I talk about this? You might reply that it is because this attitude determines who goes to the best place in spirit world. If I speak too much about the spirit world then you will really feel lightheaded! In one word, though, whoever can feel grateful even in the midst of impossible circumstances will find themselves in the highest place in spirit world.
You might wonder who your eyes take after. Of course there is only one person whom you take after, God Himself. No one else. Your nose, ears and limbs all take after God’s. There are some tall people, some short people, some people big and some small, and all of them have much use in God’s world.
When you have to flee from a situation rather quickly do you think it is good to be big or to be small? When there is a great crowd of people and you want to get away quickly, the small ones have much advantage. Definitely when we have to house many people in one room, we find that being small is awfully convenient. On the other hand, if you need to take something off a high shelf then it is much more convenient to be tall.
Smaller people sometimes feel, “Why am I so small, when everyone is so big?” Never think in that way. Small people have many advantages. For instance, if there is a flood in an area, the small ones will be the first ones to submerge, and everyone will take it for granted that the small ones should be carried on the shoulders of the tall ones. Then in a time of famine when there is nothing to eat, you should think, “I was born prepared for this situation. Being small I don’t have to eat much.” When there is nothing around to eat and you find yourself as big as Mr. Orme you will be certain to starve, whereas if you are small you will never starve. Feel grateful for that. In the same critical situation the big person will never make it but the small one will. If your parents had hidden a very precious stone in a small hole then with your small hand you would be the only one able to take it out.
Don’t ever feel dissatisfied or complain about the way you were born, even if you are small. Think about how at night a big person is certain to crash into the doorway in the dark, whereas if you are small you can easily get by it without running into it. You have to always think like that because there is always a valid reason behind these things, and thinking in that way will always help to make you more positive about what you were born with.
Have confidence because you come from God
You may feel you don’t have any particular talent but don’t ever envy another person whom you consider gifted. Being born without an obvious talent can in itself be called a gift. Many people have a difficult time in life because of their so-called talent. You must really take hold of everything in your life like that. This not just a way of coping; it is a better attitude and way of life than the man has who was born tall or talented and has all kinds of problems.
Many women don’t want to sing because they think they are not beautiful, but this is not good. The bullfrog is by no means beautiful yet he is the one who sings the most! No matter how you feel about yourself you are still beautiful and handsome, so you ought to sing out by all means. You have to feel that all the time.
Everyone likes the person who can sing and be optimistic. Even God likes that kind of person and will help him more than those who are always solemn or depressed. No one likes to hear critical comments all the time, including God. Some dogs are very cute but not if they bark all the time. A dog can bark once in a while but most of the time he has to be agreeable.
The pretty girl may have a smile that everyone likes, but even if you’re plain your smile has a unique attraction that only you can have. The pretty girl can never smile the smile you can. You can smile in your original way and you can laugh your original laugh.
People walk in all different ways, each having unique characteristics. No two people walk exactly alike. Some people even walk as though they were swimming or trying to catch something. Everyone may have somewhat similar features, but they all laugh differently and smile differently. Some people start smiling with their mouths while others smile with their eyes. There is no set standard for smiling. You set the standard of smiling for yourself.
You can feel confident enough that when you see someone in a beauty contest you can think, “She is in the process of catching up with my smile. Mine is the perfected smile and she is just in the process of coming my way.” If you don’t like the way your face looks then feel it instead of looking at it. Then you will know that it is a very good face.
Everyone is different, and the one who may look very pretty from the front is not so pretty when you look from the back, while someone who looks beautiful from the side is not so beautiful from back or front. A woman whom everyone agrees is beautiful might have unattractive hands or feet. Some women have hips far out of proportion to the rest of their bodies.
If a man or woman is very handsome but his ears move like a donkey’s then his whole look is out of proportion and is unattractive. If a person’s face is not particularly special, however, and his ears are like a donkey’s, that is actually becoming. It balances. Standard beauty with donkey-like ears doesn’t suit, but an average or unattractive appearance goes together with this kind of ear. Now you know not to make light of these things for they are very important for conducting yourself in the right way.
Have you ever prayed to God at one time or another, saying, “God, why do I look the way I do now? Can I improve those looks?” We have one classical story about a grandmother in Korea who is so old that she is as wrinkled as a pumpkin. Everywhere I go she goes because she wants to be with me so much. Even if no one knows where I am she is already there, and if I ask how she found me, she replies, “I had to figure it out.” Every time I give a talk she is there listening in the front row. If someone asks, “Why do you sit so close to Father all the time?” she says, “I am worried that if Father does not see my face he will miss me.” She honestly feels that.
Once I told her, “Stop following me all the time and never sit near me again. Things go wrong if I even look at you!” Then she really had a problem because she felt she couldn’t live without looking at me. After I spoke to her so strongly she disappeared for three days and I felt relieved. But what happened was that she went to seriously protest to God, “God, You simply have got to do something about this. Father says I am so ugly that he just cannot bear looking at me all the time.” Then she asked God what she should do because she simply couldn’t live without being around me.
I thought she was gone forever but after three days she came up to me with a beaming smile. She was so happy that she came even closer than before and I asked her, “Where have you been the last three days? I thought you had gone for good.” She replied, “I have been praying to God.” Then I asked, “What did He reply?” She answered, “God told me that I shouldn’t even worry about it because no matter how ugly I am I still look like Him. Also, no matter how beautiful a girl may be, she still has His looks. Then God told me to go even closer to you because I look exactly the way He looks. This is exactly what God told me.”
This story became a real source of inspiration for everyone. If even an 80-year-old grandmother has that kind of guts then you young people must have confidence in the way you look and in the talents you have because they come from God. You can be confident that no matter how you think you look, all mankind is really in love with you. Not just one or two, but all men are really crazy about you. This is very important.
Be content within yourself before you set out
If you don’t like yourself, do you think someone else will like you? No one will like you if you don’t like yourself. The person who hates himself will be hated by everyone. There is no way that people can like him because he is his own best friend, and if he doesn’t like himself, who could he expect to like him?
It is also natural that if I love myself so much, I love my father and mother in turn. Since I like myself, someone else can come to like me as well. If I like myself then at the same time I can like other people too. You have to think like that. If you consistently feel like that and practice it then you can be loved by other people. If you are really liked by other people that means you like yourself and you like other people.
If you really introduce the element of light throughout your life of 70 or 80 years on earth, then living is actually rather simple. Our entire life falls into six categories: to go and come and to feel good and feel bad, to sleep in the evening and wake up in the morning. Our task is how to make full use of these six categories. When it is good to go some place and good to come from some place; and when it is good to fall asleep and then good to wake up and good while you are awake; and if you feel good after you feel bad, then your time will be well-spent.
When you feel good and then extend that to God, He will feel good too. When you feel good and extend it to other people they will likewise feel good. This is the true religious life. I like being here in England, so the rest of the foreign members will like it also. This is for my happiness as well as the happiness of everyone else. The fact that we are here and doing the work gives me pleasure and gives God pleasure in the same way.
Everyone must also learn at one time or another that if you eat food you don’t particularly care for, you should eat it just as though it were the tastiest thing in the world. Then it can taste good. It is nice to eat tasty food, but what we ought to do is what we usually don’t want to do. If you chew a slice of bread enough then it tastes very sweet. That simple food can be so tasty and sweet that you will never want to get butter or cheese to eat with it because it’s not necessary, and also because it covers up the simple taste of bread. Hard work can be even more enjoyable than leisure because after we get the hard work done, resting is even more satisfying than usual.
This morning I want you to learn that we must simply be aware of being grateful for what we are bestowed with. When you wake up in the morning and see the sun shining you must be confident that the sun shines for you and not only for someone else. You can even think that if you did not exist that the sun would have no more use. The birds sing and even the insects buzz to please you rather than anyone else. You have to feel, “The stars twinkle and the moon shines just for me.” We each have to feel like that.
Each person should make it a custom with himself to be grateful for the many things that he has been taking for granted. “That exists solely for me and if I don’t appreciate it then it is all wasted, which is just not right.” Wherever you go, feel grateful that these things exist for you. Even if it takes much conscious effort to understand, we have to learn this lesson of being grateful for every situation.
Most churches have comfortable pews and nice organs, but here we have become accustomed to sitting on the floor. After sitting for three, four or five hours your legs ache and your feet get numb. If you can think that this is a good situation then you are beginning to understand gratitude.
Many good people have been sent to prison who did nothing evil. If you find yourself in prison even though you may not have done anything wrong, it will be a totally new and broadening experience. That should serve as a source of gratitude too. When you go door-to-door and witness you cannot just start out and expect to be welcomed by the people. You have to be really content within yourself, and before you set out, think, “What kind of people am I going to meet today? Definitely I’ll be meeting all different kinds of people-short, tall, people with smiles on their faces, people who leave a bad taste in my mouth.” Just think that they are there for your own enjoyment. First of all you have to be contented; then as you visit them you will be able to receive all their different sentiments.
If you are very busy and going somewhere but someone stops you to ask the way, don’t ever think that it is a bothersome thing. Take a moment and explain to him how to get to his destination. During that moment you are existing for that purpose alone; with that feeling you must perform that service. One thing is for sure; by doing that you will never lose. Much gain will result from that kind of situation and attitude. You will never lose because that is the nature of the universe.
A complaining mood can chase away someone who is trying very much to help. It is totally possible that he could be a tremendous help to you but because of complaining to yourself the chances are that you will chase him away.
Starting today, lead a life of gratitude
One way or another all of you have joined the Unification Church and since coming everyone is grateful to be here. Who would God like more and who would heaven like more-those who always were grateful and happy in their ten years since joining the Church, or those who were always half complaining? It goes without saying that it is those people who have lived a grateful and happy life during these ten years who would be most welcomed by heaven.
Starting today, you are about to lead a life of being happy and grateful, aren’t you? Then in your mind there is no cloud and you feel less tired and downcast. You will work more efficiently and even accomplish better everything that you plan.
You can check this point by putting it into practice for one week, trying to be always grateful and happy as much as you can. Then at the end of the week, pray to God about anything. You will feel that your prayer will come more freely and be answered right away. It will be like seeing the sunshine. If you feel very unhappy inside, however, like having a cloud over your mind, then at the end of the week when you pray to heaven you will feel a heavy feeling and know that your prayer is not working so well.
You will find out that you always have to protect the openings in your body; you have seven of them in your face. When you hear something you must listen to it in a positive way and feel that it is doing something good for you. Feel that it is meant to be good for you. Even if you hear someone complaining, think that he is getting rid of his own problems; never let it shake you.
When your eyes see something, look at it always in a positive way. If you see someone who doesn’t do anything right, then think, “He is trying to get rid of his own problems that way.” Turn everything into something positive. Then you can look with generous eyes. Feel that a person will or will not do a certain thing as a result of whether or not you look at him with generous eyes.
Sometimes people don’t like bad smells, but you have to teach your nose a lesson. Give a sermon to your own nose about how it likes nice smells but it should also like unpleasant smells. When you talk, speak as though you were singing. When you have some hard things to do, accept the fact that once in a while you have to do hard work also.
When you feel contented within yourself then you will become very generous. From early morning to evening see everyone in a positive way and never resent people. Then in the evening you won’t feel so tired but will even be inspired to speak to people more. If you experience one day in your life like that then your witnessing will become very successful. Even though not one person responds that day, your feeling will be planted in everyone’s heart and there it will grow.
When I was in prison I normally prayed seven hours a day. One day in prison someone said something which upset me so much that I could not help but shout out one word to counterbalance it. To my amazement it took me a full two weeks to recover from that. Sometimes it is that difficult. Becoming upset and angry hurts the religious life very much, damaging the peaceful inner life. You know it is only on the warm days that flowers bloom, not on the stormy, cold days. Likewise, our minds should create this warm climate in which to bloom.
Those who never feel contentment or peace and gratitude in their minds can never help other people, let alone save them. When you go out witnessing people sometimes say harsh things to you, but never get angry at them. Be prepared for that and respond, “Now is the time when I can be really grateful.”
If you practice only this one thing during your witnessing it can bring more sense of goodness to your life than any fancy thing. It is worth spending the rest of your life learning this one thing, to be grateful under all circumstances. You can be grateful because things are difficult. People often complain to me that nothing seems to go smoothly, but then they have to try harder to get things done. If you can go over all difficult situations and still be thankful then you have nothing but success ahead of you.
These days some of you bring your lunch with you during the day. Do you put it in your pocket) Sometimes it is a nuisance because it is heavy, but then that can be a source of gratitude too. Have you ever had the impulse to console the sandwich bumping around in your pocket all morning and say, “You worked hard and now I will eat you in a good way”? It reveals a good nature if you feel like that. Eating that simple food tastes much better once you know how to be grateful.
Perhaps you start the day out with a grateful mind, then by lunchtime you feel just a lime complaint, then by dinner maybe you are thankful, but in the evening you complain a little more. What kind of day is that? How much better it would be if you had a grateful mind throughout the day. Would you want to become like that?
Do you each have a handkerchief? If you don’t then you should buy one and use it to train yourself. One way is to fold it around your hand; then on a normal day if you feel like complaining, look at the handkerchief and let it remind you of this morning’s resolution. This kind of technique is necessary.
So far you have been witnessing with the attitude, “I am supposed to do this and I don’t have much choice.” If you go out witnessing in that mood then you can’t be grateful because of the purpose you serve. How many of you have been witnessing with grateful minds? Don’t tell a lie!
We have much to complain about because the center is congested and the food is not so good and you can’t even take a bath every day. Sometimes you meet people who are not so good, and you don’t even have an automobile to go places but have to walk. If you want to complain there are many topics. Those of you who have an average of one complaint a day, raise your hands. No one? It is not likely that no one complains!
Sometimes people laugh at you at the wrong time and sometimes people step on your foot so you complain. Many times you have an urge to complain. Sometimes when you want to cross the street someone bumps you aside and is offensive. Let’s get it straight; those who have complained an average of one time a day, raise your hands. That’s more like it. Those whose hands did not go up, you are lying! This is important enough to take time to talk about because if you make a habit of complaining then no blessing will come to you, even though heaven may try; if you gripe then heaven has to change its direction. How can you witness and complain at the same time? You can never effectively witness to another if you complain.
Starting today, you should carry some token reminder for the times when you have the urge to complain. Let us try for the rest of the week never to complain, even one time, and even if you meet an impossible situation still smile with gratitude. See what happens when you go to knock on people’s doors. Don’t think about doing it for the rest of your lives but just for one week. If you really experience this then at the end of the week I will urge you to complain and everyone will choose not to.
An ugly man who tries to be grateful even when he has ample reason to complain has more power than a magnificently handsome man. It’s like the law of indemnity. If someone works hard when he doesn’t have to then his effort has much more meaning than just fulfilling what is required of him.
Whoever has lots of reasons to complain but doesn’t can feel that he is paying 1,000 times more indemnity. Those who are not handsomely born but are very grateful are a thousand times better than the handsome man or beautiful woman who can only harbor grievances. When you look in the mirror, be determined to make a beautiful woman and a handsome man ashamed by your being grateful all the time. By living this way you are shaming the people who have great worldly standing. Can I trust you in this?
Many people may pray for hours but they still complain. Certainly this does not make any sense because it nullifies their prayers. No matter how nicely a person may witness to other people, if at the end of the day he complains then it’s like spilling all the clean water into muddy water; the water is never clear. Look at nature and everyone around just as if you were seeing the bright shining sun in the morning.
I wonder sometimes why men started shaving their beards. Why do you think? If you have a heavy beard then even if you have a sense of deep gratitude it doesn’t show, but if you shave your beard off, the slightest emotion shows in your face. I think that’s why men started shaving.
What about women; why don’t they have beards? They are supposed to show every emotion that they have and I hope they will all be good, positive emotions. I think women are experts at laughing, singing songs and dancing. The only time men become happy is when women are happy.
Today is June 18th, and until June 25th we will continue to be grateful and happy all the time. Shall we do that? I feel that if you could live a life like this for one full year, it would be the same as if you had prayed for three hours a day. After praying for that amount of time you become closer to receiving spiritual experiences. If you feel this way then it will be like a sunny day and the flowers will bloom in the warmth and everywhere there will be peace and contentment. You can become like this by your feelings.
There is a Korean saying that the harmonious family will always be successful. That means that if you have a happy, grateful life within the Church, never complaining, then everything that you do will bring nothing but success, health and agreement. When you are elated and laughing then you are opening yourself up and even your blood can become clean. If you live like that then even though you are very tired after coming back from a day’s witnessing you will still look much prettier coming back home than when you started out in the morning after a refreshing sleep.
If then you still cannot tolerate something and you’re about to burst, always call God’s name. Then you will get over that situation because God has been overcoming for many thousands of Years. If I can do it, you can. If you have that feeling then you can immediately surmount the problem.
Don’t make light of this; I thought I needed to talk to you about this more than anything else. When I looked at you I thought this was what you needed most…to be grateful in every situation.
Let us pray.