Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” -Isaiah 6:8
Dear members & friends of the Swedenborgian Church,
The Chinese Sage Confucius claimed that “I acknowledged the mandate of heaven at 50.” What this means is that at the age of 50, he perceived and was enlightened of the very purpose of his being and existence. Confucius has been revered and respected as the sage of wisdom by learned people in China, Korea, and Japan for over 2,500 years. However, it was different at the time when he was alive. Despite his wisdom and understanding of humans and human affairs, no king would hire him. Stories tell us that people of the time were jealous and afraid of the reputation and wisdom of Confucius. Consequently, he was a lonely man traveling from one country to another with particular vision: to build a government, a nation, and world that can be harmonious and prosperous for all. However, he faced constant disappointments and even despair at the end. So, what was the mandate of heaven that Confucius acknowledged at the age of 50? It could be two-fold: 1. One’s cultivation of wisdom and balanced nature does not need confirmation from the world to be meaningful and valuable; 2. The purpose of being human is to pursue one’s inner self-completion regardless of recognition and validation by the world.
Confucius did not believe in a personified God as Creator or a supreme ruler of all. He simply acknowledged Heaven as the collective configuration of the power behind physical phenomena. In his view, which was made without God or any moral judgement, the purpose of a human is to cultivate oneself to be a complete being as Heaven is complete. And, the greater purpose of all humans is to create a community where we live in harmony, peace, and prosperity due to the cultivation of individuals in the virtues of benevolence, justice, courtesy, intelligence, and truthfulness.
With this idea in mind, I would like to invite us Christians to reflect on what could and should be the essence of the Creator’s message. In my belief, the message from Creator should always consider the well-being of all humanity, or at least how humans could become more Godly (that is, loving, caring, and accepting). If any so-claimed message is not aligned with this, I would dare to treat such message as personalized, humanized, or even falsified by human interests to serve the desires of the interested individual or the group. The true God cannot be localized and must stay in universal harmony. Consequently, the life of any person who claims to believe in such God should manifest qualities of love, care, and acceptance to others.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee