“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. -Matthew 19:21-22
Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,
Back when I was in college, I ordered a special computer game that was full of exciting new features. After months of anticipation waiting for it to be released, when it finally arrived, I rushed home and placed the disk into the CD-ROM. Much to my dismay, my old computer was too slow to process the new game that was loaded with special features! When I consulted my cousin who was majoring in computer engineering at a college, he told me, “You have two options: 1. To seriously upgrade your current computer by changing many major parts or 2. To simply buy a new computer. However, the cost might be the same for either option.” Hearing this, I decided to check out the prices of each, which confirmed that he was right. I spent $50 to purchase the game, but in order to play it, I needed a computer that cost nearly $1,500. Disappointed by this fact, I returned the game. After all, it was just a game, nothing important.
It may sound odd, but I see many similarities between my story of an old computer and a new game and the general process of spiritual cultivation. The process of spiritual cultivation only begins when a person acknowledges the need to advance or acquire certain new inner “features.” But the problem is that neither the advancement nor acquiring of new inner features is possible to the current self. Though the current self saw and acknowledged the necessity of spiritual cultivation, the newly-developed inner features are often not compatible with the existing self. Thus, what is required is a transformation of the current self. Yet, as the old saying goes, no one likes change. So it’s possible that the current self might resist the change that it once desired and initiated simply because accepting the transformation means an end of the current self as it is.
Regardless of their religious orientation, believers generally have a strong desire to be in the presence of or even united with their Divine. However, all sound religions in the world that I know of teach one basic truth: to be fully with the Divine means to fully renounce what is of the world. Yet, when it comes to giving up their privileges and possessions, not very many people are willing! What is even more importantly true is that the Divine never required all humans to be perfect or fully with the Divine, but demanded all humans to be honest, fair and just to oneself and to each other.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee