I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Proverbs 8:17
Dear members and friends,
Throughout my life, I have made the rather disturbing observation that people seem to attach themselves to negative thoughts, emotions and events more readily than positive ones. I have been no exception; in my youth, I often found myself ruminating on negative events more so than positive ones. Consequently, my mind was filled with sadness and despair more often than hopes and dreams. As a matter of fact, I do not remember having a dream in my childhood, in my youth, or even in my twenties. One thing that I strongly desired, however, was to understand why I was born into such a life and thus feeling in such a way, and if there was a way to be free from all those negative feelings.
Reading books by Confucius and Confucian scholars was helpful to redirect my wandering mind on to a path that would eventually lead me to spiritual cultivation. Learning and practicing meditation was a blessing from God that eventually enabled me to quiet my rage-filled mind and reflect upon it somewhat objectively. One teaching from Confucius that I found particularly useful describes his life’s journey: “At fifty, I knew the mandate of heaven for me.” The mandate of heaven could be interpreted differently based on the school of philosophy. To me, it meant the very purpose and meaning of my existence and the life I was given. I was hoping that when I became fifty, I would know and understand the purpose of my existence and the meaning of my struggles. I thought about this 25 years ago!
On August 21, 2020, I will become fifty. Do I know and understand the purpose of my existence and the meaning of my life? To a degree, yes, but to another degree, not really. One impactful thing that has changed is that negative events in life do not bother me anymore. With all my studies, prayers, and meditations, I have learned one truth to be precisely clear: things happen in life without my consent. Then, I acknowledge that there is something that is indeed under my control: how I respond to what has happened and what is happening. It seems that the actions are somewhat under the control of God, while reactions are subjects of my choice. Thus, I choose to be positive and optimistic, no matter what. If I have a choice, I prefer to look at and focus on hope in my God who is love in itself, just like David shouted in Psalms, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.”
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee