Teach a man to fish…

My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to your word. –Psalms 119:25

Dear members and friends,

I learned how to fish when I was six years old; not for fun, but out of necessity for food. Living with my grandmother, who did not care to eat more than once a day, was not only very hard, but left me very hungry at all times. My stepbrother, who was seven years older than me, used to visit me during his summer vacation for a few weeks. Whenever he visited, he would make a rod out of bamboo tree and take me fishing. Sometimes he would catch a few nice ones, but all I could think about as soon as he caught them was the dinner! One day, he told me something that became one of the living principles in my life: you do not have to wait for me to fish for you, but you better learn how to fish by yourself. That day, I learned from him how to make a fishing rod from bamboo, a bobber with reed, and how and where to find worms. Afterwards, fishing became central to my life as long as I was staying at my grandparents’ house. Occasionally, I was even able to catch fish and eat them for the dinner!

When I was a child, figuring out how to feed my hungry stomach was the most important matter to me. However, as I grew older, it became clear that satisfying physical hunger is important but not essential to feeling satisfied and fulfilled as a human being. In my twenties, spiritual hunger became central to my daily awareness but also an ongoing frustration. I was always inclined to find ways to satisfy myself through more readily accessible means, which only brought a moment of satisfaction that soon faded away and left me with even stronger hunger. After years of meditation, it dawned on to me that in order to satisfy my spiritual hunger, I need to first cultivate myself to be receptive to spiritual elements. Otherwise, whatever I may receive would not stay with me! Just like making my own fishing rod and bobber, I felt the need to seek, find, and even form my own practice of spiritual cultivation, which would become the means of accepting the spiritual elements into my soul. The problem was not with the world or an absence of truth therein, but was with myself who was not receptive (or compatible) to the truth that was all around! Afterwards, I was able to satisfy and fulfill my inner hunger in a much more effective and even efficient way.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee