First uploaded on 2015.08.27
Opening Ceremony: 1,000-Day Prayer for Peace and the Unification of Korea
Spoken by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim
Record in Korean: Lee JunGil
English Translation: Lee, JinSun
From 4 pm on August 27, 2015 to 4 pm on May 22, 2018, the Jungto Society embarked on a 1000-day relay prayer for the peace and unification of Korea.
In 1999, the Jungto Society began a 1,000-day prayer. At that time, there was tension between South and North Korea. We were delighted when an inter-Korean summit was announced during the prayer as if our earnest effort had made this breakthrough possible. We had two aspirations at that time: to achieve the peace and unification of Korea and to extend humanitarian aid for North Koreans who were suffering from starvation. We prayed with all our might that our aspirations would be realized.
Although the Jungto Society was a much smaller organization in 1997, we ran a successful campaign to collect one million signatures for humanitarian aid to North Korea. We offered our sincere prayers for the end of starvation in North Korea and for Korea’s peace and unification. It is said that heartfelt sincerity can touch the heart of God. There is a saying that people are God, meaning that the heart of the people is the heart of God. Praying with intense dedication can move God but it also means that sincere prayer can touch the heart of the people. In other words, if we pray with a most sincere and earnest heart, the people of Korea will be moved. If the people of Korea are moved, unification of Korea will occur naturally.
Having said this, there are reasons we need to pray every day. The first is to strengthen your mind. You are determined to pray hard today, but after days, months or years of daily prayer, your determination could weaken and your efforts could slacken or even stop. The practice of daily prayer prevents negligence and maintains our dedication.
The second is to pray as one heart. As time passes, even the members of the Jungto Society who are committed to praying hard today can become inattentive and unmindful. If you start to think that praying is inconvenient and ask whose turn it is, that is not sincere prayer. Such a prayer has no power to touch the hearts of others. Determined dedication to a task that seems impossible is what impresses people.
The government of South Korea and its Ministry of Unification have the responsibility for working out the procedure for Korean unification. However, they have not achieved much to date. In fact, the Korean people have given up on unification, which is exactly why a breakthrough is needed. When everyone considers the problems of unification impossible to overcome, that is when prayer is needed. If we sincerely wish and pray with deep earnestness, it can impress people’s hearts and the impossible can become possible.
The true challenge is not external but the fear within our hearts. Fear is the first challenge and doubt is the second. You may harbor doubt about whether prayer can work, but our prayers can overcome fear, doubt and suspicion and work a miracle everyone views as impossible.
What appears to be a miracle is not to those who worked hard to achieve it. It is possible for such an event to occur because that much effort and dedication was put into it. The current relationship between North and South Korea is at risk; a war could begin at any time. There is a high level of tension among neighboring countries, including China and the US. Due to the political turmoil in South Korea, most people have lost confidence in unification.
We are at a point where maintaining peace is difficult, let alone achieving unification. Nevertheless, we must begin praying for the peace and unification of the Korean peninsula. There must not be another war on Korean soil. In order to unite the Korean people, we must pray for the understanding necessary to overcome the grudges we hold onto from the past.
As we are starting our prayer today, we need to have confidence in our efforts. The members of the Jungto Society should pray with one heart. Through our focused minds and heartfelt prayer, we can influence other religious people to join us in our endeavor. Our efforts can help the Korean people once again hope for unification. It can also press the government to push forward with unification. We need to create an opportunity where unification can be achieved. Let’s transform this critical situation into an opportunity for change.
These are the aims we want to achieve through our prayer. Please pray sincerely. If you are not committed to praying or think it would be a burden, this is your chance to leave. People who think that way will make the prayer less powerful. (people laughing)
You should volunteer to pray more. Consider participation as an honor. Feeling honored will nurture sincere and earnest prayer. If you get sleepy while praying or anxious about taking your turn, that is not the right attitude for sincere prayer. People who feel prayer is a burden should be excluded from it. When you pray with all your heart toward the goal of unification, it will have the power to deeply impress people, and those impressions will travel out like ripples in a pool. Let’s diligently pray together to accomplish our goal.
You may be firm about praying now, but as time passes, you might give it the cold shoulder. You might think, “Who said let’s do this? “I’m so tired but have to get up in the middle of the night to pray.” Don’t think that way. Prayer should become the priority. You should be determined to the extent that you think: nothing else comes before praying. If we all pray like this, with complete focus and sincerity, it can bring about a chance for unification.
We pray in the belief that our prayer will result in something positive happening for the Jungto Society. There could be temporary difficulties and obstacles, but eventually our efforts will turn into a blessing. This principle also applies to individuals. Let’s pray together while believing in the law of cause and effect.
Since the North and South became divided 70 years ago, we have been living in tension but have still managed to maintain a fragile truce in a place where abundant deadly weapons are widely deployed.
We are placed in an ironical situation where one side suffers from starvation because of the lack of food and the other side suffers from obesity. On one side, people are crossing borders in order to survive and then are captured as political offenders and denied their human rights. On the other side, those who express opinions different from the political views held by the majority are ostracized. No one is free in this divided land but seventy years of separation between the North and South have inured us to living this way.
Yet South Korea established a democracy despite the challenging political situation and, through successful industrialization, earned a place in the world’s top thirteen economies.
However, today economic polarization exacerbates the discrepancy between the living conditions of rich and poor. The young lose hope, while the old suffer from depression. The suicide rate is among the highest in the world and the birthrate is among the lowest. Most people in our country live in uncertainty.
However we are a people who established a major civilization at an early stage in history. From Han country founded by Hwanin, followed by Hwangung whose ideology was based on benefiting the people, Gojoseon founded by Dangun, Buyeo kingdom built by Hae Mo-su, Goguryeo of Jumong, Baekje, Silla, Balhae, Goryeo, Joseon, followed by the Republic of Korea. We have a 10,000 year history that dates from time immemorial. Our ancestors lived on a vast continent not on a peninsula.
It has been 70 years since we have become separated, but we have 6000 years of shared history that runs in our blood. We want to revive the culture that once flourished and let it lead us to peace and unification.
Now, let us pray together sincerely. With the first bow, we pray that all our ignorance accumulated for an eternity be washed away. With the second bow, we pray that all malignant spirits that came into being as a result of war as well as the division of Korea disappear. For the third bow, we pray the energy found in our shared culture will lead to the peace and unification of Korea.
We sincerely pray that the Korean people no longer suffer separation from each other and that they find consolation and protection, so that the young can once again have dreams in a united Korea. We pray that the lost 1,000-year dream will be revealed and become the seeds of a new civilization, so that the unification will lead to peace in East Asia and become a great turning point in human civilization.
Buddha, Avalokiteśvara (The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion), we will pray sincerely for 1,000 days. We will be always thankful for everything in the universe and care for all living things. We will accept each other even if our ideas are different and will walk together on the journey to becoming united Jungto members. Please give us the power to walk step by step towards harmony and the union of Korea. Avalokiteśvara, please take care of everyone on this journey and protect them.
I take refuge in the Buddha.
I take refuge in the Buddha.
I take refuge in the Buddha.
On August 27th 2015, 70 years since the Declaration of Independence and division of the nation, Jungto Society begins 1,000-day prayer for the peace and unification of Korea.