50 years since the first version of Unification Thought was published
Unification Thought celebrates these days its 50th anniversary. The first English version of the Korean publication Tongil sasang yogang (통일사상 요강 – Outline (Essentials) of Unification Thought) was published in the autumn of 1973 as Unification Thought.
According to its author Dr. Sang-heun Lee (1914-1997), a follower of Sun Myung Moon,
“One of the necessary conditions of this time is the establishment of an ideological system which is able to meet the needs of the times. In such a situation, I am going to introduce a new system of thought.” (Preface, Unification Thought, p.xiv)
Father Moon described the potential of Unification Thought,
“Unification Thought is a powerful key capable of solving any problem, no matter how difficult it may be. When this thought is applied to society, various social problems can be settled. […] This Thought presents a new view of life, a new view of the world, a new view of the universe, and a new view of God’s work in history. It also offers a principle of integration that can bring different religious doctrines and philosophies into unity, while preserving their diverse characteristics.” (From a speech Father Moon gave in South Korea 16th December 1985, quoted from Foreword, Unification Medical Science by Shigehiro Suzuki, UTI, 2013)
Dr. Lee had studied Father Moon’s teachings deeply and was struck by their systematic and logical nature. Dr. Lee explained in his Unification Thought Study Guide from January 1974 that “Unification Thought was published after philosophically arranging and systematizing” the content of two of the chapters of the Unification Principles, primarily the first chapter about various essential principles of the created universe, but also the chapter about key principles involved in the historical process of recreating the world originally intended by the Creator.
Sang-heun Lee presented Father Moon’s thought in standard philosophical categories and areas. The first book from 1973 was written based on the lecture notes Dr. Lee had used in seminars in South Korea and Japan.
Over the years, several new English editions of Unification Thought appeared, including
Explaining Unification Thought in 1981,
Fundamentals of Unification Thought in 1991,
Essentials of Unification Thought in 1992, and
New Essentials of Unification Thought in 2006.
Seong-bae Jin (Sung Bae Jin), president of the Unification Thought Institute the last 20 years, explains,
“The reason why new books, with new titles, continued to be published over the years is because the Rev. Sun Myung Moon has continually revealed new content in the numerous speeches and sermons he has delivered to a great variety of audiences worldwide. In accordance with the changing world situation, his thought continually takes on new and different dimensions.
In the process of systematizing the Rev. Moon’s thought, the author continually integrated this new content within the context of the existing system of thought, and published the result as a new book. Nonetheless, the essence, or core, of the Unification Thought perspective has remained unchanged. New content was added in order to supplement and enrich this basic perspective, and this would appear as a new book.” (Foreword, New Essentials of Unification Thought, p.vii)
Unification Thought covers many different philosophical areas like God, human nature, nature, ethics, art, education, knowledge, logic, method, and history. Still those make up one organic whole and present a holistic view. The reason is that all the different parts of Unification Thought are based on what is regarded as the fundamental principles God followed and put in place when creating the universe in which we live. Those principles all originate in God, the Great Unifier, who intended both the physical and spiritual parts of our great macro-cosmos to be part of one large unified organic whole. Our world can be said to be intended to reflect God’s nature.
Simply put, the goal of Unification Thought may be expressed as creating the kind of world that God originally desired, an ideal world of eternal peace and freedom.
Unification Thought presupposes the existence of God as well as the existence of the spirit world (life after death) and is based on four fundamental concepts – God, the purpose of creation, the interdependence of beings, and relationships based on giving and receiving.
The latest version of Unification Thought, New Essentials of Unification Thought, contains 11 chapters:
- Theory of the Original Image
- Ontology: A Theory of Being
- Theory of the Original Human Nature
- Axiology: A Theory of Value
- Theory of Education
- Theory of Art
- Theory of History
Unification Thought can be said to explain reality in a more comprehensive way than today’s materialistic philosophies.
Unification Thought has sometimes been called Head-Wing Thought or Godism. According to Seong-bae Jin, President of the Unification Thought Institute of Korea,
“Head-Wing Thought seeks to unite both left-wing and right-wing ideas by overcoming materialism and humanism.
Godism embraces and unites all religions by clarifying God’s fundamental attributes, His basic principles and methods of designing and creating the universe, and the universal laws of science and morality which underlie all of natural and social reality.
It sets forth a practical way by which a peaceful world might be realized, a world wherein all human beings might live together as one family, united in one heart, with God as the True Parent. Therefore, Unification Thought has the potential of accomplishing a truly historic task.” (Foreword, New Essentials of Unification Thought, p.viii)
The Unification Thought Institute (UTI) has also published books criticizing materialistic theories, e.g.
In 1985, The End of Communism, by Dr. Sang-heun Lee (Sang Hun Lee)
In 1987 The New Cultural Revolution and Unification Thought, by Dr. Sang-heun Lee.
In 1990, The Concept of an Asian Community and the Unity of Religions and of Thought Systems, by various scholars.
In 1990, The Establishment of a New Culture and Unification Thought, by various scholars.
In 1996, From Evolution Theory to A New Creation Theory – Errors in Darwinism and a Proposal from Unification Thought, by a team of Unification Thought scholars, under the supervision of Sang-heun Lee.
In addition, Dr. Sang-heun Lee authored Theory of the Spirit World in Unification Thought, published in Unification Thought Quarterly 33, Summer 1995, pp. 28-36.
Unification Thought Institute has also published a series of books, Textbooks on Unification Science, where different scholars try to show how Unification Thought may be applied to various scientific fields.
The series include:
Pursuing the Unity of Science, by Dr. Seong-bae Jin (Sung Bae Jin).
Physics and Unification Thought, by Dr. Ching-Ching Chang (1929-2023).
The Unification Sciences: Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, by Dr. Richard Lewis.
Unification Medical Science, by Dr. Shigehiro Suzuki.
Unification Perspectives on Peace and Conflict Transformation, by Dr. Thomas Ward and Dr. Claude Perrottet.
Unification Ethics of True Love, by Akifumi Otani.
Featured image above: The first English edition of Unification Thought, published 1973 by the Unification Thought Institute. Photo: Knut Holdhus
“Unification Thought Turns 50 Years” – text: Knut Holdhus