Today I want to talk about Hongik.
This is a term I have been listening to for 16 years since I joined this Korean-based practice. It is a Korean word, translating into “Widely-Benefitting”. Simply, this is the knowing that helping others, helps myself and helping myself is helping others. It recognizes the oneness among us – that we do not live alone on this planet and therefore our essential self recognizes the need to live not just for the good of myself, but for the good of all.
I have a distinct memory regarding this. Many years ago, when I was just a student of the practice, I took a very intense training. The training was designed to expand our consciousness and develop our compassion and awareness on a universal level.
During one portion of the class we watched a slideshow of a number of pictures that had recently been posted by Time magazine. Many of them were horrific pictures of people affected by war and disease all around the world. Then, in the final exercise, we were led into a deep meditation. Once we were deep within, we were guided to choose one of those photos and fully imagine ourselves as the person in that picture. To fully feel what they might have felt. I decided on an image of a young girl standing alone in the dark night, crying out, with blood splattered all over her little dress. I allowed myself to completely put myself in her shoes. When I did that there was instantaneous terror, of course, but I also discovered a feeling inside that I did not expect. As I imagined near me the man with the gun who caused that bloodshed, an innocent voice cried out from inside, “You were supposed to help me, but instead you hurt me!!” It was an absolute shattering of trust. Trust in my own humanity. Trust in the very people who are supposed to be my brothers and sisters, sharing this magnificent planet with me. It was a deep feeling that we are here to help each other and protect each other, fundamentally. That’s what we are innately meant to do. But we don’t. We betray each other and we betray our own pure conscience all the time. And that is the most devastating thing of all.
I came out of that meditation in a deep state of despair. Others in my class seemed to bounce back, but I could not shake it. I remember for the next 3 days I was in a trance. Walking and driving and going about my life as usual but completely dominated by the question, “What should I do?” I felt horrible about myself – living a very comfortable and safe life here in America, compared to that little girl and countless others who are being violated by fellow humans in countless places. I just couldn’t sit well with the pain I felt inside when I thought about the reality of our world.
Then one day, a light bulb finally turned on. I realized that being born in America was my Soul’s choice and therefore it is my responsibility to create light and do the work that others in less fortunate places cannot do. I committed myself at that moment to put forth double and triple the effort for those in darkness, until we can all live together in a brighter world. With that conviction, I could come out of my trance and find the courage and spirit to move forward.
As I write this blog, I feel thankful for the opportunity to check myself. Am I really still keeping to my promise? There are many human beings suffering every moment who I never even think of as I live my daily life. I’d like to take a moment to honor them, send light to them, and renew my commitment once more.
Ilchi Lee always speaks of this Korean philosophy: Hongik Ingan, Ee Hwa Sae Gae. When enough Hongik humans gather together on this Earth, then a Harmonious world will emerge. Only Hongik humans can make that happen.
I will finish my post with one of his messages that I recently came across, that inspired me to write about this today in the first place. I hope you all enjoy it and feel the spark of Hongik flickering in your pure and beautiful heart.
For the Good of All
The heart that seeks to go beyond its own narrow interests to work for the greater good of other people and life — this is the most precious value of humanity, and the greatest function of the human brain.
Regardless of what sort of lives we have lived so far, or what kind of people we believe ourselves to be, we all want to be remembered as people who contributed something to the world.
Somewhere deeper than our victim consciousness, selfishness and arrogance, somewhere deeper than our instinct to find sensory pleasure, all human beings have a Hongik instinct: we want to do something good for the world.
The Hongik instinct is the fundamental power that caused us to enter the world and the driving force that enables us to keep going, even when weary and troubled. When this Hongik instinct is not fulfilled, we feel somehow empty, even after we’ve finished a busy days work, and we have regrets about our lives when we end our time in the world.
Somewhere deep in our hearts lives a noble desire to do good for the world. This is the seed of divinity planted deep within us.
Each of us has a dream. And we hope that dream will not stop at the pursuit of our personal profit, but will contribute to our families and neighbors, and, furthermore, to all of society and the human race.
No matter where we work or what kind of jobs we have, no matter whom we work with as we live our lives, deep in our hearts we want to be people who strive to do good for the world. We are originally Hongik Humans.
~ Ilchi Lee