The Words of the Choi Family

True Love

Sang Ik Choi
August 1971

This morning I am going to speak about "True Love." Many people speak about love, and many people think they have love. But actually we can see very strange actions in our society. If we have love within us, why are so many people unhappy and have trouble in their lives? Why are there so many contradictions in society if there is love within people?

Everybody is seeking love, and many people think they have love within them. Yet, actually there are many contradictions and troubles in our society. Therefore, we have to examine ourselves and ask "Is this true love or not?" Today, many young people emphasize Jesus' love, Buddha's love, or a great man's love, but they often misunderstand the love of these men. If those people have true love, why is it that we do not feel any purity or wholesomeness in their love? Also we cannot feel any harmony of the individual or collective. If it were true love, we would be able to feel these things.

Today, many people speak about love, but actually because of love many people are fighting and there is much conflict and jealousy in society. People talk of love but it is only for themselves, their husbands or wives, their children, and their things. There is no love for their neighbor, for different races and nationalities or for all humankind. If their love is true, why do they have love only for their own things and friends and not for everyone else?

However, there are even people in society who do not love their own children or husbands. This is worse than an animal for even they know how to love their own. In the Bible there was a case where the parents ate, their own children when they were hungry. Sometimes a widow will meet a handsome man, who likes her and the woman will often get rid of her children so that she can marry the man. In the Orient, parents sometimes sell their daughters so they are able to eat. This is worse than an animal, for even animals know how to die for their off spring.

So today many people emphasize love for their family and for themselves. But many times they lack universal love for all people. Many people today emphasize free love, but without true love for all people. Many people today emphasize free love, but without true love this is only instinctive or animalistic love for one's own greed and it is purely lusty love. What good is this for human life? Maybe you have love, but it is a very small scale love. You have to have a large scale love between friends, neighbors, society, nations and in the world.

What is true love? It is something healthy, clean nice. How can you have such a love? Such a love must be based on truth. Truth can give you the standard of ethics and morals and then automatically you will have a very high character of love. Such a true way of life will give you a feeling of freshness, purity and goodness. Love without truth is not meaningful. Love without character might be characterized as just greedy or lusty love.

Love is not merely based on character, but includes many kinds of virtues in life. If you truly love, you never change. There is a story about two girls who grew up together and were really good friends. They dressed alike and went everywhere together and they were very proud of their friendship. They always shared everything with each other and everyone envied their love. But when they reached the age of 21, a handsome young man came along whom they both loved, so they started quarreling and fighting with each other over him. In the end, they did not want to talk with each other and they broke up as enemies. Sometimes you think you are good friends if you do small things together like attending a picnic. However, if it were true friendship, it would never change under any circumstances. If you both liked a certain boy, then you would give him up for your friend. True love is stronger than anything and for this you should sacrifice.

Today many troubles come up between husbands and wives when money is involved.

This is not characteristic of true love. When money matters come up, your self-interest is involved and this changes everything. True love never changes. The true love a mother has for her children never changes. Whether they are good of bad she will be concerned for them.

Sacrifice is characteristic of true love and you can easily test your love by seeing whether or not you can sacrifice yourself. Many years ago in Japan there was a boat which was sinking and the captain told the people to put on life jackets.

Every one grabbed a life jacket to save their own life. There were two American missionaries on the boat who noticed that two of the young men were without life jackets. They untied their own life jackets which they already had on, and gave them to the two Japanese boys telling them to take them as they were at the beginning of their lives whereas they themselves were old. At first the boys hesitated to take the life jackets for they were shocked to see such a beautiful love these missionaries had for mankind. However, they loved their own lives, so they took the jackets. The boat sank and the missionaries died. Those missionaries sacrificed their lives and knew how to love deeply. You may think you have the right to live, but if everyone emphasized just this point then we could never establish a good friendship, friendships, families and societies. Many modern philosophies such as existentialism, emphasize the individual. They say that without the individual, then the family cannot exist. This is such a selfish, egoistic way of life. The individual who has love and truth and who knows how to give love and sacrifice for that love cannot exist without the family, society and world. The selfish ego is the cause of all trouble in society today. The individual with love and truth, with a public mind and who knows how to give is indispensable. He knows how to have a good family, society and world. Many people are suffering in this world today because of the selfishness of some people. Also love never criticizes others but it understands and comprehends.

For instance, when I came to this country, I did not speak English very well at all, and so I spent many many long hours studying the language so that I could speak. But I am old and it is much harder for me to learn new things. So when I give a sermon many people do not understand all the things I say and they criticize me. I came to this country to contribute myself and teach a good way of life. Some people do not care, they just like to pick on small things and criticize regardless of the much larger scale purpose. Love does not criticize others, but understands.

Also we should prefer others circumstances rather than our own self benefit, and we should always protect others. Today many people say love, but they always prefer their own situation. There is a story of a boy and girl who really loved each other. The parents of the boy did not think the girl was very good and so they told him that the: had a girl who was just right for him. In the Orient it is the custom for the parents to pick out the girl for their son based on their experience in life. But the boy told his father that no matter what he just could not separate from his girl because he loved her so much. Then one day the boy and girl were driving together and they went to a quiet place in the evening under a beautiful moon. They got out of the car and suddenly three hooligans attacked them, and tried to kill them. Then this boy was afraid for his life so he ran away leaving the girl to fend for herself. The next day the girl called him up and told him "You told me you loved me, but now I know that you do not really and truly love me for you did not try to protect me, you ran away." Maybe he thought he loved the girl, but it was not true love for he loved himself more, he does not have character and truth within him.

Love always sacrifices and protects. If you love one person one week and then someone also another, this is just butterfly love. People today think they have true love but they often do not. True love always protects others, it always tries to give rather than take. If you truly love others, people will respond to this love. Even trees and animals will respond to your love.

You must give first, of yourself, not take. Love always prefers to give rather than to take. Also love is not only for yourself or family. We are related to all humankind. If you do not love your neighbor, race, country and all mankind, this is only partial love which is selfish and prejudiced. First we have to understand universal truth and exercise a universal way of life not from our own way of thinking. Many saints and righteous men treat everybody with the same love and have true love for the whole of mankind. Just love for your group or country, that is national egoism, which is nothing different from self-love. We have to know universal love and this brings unity and harmony. This is true love. You have to have a universal eternal love which is willing to sacrifice for others. If you think you have true love you should examine yourself and your love. Is your love based on character or a universal and eternal standard or the ability to sacrifice yourself for others? Does your love criticize or does it always understand and comprehend others? Do you protect others and prefer others circumstances rather than your own? Does your love always try to give rather than take? If you examine yourself and your love meets all these standards you have true love. If not, then you have deceived yourself with the concept of love. You will see if it is true love by whether or not it is a beautiful, universal, and eternal love of giving in yourself. 

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