The three great subjects thought is an expression coined by Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The three great subjects refer to parents, teacher, and leader. In other words, the three great subjects mean the three great centers: the parents, who are the center of a family; the teacher, who is the center of a school; and the leader, who is the center of dominion. Here, the center of dominion refers to the center of a group, an enterprise, a country, and so on, namely, the central person who is responsible for management or leadership. Hence, the head of a group (a union, a political party, a federation, etc.), the president of an enterprise, the governor of a province, the president of a country, and so on, all fall under this category of leader. In this way, we call the three centers of parents, teacher and leader the three great subjects. The three great subjects thought emphasizes that these three great subjects should all practice God’s true love.
God’s True Love
God’s love is absolute, since He is the absolute being. The term “absolute” in the sense used here, has a meaning different from any kind of sense carrying a secular meaning. The term “absolute,” as it is used here, connotes the qualities of eternal, unchangeable, limitless, and universal. God is eternal, and omnipresent, existing all the time and everywhere. Accordingly, God’s love is also eternal, and omnipresent. Such love is absolute love, or true love.
True love can be compared to sunlight. There is no place upon which the sun does not shine, and the sun is always shining eternally without rest. Similarly, true love is a comprehensive love, given to all humankind as well as to all things. All created beings are object partners of true love, and nothing in the universe is excluded from the realm of true love. Love was sometimes taken as referring to the intimacy between people, but true love is love given to all humankind, including enemies, and also to all things.
A person is related with other people in the six directions of above and below, front and back, and right and left. Taking oneself as the center, one is related above with one’s parents, superiors, and elder persons; below with children, subordinates, and younger persons; to the front, with teachers, senior colleagues, and leaders; to the back, with students, junior colleagues, and followers; to the right, with brothers and sisters, intimate friends, and intimate colleagues; to the left, with competitors, strangers, and opponents. True love covers all these persons in all six directions. Furthermore, true love extends to all things. The three great subjects thought asserts that we should practice such true love at all times and in all places.
What is love? Love is to seek to care for one’s object partners, while expressing to them a warm heart. With true love, one wants to give what one has to others, rather than to receive things from others. Secular love is a more selfish love, with which one looks after one’s own interests. In contrast, the true love which Rev. Sun Myung Moon teaches is a love with which one expects nothing in return and only wishes to give to others. Thus, in true love, one wishes to continuously give to others, with a warm heart. Then, in what concrete way should we express love to others? There are many ways to love: “to talk gently,” “to understand one’s circumstances,” “to give financial aid,” “to extend cooperation,” “to serve,” “to support,” “to help someone get out of difficulties,” “to embrace,” “to forgive one’s enemies,” “to teach kindly,” and so on. To give, and then to give again to others with a warm heart in this way is the practice of true love. The spirit of this way of life is called altruism, or the spirit of “living for the sake of others.”
True Love of the Three Great Subjects
As explained above, the true love of God is a love with which one wishes to give, and give again, endlessly to others. Just as hot water flows endlessly from a hot spring, so, too, one should endlessly embrace others with the hot-spring-like-water of true love from a warm heart. The three great subjects should always practice such love in their daily life. This is the core of the three great subjects thought. That is to say, parents should express such love to their children; a teacher should express such love to his or her students; and a leader should express such love to his or her subordinates or followers. Then, how do we express true love in the practice of our daily life?
We should practice true love through acting in the role of a subject. The role of parents is to bring up their children. The Korean term for raising children is yangyuk(養育), which consists of two Chinese characters, yang and yuk. Yang means to raise children by giving them food, clothing and shelter. While performing the duty of parents―namely, giving food, clothing and shelter―parents love their children with a warm heart. Yuk means to educate: parents teach their children family law, manners, ethics, morality, and any necessary knowledge, with a deep and warm heart.
In this way, parents can convey to their children the true love of God in the process of raising them. Parents should not love their children merely for the purpose of receiving something back when they have grown up. In other words, parents should not have the idea that they can make money or achieve power through their children. Wishing wholeheartedly that their children will become good, praiseworthy persons, they should raise them with a warm heart. This is the role of the parents. The expression of love when raising their children is the parents’ practice of true love.
The role of a teacher is to teach his or her students through the education of knowledge, technical education, artistic education, physical education, and so on. A teacher should teach students kindly and sincerely. If students raise questions, the teacher should answer sincerely, and if they have any difficult problems, the teacher should help them as much as possible. In this way, a teacher can practice God’s true love. This is the practice of true love in the role of a teacher. To teach only for the sake of wages is simply to sell and buy knowledge. This kind of education is not a correct education, since there is no love invested. A teacher should focus primarily on teaching students with sincerity, setting aside their receiving a salary as a secondary concern. Teaching should aim at the cultivation of the personality of students so that they will be empowered to serve society once they have matured. In order to do this, the teacher him or herself should first of all have a noble personality and a spirit of serving others. It is with the true love of a teacher that the teacher seeks to teach students with such a spirit of service and with a sincere and warm heart. Thus, the true love of a teacher is to practice love in one’s role as a teacher.
Finally, let me explain the true love of a leader as expressed through the role of being a leader. What is the proper role of a leader? The role of the president of a country is to govern the people well and empower them to live well. The role of the governor of a province is to harmoniously govern the province, and the role of the manager of a company is to offer good welfare to employees. Let me briefly explain about the case of a company more concretely. The manager of a company should not have the idea of making employees engage in hard work in order to make money for himself or herself. Of course, a company should make money. However, once the company has made money, managers should return an appropriate share of it to the employees. In the future society, the spirit of making money will be united with the spirit of giving.
The manager of a company should have an altruistic spirit of service. He or she should love the employees and have the spirit of giving with a warm heart. The manager should be concerned about the circumstances of the employees, and whether or not they have any difficulties with regard to food, clothing, and shelter. This is a dominion with love. In many cases, however, dominion includes giving orders to subordinates. An order in itself can feel cold; but when a leader gives an order with a warm and sincere heart, subordinates can receive it with gratitude because the order carries with it such a warm feeling.
The Bible says that God gave human beings the three great blessings. In the third blessing, God ordered human beings to dominate all things with love. The primary, secondary, and tertiary industries, as well as all other activities which deal with materials, fall under the category of dominion over all things. Dominion should be done with love. Thus, we should manage buildings and facilities, regarding them as belonging to all people and to God rather than to ourselves.
Thus, the management and maintenance of properties and facilities should be carried out with a sincere heart. This is the spirit of management as an exercise of loving dominion over all things. Pollution, which recently has become a serious problem, is the inevitable result arising from the loss of the spirit of dominion or the spirit of management with love. The spirit of dominion with love is the practice of the true love of a leader. In summary, the idea that the three great subjects should practice God’s true love through their respective roles is the three great subjects thought.
Three Subjectivities with One Center
Three subjectivities with one center refers to the idea that a central figure serves in the roles of, and practices simultaneously the loves of, the three great subjects, i.e., parents, teacher, and leader. In other words, although parents, teacher, and leader are different roles, nevertheless, parents should be at the same time a teacher and a leader. In other words, parents practice true love through the roles of the three subjects: While parents are primarily fulfilling their role as parents to love their children with a warm heart, they also carry out the roles of teacher and leader.
While engaging primarily in teaching, a teacher also stands in the position of a parent and raises students as if they were his or her own children, and at the same time, the teacher stands in the position of a leader to guide the students.
While engaging primarily in the management of an organization, a leader should also accomplish the roles of parent and teacher. A manager, in addition to the work of management, should express a warm heart to his or her employees with the heart of a parent in raising children, having constant concern for their eating, sleeping and welfare. Also, a leader, standing in the position of a teacher, should teach his or her subordinates social norms and knowledge.
Thus, it is the assertion of the three great subjects thought that one subject, or one center, simultaneously plays the role of three subjects. In other words, the three great subjects thought is the thought concerning the practice of a parent’s three subjectivities, a teacher’s three subjectivities and a leader’s three subjectivities. Since the love of parents to children, the love of a teacher to students, and the love of a leader to subordinates are downward-oriented loves, the three great subjects thought claims that one subject should practice three downward loves through the roles of the three subjects.
As mentioned previously, true love does not seek one’s self-interest but rather it wishes to give limitlessly. With true love you want to invest totally and forget what you have done. You want to give and give again, and you forget completely what you have given. No matter how much you have loved someone, you release it, and you do not carry with you any idea that you have loved.
When you forget the extent to which you have loved, your heart can become empty and humble. If you think that “I have loved him so much, but he did not respond. What a rude person he is,” then you can become arrogant. Once you become arrogant, it becomes difficult for you to truly love anymore. Therefore, when you give, you must forget it; and when you forget, you can feel like loving again, since God’s true love will fill your empty heart. Thus, always love with a fresh mind, and you will be empowered to love again. Parents, teachers, and leaders should all do this. This is the way of true love.
The Spread of Love
If parents truly love their children, children can not merely remain still, since love causes an inductive effect. Children will be moved by their parents’ love and, gratefully, they will serve their parents. Since parents love their children with all their heart, children, with all their hearts, feel like serving their parents with filial piety. This is the upward-directed love of children.
Also, when children receive the true love of their parents, not only does a filial heart toward their parents emerge, but also, the children themselves, namely, brothers and sisters, will come to love one another. This is horizontal love. In addition to that, a son and his wife (daughter-in-law) will also love each other in conjugal love, which is a horizontal love. Thus, based on parents’ love, both upward love and horizontal love are brought about, and the family is filled with love. Consequently, in a family the parents’ downward love is most important.
The same thing can be said about the love of a teacher at a school. Students who receive the true love of their teacher (downward love) will automatically respect their teacher from the bottom of their heart. They will think that their teacher is great. While satisfied intellectually, they are also impressed by the sincerity of the teaching; they naturally bow their heads toward the teacher. Then, students can not but respect their teacher. This is the upward love of students to the teacher. Not only that, but being impressed by the true love of their teacher, students themselves will come to love one another. This is a horizontal love among students. Thus, the love of the teacher (downward love) causes an inductive effect.
A few years ago, there was an unsavory incident at a certain university in Korea: Students struck a teacher. At that time, every newspaper condemned the students. The criticism of the students was not wrong in itself, but it was a misdirected criticism, in terms of solving the problem. The responsibility for the mishap rested primarily with the teacher and only secondarily with the students. The students reacted as they did because the teacher did not teach them properly. Would there be any valid reason for the students to strike the teacher if the teacher had regularly practiced the roles of the three subjects with true love, and followed the way of a teacher? The students’ violence can, in one sense, be understood as an expression of their complaint, “why did you not teach us properly?” Furthermore, the parents also share the blame. The students’ parents must not have given downward love to their children in daily life. Therefore, there was no base for the students to respect the teacher, whose position is not different from their parents. Hence, the solution to the problem of student violence against teachers can be found through the three great subjects thought.
As mentioned above, the loves of the three great subjects are downward loves: parents’ love toward children, teacher’s love toward students, and a leader’s love toward followers. The downward love is primary, and upward and horizontal loves are then induced by such downward love.
Since there is an inductive effect and a reciprocal reaction in love, there are certain cases where the upward love of the subordinate is given first, and that is followed by the induced downward love of the superior. When children show filial piety to their parents, students respect their teacher, and subordinates are loyal to their leaders, parents’ love, a teacher’s love, and a leader’s love are all induced. In principle, however, the downward love is primary, and upward and horizontal loves are secondary. When downward love is prior, upward love and horizontal love can be induced one hundred percent, whereas when upward love is prior, there is no guarantee that downward love will be induced one hundred percent. The same thing can be said of horizontal love. The starting point of true love is the downward love, since the origin of true love is in God, and everything comes downward from God in the first place.
If the manager of a company truly loves the employees, they will not simply be satisfied with receiving salaries, but they will want to reward the manager. That is to say, when the manager makes constant efforts with a warm heart to give the employees as much as possible from the income of the company, then the employees will respect and be thankful to the manager. In this situation, if the company should face difficulty, the employees might say, “We do not need an increase in salary. Please invest a portion of our salary increase back into the company, and manage it well.” In this way, if the manager of a company shows true love, the employees will love the manager, and at the same time love will spread among the employees. In addition, the employees will love and care for the facilities and properties of the company. Thus, the subject’s downward love, namely parents’ love, teacher’s love and leader’s love, should be given first.
If, in this way, true love spreads to a family, to a school, and to a company, and then to a nation, and to the entire world, the global village will eventually be filled with God’s love. As a result, all crimes on earth will disappear without any trace, and true and everlasting peace can be actualized.
The Origin of the Three Great Subjects Is God
What is the origin of the three great subjects in the three great subjects thought? It is God. The origin of all subjects is God. The most representative subjects among all subjects are the three great subjects, and the origin of the three great subjects is God.
God is, first of all, the Parents of humankind. In prayer, someone may call God “Father,” while someone else may call God “Mother.” In fact, God possesses Yang and Yin dual characteristics; therefore, God is the Parents of humankind. God created human beings as His (Her) sons and daughters. Originally human beings are not sinners, but are God’s sons and daughters; due to the human fall, however, human beings became sinners. Thus, God is the Parents of humankind, and at the same time the subject of true love. God created the
universe with Logos, as is written in the Gospel according to John, chapter. Logos is truth and God’s Word. Therefore, God is the subject of truth. The subject of truth is basically a teacher. Thus God is the teacher of truth. Also God is the master, since the Creator is the master of dominion.
The traditional Korean term Kun-Sa-Bu(君師父) refers to the ideal of parents, teacher and leader. Kun means the master, Sa means the teacher, and Bu means father (who represents parents). The Korean people possessed this Kun-Sa-Bu thought from their ancient times, and the origin of Kun-Sa-Bu is God. Hence, God is father (parents), teacher, and leader. Kun-Sa-Bu is, indeed, the same as the three great subjects, there being only a difference in the order of the words.
In the Korean national anthem there is a passage: “Long live our country, which Hanunim protects!” Hanunim is the same as Hananim, or the Creator, God. How does God protect Korea? He protects it with the true love of parents, teacher and master. The origin of parents, teacher, and master, or the origin of Kun-Sa-Bu is God. Therefore, the love of the three great subjects is in accordance with the Way of Heaven, which is absolute. Thus, the three great subjects thought is absolute and it will never fail. Those who disobey the Way of Heaven, or those who do not live according to this thought, can only decline, or perish.
Why is today’s society in such confusion? It is because we did not practice the love of the three great subjects, and we did not observe the Way of Heaven. If we disobey natural law, we will suffer physically; therefore, we lead our lives, observing natural law. Similarly, we should spiritually lead our lives according to the Way of Heaven. Since the three great subjects thought is in accordance with the Way of Heaven, which is based on God, we can not but observe it. If we observe it, peace can be realized, and if we do not, confusion will prevail. This is the very reason why traditional religions have all emphasized love.
Buddhism taught us to practice mercy; Confucianism, jen; Islam, compassion, and Christianity, love. However, the reason why we should do so has never before been clarified. Now, it can be clarified that the origin of mercy, jen, compassion, and love is the true love of God, which is also the origin of the love of the three great subjects. The three bonds (ruler and ruled, father and son, and husband and wife) and five moral duties (between father and son, husband and wife, elder brother and younger brother, one friend with another, and ruler and ruled) in Confucianism, the main teaching of which is the relationship between parents and children, is in agreement with the three great subjects thought. The same thing can be said about the virtues of Buddhism, the virtues of Islam and the virtues of Christianity. All the teachings of the saints and sages, about love, are also included, without exception, in this category of the love of the three great subjects.
The reason why traditional values have been declining is that people do not realize that mercy in Buddhism, jen in Confucianism, compassion in Islam, and love in Christianity all originate from the true love of God, and they are precisely the various expressions of the love of the three great subjects. To put it in another way, when it becomes clear that the origin of all these traditional religious virtues is the true love of God and, therefore, based on the love of the three great subjects, then all the traditional virtues will be revitalized, and they will recover the ability to guide and empower the minds of humankind today.
The Three Great Subjects Thought, the Principle of Mutual Existence, Mutual Prosperity and Mutual Righteousness, and the Principle of the Ideal Family
The principle of mutual existence, mutual prosperity and mutual righteousness is the concept which describes the characteristics of the economic, political, and ethical system of our future ideal society. That is, the future society will be an economic and political system which is managed under the principle of mutual righteousness (joint ethics). The content of the principle of mutual righteousness is the practice of the three great subjects thought, and the essence of the three great subjects thought is the principle of the ideal family. In sum, the future society will be an economic and political system that is managed under the principle of mutual righteousness; concretely, it will be managed by the three great subjects thought whose essence is the principle of the ideal family.
Establishment of a New Value Perspective
Finally, let me explain how a new value perspective can be firmly established on the basis of the three great subjects thought. When, from the ethical aspect, we see the actions, which are the expression of the three great subject’s true love, and the consequent love of the object partners which is thereby induced, namely, the downward love of the subject partners and the upward and horizontal loves of the object partners, we accept them as truly good. When those same deeds are seen from the intellectual and educational aspect, we accept them as genuine trueness, and when they are seen from the artistic aspect, we experience them as true beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are not separated in one’s actions. A deed of true love is accepted as truth, goodness, or beauty according to the mental aspect with which we perceive it. All traditional values will be revitalized and enlivened when they embrace this new value perspective of the three great subjects thought.