It’s time to make use of our inner eyes
A package was delivered to my office recently from Park Cheong-su, a Buddhist clergywoman. I knew her by name and reputation, but we have never met. In the package, I found two books written by Park and an introductory booklet in English. I am not sure what prompted her to send me these books, but she had signed them personally, so I figured she wanted me to read her writings.
As a journalist, I receive many books from strangers. Sometimes, publishers send me their books, but authors often send me their own writings. There are even people who search for books that are not related to them to send me. Regardless of their agendas or motivations, I accept books with gratitude. I believe that the underlying intent is an encouragement to read more, think more and write better.
“We distinguish worldly objects with the physical eyes. But there is a deeper and wider world that cannot be seen with the physical eyes. That world should be looked at with inner eyes,” Park wrote in “When the Inner Eyes are Bright.” Truth, values, death, right and wrong and good and evil belong to the world that should be seen with the inner eyes.
The world is chaotic, and some people say they are afraid of reading the news because of all the heinous crimes, brutal violence and shameless corruption that appear in the stories. The country is fine because society has become cleaner and I believe there are more good people than bad ones. However, we still hear of gloomy news more often for some reason. A mentor to the president who was instrumental in helping him win the election has been investigated by prosecutors for taking enormous amounts of bribes. The administration had flattered itself as “morally flawless,” a claim now proven false. But, if he had inner eyes and restrained his greed, just as Park Cheong-su had advised, the aide could have avoided the investigation.
Recently, a research team at the University of Chicago surveyed citizens from 30 countries about the existence of God, and it led to interesting results. While only 23 percent of respondents under age 27 said they believed in God, 43 percent of the group over age 68 held the opposite view. As you grow older, you get closer to death, and you cannot help but become more humble. So as people grow older, they increasingly believe in the existence of God. Looking at death with our inner eyes from time to time may be the secret to a wiser way of life.
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.