The first session we talked about the need to cultivate desire because without cultivating the desire, what we are doing is we are just letting the change impose on us. Instead of us taking charge of the change, we just let the circumstances or people around us to influence our changes. So by cultivating desire, you know what you want in your life. And you know what change you want to make. So by cultivating desire, you actually get to know yourself very clearly and that is very important. And that’s the first thing that we talked about.
In the second session we talked about that physical change is one time event. When you go through immigration process, you come from Korea to Canada, just one time event. When you change jobs, you just move. It is a one time event, but in that one time event, underneath the heart for heart, it is never just a one time event. The heart is going through a tremendous process of change and that begins from ending to beginning. When you start a new job, you end the old job and you start a new job. But the heart doesn’t move directly from ending to beginning. There’s in-between stage and in this, in this, in between stage, I called it “wilderness” and “wilderness” is “mid-bar” and it’s from the same root word. It is called “wilderness,” but also it is a “sanctuary.” The holy place, the word of God. So in the in this “wilderness,” we go through temptations, hardships and waiting, uncertainty, darkness, all kinds of things we experience in this “wilderness”. But at the same time, at the wilderness, we experience God’s presence. We experience God. We meet God. We learn God.
Moses lived a 120 years and the first 40 years he lived in a palace. The second 40 years, he lived in a nice pastoral place. So he really enjoyed his life peacefully. But last 40 years, God took him to the “wilderness” and Moses in that “wilderness,” he met God most intimately. In the first 80 years, he didn’t really meet God in a true sense, but in the wilderness, he met God in a very, very intimate way. In the same way in the “wilderness,” we experience God. We meet God in an intimate way. When you go through changes, you will go through in-between stage. Your heart will go through in-between stage in that, in between stage, learn to meet God and ask God for guidance and ask to be lead in that wilderness.
Who Am I?
Now, third lecture, we are going to talk about, we live in tension between who I am and who I want to be. This is always within us and if we always live in the tension between who I am and who I want to be. There are two forces within us and the first one is the force to push me forward, but second one is the force to pull me down. So we are living in this tension. There is a force that wants to go forward, but there’s also the force that pulls you down so that you don’t go anywhere. So we are struggling in these two forces and Saint Paul’s confession is very clear about this tension. “I do not understand my own actions for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” I mean this is the Saint Paul. He doesn’t understand his own actions. “I do not do what I want, but I do the evil that I hate to do,” and that is our confession.
There’s certain things that I want to do, but sometimes we don’t do that. We do exactly opposite of what we don’t want to do. Saint Paul was real person. He was not just religious fanatic. He was a real person and he experienced this struggle after meeting Christ. Before meeting Christ, he didn’t have this kind of struggle. Only after meeting Christ, he became true to himself. When he was true to himself, then he recognized this power, this struggle, and this tension that exists within us. When you don’t meet Christ in a true sense, you are not honest with yourself, but when you meet Christ in a true sense, then you can have confidence to be honest with yourself. When you’re honest with yourself, you see these kinds of things and Saint Paul saw this kind of paradox within himself.
The Inner Paradox
I am strange. Within me, I see a paradoxical self. I see a battle within me. Not harmony, but struggle. Not coherence, but incoherence. That’s what is in me, not just one nice image, but very many conflicting images are lying within us. It has taken a long time for this eye to be shaped. So now the eye that you have, was not shaped overnight. It had gone through so many things and as a result of that, that eye has been shaped. So many experiences. So many failures. So many of joys and so many learnings. All these things that this eye is experiencing, and then at the end finally eye has been shaped and formed. We are not fully aware of how this eye was shaped within me. We don’t know exactly because a lot of times we did things that we were unaware of, but somehow this eye was shaped and unfortunately because we are not perfect human beings, because we are sinful human beings, according to the scripture, we are sinners because we are sinners, some undesirable ugly parts. Undesirable parts were also formed in who I am, the part that I’m not satisfied with, the part that I don’t want to accept, admit.
And that part is also within me because we are sinful human beings. We have this yearning to be what I want to be. We don’t want to be stuck in who I am as I am. As I told you, God accepts me as I am, but God never leaves me where I am. God always takes me to the next level of life. That’s who God is. So I don’t want to be stuck in who I am. We want to be free to become who I want to be. There is no such thing as the saying, “Who I am.” There’s only, “Who I am being.” Do you understand what I’m saying? “Who I am,” is already the finished product. “Who I am being” is continuous product. Only God is “Who I am.” When Moses met God, what did God say to Moses? “What is your name?” Moses asked. So what did God say?
Who I am Being.
God said. “I am who I am.” So God is “Who I am,” but we are never “who I am.” We are always “who I am being.” The kind of movement we want to create in us is the positive movement, spiritual flow. I mean this movement. The word movement is very important to me, that you have to create this movement within you. The spiritual flow. We have to create in us a spiritual flow where our soul can freely move towards what I want to be. Then movement has to be there instead of soul being stuck. That movement flows. Russian poet, Rumi said, “When you do something from your soul, you feel a river moving in you.” You feel a river moving in you. When you truly do something from your soul, that’s amazing. That’s a river moving in you and Jesus said the same thing, “For those who believe that river of living water will flow.” The river of living water will flow. Do you know what that means? The river flowing within you. So that movement, that energy, that flow, that’s what we need. If anger is so strong in us, so if we are stuck in that anger, then we need to create a spiritual flow where our soul becomes free from the anger and experiences the freedom to love. You have to create that path so that your soul, instead of being stuck and bound by the anger, but moves beyond the anger and towards the freedom to love. Same with pain, same with insecurity. Our soul needs to be free to see change. In change, what is really important is your soul being free. Instead of your soul being stuck in where you are, your soul becoming free. That’s what we need to experience.
Like the song “Hide Me Now” by Hillsong Worship. Hide me now, that we want to go above the storm. We don’t want to be stuck in the storm. We want to go above and fly above the storm. And this soul needs to be free. Otherwise, the real change cannot happen. When our soul is stuck, real change cannot happen. Then for our souls to be truly free, then there has to be room for our soul to move. When your heart is so small and your soul is kept locked, then you cannot be free. There has to be space where our soul can move.
Freedom of the Soul
There’s a famous photographer in Korea, a Bae Byung-Woo and then he only takes a pictures of pine trees. His pictures were in London. He did exhibition that got several hundreds of thousands of dollars for a one picture. He’s a very famous guy. I was reading his interview with a reporter and in that interview he said that he always takes pictures only in the morning and the reporter asked, “Why do you only take pictures in the morning?” From what he said it hit me. I thought what he said was so true. Dae Byung-Woo response was, “When the light crawls over the Earth, the space is opened up and the world is opened up.” Wow, yes, that’s true. When the light comes, light does not just come and shows things, but it opens up the space. And I realized when the light of Jesus Christ comes upon our soul, our heart, then it creates space for our soul to move. And that’s what Jesus said, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free and the truth and life is the same thing. When the light or truth moment comes and then our heart creates a space and then our soul moves. And then we experience the freedom of the soul. When you have the truth moment, you’re no longer bound to your old self. And my friends, change takes a long time. Real change. For example, small boat, they can move around and maneuver very easily, but a big ship, they cannot move as easily, just to change in one direction, they go very, very slowly and turn.
And the real change happens. This kind of change is not change. Today, you do this and next day you do something else and the day after you do something new. That is not really change. What is that? That is (back eun neun go), that is just (back eun neun go), just changing the scenery. It’s not (pyeon ah neun go) its (back eun neun go). That kind of change is not a what we call change. The real change happens so slowly. You don’t even feel that you’re moving in different directions. That is kind of change that we are talking about. A big ship. That’s how they changed direction. There are two kinds of behaviours that are within us. One, the behaviour that you are aware of and the other, the behaviour that you are not aware of. The behaviour you’re aware of is doing things intentionally, but the behaviour that you are not aware of is that you automatically do it. Whether you like it or not, it becomes very automatic and that you do it. Having the light and knowing the truth will open up a space for the soul to freely move, but you should not end there. You need to shape the path, to truly change yourself. In your life, you need to shape the path after you realize that about yourself. You need to adopt a new habit. New spiritual habit, and that is spiritual discipline.
Dae Byung-Woo, famous photographer, his pictures are worth hundreds of thousands dollars, and you know what he said? “I take a picture every day as though I write a diary.” I mean he knows all about pictures, he knows all about a camera, but he takes a picture every day just to create that creative path so that he doesn’t lose that sense. In the same way, we need to create that creative path or spiritual path within us. Doing things habitually and mindlessly is bad, but doing good things and making it as a habit of your life is very good thing. You need to do that.
Good Habits Means Good Life
Immanuel Kant, very famous philosopher, he’s known for his regular habit. Every morning he walked at the exactly the same time, so people in Konisberg, they know what time is is by seeing Immanuel Kant passing by. “Oh, it must be 8:00 or 7:00 now.” Because his routine was so regular, so we need spiritual discipline. If you want to change. Making a habit is very important in spiritual change. Once you make a habit, you know one thing good about making a habit is that you don’t need self control. Once you make a habit, because it’s not hard, it just becomes automatic, like a part of you. Every morning I’m usually the first one to wake up. So my routine is every morning I get up, I come up very, very quietly not to wake up anybody, then I wash whatever dishes that I have. Then I finish washing dishes and then I take out the garbage and then fill up with a new garbage bag and after that I put on coffee and then that’s it. I do that everyday.
That’s true. I mean it’s not a big deal. It doesn’t even take 20 minutes. Everyday you do it. It becomes routine. It becomes a part of you, you don’t need self control to do that. You make the habit of doing it. You know, our self control is exhaustible. It’s not limitless. It is exhaustible. There’s an experimental puzzle. So two group of students, they gave the puzzle. One group is unsolvable puzzle. You cannot solve it. There’s no answer. Two groups, one group was given cookies before attempting to solve the puzzle while the other group was given radish. What the result was the group that ate the cookies gave up after 19 minutes with 34 attempts, but the group that ate the radish gave up after 8 minutes and they only tried 19 times. That is about half of the attempts the cookie group had.
So they realized that our self control is exhaustible because they use self control already by eating radish so they don’t have any more self control to control themselves for solving the puzzle. Chip Heath and Dan Heath, his book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.” And this is what they said, both of them are professors. One is at Stanford, the other is a Duke University. This is what they said, “When people exhaust their self control, what they are exhausting are the mental muscles needed to think creatively to focus, to inhibit their impulses and to persist in the face of frustration or failure.” So self control is something exhaustible. So when you make something a habit, then you don’t need to use that self control and that you can use that self control for something else. When you want to make a habit, you cannot start with a big thing.
You have to start with a small thing. You cannot start with a big commitment. You have to start with a small commitment. It is better to read the Bible. If you want to read the Bible really seriously. If you want to read the Bible, then 10 minutes every day for two months is better than 10 hours in a day.
10 hours you read in a day is not helpful. What is more helpful is 10 minutes every day for two months. Then it becomes habit. You will create reading habit of the Bible. Whatever you do, think about doing it for the rest of your life, not just one year for the rest of your life. A reporter asked Mark Twain, novelist, “How did you become a great writer?” And this is what he said, “I start writing a sentence or so every day and without knowing, I became a writer.”
So every day he wrote something and then without him realizing it, he became a writer. Mark Twain said that that same person said this. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.” So at the retreat you think about why do you want to change? And think of a one thing that you want to do for the rest of your life. Very small thing, doesn’t matter what it is, that is good for you, for the rest of your life.
Break down into smallest and start with that. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with the first step. The important thing is not to make lots of changes, but to create a path. That’s what habit does. Important thing is don’t make too many changes. Create a path. Once you create a path and then changes will happen. Shape the path. The path for the soul to freely move towards who I want to become.
The important thing is that you create a path and you have to start with small. Don’t start with big. Start with small change because we human beings are very weak. You know how we are? There is a clock invented by Gauri Nanda, a MIT student. It’s called “Clocky” and within two years he sold 35,000 units for 50 bucks in two years. This alarm has wheels so in the morning when the alarm goes off, it rolls around the room. So it doesn’t just stay still, just jumps off and then rolls around. Just imagine you running around in your panties, you’re running around trying to stop this machine.
Because we are so weak that they created this kind of stuff and it works. We are weak. So we have to understand that we are weak and we need to create small step at a time. Little by little. That’s better than trying big things and then giving up altogether. Small things everyday.
The Rider and the Elephant
Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, gives us a metaphor in his book; “The Happiness Hypothesis,” and then he talks about a rider and his elephant. This rider and elephant is within us. When the rider and the elephant are in sync, then that’s great news. The rider thinks, “Okay, let’s go that way.” and the elephant has the power to move. So you go that way, but if the elephant refuses to move, then you cannot do anything about it. You can kick it. Yell at it, but elephant will not move and you cannot make the elephant move. And that’s our situation. Many times, we ride the elephant, but this elephant does not move in the way you want to go.
That’s why change cannot happen from your own will. “Okay. From today I’m going to change.” You can’t change. This elephant will not move, even though the rider wants to move. The elephant will not move just because you have willed it to change. Elephant will never do any creative thinking or has any plan to change. Elephant doesn’t do that. It is the rider who has the vision and creative thinking to change. It is the rider who does that, but to make effective change, you need energy, drive and the power of the elephant. There are few reasons why the elephant may refuse to go where you want to go. The first reason is when a certain habit is so strong in you, the elephant is comfortable with that. So automatically, the elephant will go do whatever you have been doing all your life, it’s like automatic behaviour. It’s like, before you enter a new situation you’re thinking, “Oh, I’m not going to get angry,” but once you enter in that situation you automatically get angry.
Anger comes out, or in certain situations, “Oh, I’m not gonna do that,” and you go into the situation automatically. You’re too weak to fight against the elephant because you have been doing the same thing for so long that way in your life. So to change the elephant, then you need to start small, little by little, like a big ship you have to slowly move around. You cannot just kick it and yell at it and you cannot just make a decision, so you have to create a path so that the elephant slowly moves into the new direction.
The disciples wanted to follow Jesus, but their old habits were so strong that they were always rebuked by Jesus. It took them a long time for them to truly be able to follow Jesus. Especially a sinful habit, it’s very difficult to change; like greed, selfishness, self centeredness, pride, self-righteousness, timidity, stubbornness, inferiority complex, habitual lying. All these things are hard to change.
It is so deeply ingrained in us, almost a part of us. So if you live mindlessly, who leads your life? Elephant leads your life. The rider is just riding but the elephant is going wherever you have been going all the time. And that’s why we feel so helpless. So we don’t change it. We just let the elephant continuously move. We just sit on it rather than really taking the course of the change. Another reason for the elephant to refuse to go where you want to go is, this elephant is easily scared, very easily scared. So if the task is new, uncertain and too much, it doesn’t move. The only way to change is to move the elephant. And you cannot do it by force. You cannot do it by your will. You need to create a path by your spiritual discipline. A new habit. Also, the elephant is easily scared, you need to break down what you want to do into manageable tasks so that the elephant doesn’t get scared. To motivate the elephant, you need to shrink the change. If you try to do something big, elephant will not take it. So shrink the change. John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He said this, “When you improve a little each day, eventually pick things occur. Not Tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big quick improvement. See the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way you’d happens. And when it happens, it lasts.”
Spiritual discipline is repetition. Doing something once in a while gets you nowhere. Until that task becomes part of you. You continue. Continue the repetition. You want another prayer? Pray every day. You read the Bible? You do it everyday. You have bad habits you want to change? Then change it little by little, everyday break it down smaller and do it everyday.
Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed
Malcolm Gladwell in his book, “Outliers”. He said, “It takes 10,000 hours for anyone to be good at anything. 10,000 hours, you keep doing what you’re doing then you’ll be good at it. So if you want to do a new habit, new spiritual practice, if you do it for 10,000 hours, then you will master it. You will get to the level and then you automatically, you will be able to do it. To have a long term spiritual discipline. Break down the task into small, manageable pieces. Jesus’ principle is mustard seed principle. The mustard seed is so small that you cannot even see it. The seed is so small, you need very special eyes or some magnifier to see it. That small mustard seed will grow large and the birds of the air will come. Jesus wanted you to start with, if you have faith of a mustard seed, then you will see that miracle. So from your faith of mustard seeds, a small thing, but you will see very big thing. So you need to continuously motivate yourself. There was a carwash experiment. One carwash they said, “Okay, if you get 8 stamps, then next a car wash is a free.” So one set of car washes has 8 spots and the other one has 10 spots, but two stamps are already done for you. So for both, you really only need 8 stamp. The ones who have eight slots, only 19% came back, but the one with 10 slots with 2 stamped already, 34% came back. This is almost double the people because there’s incentive since it’s already started, so it’s easier for you to follow. Horace in 60 BC said, “He has half the deed done, who has made a beginning” What is it in Korean? What is it? Shijaki Ban Ee Da (the beginning is half). This is what Horace said in 60 BC. At the first happiness seminar, I said, “I’m confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Believe that. If you believe that, then something wonderful will happen. We are not alone. We have a helper. The Holy Spirit. This holy spirit will guide your first step. You will not do everything. If you take one small step, the Holy Spirit can take it to the next level. It’s not just what you do when you take a small step, the Holy Spirit will take you to the next level. Have courage to take the first small step. Think about what you need to change. Think about what you need to change.
At first, they’ll be difficult. What do I need? Change? Because it’s so buried too much inside of you. You won’t even know what to change, but when you think about it slowly, you will be able to see, “Ah, I want to change this. I want to change that,” and these things will come up. Then cultivate the desire to change, and when you change you will go through some dark times, disappointing time, difficult time. Wait. Don’t give up. Meet God. Experience God. And then the little things start with a small thing and then do it every day. Then you’ll be able to see the miracle of it.
Power of Community
We have a Bible study at our church every Wednesday morning, about 10-12 people come every Wednesday in the morning at 10:00am. Eight years? Eight years. Almost every Wednesday, the people came and at first, it was kind of difficult. First of all, bunch of women are sitting there and I’m the only man. They always talk about their husbands, they usually complain and I’m sitting there, “Oh my goodness. How am I going to lead this group?” And so it was really, really difficult in the beginning, but for eight years, every day is a small step. Every day, almost every week, they didn’t really miss a single day. Now? It has become so mature. The kind of things that we learn, the kind of things that we share, it is so deep and profound. You won’t see that anywhere else. I don’t see that anywhere else. Even with theological students that I talked to, I don’t get that kind of depth, but in that group I see and I hear that depth. So small beginnings create the miracle of the community.
Do you know how difficult it is to build a community? It takes long time and that community was built. So whatever you do, start with a small change and then see how God will take you and don’t just look for the easier solution. Don’t just look at easier solution. A man on the street at night, he was looking for something and the police came by, “What you’re looking for?” And he said, “I’m looking for my key.” “Where did you think you lost it?” “Oh, I think I lost at the end of the street there.” “Why are you looking for it here? Why don’t you go there?” And the man said, “The light is better here.” Don’t look for the easy solution just because the light is better.
Find it where you think you lost your key. Even though it is dark. Visit the darkness. Visit the dark place. Visit the uncomfortable place. Visit the place where you don’t want to go, maybe there is an answer there. Instead of always finding the easy answer and thinking that change happen.
This is all I have prepared for you in this seminar.
I hope that this helps you a little bit to get you thinking about that change. So the first night we talked about attitude towards change. Second lecture we talked about the dynamics of change and the third lecture we talked about the action to make a change. Thank you for listening and have a great pilgrimage. Thank You.