04
May 2017

Thank You to My Father

By Ilchi Lee Comment

On a clear, bright, and warm spring day in April, my father went into eternal life. He embarked on his journey with a smile on his face, looking so serene and peaceful. His soul came here to New Zealand and stayed with me. He came to me with great love, in order to meet with his son.

Father was always more than a father to me. He was a spiritual teacher who taught me the great spirit of Hongik, and he was a friend and companion with whom I could always share deep conversations about the path for humankind.

As I've traveled down my path, I didn’t have a friend to whom I could spill out my heart, and I've always found myself surrounded by many people who wanted to gain strength and courage and hope from me. That’s why I hoped that my father would stay by my side for a long time and be someone I could depend on. Perhaps because he knew how I felt, even after letting my mother depart first, my father stayed behind and lived on his own for another eight years to stay with me and be by my side. That’s how I received tremendous love from my father, and I was able to share that love unreservedly with everyone.

Throughout the 94 years of his lifetime, my father lived an upright life of benevolence and humility as a good father, a good teacher, and a good neighbor, and he lived a life of sharing and giving back. Father was my model of honesty, diligence, responsibility, faith, and courtesy.

When I couldn’t adjust to life at school from an early age, even when our relatives and neighbors expressed their worry about me, my father would always boost my spirits by saying that I was a late bloomer. That’s why I was able to live my whole life without losing hope in myself. Even after graduating from high school, when I couldn’t get focused and failed the college entrance exams three years in a row, he took me to my grandmother’s grave and begged for forgiveness with tears in his eyes, saying that he was at fault for all of my wrongdoing because he hadn’t done a good job of bringing up his son. That’s when I seriously repented for the first time, thinking, “I’ve really messed up big time!”

So then I woke up and got my act together, and as I cleaned up the garbage under the bridge and planted a pumpkin patch from the trash, I discovered the value of my existence for the first time. After that, as I had developed confidence in myself, I opened a taekwondo studio and worked as an instructor, and I wanted to study as well.

Father provided support without ever questioning what I wanted, and he even retired early and gave me half of the retirement pay he received. Through that incident, I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility not only with regard to myself, but toward my family and toward the faith that my father had in me. That’s how Father taught me honesty, diligence, responsibility, faith, and courtesy. As I walked this path for myself, my people, and humankind over the past 37 years, every time I faced the innumerable trials and tribulations, it was that teaching that lent me the great strength I needed to keep going.

Father loved the people, and he loved all people with a virtuous and benevolent heart, and his love and blessings are still with me and with all of you.