When introduced to a new student, Master Lee invariably asks, “What do you want?” This question represents the first lesson he imparts to his students.
So, what do you want? After being questioned, most people simply ask back, “What do you mean?” Well, it can be anything you want. What are you interested in? That is how many people begin to think of an answer. They wonder in what regard, sense, or category the question is being posed. The scope is however big of a size that you want to look at it. The range that Master Lee is referring to is so wide that it encompasses our entire life scheme.
People never expect the question and ensuing wide range of discussion, so most of the time they are thrown off. It is too big, too deep, and too overwhelming to think about. The concept of what we want in life is difficult to cover with just a short reflection. Deep, long, and lingering thoughts are required to answer this, which makes it frightening to ponder.
Normally the people will come up with a response of “I don’t know” or “nothing”. This means that they have reduced the size of the question to a smaller handle or to what they are comfortable with addressing. Once we attempt to think of a larger scheme, we start to feel uncontrollable, which leads to a feeling of being uncomfortable. It is important not to be afraid of such wide-ranging concepts.
With this very first lesson of “what do you want?” the subtext is the response to another topic, “to be or not to be.” Though adding this to the equation makes this concept seem even more overwhelming, it really is not. The key is to remember that everything is connected together.
What do you want?
What do you want in life?
What is it people want?
People seek to find meaning in their lives. The objectives are eternity, autonomy, and happiness. The notion of autonomy is perplexing because full autonomy is unobtainable. Yes, we are born with a mind of our own, but when we are born we can do nothing. We can’t even turn our bodies over. If we lay a newborn baby flat, the child will stay flat forever. The search for true personal autonomy lasts forever. We can never fully support ourselves. We must rely on God and nature. We are dependent on external sources, and need to recognize that we cannot survive solely on our own. We need air to breathe, food to eat so that we are nourished, shelter to stay safe, clothes to keep our bodies warm, and so much more.
To tie everything together, it is necessary to transform these concepts into simple terms so that everyone can understand. That is why Master Lee, when teaching his first lesson, asks his students the questions: Do you want to be good or bad? Do you want to be strong or weak? Students answer that they want to be good and they want to be strong and in control. These are two things nobody can escape from, and depending on a student’s level of confidence, the strong versus weak question may be asked before the good versus bad question.
All of us want to be good, not bad. The parents want their children to be good, but the serious problem is that even the parents don’t know what good really is, or how to be good. This is because nobody asks the fundamental and deep-rooted question, “What is good?”
Good may be defined as “better than average” or “better than compared to others.” However, there is more to the term. Good is a very spiritual word, although we use it every day very lightly. The definition of good is fitting into a purpose or need.
In the Bible, Mark chapter 10 verses 17 and 18 demonstrate the significance of good:
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him.
-“Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
-“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.”
We use the word “good” very commonly in society and daily life, yet good only belongs to God. This is surprising and shocking to many people. When good is defined in our basic daily terms, this kind of definitive meaning is not provided. Only God is good. The meaning we give to good, with regard to comparison of one’s self to others, fits into the worldly level. However, the religious meaning fits into spiritualism. God is good. He allows everything that happens on earth. He is creative in making things happen, and even with tragedy he is still allowing it. Without pain, there is no life.
Now it is normal to ask “how,” but first we need the answers to “why”. What is good that fits into purpose? Whose purpose? It is a spiritual meaning under God’s purpose. People can be self-centered or they may self-deny. If you are going to be self-centered, you are declaring that you are your own god. On the other side, denying one’s self is becoming fully centered on God.
How to be good: Answer nicely, answer on time. This concept has all kinds of congruent meanings. To answer, in other words, is to respond or react. A reaction refers to how you conduct yourself in every situation & every second of every day of your life.
As children, it is common to misbehave and not listen to the parents and the teachers. Children are told not to retaliate when someone does something bad to them, but they still fight anyways. The important lesson to learn is that while you cannot control the actions of others, you have complete control over your reaction.
This lesson seems so basic but it is difficult for many people to truly grasp and implement into their lives in an effort to change their behavior. That is why Master Lee is telling all of the young children how to be good. Everyone, even the little kids, knows “answer nicely, answer on time.” What does answer mean? They know, response. What is another word? They know, react.
The students understand that they don’t have control over what other people do or what happens to them, but they know that how they react is on them, and that is how to be good. That is why “answer nicely, answer on time” has several different meanings and benefits.
The following are the main benefits of learning that answering nicely and on time is the key to how to be good. First off, this lesson is the basis of interaction and everyday living. That is what answer nicely, on time means. An answer should be nice, in that it is respectful. Thus, a child would be taught that responding to a question with “yes, sir!” is how to be really good, while responding “yes” is good and mumbling something under his or her breath is not good. The answer should be on time, or in other words, without a delay after the question or preceding action.
Also, the lesson teaches the meaning of life. Another word for meaning might be reason, or belief. This is also a calling. We don’t always recognize a spiritual calling, because it is not a physical or scientific calling. It is an intuitive calling. We must practice the response to a physical calling first, so when the intuitive callings come, we are prepared to answer. Therefore, in Master Lee’s class, one of the very first things he teaches is the meaning of life. Then later, the students realize the importance of the concept.
Another benefit of “answer nicely, answer on time” is to meet the goal of parenting. What is the goal of parenting? There is a simple way to answer this question and clarify this concept. Another word for a child is a dependent. Thus as a parent, the goal is to transform the child from being dependent to being independent. Daily decision making is not congruent or consistent. Without understanding the complete concept, how can we give answers? This is a very ambiguous seeming question but it has such a firm ground and greatly influences life. The children must learn how to produce their own responses, answering nicely and on time, which will promote their independence. Being independent means fulfilling the role we have each day. The aim is for people to make contributions rather than be burdens in society.
Dependent persons need to become independent, and independent can also be described as responsible. Learning how to be good teaches responsibility. A close look at the breakdown of the word responsible helps to relay this idea. Responsibility is derived from a combination of response and ability, which can translate to the ability to respond. As shown earlier, a response is an answer, and thus we now see the importance of answering nicely and on time. We learn responsibility every day we practice how to be good.
In asking the questions “What do you want?” and “How do you be good?” Master Lee initiates the journey in his students of discovering what they want in life and the type of behavior that will help them to achieve their goals.
By Jeeho Lee, Human EngineerⓇ, Ⓒ Copyright 2014