People say I am among the richest people in the world, but they don't know what they are talking about. I have worked hard all my life, but I don't have so much as a single house that is in my name. Neither do I have property that I have placed in my wife's name or in the names of my children so as to conceal its true ownership. Every adult Korean has their official stamp that they register with the government and use to sign legal documents. I don't have such a stamp.
You may wonder, then, what benefit I have received from working hard by not sleeping while others slept, not eating while others ate, and not resting while others rested. I didn't work so I could be rich. Money has no meaning to me. Any money that is not used for the sake of humanity, or for the sake of my neighbor who is dying in poverty, is nothing more than a piece of paper. Money earned through hard work should always be used to love the world and carry out projects that benefit the world.
When I send missionaries overseas, I don't give them a lot of money. Yet, they live well wherever they go. It takes very little for us to support ourselves. If we have a sleeping bag, that is plenty for us to live. What is important is not what we live on but the kind of life we lead. Material affluence is not a condition for happiness. It is sad that the phrase "to live well" has come to be defined in terms of material affluence. To live well means to live a life that has meaning. I never wear a necktie, unless it is for a worship service or a special event, I don't often wear a suit, either. I generally wear a sweater when I am at home. I sometimes imagine how much money is spent on neckties in Western societies. Necktie pins, dress shirts and cufflinks are very expensive. If everyone stopped buying neckties and used the money instead for the sake of our neighbors who suffer hunger, the world would be a little bit better place to live. It's not just expensive things that are at issue here. Imagine there were a house on fire outside. Who would be able to move more quickly to get outside to help put out the fire — me in my sweater, or someone in a necktie. I am always ready to run outside.
I am also not in favor of taking a bath every day. Once every three dap is enough. I also don't wash my socks every day. In the evening, I take off my socks and put them in my back pocket so that I can wear them again the next day. When I am in a hotel, I use only the smallest of the towels that are hanging in the bathroom. I only flush the toilet after I have urinated in it three times. I only use a single square of toilet paper, after folding it in half three times. I don't care if you call me uncivilized or barbaric for this. The same is true when at mealtime. In my life, I have neve eaten a meal with more than three side dishes. There may be all sorts of exotic foods and different types of desserts in front of me, but I am not interested in those. I don't fill my rice bowl completely. It's enough if it is three fifths full.
The shoes I prefer most in Korea cost 49,000 won at a large discount store. The pants I wear everyday are well over five years old. The meal I enjoy the most in America is McDonald's. Rich people call it junk food and don't eat it, but I like eating at McDonald's for two reasons. It's cheap, and it saves time. When I take the children out to eat, we often go to McDonald's. I don't how it came to be known that I often go to McDonald's, but now the chairman of the McDonald's Corporation sends me a New Year's greeting card every year.
"Spend money carefully, and conserve on everything."
This is the message that I give to our members every year. I tell them they should drink water, instead of buying ice cream of soft drinks. I don't tell them this so they can save money and become rich by themselves. I want them to conserve to help the country and save humanity. We don't take anything with us when we leave this world. Everyone knows this, and yet for some reason people are desperate to get their hands on as many things as possible. I plan to give away everything I have built up during my life before leaving this world. The Heavenly Kingdom has plenty of treasure, and there is no need to take anything there from this world. When we understand that we are going to a place that is better than where we are now, there is no need to become attached to the things of this world.
There is a song that I have always like to sing. It's an old popular song that many Koreans know. Every time I sing this song, it sets my heart at ease, like when I used to lie on the fields near my boyhood home, and tears come to my eyes.
You may say you will give me a crown with platinum and jewels, But a shirt smelling of dirt and dripping with sweat is worth more.
A pure heart wells up within my bosom, 1 can make a flute out of willow leaves, And the sparrows sing along with my tune.
You may say you will give me enough gold to buy the world But an ox that will till the soil in a barley field is worth more. The buds of hope sprout in my bosom, lean talk freely with the rabbits, And the days go by along with my tune.
Happiness is always waiting for us. The reason we cant go to happiness is that our own desires block the way. As long as our eyes are fixed on our desires, they cannot see the path we should follow. We are so busy trying to pick up the scraps of gold lying on the ground near us that we do not see the huge dump of gold that is a little ways up the road. We are so busy stuffing things into our pockets that we don't realize that there are holes in those pockets. I have not forgotten what it was like to live in the Heungnam prison. Even the most terrible place in this world is more comfortable and materially affluent than Heungnam prison. Every object belongs to Heaven. We are only its stewards.