The Early Heaven and the Later Heaven

You mentioned earlier the Early Heaven and the Later Heaven. How are they related to the cycle of the universe?

This theory of the Early Heaven and the Later Heaven is central to Jeung San Do’s teachings.

Recently, people who study Eastern philosophy—including I Ching, Jeongyeok, or Confucianism, Buddhism, and Immortalism—have frequently mentioned the terms ‘the Early Heaven’ and ‘the Later Heaven.’ What, then, are the Early Heaven and the Later Heaven? I mentioned earlier that four cosmic seasons comprise one cycle of a cosmic year, which spans 129,600 years. Of the four seasons, the period of the first two seasons (cosmic spring and summer), lasting fifty thousand years, is the Early Heaven; the next fifty thousand years (cosmic autumn and winter) constitute the Later Heaven. The remaining 29,600 years is an ice age, when all human activities are arrested physically.

What is important here is that the ‘heaven’ in ‘Early Heaven’ and ‘Later Heaven’ signifies the order of nature or the order of heaven and earth. Therefore, the terms ‘Early Heaven’ and ‘Later Heaven’ do not simply refer to the flow of physical time. The Early Heaven comprises the order and cultures of heaven and earth that occur first, while the Later Heaven comprises the order and cultures that manifest subsequently. Consequently, the transition from the Early Heaven to the Later Heaven marks a complete transformation in the order of heaven and earth and in the culture of civilization. People need to heed this fact. By merely understanding that the order and cultures of heaven and earth undergo a complete transformation, one can be said to already be halfway through the study of Jeung San Do’s truth.

As I listen to you, I am becoming more and more curious about what changes occur when the Early Heaven becomes the Later Heaven. First, what are the characteristics of the Early Heaven, in which we now live?

Humanity has lived through cosmic spring and summer so far, having struggled our way through the fifty thousand years of the Early Heaven. The central order of nature driving the Early Heaven has been, in a word, sanggeuk. As I explained earlier, the essential theme of all lives at this time is that of division and growth. For plants to grow, cells need to divide constantly. As this new division continues, new shoots emerge from the seeds, branches and leaves grow, and flowers blossom. At this time, plants must triumph during severe competition with other life forms and overcome bad weather, or they cannot possibly survive.

In this way, in the world of the Early Heaven, all lives vie with each other fiercely, whether they desire to do so or not, because all of heaven and earth is dominated by the order of sanggeuk. Sanggeuk is the inevitable order of heaven and earth in the age of birth and growth.

From the standpoint of human civilization, the Early Heaven has been an era of creative competition, a time when powerful countries and the strong become influential and dominant. Minor powers, women, children, and the weak are dominated, oppressed, and disenfranchised. The weak fall prey to the strong. Therefore, human culture is clearly a culture of sanggeuk.

How, then, was the order of sanggeuk born? This, too, is an interesting story. Sanggeuk exists because the axis of the earth is tilted 23.5 degrees. This slant causes the four seasons and gives each region a different amount of sunlight depending on their location. The tilt of the earth’s axis has an effect not only on the natural environment but also upon the way all beings lead their lives. The tilt also spawns the imbalance between yin and yang. Moreover, the solar calendar proceeds the lunar calendar by a month. Yang energy dominates yin energy, producing a culture of oppressed yin and revered yang—that is, a dominance of man over woman, of heaven over earth, and of the strong over the weak.

By the way, such an order of sanggeuk does not persist forever. Eventually, the growth process of spring and summer stops, and the time once again comes for the fruit to ripen. This is the time of maturity, the time of the arrival of cosmic autumn, or of the Later Heaven.

Does that mean sanggeuk gives way to something else at the arrival of the Later Heaven?

That is correct. When the Later Heaven dawns, the slanted axis will straighten, the order of sanggeuk under which one could survive only by vanquishing others will disappear, and an order of sangsaeng will be established, an order in which one lives well by saving others first. A new culture of equal yin and yang—of equality between man and woman—will blossom, replacing the culture of oppressed yin and revered yang, the culture of the dominance of man over woman. Instead of the weak falling prey to the strong, all will coexist in harmony, and each and all beings will be treated well without any discrimination. The Early Heaven’s order of heaven and earth and culture of civilization will indeed differ totally from those of the Later Heaven.