When I decided to accept the teaching of Jesus’ lineage as a Spiritual practice, I knew what I was getting myself into. I grew up Christian so I know how easy it can be to go to church on Sunday and have an emotional or mental release only to turn right back around on Monday or even Sunday afternoon and live out of the same habits that are standard to the human condition. You know what I am talking about. The whole “us and them”ing that creates an endless supply of enemies–whether real or imagined. It’s so easy to do. Inevitably, I will even do it in this blog. Despite my efforts to convey my intentions clearly, I will still likely create a polarization that someone can take offense to which will–in their mind–put me on one side and them on the other. All I can ask is that if you are someone who accepts the interconnectedness of all Life–regardless of your Spiritual practice–that you will stay in line with your knowing and focus less on what it seems like I am saying and more on what goes on in your inner being when you read this.
So as I mentioned in the video, for a lot of people it is difficult for them to adhere to the instructions of passages such as the ones below without turning whatever evil comes at them back on themselves.
- Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will help you.
- Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
- 1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.
- Fear of Loss (to include abandonment, security, acceptance)
- Fear of Death
- Feelings of being unlovable or unworthy
I realized this at an early age through paying attention to how people responded to growing up in single parent homes. I noticed that the children without their fathers were the most likely to take out their pain on others. It is easy to see how a child who has had a parent leave the home in an unhealthy way can very easily be susceptible to the above mentioned influences. Once I isolated these factors, I was able to monitor them within myself and see how most of the evil that I witnessed or took part in in my life led right back to at least one of those points. Over time, I was able to see these factors at work in in increasingly larger scales. It was not simply limited to children missing a parent in the home, but all over the world in every person, family, group, organization, or entire nations. Where one or more of those factors were at play, there was evil either in action or laying in wait to express itself. As I said, when I was younger, it was easy to keep this awareness in perspective. For one thing I was trying to follow the Christ teachings that were available to me and secondly I was trying not to let those illusions get to me. After all, doing evil begins with feeling sorry for yourself so I worked hard to stay mindful of what was going on in my consciousness whenever anything came up.
But then one day, I received a wound that would take a lot longer to heal than any I had ever had. While trying to remain mindful that I should not take the offense personally, I found myself turning the evil around on myself i.e. feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t want to hold the pain against the other person, because I knew that they were suffering from all three causes of evil at the same time and in equal amounts. They just gave in to the fear and projected it toward me in catastrophic ways. While trying to stay conscious, I quite literally watched my thoughts as they bounced back and forth between trying to decide who the the “bad guy” was and what kind of punishment they deserved. It didn’t matter if it was me or the other person, my mind tried to convince me that one of us had to pay. And it turned out that I chose myself. My thoughts were that at least if I blamed myself I had some illusion of control. I assumed if I blamed the other person, my healing was in their hands. But the reality was blaming the myself was no different than blaming the other person.
This is the craziness we have to deal with when we try to figure out what to do with the evil in the world. Either we do evil for evil by getting revenge on someone or taking it out on others or we turn it around on ourselves. It’s like we get stuck in some loop with no way out. When Martin Luther King Jr. said that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” I can assure you that this included the injustice we do to ourselves and to the world when we allow ourselves to live outside of the context of Love. It may be hard to imagine right now, but loving ourselves is probably the best thing any of us can do for the world. Because ultimately we cannot give to others what we do not have. It is only by loving through the illusion that we are able to do what, at times, seems impossible–not repaying evil for evil, loving neighbors as ourselves, etc.
Below are some thoughts from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a co-conspirator in an attempt to assassinate Hitler. Consider the context as you read these words.
In prayer we go to our enemies, to stand at their side. We are with them, near them, for them before God. Jesus does not promise us that the enemy we love, we bless, to whom we do good, will not abuse and persecute us. They will do so. But even in doing so, they cannot harm and conquer us if we take this last step to them in intercessory prayer. Now we are taking up their neediness and poverty, their being guilty and lost, and interceding for them before God. We are doing for them in vicarious representative action what they cannot do for themselves. Every insult from our enemy will only bind us closer to God and to our enemy. Every persecution can only serve to bring the enemy closer to reconciliation with God, to make love more unconquerable.
How does love become unconquerable? By never asking what the enemy is doing to it, and only asking what Jesus has done. Loving one’s enemies leads disciples to the way of the cross and into communion with the crucified one.