Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

Is forgiveness about what someone else did or about self-respect?

June 1, 2014

Is forgiveness about what someone else did or about my experience?

I had the privilege several years ago of meeting an old Tibetan monk (the Lama above, Palden Gyatso). I met him at an event where he spoke to a large group about being tortured by soldiers and also witnessing the torture and rape of many nuns and monks.

I heard him talk about the cattle prods being used to inflict painful electric shocks on the prisoners. The shocks from the cattle prods ultimately dislodged all of his teeth (and he was in his 20s at the time, as I recall, so these were not loose teeth of an elderly person).

During his detailed descriptions of the tortures, I started to feel like I was going to pass out. I got up from my seat near the front of the auditorium and went out the back door in to the hallway to get some water to put on my face (and remove me from being able to hear the continuing story).

I actually passed out as I was in the hallway- almost making it to the water fountain. I believe I was only passed out for a few seconds. Then, after a few minutes, I went back in and this time sat near the back (in case I needed to exit again).

At the end of the talk, he put his hands together up (like shown above, except all the way up to his forehead). He made his final blessing of the assembly and I felt a wave of energy slam in to me like a gust of wind. I presume that the energy was “from” him, but it may have been a resonance that involved the entire audience.

Whatever it was, I liked it. It was deeply reassuring and calming.

During the talk, he spoke at length about forgiveness. That was actually his focus, not the historical events. He was just using the personal stories to teach spiritual principles. At least at this event, he was not personally advocating for any particular political retaliation (though he was probably accepting donations to support the remaining monks and nuns).

He did not talk about forgiveness in the way that was familiar to me. He did speak about the events and the actions of others, plus he mentioned his awareness that the soldiers would be tortured if they did not torture him as instructed. But his version of forgiveness really had nothing to do with them or even with the past.

His version of forgiveness was about the present. He was present right then in that room in Tucson, Arizona. Those soldiers were not (or if they were, that would not have mattered).

He forgave himself for being afraid. He forgave himself for being angry. His version of forgiveness never had anything to do with the past- or it did not by the time of that lecture.

He spoke with no shame about the details of the past. People in the audience asked questions, like did he ever feel resentful toward the soldiers. He made joking response likes: “no… well, okay maybe a little, but I think of resentment as something that is only helpful if other people change their actions in response to the resentment. I was not trying to convince the soldiers to stop. I was not trying to shame them. I found it to be more useful to pray for them and bless them while they were conducting the tortures.”

WHAT?!?!? I was raised as a Christian and I know that what I just reported sounds a lot like the basic teachings of Jesus, but I had NEVER heard somebody actually give specific personal examples like these of applying that same perspective. Christianity to me was just something that people talked about at church. From my perspective, it was not really welcome in my home. We might talk about it in the home a little, but was it practiced or even allowed at home?

I actually liked reading the Bible. I found some sections very interesting. But why would I ever talk to my parents about what I read? As a teenager, one of my main goals in life could have been to survive high school and escape with as little interaction with my parents as possible.

I did not leave and never return. I did not feel the independence to do that. Otherwise, I might have.

Most of my life, my orientation toward my parents has been to interact with them minimally and instrumentally. I don’t expect to enjoy it. Only much later did I begin to question what my parents could handle in regard to me telling them the truth.

Rather than focus on telling them as little as possible to fulfill my goal (whether a little truth or a little lie), I did begin to experience a new degree of openness. I could offer to share something and let them tell me if they were interested. Or, I could write something and mail it and let the consequences come.

In my 20s, I mailed my parents a letter several pages long revealing many lies that I had told them as a teenager. Did I appreciate them? Yes. Did I respect them? Well, that is an excellent question. For sure, I resented them.

 

 

A few weeks ago, I spoke to one of them on the phone. The call began with immediate guilt-tripping.

To me, resentment is primarily when I pretend not to be angry (or I otherwise am afraid to display anger). When I ignore what I perceive as a barrage of arrogance, insults, passive aggression, abusive comments, and disrespect, I can either ignore them as trivia or… ignore them because I am afraid to display my emotions, like because of a lack of self-respect.

Thank you for the opportunity to experience repulsion. Thank you for the opportunity to recognize my level of self-respect. Thank you for the opportunity to voice my self-respect and my emotions.

But I am not thanking that individual. I am thanking life itself (or one could say thanking God).

You personally, whoever you are reading this, are more important to me than the past. The opportunity to voice self-respect is not in the future or the past, but what is happening right now right here.

Thank you. For the opportunity to voice my self-respect right now, I thank you.
I release my fixation about being respected by particular people. I notice when I feel respected and when I do not. The more that I experience mutual respect in my interaction with someone, the more I may invest in interacting with them.

Palden Gyatso probably never developed the complex network of pretenses that I did as a teenager. He endured other challenges and I am grateful that he did. Why? Because if not for his tortures, I might have never heard of him. I respect him for being a mentor to me even only so indirectly- a brief inspiration that has endured.

He demonstrated self-respect in a way that I had literally never witnessed it. No one that I had known had ever demonstrated it like that to me.

Forgiveness is a profound act of self-respect. It has nothing to do with the past or any other people. I get it. It took me quite a while, but I finally get it.

Yes, I may have been a victim. So what?

Being a victim is not all that unusual, is it? In my experience, a healthy abundance of self-respect is much more unusual than to have some past history of victimization- plus much more inspiring and attractive.

Was I ever a victim? Sure, I suppose so, right!?!?! Am I now? That is a more interesting question to me than if I ever was in the past….

But if someone else is interested in the details of my past, I could be willing to share some details with some people. I just do not need to do anything in order to earn anyone’s respect (or sympathy or approval or apology). Why? Because I already have respect.

Thanks, Palden! Courage is everywhere if you know how to find it.

Above are some statistics on the modern Chinese system of governing human resources. I display these statistics with respect for myself and respect for all those involved in that system from planning to day-to-day labor.

I am grateful for the opportunity of this life. Which is more important: the past or the future?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing from sexual abuse, shame, and pretenses of forgiveness

June 1, 2014

Intro: Hope Johnson has been an acquaintance of mine for several years by way of Facebook. I occasionally dialogue with her and she just put the following on her public facebook “wall.” I’ll even leave some links in here for those interested in contacting her.

Also, a few words are in bold in her comments. I did that to highlight some of things I referenced in my reply.

 

Hope Johnson
12 hours ago near Waipio, HI (Hawaii, USA)
_______________________________

When I was 15, I broke the news to my mom that I’d been having sexual contact with her partner since I was 10.

To me, it wasn’t like I was having an affair…just the thought of him made me feel gross…but offering myself in this way seemed like it kept this man from busting my head open again, or otherwise becoming violent with me or my younger siblings. It also appeared to buy me some relief from what seemed like unending cooking, cleaning and childcare.

My mom took the news very hard, she expressed how I betrayed her and that she couldn’t believe I didn’t tell her earlier..even though she had witnessed how much trouble telling her just about anything got me into.

Telling my mom felt more shameful to me than anything in my life, but I thought that I needed her help to put an end to what this man had come to expect from me. Long story short, the sexual contact did end, he became more violent and demanding of me in other ways…I didn’t accept the treatment, and to my relief, that got me kicked out of the house.

Walking down the street in Rohnert Park, a suburban town in Northern California, with a pink rolling suitcase and whatever money I had from my job as a maid, I felt more freedom than ever before.

A kind single mom with two boys of her own took me in and let me sleep on her couch for $100 per month including food. I felt very grateful for this arrangement because I could get to school and work from there, and nobody in her home was ever violent or demanding of me.

Plus, this lady knew my story, and she was the first person to show me that I had nothing to be ashamed about. My experience of her led me to project the shame that I felt onto my mom and her partner…which was useful for many years to come.

It wasn’t until I found myself experiencing relentlessly violent feelings toward both of them in my early 30′s, that I realized there had to be a better way.

I had an idea that I needed to forgive, but it didn’t seem possible given the facts involved. No matter how hard I tried to feel differently, there was a burning in my gut that was becoming more intense with the desire for revenge.

It wasn’t until it was proven to my mind that just like me, both of them were making the best choice they could at the time…that forgiveness finally happened for me.

Such living proof occurred to me spontaneously through feeling and experiencing all the painful sensations as they happened without running to the mind for comfort, advice or analysis.

Throughout this process, there has also been a burning sensation, but the quality has been different…instead of making me feel hard, calloused and vengeful, this burning makes me feel soft, feminine and compassionate.

The final trigger into the pain of the memories described above was within the past year, when a man expressed in no uncertain terms how shameful I am, what a threat I am to this world, and how I deserve to be punished for my “ideology”.

I noticed how violent I felt toward him for telling me these things, and I used that as an inroad to feeling and experiencing the deep pain that I was holding.

Even though it seemed challenging to stop projecting, I could feel that I was on the right track and kept going. Now that the aptitude for forgiveness has been developed in me, I’m convinced that there’s nothing of this world that can stop me from forgiving every so-called sin that’s brought to my attention.

Blessings!

JR:

Thanks for sharing, Hope. I enjoyed your recollection and I am confident that you are open to exploring some ways to re-interpret labels like “sin.” People experience stress, and some of it can be extreme. So, I can forgive others of feeling stress as well as the actions they took or did not take (“their sins”).

The idea of “they did the best they could” can seem useful, but I consider it a band-aid like to “apologize for them” so as to subdue / suppress my own sense of grief / concerns. If an old condemnation is totally withdrawn, then apologies are irrelevant. I do not need to apologize for them by saying “they did their best” once I have forgiven someone in that way.

Further, I can embrace the possibility of aggression toward others and the “persecution” of others (like lawsuits claiming a legally-enforceable injury and debt, then collection of debts, and so on). I can be wide open to stress and relaxation, to fear and courage, to rage and gratitude, to grief and greed and envy and so on.

If I perceive someone as a threat to me, there are consequences for them. If I perceive someone as a threat to my child or kin, there are still consequences for them. (Of course, however I respond to perceived threats also has consequences for me- including distrating myself from them.)

There can be a huge amount of guilt around the issue of violence and aggression. Lots of people that I know pour shame “generously” on references to violence and aggression. They may justify “non-interventionism” with constant repitition of certain mantras of “passivist” groupthink. (FYI, note that I am a *former* Quaker.)

As a child, I wanted my parents to step in and protect me from violence. If they used violence to effectively protect me, that would have been welcome. (Actually, the details of the method of protection would have been quite trivial to me). If I could go back and put a loaded gun in my own hand to end certain abuses, of course I would.

As for those who would say, “oh, no we prefer to be complicit with abuse over promoting the safety of children,” I suppose I simply find that perspective irrevelant. That used to piss me off though.

“Well, have you tried teaching the abused child some positive thinking skills?” No, you bag of useless guilt (wink), but I have tried fighting back to protect myself from people much stronger than me and I may even do it again.

Hope, one part that really resonated with me is the “you betrayed ME” response. I have been accused of being a traitor to many forms of idealism.

“You betray our pretense of unanimity by saying that you disagree. You betray our pretense of tolerance by rasising questions in public that embarass us and expose our lack of clarity.” There are a lot of frightened pretenses and, for protecting each of them, a lot of arrogant paranoias.

As I recall, Hope, you also have referenced “religious extremism” as part of your personal history. In cults, the guilt directed toward “traitors” can be intense. Even amongst allegedly “enlightened groups” (like in the “primal diet” groups), “deviant” questions can be seen as betrayal and thus interpreted as justification for various kinds of abuse.

Humans can be very creative. The ability to rationalize and justify is well-developed in some of us.

There are times for passivity (like when the “abuses” are relatively minor or the military imbalance is too extreme for resisting). However, there are times for screaming, kicking, scratching, biting, shooting, and so on.

I am okay with having been the target of huge amounts of guilt and condemnation. I forgive it in the sense that I do not invest time in condemning it verbally. I do not need other people to validate that I was afraid or angry etc. I may conserve my energy instead of voicing unproductive complaints.

If someone is perceived as a threat, I might voice condemnation of them as an experiment. However, there are many other forms of aggression besides such verbal “passive aggression.”

Passive aggression (AKA “guilt-tripping” and the moralistic shaming of so many new agers) has it’s function and relevance. So do the more direct forms of aggression.

I am cautious about getting stuck in condemning others or stuck in apologizing for them. Sexuality is one of the most volatile (sacred) issues. People tend to keep secrets and even create pretenses to divert from the truth.

As a young man around lots of young women, diversions and pretense came to be a huge investment of energy for me. The “character” of the “feminine” guy is an adaption, like a skill or a role or a karmic momentum.

When you wrote “stop projecting” in regard to “feeling violent toward” someone, I invite you to consider that another way to say it would be to stop pretending. You felt repulsed. You felt disrespected and threatened. You felt “violent.”

Good for you. If you prefer to hide your repulsion or aggression from a perceived threat, so be it. If you prefer to display it, may you do it well.

Some women are very experienced at “being verbally abusive.” Some men are easily manipulated by “emotional abuse.” Abuse implies a frustrated, even “out of control” form of aggression.

I can relate to feeling frustated and out of control. I can forgive it. Further, I can respond to neutralize the perceived threat.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring a perceived threat. That is some guilt-laden new age idealism at it’s worst.

If a dog was even just scaring your toddler (not even buiting or clawing yet), then you would take immediate action to intervene / interfere. You would not just stand around and condemn the dog for it’s inferior spiritual development.

Do not mindlessly draw one little sword against a whole squadron of Roman soldiers. Be mindful.

Part 4: Creating a path from hell to heaven

March 4, 2013

1 noticing the activity of language

2 noticing that language is not perception

3 the linguistic ritual of creating a victim (and a savior)

4 creating a path from hell to heaven

Noticing the linguistic creation of a path from hell to heaven

Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagoni...

Gustave Doré, Depiction of Satan, the antagonist of John Milton’s Paradise Lost c. 1866 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, hell is a linguistic symbol to contrast with heaven. Hell is the experience of distress or disturbance or mental illness or agonizing (the activity of agonizing over what allegedly “should not be,” like a particular way of relating to language and relating to life). Heaven is the experience of simply noticing all of the various patterns of reality without obsessive craving or repulsion- with clarity, grace, and inner peace. (Of course, in heaven, one can also notice the patterns of relating called craving, rejecting, and obsessing!)

English: A stereotypical caricature of a villa...

English: A stereotypical caricature of a villain (i.e. generic melodrama villain stock character, with handlebar moustache and black top-hat – typical of upper class men in some cultures). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Further, Satan is a linguistic symbol to contrast with the Almighty, which logically cannot be opposed or defeated or intimidated or scared. The Almighty is the source of all patterns of activity, all characters and identities, and all symbolic codes.

God is no more scared of Satan than God would be scared of the letters A or Z. God notices all patterns from the first to the last, from the beginning to the end. God notices the activity of language- beginning, ending, stopping, and perhaps beginning again.

Santa is just a character created through language by God. Satan is just a character created through language by God. Any victim (any labeling of victimization as in vilifying of a particular activity in the past) is also “incidental,” not fundamental. Is that clear?

The Satan Pit

The Satan Pit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pick a time in the past. Pick a memory of an event. Perhaps someone said to you that “you should not have drank so much water” or “you should have drank more water.” We could label that the activity of condemnation or vilification.

Maybe there is someone blamed- like the labeling of you as being at fault because you drank the wrong amount of water instead of doing whatever you allegedly should have done. That is a valid construction in language, right?

Maybe you should have drank more water or less water. “Should” automatically creates the possibility of vilification or condemnation (“should not”). Notice what vilifying and condemning are. They are activities in language. They are methods of directing attention and perception, right?

Outside Satan

Outside Satan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God forgives all things. Why? God forgives all things because God created language and it was only through language that God created the condemning or vilifying of particular patterns, particular qualities, and particular characteristics or characters or identities.

How does God forgive? By ceasing the activity in language of condemning and vilifying, God can easily forgive anything.

Consider the ancient teaching that in order to be forgiven, one must forgive (as in cease condemning). Notice condemning. Notice the reality of what condemning is as a way of relating in language.

Many victims condemn what terrifies them. A villain condemns in order to terrify (to forbid, to intimidate, to make a threat).

God is the source of the all heroes, villains, and victims. Every victim is a form of God, and so is every villain and savior. What other source could there be besides the Almighty?

Satan Is Real

Satan Is Real (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, an ancient teaching directs attention toward the activity of the condemning of a particular behavior as villainous (vile, evil) and further we can notice the activity of vilifying a specific person as inherently a villain. Notice also that either the behavior or the person can be emphasized, but not both at once.

We can forgive the person (so as to stop vilifying them) without condoning any particular past sequence of events. We can stop relating to that particular past as “what should not have happened” (a shameful incident), and stop shaming someone for victimizing us.

Shaming them maintains the identity of victim. If you seek heaven, you must cease from shaming others. Forgive them. Stop perpetuating your shame. Stop victimizing yourself through vilifying them.

Or, continue to vilify them and continue to experience the identity of ashamed victim. You could continue your linguistic ritual of chanting this mantra: “I am not a villain or a savior, but a victim.” Or, you could notice that all of that is just a pattern of activity of language.

Two people can even argue over who is the most vile, as they partner together in a ritual of mutual condemnation and vilification. They can have a competition for who is the bigger victim (by most sincerely accusing the other of being the bigger villain).

Vilification of another is victimizing them, but also relating to one’s self as a victim. “They unjustly accused me!” Yes, they made you their victim by vilifying you (“unjustly!”), just like you vilified them (“unjustly!”), resulting in their complaints that you were victimizing them (“unjustly!”). That ritual requires at least two sincere (naive) participants.

So, how can one continue that ritual alone? Easy! Just keep vilifying someone else and relating to your past as if it is victimizing you now.

Shame

Shame (Photo credit: Joe Gatling)

Note that the ritual of practicing the identity of a victim is an entirely valid ritual to practice. It has it’s function and value. God created it for a reason.

Once the reason is clear and makes sense to you, then the ritual is no longer an obsession to practice constantly, but just an option. Use it when it is relevant. When it is not relevant, do not use it. When something else is relevant, do something else.

However, if it is relevant to practice being a victim, then certainly keep practicing it as long as that is the top priority. Get very skilled at being a victim. Become an expert victim.

Condemn. Vilify. Withdraw. Notice. Forgive.

Next, go to hell (obsess over what should not be, how I do not deserve this stuff that should not be happened, how someone else is to blame for my experience of having something else besides what should be happening instead). Then, once you have practiced hell so much that you are an expert at being a victim in hell, then go to heaven.

Once you know how to create hell and then you suddenly stop creating hell and instead create heaven, then hell is no longer a problem. It is just an option.

Hell is just a ritual in language. When it is relevant, practice that ritual. When it is not relevant, do not practice that ritual. When something else is relevant, do something else.

Hell or Heaven?

Hell or Heaven? (Photo credit: andywon)

“Judge not!”

November 7, 2012

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Luke 6:37 – Online Parallel Bible

Forgiveness: The Real F-Bomb

Forgiveness: The Real F-Bomb (Photo credit: bangart)

Refrain from condemning. Cease vilifying. Renounce resenting. Abstain from shaming.

Instead, simply withdraw from whatever may have been disturbing you. Turn away from what has been disgusting to you, or frustrating, or disappointing.

Do not pretend to condone what does not appeal to you, but refrain from condemning. This does not mean to ignore danger, to never seek assistance or never to report suspicious activity. You can report activity and identify suspects without vilifying them.

If you had a pet dog that caused a spill or stain, you would not ignore the mess, would you? This teaching does not mean to ignore a mess.

However, if you scare the pet to get it’s attention and to interrupt it, and then confine it to an area where it cannot cause further harm, that is wise, right? But do not resent a dog for being hungry or undisciplined. Forgive it and discipline it. If you do not protect your valuables from the weather or from animals or from thieves, then you might expect occasional losses, right?

You can forgive a child rather than hold resentment, but you may still punish them. However, beware of punishing out of anger. Punish for discipline and order, not for personal revenge, contempt, or rage, which can lead to escalations of conflict rather than a resolving of disputes and controversies.

“To those who are pure, all things are pure ….” But to the one who is already disturbed, most anything can be attacked as disturbing. To the one who is already confused, most anything can be attacked as confusing.

So what does it mean that if you stop condemning, then you will not be condemned? If you stop condemning others, then other people may still condemn you, right, but any shame that you had will vanish.

However, if you persist in resenting others for causing your own shame, then your shame will persist. If you forgive them- in the sense of refraining from vilification- then your own shame about the past sequence of events will vanish.

Stop agonizing- even about how to end agonizing. Agonizing is a sign of desperation and shame. Rather than agonize, it is better to simply be ashamed. The agonizing will perpetuate the shame. Allowing the shame to surface will let it re-organize your attention.

Stop resenting your own shame, disappointment and fear. Resenting does not benefit you, relieve the shame, or clean up the mess.

SHAME

SHAME (Photo credit: BlueRobot)

If you have judged against someone for being judgmental, judge not. If you judge against yourself for judging against someone else (like for being judgmental), again, judge not!

So, by refraining from condemnation, you can perceive more clearly. For instance, those who are terrified of being perceived as afraid may be pre-occupied with appearing brave. Stop condemning fear and you will be more perceptive about recognizing your own fear and your intuitions about danger and risk. Do not endanger yourself naively by arrogantly seeking to appear brave. Do not condemn something unpopular just to fit in.

If you are terrified of being perceived as resentful, you may be pre-occupied with appearing grateful. If something angers you or disappoints you, then you can consider the best way to present your complaint and to whom. That is not agonizing. That is discernment.

Do not renounce voicing dissatisfaction.  That can lead to resentment and contempt. You can present a complaint respectfully. If someone is so panicked by a complaint that they erupt in to outrage and hysteria, that is an obvious sign of their lack of receptivity (or at least lack of interest). If they continue complaining about your complaints, that is not a sign of a lack of interest, is it?

When someone is unreceptive to hearing a complaint, you can bring witnesses or seek a mediator or court official to intervene. Or, if someone responds with contempt when presented with a complaint, this does not mean that you cannot take initiative boldly to satisfy your claim of their liability to you.

Matrix of Evil

When you refrain from condemning a certain activity as inherently evil or unjust, you may still avoid it as dangerous, risky, or imprudent. However, by refraining from condemning it, you will not be distracting yourself and blinding yourself from accurately identifying that pattern of activity in yourself or others.

Keep in mind that justice and legality and evil are categories that different cultures have defined quite differently. When a new court system of organized extortion obtains a monopoly over coercion, new definitions of justice and crime are suddenly imposed by the military force of the court deputies and mercenary soldiers of “law enforcement” and peace-keeping.

 

“Condemn not” is about inner peace, introspection, and clarity of perception. When condemnation is forbidden, that does not mean that condemnation should not ever happen. It means that condemnation is dangerous, blinding, imprudent.
One popular translation of Luke 6:37 in to English says, “Judge not, and God will not judge you. Condemn not and God will not condemn you.” I strongly favor that translation as it is not idealistic, but a reference to established principles of the unconscious conscience.

If you renounce condemnation, then obviously others may still condemn you, persecute you, or even crucify you- including for renouncing condemnation- because they may have been practicing public condemnation in the desperate hope of obtaining your approval, because of their hidden insecurity and shame. Do not condemn others, even for condemning.

If you forbid someone from condemning, do not condemn them for condemning. Rebuke them and discipline them.

Do not condemn them. Do not vilify them. Do not judge against them. Do not shame them.

Those rituals of human interaction are forbidden to the lower orders of the great priesthood. Until you can learn to abstain from condemnation, you do not have the inner discipline to learn to master the art of strategic condemnation.

Clear your own shame before you presume to shame others in passionate reaction. Clear your own arrogance before you condemn others for their arrogant condemnations.

When you are no longer ashamed of your own shame, what arises will be clear and pure. When you are no longer arrogant about your own arrogance, what arises will be innocent without being naive.

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judgenot.net

the way of heaven: cease blame and forgive your own condemnation

March 23, 2012

originally titled: “to heaven from… blame”

I question the presumption that there is anything wrong with the world, or any need to save it from anything. I borrow that idea from a fellow named Jesus, who is translated to have said: “I come not to judge the world, but to bring forgiveness to the world.” I am paraphrasing actually, but the verbatim saying is “not to judge the world, but to take away the sin of the world.”

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus' description of himself "I am the Good Shepherd" (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: "To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In churches, I was taught that Jesus takes away the sins of the world. He said sin, though, not sins (at least that is how it is translated in the actual printed Bibles even if multitudes of Christians misquote the translation written on the pages of their Bibles). Also, Jesus was not talking about sin the way that others were- like the pharisees who wished to stone a woman to death who was accused of being a criminal (prostitution was a capital crime) and so on.

Jesus did not judge her or even direct her to “do penance” to compensate and earn her way back to heaven. He simply did not accuse her and invited her accusers to repent, which they did. He took away the accusation of the world. He saved the world from… accusations!

Jesus also did not direct her accusers to do penance either. He had no judgment against them from the beginning. He just said things like “well, alas, they do not even know what they are doing” and “remove the barrier from your own sight, not from the sight of another.”

Sin is not just partly “in the eye of the beholder.” Sin is a way of looking. Sin is ONLY in the eye of the beholder. Looking out and seeing sin, that is sin. (Looking in and seeing sin is guilt, but heaven is the way of being in which there is simply no blame, no accusation, no judgment against evil or for good, no need to forgive for there is no condemnation.)

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invite you to consider a distinction to which I was introduced by Jiddu Krishnamurti: religion itself is not the problem. Religions, however- or at least certain human operations that go by the names of religions- sometimes seem to have a distinct absence of religion in their religions.

“…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Shakespeare (spoken by the character Hamlet).

Good and evil of this world of duality are unreal,
are spoken of by words, and exist only in the mind.”
Bhagavatam, XI, ch. XXII.

John 8:15 “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.” (Jesus speaking to the orthodox religious leaders)

The one who judges other seeks to glorify (vindicate) himself. (See John 8:50)

http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/8.htm

First Published on: Dec 6, 2009

Related articles

appreciating anger, resentment, and forgiveness (practical spirituality 201)

March 18, 2012
Anger Controlls Him

Image via Wikipedia

Elle wrote:

“We have to be aware of anger and its purpose at the moment it starts to emerge. We need to ask what is anger giving us at that moment? Then we can release it consciously, without having to express it.”

(in reply to: http://jrfibonacci.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/a-curious-euphoria/   planetreiki
March 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm |   )

I replied (and the original reply is linked below the video) and then I elaborated that reply in to this video series on “appreciating anger, resentment, and forgiveness (practical spirituality 201)”

part 1 of 3:

part 2 of 3:

part 3 0f 3:

http://jrfibonacci.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/a-curious-euphoria/#comment-2571

"Forgiveness" by Carlos Latuff.

Forgiveness- Image via Wikipedia

practical spirituality 101 – forgiveness & the introspective noticing of the arrogant pride of condemning reality

March 1, 2012

 

SIN EDITAR

 

 

[Note in 2013: In this old article, I used the term "proud" and "pride" not as a term for gratitude (as I do more recently), but closer to how I now use the term "arrogance," as in a form of self-conscious, terrified, angry envy.]

 

 

What have I been proud of condemning?

It is possible to discontinue any momentum of condemning anything. Such a possibility can involve a long series of recognitions of my own acts of condemning.

I have condemned governments for governing. I have condemned liars for lying. Further, I have also lied (and governed).

So, I could give a long list of things that I have condemned, at least a few of which I have also done. Making a list may be useful. However, I am thinking not so much of making a comprehensive list as of keeping the general question in mind, like with the expectation that I might in the future condemn something (proudly) without that behavior really working for me practically. I’d like to have the question available in case it is ever in the future useful to explore that inquiry: “what have I been proudly condemning?” If I were to experience distress, I might ask, “what have I been proudly condemning?”

Here is how I got to that question, which I “just made up.” I trust that you may find the following also useful.

Last night, I had been talking with someone about the term “heaven.” I had mentioned heaven as an eternally available “realm” (or “kingdom” or “world”) of experience. In a song of mine, which I could also share with you (from Youtube), I distinguish that heaven is a realm in which “all sins are already forgiven,” that is, in which one does not experience blame or guilt, but such things as peace.

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)

Not practicing blame is perhaps under-emphasized in many churches. However, Jesus preached forgiveness with particular emphasis (as in these verses of Luke 17).

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ [then] forgive him.”

He went on to add, a few verses later:

20Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

So, how is forgiving others related to “the kingdom of god” or “the kingdom of heaven?” Isn’t it?

Other famous sayings of Jesus include “condemn not” and “resist not evil” and “turn away from evil” and “I did not to come to judge the world” and (paraphrasing) “if you perceive sin in another, remove the obstacle to your own perception first, rather than focusing on removing or fixing the misperception of another,” which is popularly translated like this:

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Given that many of the sayings of Jesus are parables, but with commentaries and summaries, like “condemn not,” we can learn from the examples in the parables about the meaning of the words translated into English in the summaries and commentaries. When Jesus says condemn not, he also says “rebuke sins, but forgive those who repent,” and perhaps all three statements go together.

In “baby talk,” condemn simply means to stay mad or “upset” (and, generally, to say so). It is related to hate and contempt and shaming and pride. I have condemned or hated many things, many people, and many actions. (There is the background of the question “what have I proudly condemned?”) Condemning and hate are related to fear.

So, Jesus rebuked condemning. He criticized it in the sense of pointing it out and calling attention to it as a behavior and behavioral habit.

English: Jesus disputes with the Pharisees. Fr...

Image via Wikipedia

20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law [the mainstream religious leaders of Jesus' time], you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.


21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,a and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brotherb will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘[scoundrel],c’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Again, that is Jesus rebuking condemning (rebuking the sin of condemning). So, we could say that condemning is sinful. Condemning is certainly a distressing experience- like resenting- which can be a “persistent complaint,” and thus a behavior that we might be grateful to complete and do no more.

Jonah 4:4

4Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?

(i.e. “So, how is that working for you?”)

What many people, even who call themselves Christians, may not understand is how Jesus connected condemning to vanity or pride. We may condemn others to glorify ourselves (by comparison). We may even resent others to justify our own ongoing suffering. That could be called folly/foolishness/silly/sin.

So, condemning and resenting (and justifying those behaviors) could all be sinful. For example, “I know how my sister/mother/son/boss is, so that is why our relationship sucks and they really need to do the Landmark Forum to fix them so that they can be more like me, going on and on about how the quality of their relationships (or lack thereof)  is justified by the shortcomings of the other people.” That is what I mean by pride.

Condemning someone for their shortcomings implies pride, like justification. You may have said things like that and I might have too and we might have a lot of company.

Now, one can rebuke the “sin” (ineffective behavior) of another without any antagonism or pride. One just distinguishes the pattern of behavior, including a questioning of the effectiveness of that pattern (questioning the products of that behavioral pattern).

Remember: “be humble as an innocent child, condemn not, rebuke sin, and forgive those who repent.” I just now added that first one to the sequence, and here is a saying of Jesus about it. Note that being humble is related to what I was saying about pride before.

1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”


2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus did not teach that the humble one WILL BE the greatest in heaven, but IS. When is heaven? (Hint: it’s eternal, right, so when is it?) Also, where is the kingdom of heaven/of God (at least according to Jesus)? Again, he said not to look for it coming from “out there,” for it is “within!”

So, there is the teaching of Jesus, and I do not know how many churches teach it or how well, but many churches may emphasize other things. He simply and clearly instructed his followers to be humble, to discontinue the practice of condemning and antagonism, to rebuke sin, and to forgive those who repent. Let’s review the last one as our concluding step.

Here is someone else’s commentary on repenting:

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Repentance is more than a sorrow for sin; it is a determination to abandon it and live a new life. It means a change of heart, of the will, new purposes, a determination to leave off sinning. Sorrow is not repentance, but godly sorrow worketh repentance (2Co 7:10).

So, repentance is not to be confused with guilt or shame. However, repentance could be related to a brand new context for language and behavior, a new declaration, one that might even redeem or re-frame the past.

The new declaration could be “I have been condemning you for ______, and I now recognize it and I am open to new results and new ways of interacting.” Beyond just “opening one’s heart,” there can even be a commitment or promise.

However, many people, including Landmark Education graduates, may think of making a new commitment as a “fix.” A fix implies that something was or ever could be “fundamentally wrong,” like making one’s self wrong for condemning. That indicates to me an absence of repenting!

Repenting is not turning condemnation from someone else toward one’s self. Repenting is turning away from condemning itself, turning away from the whole realm of shaming and justifying and self-glorifying (pride).

Repenting is not “I was wrong and you were right and thank you so much for enduring a horrible person like me.” Repenting is more like this: “I acknowledge that what I have been doing has not been working lately, at least not for me- and has not been fulfilling my own inspirations.” Repenting thus does not require saying anything to anyone, but that may be relevant often.

What to me indicates repenting is the giving of a blessing. If I previously condemned someone (silently or verbally) and then I can bless them- like simply acknowledging them, like even for enduring my antagonistic condemnations- that could create a new pattern of relationship right there.

That is not a promise of a future new way of interacting, but a new way of action now. It could include an expression of gratitude or a compliment or anything else inspired. Again, it may not even be communicated to them, though that is again often relevant.

Jean Béraud The Magdalen at the House of the P...

Image via Wikipedia

Repenting may not be based on a particular model. It’s not just “filling in the blank” of a statement: “I was a jerk by ____. Now I create _______.”

Is that authentic? It could be. However, what matters most may not be the content, but the spirit. “I have been proudly condemning ________.” That itself can be enough.

One simple thing that Landmark Education has not emphasized (to my knowledge) is that model: “I have been proudly condemning _______.” That is perhaps too simple of an access to freedom and power for a commercial operation to publicize: “what have you been proudly condemning?”

Would people think “oh, now I have THE secret” and yet still keep coming back and paying to take more programs? (Of course, if it keeps fulfilling on what is valuable to them, why not?)
To review: “be humble as an innocent child, condemn not, rebuke sin, and forgive those who repent.” Jesus also taught: bless even those who curse you and call you their enemy. He was a radical, a revolutionary.

He emphasized the foundations of questions like “what have you been proud of condemning?” In other words, he set a foundation of what works (a very practical spirituality).

As a final comment, note that I am not saying to maintain a relationship that does not work for you. To stop reacting to someone with condemnation may involve being compassionate with one’s self (and the other/others) by withdrawing. If something does not work for you, why pretend that it does?

Just as we can ask, as an access to fulfillment and inspiration, “what have I been proudly condemning,” we can reverse part of the question: “what have I been proudly glorifying?” In other words, what have I been pretending is working well, perhaps just to seem good enough to “earn my way into a future heaven?”

What have I been struggling to fix, like because I pretend that it SHOULD be working better than it actually does? Condemning is just an act of repulsion (causing two things to move apart), but with an attachment lingering! Condemning is not simply moving back or pushing something away, either of which can work well, but it’s a form of suffering.

Idolizing (idealizing, glorifying something PROUDLY) can also be an expression of suffering (or cause of suffering). When I glorify something proudly, it could actually be a naive attempt to associate myself with something, perhaps something that I pretend is working better than it does.  Pretending without knowing it… is naivete, foolishness, folly, ineffective, sinful. 

published July 15, 2010

posted 3/1/2012

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Image via Wikipedia

beyond shame to well-being

October 20, 2011

So I am newly getting present to the extent to which biochemistry matters- like the immense difference between the average paleolithic natural diet (and it’s results in regard to wellness) and the average modern civilized industrial diet (and it’s metabolic results in regard to wellness). I was not clear until recently on the full extent of the difference or, in particular, of the specific mechanisms of the interference in a physiological functionality of consuming high carbohydrate diets (which started around 10,000 years ago and has been popular in some cultures for thousands of years, but has shifted dramatically in recent decades with such things as the introduction of high fructose corn syrup), nor of the biochemical mechanisms of the interference in normal metabolic functioning from consuming modern cooked vegetable oils and their huge concentrations of free radicals (which started about 100 years ago).

Both of those two dietary patterns have dramatically reduced the wellness of the average person, especially when considering that those dietary components are used in an attempt to replace other more natural foods, as in a major reduction or total elimination of the dietary practices that have apparently worked very well for humans for millions of years. I’m not going to offer a summary of the mechanisms of biochemistry here, but one condensed point of clarity is that proteins and saturated fats (especially omega 3 fatty acids) are apparently essential not only for human survival (avoiding starvation), but for normal development of bones, organs, and nervous systems. The masses of people like me who had crooked teeth in childhood and had braces or had wisdom teeth removed are evidence of the rarity of “normal” bone growth in modern populations. Many of us did not even have enough jawbone to contain a normal set of teeth!

the 1st and 3rd child have wide jaws, normal throughout most of human history

An secondary point, which is the newly clear one for me, is that even when providing lots of proteins and saturated fats, ANY consumption of modern carbohydrates (including ALL refined grains) OR modern vegetable oils (especially when cooked) can be immensely detrimental. Basically, we can think of all of that stuff as poison. There is often no nutritional value but instead just dramatic interruptions to the utilization of any actual nutrients present. Diets that are high in carbs and cooked vegetable oils (other than coconut oil and, to a lesser extent, olive oil) have been consistently reported to directly cause basically all of the health problems of modern life, from degeneration of the eyes and vision to cancer and heart attacks and strokes.

Note: in relation to the symptoms just mentioned, I have worn glasses for several decades and then in early 2007 I had a neurological crisis and lost the ability to walk. Previously, I had blamed that neurological crisis on dehydration and a sudden increase in my consumption of table salt, and only yesterday did I connect my sudden physiological breakdown with the fact that I had also had that salt with “french fries” (potatoes fried in boiling vegetable oils that are often left cooking for hundreds of hours before being discarded- which is the absolute most certain way to introduce huge concentrations of “free radicals” in to the body, which oxidize and destroy essential cells). I had already been eating a mostly low carb diet for years and had avoided fried, low-quality vegetable oils for most of that time, but that Sunday afternoon, I ate french fries. Within a few hours, my abdomen felt like it had never felt before. Soon, not only could I not walk, but my mental coherence declined, perhaps related to the fact that I suddenly was sleeping less than a few hours PER WEEK.

Maybe you have heard this term before to refer to state of a neurological shock: fried. My nerves were “fried.” I was “fried.” My diet had also been… fried.

So, in summary, you can’t have even near optimal functionality without an abundance of the basic nutrients of healthy fats and healthy proteins. Further, even with those, enough modern poisons (like imagine someone quite fit but extremely drunk with alcohol) can be not just detrimental (as in “fried”) but fatal (as in “toast”).

Clearly, I am not talking about supplementing an admittedly deficient diet, which was the kind of thing I talked about in the 1990s. I am directing attention to a diet that makes supplementation irrelevant, avoiding the cost and complexity not only of nutritional supplements but also avoiding all of the many medical interventions that are specifically designed to either interrupt the functioning of the immune system (like cough suppressants) or treat the side effects of other medicinal drugs (which still means an interruption to the process of removing toxins).

But not everyone could eat the diet I am referencing. In fact, not everyone would even if they could. I will come back to the psychological and practical barriers in a moment.

First, consider that the owners of commercial businesses and their agents in governments (like the USDA and FDA) have been promoting dietary practices that fit with their commercial interests. I do not just mean short-term profits. I mean directing the population masses of “human resources.”

In other words, people who are both physically fit and distinctly intelligent could be perceived as threats by those commercial interests (by certain people). However, mercenaries and soldiers who are only rather physically fit but not especially intelligent are not a threat to the commercial interests that direct their mercenaries for their own purposes. Similarly, there is little threat from intellectuals who may even be quite intelligent, but not are physically (or financially) resourceful. Most of those intellectuals can easily be busied with protesting the alleged injustice that the commercial interests train them to protest (which are generally the injustices of the commercial interests themselves).

The commercial interests present to the masses certain ideas through channels of the media, public schools, and even religions. These ideas involve not only what is a favorable or unfavorable dietary choice, but also what is an injustice worthy of protesting.

If we have been indoctrinated that it is an injustice for the commercial interests to promote their commercial interests in particular ways, then when we identify certain mechanisms of indoctrination, we may do as we have been trained and go to governments to appeal for reforms and new elected heroes to protect us from the evil commercial interests. We may not recognize at that point in time the extent to which those commercial interests influence governments- like establishing and directing their governments of their mercenaries and propagandists.

So, commercial interests may promote biochemical functionality that is marginal rather than optimal. Dead slaves are not good slaves, but slaves that have the capacity to compete with their masters are also not what the masters would call good. A result of sub-optimal physiological functionality (but at least marginal physiologic functionality) is a typical target of commercial interests in promoting particular dietary practices and other health choices.

Similarly, marginal intelligence may be promoted, but not optimal intelligence. Since intelligence is largely a function of biochemistry, we can see the importance of indoctrinating and governing the dietary practices of the masses to the commercial interests.

Finally, marginal economic prosperity, but not enough that would be competitive to the current ruling commercial interests, may be promoted by those commercial interests. They want workers that have positive morale, reflexive loyalty (which is even better than reflexive terror), and at least have their basic needs met- at least in general, like at least a certain amount of functionary agents that are reliable servants of the commercial interests.

For instance, the commercial interests need loyal (or at least compliant) propagandists to indoctrinate their mercenaries and their other servants of the empire. The masses need to be told what is just and unjust, who is enemy and who is savior, as well as what traditional foods to be hysterically frightened of and what new chemical substances are legally classified as safe as food (or for adding to drinking water, etc). The masses need to be terrorized and confused and enraged, but only in accord with the commercial interests.

The masses are trained to either hide certain qualities or even to avoid doing anything that someone might interpret as expressing that quality, such as greed or of course dishonesty. Of course, if the masses recognize such a quality in one of their own (or a scapegoat from among the agents of the commercial interests), they jealousy attack. If they have been trained to be ashamed of openly pursuing their self-interest and optimal well-being (“greed”), then no one else should- at least not openly and within the range of their attention.

Here is the linguistic programs that result from the training:

No one [else] should be healthy. No one [else] should be wealthy. In particular, no one [else] should be calm or even uninterested in the mechanisms of propaganda.

In other words, people should be addicted to mainstream medical systems. People should be dependent on borrowing and outside employment (rather than be owners of thriving businesses who have little or no debt). People should be outraged, terrified, or at least depressed about the latest injustice or latest scandal or latest controversy. Actually, no, the “latest” one is not too big of a deal, just as long as there is SOME stimulant for emotionally-reactive moral pre-occupation.

In summary, people should be addicted to being heroic victims. People should sincerely fight against at least one of the evils of the system/society/world/culture, but not so much that they actually bite the hand that feeds them- “only a bit of occasional barking, please.”

I might call it insane. However, shame is more precise.

A culture of shame is indoctrinated repeatedly to promote and preserve the interests of certain people of whom we are so secretly jealous that we openly hate them. We call them evil. We hold them in contempt. We say that they are the reason that our lives are full of contempt and resentment and hatred and shame.

Well, maybe they are. So what?

“Yeah but… we are only fried because of them! They told us to eat fried food, didn’t they?”

Yes, that may be what they told us. How is that related, if at all, to what we actually do next?

Oh, and as for the practical barriers to many billion people all eating a traditional diet, what if there is just not enough wild-grown macronutrients in the ecosystem of the earth currently? Perhaps there is a reason why the earth used to have so many less people at any one time. What if the earth can only sustainably support perhaps a couple of billion very healthy people? What if, without cheap fossil fuels to grow and transport “livestock feed” like grains (and then promote it as a healthy food), there would not be one billion living humans on the planet?


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