Many of us consider spirituality to be an afterthought. Perhaps it’s something interesting to ponder and discuss with friends over cocktails. Perhaps it’s something to take seriously when we have retired and have a lot of free time on our hands. Point being: It tends to not be a priority in our lives. The irony is that, in my opinion, when people pursue a spiritual path, it makes the rest of their lives better: better relationships, better physical and emotional health, greater success, greater happiness and greater inner peace. What do I mean by a spiritual path? Whatever enables us to make forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, generosity and love a priority in our lives.
It’s easy to hate and demonize people who say and do bad things. But it’s not necessarily wise. When we demonize them and refuse to see any humanity in them, it diminishes our potential to deal with those people in the least violent way possible and resolve the conflicts. By fueling our hatred, we fuel their hatred. We increase the polarization and the extremism, and increase the odds of violent solutions that will likely impact badly on everyone. Better perhaps to try to see some good in them and use that as a starting point for healthy dialogue, a meeting of the minds, negotiation and compromise for the greatest good of all concerned. I might make the case, for the purpose of this exercise, that only God is 100% good and only the Devil is 100% evil, and the rest of us fall in between. Martin Luther King once said, “Hate the sin but Love the sinner.” A tall order that may be impossible for us to achieve but worth the effort. In our daily trials and tribulations, I encourage all of us to hold Truth, Compassion, Calmness, Acceptance and Forgiveness in the forefront of our minds in all our transactions with our fellow creatures big and small. As Tiny Tim once said, “God Bless Us, Everyone!”
We profess our love for our loved ones in many ways. But, for many of us, our actions speak louder than our words: Irritability, anger, yelling, sarcasm, inconsideration, selfishness, thoughtlessness, pettiness, demeaning, and shaming, to name but a few of the abusive things we do. We toss these emotional grenades at our loved ones on a regular basis. Sometimes we apologize later for our bad actions. Oftentimes we don’t. Instead, we play the victim and blame our loved ones for why we behave so un-lovingly. What’s the result? Bitterness and very unsatisfying relationships. What’s the solution? Self-awareness. Self-control. And forgiveness. Because the prime mover of our bad behaviors is resentments which we need to let go of if we want the relationship to heal.
We tend to feel that we have the right to live but other creatures don’t have the right to live equal to ours. We feel quite comfortable killing things that are annoying and get in our way. It is not a healthy philosophy. Killing anything, regardless of the reason, regardless of the justification, diminishes us. The prime directive should always be to make the effort to find a way to not kill something in our effort to get what we want. Taking pleasure in killing something is not good. Killing something unnecessarily is not good. It’s always best to spare life rather than take it, to recognize that we are all part of the animal kingdom and we all have a right to live.
Advertisements seduce us with very carefully chosen images and words so that we will believe that their product will make our lives better and happier. If we buy their product we will have more friends, more sex, better health, better social status etc. Usually none of those claims are true. And what they actually do is disempower us by reinforcing the idea that we need their product, that we need something outside of ourselves to bring us happiness and success. It’s a big con. We’d all be a lot better off ignoring advertisements altogether. When we have a true need for something we can simply google it, amazon it, ebay it, etc. We can research the competing products without subliminal and other forms of psychological bias to influence our decision making, and end up with the best products at the best prices. Bottom line: Break free from psychological manipulations. Don’t be a clone. Be your own. Think for yourself.
Judgment is born of fear. And from that fear and judgment comes the belief that we need to attack and destroy those we have judged to be our enemies. And from that comes aggression and war. In this Presidential election, fear and judgment of the other candidate and the other side was so intense that it led to good people casting truth aside, distorting facts, diminishing themselves by attacking, shaming, bullying the other side. If we can’t make our case without lying and manipulating facts, then we have no case. We have no high ground. We have no validity. And we have no right to righteous indignation. We are children, all of us: immature, selfish, ego driven, prone to tantrums and tears. We need to grow up. Put our petty differences and judgments aside, and recognize once and for all that we are ONE PEOPLE and that for our species to survive, we need to find a way to embrace that ideology and appreciate that fear and judgment are the enemy, not each other.
In my book, Forgive To Win!, I talk about Synchronistic Contemplations, which is an exercise we can engage in to examine the coincidences and other unusual events that occur in our lives, and regard them as signposts to guide us on our life path. I playfully refer to these signposts and clues as postcards from the universe that can help us if we decipher their meaning correctly and perhaps hurt us if we don’t.
An inconvenient Truth: In Matthew 5:44, Christ says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”…. I don’t see much of this “love thy enemies” happening. I don’t see much of this “bless them that curse you” happening. What I see is anger, hatred, aggression on both sides. No sign of tolerance. No sign of acceptance. No sign of forgiveness. No sign of “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” (Martin Luther King). Now more than ever, amidst the pain, the anger, the fear, the confusion, we need to remember our religious and spiritual roots, if we had any, and start to practice principles such as “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” (The Golden Rule). We have lost our way. Nobody in this political process has taken the high road, has been a role model of right mindedness and right-action. Not our politicians. Not our media pundits. Not our family, friends and neighbors. A lot of “righteous indignation” but it isn’t righteous. It is negative, attacking, destructive,, diminishing all of us. Maybe we shouldn’t be angry at Hillary or Donald or their respective supporters. Maybe we should be angry at ourselves for tolerating ethically challenged, ego-driven politicians on both sides who have their own best interests at heart, not ours. We need more tolerance and forgiveness NOW! if we are to weather this political climate. Be a hero. Be a real leader. Speak up for compassion and tolerance and forgiveness in these turbulent times. Stop the vicious attacking, shaming, blaming, guilting, abusing. Love Ye One Another!
Sounds like a trick question. And it is. Because our mind plays tricks on us all the time. We seduce ourselves with bias-based reality that fuels our ego. Without the willingness and the courage to challenge our beliefs and the fears that often accompany them, we set limits on ourselves, our joy and our inner peace.
The New Testament teaches us about forgiveness, acceptance, and love. It is a spiritual textbook in that regard. But it is also a textbook for reality manifestation. Christ says, “All these (miraculous) things that I have done, you can do and more.” He says, “Faith can move mountains.” He says, “Ask and you shall receive.”