2-7-93 KARMA + THE BIBLE Mass education, mass literacy, radio, television, printing and el

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2-7-93 KARMA & THE BIBLE Mass education, mass literacy, radio, television, printing and electronic communications have made the modern public vastly different than the ancient publics. What were once truths are now a melee of opinions. Numerical majority is not synonymous with authoritative consensus. Indulging in one religion as the only true religion results in a plunge into disillusionment. Only those who can reconcile themselves to this fact will be able to navigate the spiritual stream. It is mandatory to become interested in a variety of ancient wisdom. There are none living who can speak with an authoritative voice regarding what was actually meant and what actually took place. It is now the responsibility of each one of us, the present public, to guard the ancient literature, and serve as a court of appeals for beliefs. We cannot afford to wait for perfect enlightenment. To make "heaven on earth," we must do what we can each day. All excesses must be controlled; even the excesses of democracy must have a method of control. This control is administered by the laws of society. Without laws there would be no order. Without order, chaos! We can't all run around doing whatever we feel like doing when and where we feel like doing it. Freedom includes individual responsibility and restraint. This is not to say that all of our laws are good, fair, just, but we must have laws at this stage of our human development. All great spiritual teachers have taught the principle of non-resistance. If this were practiced to its fullest extent by all people of all nations all the time it might have redeeming value; but at this time and level of human evolvement we need resistance or the entire fabric of humanity would be trampled to shreds in a short time. Mat 5:39: "...I say to you resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." "...ye have heard, thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy, but I way to you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you...that ye may be children of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good...." Love your enemies; turn the other cheek; don't resist evil...perhaps the most difficult of all the teachings, but this is not an original Christian teaching. It was taught hundreds of years before by Buddha, thousands of years before by Lord Krishna. It is a part of the great ethical religious philosophies of mankind, but none stated it as clearly or as positively as did Jesus. In actual practice most of us find it impossible to do and nearly impossible to understand why we should. Perfect non-resistance is rare. There is a great variety in character and in levels of spiritual evolvement among humankind. Even if we were all created equal, which, unfortunately we are not, in the material realm we are not all afforded equal opportunities, so all do not succeed to the same degree. When speaking of good and evil, the differences between us must be taken into account; we face similar situations differently. Most of us do well to practice justice, temperance, prudence and fortitude, the four Aristotelian virtues. God may be manifest equally in all people, but all people are not living equally in God consciousness. This high goal of non-resistance should be kept in mind by all Seekers, but we need not feel a failure if we don't, or haven't achieved it yet. Non-resistance is a high virtue, as such it must be kept in mind, but not manipulated to our individual temperaments or convenience. The Vedanta points out that for some it is necessary to learn to resist evil in order to gradually grow in spiritual strength to the point where they can endure it. Let us look at two different situations. The first, a person who does not resist because they are too lazy or weak of character to do so. What merit is there in this type of non-resistance? The other, a person who knows they can strike a fatal blow to their enemy yet does not strike it. In the first instance, according to Vivekananda, the one who does not resist out of cowardice or weakness generates no special benefit from their non-resistance; in fact they generate karma by not resisting. The other would generate karma by offering resistance. In the tradition of yoga, we must first gather the power to resist; then having gained it, we must renounce it; only then will non-resistance be a virtue. This power to resist is not only strength of physical force but also mental and emotional strength. To renounce something you don't have generates no benefit to anyone. Having the power to resist, then to follow a path of non -resistance, is the highest manifestation of power in your actual possession. Resisting evil is but a step in the direction of complete non-resistance. Restrained or non-restrained conduct varies with the person and the circumstance. Krishna urges Arjuna to fight. Jesus urged his disciples to be non-resistant. Arjuna is a warrior; this instruction from Krishna was given on a battlefield where a war is about to begin, and it is a just war. Jesus is speaking in the quiet, serene mountain atmosphere. His disciples wee more like monks than soldiers. Arjuna had not yet reached the level of non-resistance, and as subsequent events proved neither had the disciples of Jesus...but Jesus had. It would have been wrong if Arjuna had not resisted; likewise it would have been a "sin" if Jesus had fought back. We are more closely identified with Arjuna than with Jesus or Krishna or Buddha. This doesn't answer the question of what are we to do. I want to re-tell a story that I have used before. It is a parable attributed to Rama Krishna: Once upon a time there was a holy man who came to a certain village. The villagers warned him that he should not walk along a certain path because there was a poisonous snake that always stayed there. This snake had killed many people. The holy man said, "It won't hurt me" and went directly to that path. The snake coiled, reared its head and was ready to strike...then recognized the man as holy. The holy man taught it the philosophy of non-resistance and the snake renounced its biting and killing. The holy man went on his way, the snake crawled to its favorite place to meditate and pray. Soon the villagers discovered that the snake no longer bit them. The children began to throw rocks at it, then they had a tug of war with it, some tied it in knots, others used it as a jump rope. In time the snake was so bruised, sore and weak from its injuries it could hardly crawl anymore. It rarely came out except at night to get a little food and water. When the holy man came back to the village he was told the snake was dead. He went to the path and searched for the snake. When he found it, he observed its pitiful state and asked it about the reasons. The snake replied, "O, most revered one, see what your philosophy of non-resistance has done for me. But you should be very proud of me, no matter what they did to me I kept my vow of non- resistance." The snake was surprised when the holy man became very cross. "You foolish snake," said the holy man. "I told you to not bite or kill; I did not tell you to not hiss." We must live in this material world; we have a duty to our families, ourselves and others. We have to "hiss" once in a while to defend our rights. To allow others to cheat you, to walk on you, is foolish, not saintly. It is our duty to defend ourselves from hostile actions, but we are never to be malicious or revengeful. Avatars such as Jesus are to practice perfect non-resistance. If we persevere on the spiritual path, we will reach a stage where we have no violent thoughts, words or actions. It will be natural to us, then we will be able to practice perfect non-resistance, love our enemies, do good to those who do bad to us and bless those who persecute us. But we are not yet there. We are still in the resistance stage on our way to non- resistance. If you look at events in your own life, I believe you will see that you are more non-resistant now than you used to be. Rigid expectations expressed in terms of shoulds, musts and ought to's, result in more resistive behavior and predispose us to anger. So, we must recognize the content and tone of our expectations and to change these into more realistic, flexible and acceptable expectations. We begin to cultivate evenmindedness in all that we do. We have preferences, not demands. Achieving this is to progress in non-resistance. When anger does flare, it is important to use it constructively and non-violently, then let go of it...never, never, never nurse an anger. Life is imperfect. No matter how hard we pray, how long we meditate, how many affirmations we voice, life will not become perfect. Believers and non- believers alike will experience some tragedy and some failure as long a we live in a difficult world. We have the freedom of choice in most of our actions. Some choices will be better than others. The worst ones will cause us some discomfort and pain, but the pain is not God's punishment for "sin." If you play with fire, sometimes you will just feel the heat, sometimes you will bet burned, but you will always get the karmic bill to pay at sometime. The pain is from the fire, not God. Pain is often the result of wrong choice but not punishment for choosing wrongly. Problems result from poor decisions, negative circumstances and an imperfect world. We inflict further difficulty on ourselves by believing that we attract every problem to ourselves by some past wrong. Or in the Christian tradition that some committed sin is behind every problem. In the bible story of Jesus and the Blind Man (John 9:1-7), Jesus told his disciples to forget about who sinned. Plain and simple he said none of them had. This idea of sin and punishment was impeding the spiritual growth of the people even then. And he said "No," that's not why bad things happen. Rather than to focus on an unknown past actin or a mistake that no longer exists, we should focus on how we can use the experience to better ourselves, others and the world. Paul speaks of "large forbearance." "Forebearing one another, and forgiving one another." In practicing large forbearance towards others, we need not allow them to practice imposition toward us. We should consider the circumstances and the individual and decide by wisdom how far to go along and at what point to stop. One thing we should never do is, we should not recruit others on our behalf by gossiping, exaggerating, lying, complaining or "bad- mouthing." Each of us must handle it but we must use discrimination. To keep your inner peace you must rise above those who have it not. This can be done if you keep biased negatives out of your emotional system: such as resentment, bitterness, jealousy, spite and revenge. When you repeatedly talk about it to others the perceived threat to you looms larger and stronger. When others show their enmity towards you, retaliate by showing calmness, indifference, generosity, positive forgiveness or love by doing something nice for that person even if you don't feel like it, but do it with the right motive. We react the way we do because of what we are. "Enemies" afford us beneficial practical instruction in non-attachment which no friend can ever do. How far should we go in "resist not evil"? We may have to "hiss." A useful guideline to follow is, if your actions contribute to the betterment of the situation, they are right actions. On a larger scale, if your motive is to further the progress of humanity then your motive and action is right and acceptable. If your motive is to ease your own personal discomfort of mind, then that can best be done by forgiveness and working on yourself. Often we lie to ourselves, then we have difficulty judging our true motives. But silent submission in the face of violence, dishonesty and abuse will only allow or enable that abuse to continue and such attitudes are passed on to future generations. They become part of our inner garbage dumps. We have human standards. As spiritual seekers, we are to live above human standards. Morality is an invention of a society and varies with different societies. In most human societies it is not only acceptable for certain people to kill certain other people but is morally commendable: such as police killing criminals, soldiers in war, self defense, justifiable homicide, judicial death penalties. In a spiritual society all killing is wrong. Not only all killing, but all violence - Ahimsa = harmlessness, mental and physical. A-H-I-M-S-A: remember that word! In this earthly world, including nature, violence is everywhere. Nature is both kind and beneficial as well as destructive and cruel. Living beings must practice both violence and non-violence to survive: a paradoxical coincidence of opposites. Thus our logical standard for consistency is challenged, but if we understand that as soon as birth takes place, death begins to emerge. Death is an unseen visitor in the birthing room. Your birth certificate has an expiration date. As soon as death happens, birth is not far away. We can harmonize these opposites. There is an overall harmony in nature which includes violence, but that violence is not premeditated or motivated for selfish reasons, it is not deliberately vengeful. "Resist not evil...." To understand this we must again recognize that we are a composite of three natures: spiritual, human and animal, lion and lamb, predator and victim. Our ego is the controller of our human nature. In the Vedanta philosophy, the ahamkara is our sense of "I"ness. The yogic concept of ego is much more encompassing than is the Western psychological ego. Nevertheless, it is the ahamkara that gives us our individuality, but in doing so it separates us from the whole. Our ahamkara gives us pleasure, and its opposite, but does not give us spiritual enlightenment, peace and unconditional love. That is achieved only when we completely forget our ahamkara, completely forget our ego. Most of what we do is for the sake of our human side. We do not romantically love someone; our ahamkara loves their ahamkara; all of us want to satisfy our personal ego. To not resist evil or violence or other negative traits makes no sense to our ahamkara. But our spiritual aspect, which is beyond all dualities, has no need to resist evil or to not resist evil. In the spiritual aspect of our nature all is one. The soul or atman is never born and never dies; it neither kills nor can it be killed; it experiences no fear nor anger. We do not yet live in this realm, or at least very few humans have evolved to the state that they are able to practice ALL of the spiritual ideals, so we do the best we can. We hold the ideals up as an example, and strive on towards the mark, but don't be ashamed or feel guilty if you are not perfect. I have yet to meet the perfect human. The soul or center of consciousness, is not subject to change, destruction or death, but we are not in touch with this center much of the time. We get caught up in our human emotions; we feel fear and insecurity, lust and pride. From the soul center of consciousness, all consciousness flows on varying degrees and grades; that which we experience as human consciousness is but a small part of the consciousness available to us. We are evolving to the level of "perfect," - "Be ye therefore perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Three degrees of ancient Elysian mystery schools were: neophyte - new growth; Initiate - beginner; Adept - completed, master, perfect. Even when we reach this level, we must follow Jesus's example with the money changers in the temple. We must overturn the system, be it political, church, organization or marriage, when that system is wrong. Blind submission must be replaced with responsible actions. This is a positive use of anger. An act born or inner understanding, even if accompanied by anger, is more effective than an act born of revenge and accompanied by negative anger. Inner understanding and calm positive anger cause fewer casualties. Anger can be calm or stormy. Jesus demonstrated calm, positive anger. To return evil for evil, to answer violence with violence, hate with hate, starts a vicious cycle to which there is no end while you live. The only way you can free yourself from this cycle is at the point you forgive. Hatred ceases not with hatred; hatred ceases with love and forgiveness. The phrase "Turn the other cheek" is an Aramaic idiom meaning: "don't quarrel, don't fight." When I was young there was an expression used when a 12-14 year old would do something or say something of a rebellious or non-conformist nature. "Well it looks like he's beginning to lose his tail," relating to a tadpole shedding its tail and becoming a frog. When Jesus was scourged, whipped by Pilate, Jesus didn't "turn the other cheek" in a literal sense. He did nothing to encourage more stripes. He didn't resist, he met it with dignity. He didn't become angered, he didn't cower. He stayed true to his beliefs and teachings. Shakespeare said: "There is nothing good or bad, thinking makes it so." The more you think about something, negatively or positively, the more it takes on the flavor, the color of your thoughts...you create your tomorrow by the color of your thoughts today. Color your thoughts today with the colors of peace, love and understanding. Think only good thoughts. ------------------------------------------ For more information contact: Don Parkison, MD c/o The Oneness Center 2000 S. Stewart Springfield, MO. 65804 1-417-889-5215 or contact: Sandra Price Shadow Rider BBS 1-901-873-1570 Tapes may be purchased for $3 each and have two lectures on each.

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