Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Compassionate Presences

 
 

Our being Mirrors of a New Life

Redemptive use of body & mind & speech

Oct 4, 2021

Saying For Today: When we realize freedom from our past - as in, forgiveness-, with all we felt we did wrong, we aspire to utilize our body, mind, and speech - acts, thoughts, words - to help others step out of their past, too, into the joy of a new life.


Calendula Drenched In Sunday Morning Showers

Calendula Drenched in Sunday Morning Showers

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Today's Saying: When we realize freedom from our past - as in, forgiveness-, with all we felt we did wrong, we aspire to utilize our body, mind, and speech - acts, thoughts, words - to help others step out of their past, too, into the joy of a new life.

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Yesterday, we contemplated "Coming Here & Coming to Yourself." Today, we continue the theme. We begin with a story from the Gospels of Jesus - Gospel of John 8.3-11 (NRSV) -


As he [Jesus; lit., savior] was speaking, the teachers of religious law [Torah] and the Pharisees [a conservative religious group] brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.


"Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?"


They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned [lit., "missed the mark, erred] throw the first stone [capital punishment by stoning]!" Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.


When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn [judge guilty] you?"


"No, Lord [master, teacher]," she said.


And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more."

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As noted yesterday, memories and affiliated feelings can linger from our past, casting a shadow over the present. We can live in regret generally or over one or more specific past acts. The more we esteem the act bad, the more likely it will cling to our present. Also, this is regarding the degree to which we were shamed for the act. An act in one culture might carry no or little shame, the same act in another much shame.

Social systems fuse us with what we have done, based on their view, as wrong. This makes the 'rightous' appear even more 'righteous.' It is a playacting game.

Of interest is the literal meaning of "regret" - "to mourn the dead." So, we can cling to guilt thoughts and feelings, like someone who cannot leave the gravesite of the corpse of a loved one.

Others may invite us to live this way; they may need us to act small, so they can appear big. Guilt is a tool to oppress, to keep someone under one's control. Much religion utilizes guilt as a principal means of its ideology and practice. Yet, even as we cannot beat a child into love, can we guilt someone into love? Instead, as with beating a child into loveless obedience, wielding guilt to push persons into loveless compliance has long-standing negative consequences for the pushers and the pushed.

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In guilt-inducing social systems, persons seen to be non-compliant are shamed into compliance. Or else they are shamed with no offer of belonging at all. They are objectified as a threat to the norm, the insiders, the 'righteous.' The demeaned receive the shadow of their oppressors, being scapegoats. Their prosecutors cannot or will not be honest about their own non-compliance.

The woman in the Gospel story experiences this objectification. She is a mere tool used by the conservative male religious. She is, to them, a non-person. She is a woman sinner, nothing more. They have no compassionate interest in her, no redemptive intent for her. The conservatives have no intention of stoning her. They are only interested in winning a point with Jesus, and she was handy to use. Woman and sinner made her a convenient tool to win a theological dispute. Once the contest was over, they would walk off and leave her as the object they judged her to be. They were glad to wound her more, ignoring all her feelings in this horrific display of religious and political ignorance and insensitivity.

The sole way oppressors survive is by killing off their empathy to those they abuse. In this, they abuse themselves. To the extent they do this, they cut themselves off from life, living a living death. When one objectifies another, she objectifies herself.

Jesus represents a person and the spirit - who we indeed are - within who sees those treated as outcasts, demeaned, and ostracized as valued, worthy beings. Jesus turns the situation into exposing the play-acting meanness of the conservatives. He flips the narrative into a redemptive one. He extends his message into the future, implying the woman's capacity to live differently, wholesomely, "Go and stop the sinning." This new beginning, he shows, can happen on the spot. All it takes is readiness to receive it. So, while he does not see her through her past, he does not excuse it either, and he affirms her potential to make a new life for herself. He likely has more faith in her than she can, at present, have in herself. He mirrors her basic goodness.

We, too, when released from our past, are welcomed into a new life. Grace is not merely given to free us but to enable us to live a life well-lived. We are not left just released from. We are invited into.

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So, we need to be aware of persons and systems that seek to demean us, holding our past over us as a means of objectifying us. Compassionate beings, like Jesus in the story, are benevolent presences. They see us, not through what we have done, but as what we are. They mirror to us our basic goodness, the same innocence they have realized for themselves. We derive from them the courage to see ourselves as they see us and, so, walk in the newness of a new life. Then, too, we become mirrors to others of their basic goodness, being a redemptive presence inviting them to leave the graveside of the past and enjoy living with us among the joyful living.

Also, many of us live in settings now where objectifying and demeaning has become an accepted part of politics and social life. Social media is filled with the attempt to argue with and shame others. Politics and religion is replete with shame fanatics. We need persons who accept the challenge daily to devote body, mind, and speech to live as compassionate beings, offering hope among those trodden down, and love everywhere - by grace, we can do this.

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* Brian K. Wilcox, 2021

*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book consists of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.

 

Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Compassionate Presences

©Brian Wilcox 2021