Turning The Other Cheek
(Posted on November 11, 2013 by David McMillin)
[NOTE: While serving as mentor for an online version of “A Search For God” study group and working on the Wisdom lesson, a member of the group shared insights about “worldly wisdom” with regard to a statement made by Frank Sinatra: “I will not harm anyone, but when attacked I will not turn the other cheek.” This group member went on to discuss the concept of “turning the other cheek” as applied to a personal experience of correcting a waiter who made mistakes in computing a bill. Here is my reply. – David McMillin]
I think you have provided a pretty good example of "worldly wisdom" (i.e., from Mr. Sinatra) which is a very common (perhaps prevalent) consciousness in human relations in the world around us. And certainly, we can all relate to that attitude, as you have noted yourself. But exactly what does it mean to "turn the other cheek?" And how does this teaching of Jesus relate to Wisdom?
From a metaphysical perspective, the problem with the "worldly wisdom" of retaliation (as it applies in this example) is that "like begets like" (a universal law). So if we react or retaliate in kind, we just reproduce and continue to build the same negative pattern:
Mind is the Builder. Then, if ye would have less strife and more harmony, build same in thy daily relationships. For when ye complain of the faults of others, do ye not build such barriers that you cannot speak kindly or gently to those whom ye have felt or do feel have defrauded or would defraud thee? How spoke the Master? "It is indeed necessary that offenses come, but woe unto him by whom they come." But "If thine enemy smite thee, turn the other cheek." LIVING THAT, BEING THAT, is to know the life eternal; and only in the manifesting of same, and bringing into materiality such experiences, may ye indeed KNOW the joy even of living. (412-9)
So no matter what the situation there are always options, if we can be mindful and conscious in the midst of life. It's great that your consciousness has shifted and grown in that respect – that's Wisdom.
Your post does raise an important question with regard to responding to abuse or harm. I think we may have covered some of this to some degree in the previous lesson on Love. As we have noted, these lessons do tend to overlap and blend together in interesting ways. With regard to Love, we discussed "loving indifference" and even "righteous anger" as expressions of Love. We considered the example of Jesus running the money changers from the temple, etc. Certainly, we can address social injustice, etc while on the spiritual path. And we can do it with Wisdom, although it can be challenging and is an individual matter (much like working with Ideals – more on this later).
So in this context, it is important to understand that Jesus's admonition to "turn the other cheek" is not simply being passive. Specifically, the Cayce readings caution us not to let it simply become passivity that leads to "self-condemnation" (which is worse that condemning others). It is more a matter of being "active" and doing what we know to do (i.e., "active Patience" as we studied in another previous lesson):
(Q) Please give me further spiritual guidance that will enable me to meet the present trying situation.
(A) Just hold fast to that ye have known, and that ye know to be good. Do not condemn, ever, others. Do not rail on others. This does not mean to be so passive as to become to the self that of self-condemnation; for this is even worse than condemning others. But it means doing day by day that which is KNOWN, that which is proven, that which is experienced to be in keeping with what He would have thee do. Thus ye will find that ye do the first things first; that is, the thought of self not so much as self-preservation from want, care, discouragements and the like, but rather as to just being gentle, just being kind. For righteousness, which is taking time to be righteous, is just speaking gentle even when harsh words, harsh means are resorted to by others. This is what is meant by "Turn the other cheek," and know the LORD standeth with thee! (1000-19)
Significantly, the specific example of the Wisdom of "turning the other cheek" was addressed in one of the readings given for the first study group who wrote the ASFG book:
The Wisdom then of the Lord thy God is shown thee, is exemplified to thee, is PATTERNED for thee in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ! For He indeed in thy Wisdom is WISDOM indeed! How gave He? "If thy brother smite thee, turn the other cheek. If thy brother seeketh or taketh away thy coat, give him the other also. If he forceth thee to go one mile, go with him twain." Are these but sayings? Are these but things not understood? Dost thou say in thine heart and thy mind, "Yea but He was the Son of the Father and thus had the strength that is not in me"? But ye are foolish! For not only art thou sons and daughters of the Father but hath the strength in the promises of Him who is Life and Light and the Way and the Water and the Understanding! Then the practical application of the Christ-life in thy daily experience is Wisdom indeed. THIS then is not a thing afar off. Not that ye would say as of old, who will bring down from heaven a message that we may know Wisdom, or who will come from over the sea that we may hear and understand; for Lo, it is in thine own heart; it is within thine own power, yea within thine own might! It is the application of that THOU KNOWEST to do in the light of the Pattern as set in the Christ. THAT is Applied Wisdom! (262-104)
The importance of application has been emphasized in almost every lesson of this course, so it's no great surprise that we have bumped into "Applied Wisdom" in this lesson. And the encouragement to use Jesus as an Ideal has certainly been a theme in many lessons as well. Interestingly, in the series of readings given on the Desire lesson, the advice to "turn the other cheek" was linked to spiritualizing Desire:
In giving that which will aid those studying, contemplating or meditating upon the meanings of desire and the spiritualizing of same, there may be an illustration of same as drawn from that the Master gave in the sermon on the mount. "He that would smite thee on the one cheek, turn the other also." To another it has been said, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." To those whose desire has ever been in that of being and doing the will of the Master, THIS would be sufficient. To him who has felt antagonistic to those that have spoken unkindly, or have made accusations that would hurt the inner self, then that as He gave, "He that would smite thee, turn the other cheek," is spiritualizing the desire for vengeance. "He that would sue thee and take away thy coat, give him thy cloak also." Because others would use thee, or take advantage of thee, if thy desire is in the Lord, in the Creative Forces, should not cause thee to speak harshly nor to desire that calamitous things or conditions come upon others for their unkindness. For they, as He gave, who would even destroy thy body are nothing. Think rather on him that may destroy thy soul also. Who may separate you from the love of the Father? Only thyself. For, an injury that may be done thee – or done thy body – is as being done unto the Maker, and the LORD is the avenger of those that love Him. THUS may you spiritualize desire, whether for those things that bring the comforts or the necessities or the activities in thine experience in the earth. What is spiritualizing desire? Desire that the Lord may use thee as a channel of blessings to all whom ye may contact day by day; that there may come in thine experience whatever is necessary that thou be cleansed every whit. For, when the soul shines forth in thine daily walks, in thine conversation, in thine thoughts, in thine meditation, and it is in that realm where the spirit of truth and life may commune with same day by day, THEN indeed do ye spiritualize desire in the earth. (262-65)
Looking ahead, we will be focusing on Spirit in a couple of lessons, which may also be relevant to your observations and examples. It is the Spirit in which we do something that makes the difference. So we can ask ourselves, is it the Spirit of Love that motivates and moves us when we act to correct a wrong or redirect someone who is exhibiting negative or destructive behaviors? How is our attunement with God before, during and after an interaction in such a situation? Are we able to maintain that awareness of Oneness with God and others as the Whole?
So, using your example, if we correct a waiter who has made a mistake with the bill, can we do it in the Spirit of Love and with the intention that we are going to help that individual to grow and develop from the interaction? At a level of vibratory energy (which can actually be sensed), is the vibration raised in everyone involved as a result of the interaction? Are we all closer to God from the interaction? This may seem a bit theoretical or abstract, but I have found it actually quite practical in my own experience. Am I perfect at it? No. But I am much better at it than at previous periods of my life. In that sense, I think I have grown in Wisdom, much as you have witnessed within your own consciousness. I find that so encouraging – that we can actually change and grow if that is our intention and we work at it. In other words, if that is our Ideal.
Sometimes the negative interpersonal patterns are repetitive (with spouses and/or family, at work, etc). So then, it really makes sense to work with the Ideals exercise, so that the mental attitudes and physical behaviors are even more conscious and we can make use of our will. We can choose (rather than simply reacting in the moment). There is greater Opportunity for growth that way.
Thanks so much for sharing your own experiences with this lesson and making it so concrete with examples from your own daily life. As I noted in a previous post, that is so precious to me and I bet the rest of the group appreciates it as well. Blessings, Dave