TURN THE OTHER CHEEK?
If you are slapped on one cheek, turn the other one. So said Christ. This is very good, but nowhere in the scriptures where it says, do not defend yourself. In practical reality, specific measures are to be taken, but not to the extent where it is an eye for an eye or tooth for a tooth. Not to that extent, because that becomes revengeful and will assume all the negative qualities within man. But instead of taking the eye for an eye, one could stand up and with a feeling of total love and forgiveness, one could put the other person right.
The life of Christ was extraordinary. He gave an example of a very extreme nature; when an instance of an extreme nature is given, it could only stick in people’s minds. For that, extremism at that time was necessary. What do we do in the present times? Should we become unloving? Should we become vengeful? Should we be filled with hatred? It will only harm ourselves, and instead of bringing some equilibrium in this world, we will disrupt the various forces by creating greater and greater tamas.
In the spiritual field of life, one practices these virtues of kindness and compassion, and our spiritual practices are designed so that kindness and compassion have a spontaneous outcome. It is not something forced because forcing sympathy and kindness is nothing but hypocrisy – because you are not true to yourself, you are not being yourself.
So, how does one vent these feelings that rise in the face of our daily opposition? It does not mean sitting back and doing nothing about it. There are specific injunctions you cannot follow to the letter of the law as it is written down.
OUR ACTIONS MAY CAUSE NO HARM TO OTHERS
There was a little railway station on the border of a forest in India. Here, one tiger comes on to the station and attacks a man. The rules are that the station master cannot use the rifle unless he gets permission from head office. So here he was, battling on the telephone to get approval from the head office. By the time he got through, the tiger had killed three people. He was following the letter of the law. He cannot use the rifle until permission is granted from the head office. Therefore, all rules have to be flexible. If we had ignored the sign on the wall, he could have saved the lives of two people who died unnecessarily. He could have used his rifle. So, all these laws have to be flexible, but in that very flexibility, one should never forget that it may cause no harm to others. That is the most important thing to remember.
You are home with your wife and children, and say ruffians attack your home. You will not allow them to hurt your wife and children, perhaps even fatally. You are going to defend them. That does not constitute violence. It is a defence for a righteous cause. Because as a husband, you must protect your wife and children. So there, no karma is involved; this is allowed. You could teach those ruffians an excellent lesson if you are good enough.
FORGIVE THEM, THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY DO
Spiritual injunctions are always aimed at the highest ideal possible. But as the world stands today, they cannot be practised to their fullest value because the environment is such that it pushes us on. If you were secluded from this world, perhaps you could do that, but that would be a form of cowardice where you are running away from responsibilities. Everything that happens in this world must be taken on its merit.
If you get slapped on one cheek, offer the other is not to be taken literally. Many things in the scriptures are not to be taken literally. There are symbolic meanings to it. Love thine enemies. Very, very beautiful. It is only when a person can reach a stage of spiritual unfoldment that you can love your enemy. For if the realization has come about within you that all is within you and that there is no separation, then the whole concept of the enemy does not exist, and there is no enemy. Who do you regard as an enemy? In this mundane world, someone who harms you is considered to be your enemy. But if one, through spiritual practices, has reached a stage where you find no separation at all in this entire world or universe, then who can be your enemy? And if you think of an enemy against you, you are your enemy because that person is at one with you, although he might not understand the spiritual laws as you know them.
In my personal life in those business days and the days of spiritual work, many people have done things which, if I were not a guru, I usually would regard them as enemies, for they have caused so much harm. But I do not. I seem to love them more. They have brought out a greater sense of forgiveness in me. “Forgive them; they know not what they do.”
WHEN ESTABLISHED IN THE REAL SELF, THERE IS NO ENEMY
This comes with spiritual unfoldment. Meanwhile, everyone is just battling along. I would never say follow these injunctions to their ultimate limit: love your enemy, never mind what happens. I would never say that to a person. But I would say try, try to understand. Try to understand the other man’s mind; how is it functioning? Try to understand his illness, his sickness, for most actions that are against the laws of nature, or most activities that harm people, come from an imbalanced mind, a sick mind. That sickness might not be so apparent, but it is an illness when a person has greed or lust for power.
In this case, I would send love and healing energies so that today, tomorrow, one day, their hearts would be changed; some transformation might occur. This was the same attitude that Jesus had: he willingly went on to the cross without saying a word. He could have saved himself from crucifixion if he had answered Pilate’s questions, but he would not. He just kept quiet. You carry on according to your understanding, and I shall carry on to my knowledge, for my understanding is vaster than yours; I have love for you in my Heart while you might have hatred. In this world, that will never become a utopia; in this world, we will never find total peace; it is impossible; these things will continue.
When he is confronted with all these happenings, the man in the street can only become an observer, and that is why we do these practices of chanting and tratak and chakra swirling and things. It is to set our authentic Selves apart from the small “I” – the small functioning Self, because it is the small functional Self that observes all the adversities and not the authentic Self. When we, through spiritual practices, become established in the authentic Self, then all these things do not disturb us. There are no enemies. There is no one to slap your cheek. It might be done physically, but you really could understand, could see, could observe this play going on around you. You are involved in it, you are there, you are right in the midst of it and yet not. When a person develops this attitude and assimilates this principle, his life becomes joyous unto himself.
So we start with unfolding that joy, that spiritual joy within us, and then whatever happens, it is the workings of the laws of nature. For the more you resist it, the greater will it come upon you, and that is what Jesus meant: resist not evil. You stand apart, and you allow it to happen. For what is the worst that could happen? Why measure the eternity of things in these few years of life? Is it so important? It is impossible to joyously live every moment of this life with the small “I,” the ego self. With every high, there is a low; with the sun, there has to be rain; when the wave rises, there has to be a trough. This is how nature works all the time, and this is what keeps the whole universe moving. This is existence for the relative Self of man. This is existence, and you do not need to escape from it. But you can infuse that higher Force that is inherent within you.
“BE ESTABLISHED IN SELF AND THEN ACT”
So, the seeker of happiness. Forgive thine enemies, love thine enemies, and all these extraordinary injunctions can easily be practised in daily life. As the Gita says, “Be established in Self and then act,” and all those actions will assume a different form. Everything happening around us will have a different meaning. If viewed from the spiritual viewpoint, even the worst act in the world does not become so bad. As I have said before, the thing which a person suffers most from is guilt. Guilt brings fear, fear of things that have not happened, and regrets over things of the past. The mind is so involved in that turmoil that it misses the point of the present. So let things happen. If an earthquake has to come, let it come. If the Empire State Building has to fall, let it fall. So what? In any case, what is permanent about it? There is no permanency in all the mundane things of life. Have I not seen enough in this world, where a so-called “happy” rich man, wealthy man, millionaire crashes down the next week and becomes a pauper? One little mistake on Wall Street, and he is gone. Then you have a pauper who becomes a millionaire through just a few good things, good planning with the mind, perhaps with the support of spiritual forces.
These are mundane examples because we are speaking of ordinary things. These changes take place; nothing is permanent. The most significant problem in the expansion of the ego is that the ego bluffs itself into thinking that all this is permanent. It is not, and once it loses the idea of permanency of everything around it and the impermanency of itself, then all problems are gone. The difficulties would remain on surface levels but not affect you. The Republicans lose, and the Democrats win or vice versa, so what? How is it going to affect you? It is not at all going to change your lifestyle, even if they force you to do certain things. That is surface. But your real inner Self is not going to be changed. You have to transform yourself; in this world, there is no such thing as a good government. There never will be, and there never has been. It could be suitable for some but not for the majority. Yet, it is the majority that puts them into power. Traitors, all the governments of the world. Blasphemers, traitors, rotters; that is what they are, and this is everywhere. If they do not get you one way, they get you another way.
We are amid this turbulence, and the most incredible gift man has is that although you are amid this turbulence, you can still become the observer of this turbulence and stand still within yourself where nothing can touch you, where nothing can have a detrimental effect upon you because you have unfolded that inner Force which nothing can ever touch. That is the only way out.
You look at your churches of today. There is more incredible hypocrisy in a church than outside, and we know that. We understand that a facade is put on. A show, a drama is enacted. That is all. Look at the falsity of it in the name of God.
Therefore, I always say, “Be yourself.” That is all. Be yourself. Seek balance within yourself, and all this does not matter. It has carried on for ages and ages and ages and will still carry on for ages and ages and ages until this little planet Earth burns itself up. That is in another two or three hundred million years’ time. So, what are you worried about?
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang US 1980 – 33