by Michael Maciel
Our normal tendency when we face the evil within ourselves is to try to change it. This is the beginning of sorrows, because the more we try to change it, the stronger it gets. If instead of resisting it we simply allow it to be what it is, it gets integrated or absorbed—“eaten,” if you will—and made a useful part of our whole personality. Jesus referred to this in The Gospel According to Thomas when he said, “Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human. And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human.” The “lion,” in esoteric-speak, is our passions.
Bible stories are not history lessons; they are the chronicles of our spiritual journey. In esoteric, or mystical, Christianity, “Jesus” refers to us, our human personality, and “Christ” refers to the Divine in us, the God Self. The word “Christ” is neither Jesus’ last name, nor is it a title. So, when we read stories about Jesus in the Bible, they are really stories about us and what we go through on our path toward spiritual enlightenment. It’s not that Jesus didn’t exist or that he didn’t accomplish the single greatest feat in the history of the world, but that he was also a Teacher, and he used his life to illustrate in living symbology what we must all go through on the spiritual path. This is what he meant when he said, “I am the Way.”
We want the ego to be the conquering hero. We want our kingdom to be of this world. We think that this is what it means to be truly alive. But, Joseph Campbell, the mythologist, said, “Where your pain is, that’s where your life is.” The “evil” things within us, those things we regard as weaknesses, are really our greatest strengths, only they’re disguised by the mask of our own misunderstanding. All we can see is that there’s a hell of a lot of energy packed around them, and anything that powerful scares us and therefore has to be bad.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. 10:28
Be wary of people whose main purpose is to provoke reactions in others. This is especially true of the media. They’re not trying to motivate you into action. They are trying to keep you from acting. As long as you are reacting, you are powerless. And powerless people have nowhere to vent their anger but on themselves, their families, and the communities in which they live. When people riot, they don’t burn down City Hall; they burn down the corner grocery store.
Here’s my story: for the longest time, if I was waiting in a long line of cars, and someone would speed past, so that he could cut in up front, I would go ballistic. Invariably, some “idiot” at the head of the line would let him in. I was just as mad at the person who let him in as I was at the one cutting in line. And—I mean—I would get all the way into the red, completely pegged off-scale!
There’s a saying: “Never trust anyone who’s incapable of being a jerk.” If jerks really get your goat, maybe you need to be one for awhile. The world didn’t come to an end when I cut to the head of the line—it went on spinning. But it completely changed the way I react to that situation. Look at what you do, at how you’re reacting. Chances are, you’re totally caught up in it, and it’s running your life.
If you do this in the little things in your life (as in cutting in line), you won’t have to do it in the big things. It’s only when people are so determined and so stubborn about letting the small stuff go by, that they usually wind up having a major collision in their life. “Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.” God knows nothing about size. As Emerson said, “There is no great and no small to the God who maketh all.” Every action, regardless of scale, affects our whole being.
There’s another saying that seems to always go with spiritual work of this kind: “First the test, then the lesson.” It wasn’t too long after I overcame my problem with people cutting in line that I heard on the radio that a study had been conducted on this very thing. It turns out that when people go around a line of cars (they call it “late merging”), traffic efficiency improves by twenty percent. Everyone benefits. What a perfect example of the gap between perception and reality!
It’s important, dear reader, that you understand what I’m saying. If you have a judgement about bank robbers, I don’t suggest that you go rob a bank. But if you do, I guarantee that you’ll have an entirely different perspective on bank robbers! You’ll also have a lot of time to think about it—in jail.
If you have a judgement about something, it’s like a polarity build-up that you have to neutralize. In a karmic sense, you’re going to have to live your life doing the thing you hate, because you’ve got this whopping judgement about it. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to come into balance with it. So…what would you rather do? Would you rather do that and learn your lessons the hard way, or will you take your pet peeves, the little ones, and work out your judgements through them?
Karmically, there’s no difference between esteeming something and condemning something. If you esteem something, you have to go to it—you have to experience it in order to figure out what its real value is. And if you’re condemning something, you have to go there in order to learn understanding and compassion. Both esteeming and condemning have their magnetic pull. “Where your treasure is [what you value], there will your heart be also.”
These are the mechanics of spiritual growth. No one can do it for you. Take these tools and use them, and you will see immediate progress in your spiritual life.