Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Surrendering from ourselves.

I’ve never met a person who said, “Today I will conduct myself in a negative and self-centered way.” On the contrary the odds are extremely high that each of us conducts our lives according to a certain ideological criteria, whether implicit of explicit. Everyone thinks they are right and others who don’t share their perspectives are thus wrong. The polarity of ideologies has never been more extreme than now and is insuring our mutual undoing.

To plumb the depths of this, we need to consider the words of Krishnamurti. Do you align yourself with a particular political party? Now days it is hard not to. Or in a different vein, do you think of yourself as a man or a woman? Or how about belonging to one religion or another? Lots of variations on the theme of differences but Krishnamurti has a point worth our consideration: When we identify ourselves in contrast to others we unknowingly adopt an attitude of unintended opposition and violence. And NOBODY takes favorably to opposition and will then meet opposition with opposition.

Some time ago I had a friend who had grown up in the Soviet Union and was thus subjected to unspeakable oppression. He detested every idea that might align with socialism and defended his positions with conviction and passion. Many times we engaged in friendly discussions and we both came to the same conclusion: If each of us had grown up with the experiences and influences of the other, we both would have very different points of view. In that case he would understand my perspective and I would understand his. Neither of us came into this world with any point of view and when we die our points of view will die with us, but in between birth and death we remain adamant in our convictions. Our views were entirely the result of what we had experienced, not who we were.

Is there any way of circumventing this dilemma, of bypassing such fleeting bias? In our ordinary way of thinking it doesn’t seem possible, but one of the greatest thinkers in human history had a solution, which is not routinely understood, due to translation problems. According to Jesus, two things are required to solve this problem: dying to ourselves and then practicing unconditional love (the kind without discrimination).

The first supporting scriptural reference comes from the book of Matthew: “He who finds his life shall lose it: and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it.”[1] That passage (as many other translations) doesn’t express well in English. The English word here for life, in the original Greek, was psuchē, which has various meanings, the most prominent of which is soul, later to be translated as psychic image of self, in other words the ego—our idea of who we are separate and apart from others.

The second reference comes from the book of John: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”[2] Again, there is that word life/psuchē. This is perhaps the most butchered and misconstrued expression in the entire New Testament. The literal meaning, contrary to popular belief, is surrendering your psyche (ideas) for your friends constitute the greatest love.

The question is simply this: what is the prerequisite to surrendering our ideas in order to express the greatest love? The answer is obvious: letting go of our ideas about who we think we are. It’s a two-step process: once we become clear that we are not an idea (ego) that is hostile to others we can then release ourselves from the death-knoll of polarized thinking. Only then is it possible to gain open minds and be released from the prison of inflexible dogmas. In such a case we can conduct ourselves as the Buddha said at the conclusion of the Kalama Sutra: “… after thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it. Do not accept any doctrine from reverence, but first try it as gold is tried by fire.” In the end, spiritual insight has a most positive, practical and profound impact on personal and world affairs.

[1] Matthew 10:39
[2] John 15:13
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