Ye have heard that it hath been said,
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That you resist not evil:
but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,
turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law,
and take away thy coat,
let him have thy cloke also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile,
go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee,
and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
I remember learning how to back up a semi-trailer. It was one thing to turn my head around and look back to see what I was doing. With an empty truck that had no sides, I could see everything and learned without much trouble. But with a load on, it was essential that I used the mirrors – now that’s a whole new element in learning to back up a semi-trailer. Today there are training courses and many guidelines and regulations, which means that the student is taught the use of mirrors right from the beginning. But that’s not how it was when I learned. I started driving without any instruction whatsoever. Jump in and go was the technique at the time. Someone rode with me for a while but he didn’t seem to know much more than I did, so I more or less figured out what to do on my own. The good old days indeed. There wasn’t even a test. We paid one dollar to get our class ‘C’ license and started driving. That approach is so unthinkable now that I’m sure this little story is hard to believe. But let’s get back to backing up. That’s a lot easier than trying to fathom how things were done a half-century ago.
When you back up a car, or a truck without a trailer, it’s no big trick because you start your manoeuvre by turning the steering wheel the same way you do when you are going forward. I say start your manoeuvre because to complete the manoeuvre it is necessary to turn the wheel the other way to cancel the turn or you will just go around in circles. Backward or forward with a car requires the same direction of the steering wheel, except when backing up the front end goes in the opposite direction of the required direction to facilitate the directional change of the vehicle.
So let’s throw in an additional factor with a semi-trailer - to start the manoeuvre, it is necessary to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction than the direction you would have the trailer go. Once the directional change has begun, it is necessary to make two additional directional changes with the steering wheel to cancel the directional change and to ‘follow’ the trailer to the established direction. And more, each further directional change requires the same three directional changes of the steering wheel.
Let’s add mirrors. The thing about mirrors, which anyone who has ever looked into one probably knows, is that it shows everything backward. Do you see where I’m going with this? Do you care? This is not an earth-shattering revelation I am sharing with you here but I might have a point. So let’s go back to backing up a semi-trailer and the simple but necessary consideration when you add the mirror factor. Since everything is backward in a mirror and we are already turning the ‘wrong’ way for a semi-trailer, now we have an additional ‘wrong’ way element to factor in. I hope this is getting extremely complicated otherwise it won’t be any fun. With all these factors, one wonders how anybody ever learns to back up a semi-trailer!
Most people, of course, never think about this at all when they are learning. They just do it. They work at it until they have it and that’s the end of the matter. Not so for me. It never occurred to me that I could do something without understanding the whole process. I can’t tell you how much that slows the learning process down. But when you come into this world and it doesn’t seem to work as you expect - and others seem to learn more simply than yourself - what is there to do but try and figure it out? Or say the hell with it.
So back to the semi-trailer: I did things the hard way and ran all the details through my mind to learn. Yet, I had a most pleasant surprise. Since a mirror shows things backward and since it is necessary to turn the opposite way to the direction you want to back up a semi-trailer, guess what? These two factors cancel each other out and we are back to turning as if we had no trailer. I could look in the mirror and pretend there was no mirror and that I did not have a trailer and it worked. At least to get started, before making the additional turns required to cancel and follow. But that’s easy because once you get started the other changes become automatic. After turning in one direction, there is only one other choice. There are only two directions that we can turn a steering wheel. Life is so simple when you don’t mess with it.
But just in case anyone does not fully appreciate the fine art of making a simple thing complicated, I will throw in one more factor. May I introduce the joy of backing up two trailers - two trailers hooked together by an additional fifth wheel? What we commonly refer to as a B train. Forget the mirror for a moment. One assumes that we are well past translating the mirror effect in our minds when we get to this stage. The combination of trailers we refer to as a B train requires an additional reverse turn of the steering wheel to begin the directional change, which makes a grand total of four directional changes in the steering wheel for each one directional change of the entire vehicle. So, if you ever observe someone backing up a trailer or a combination of trailers and wonder why he is turning the wheel so much, that’s the answer. Of course for someone just learning there will be even more turning involved because of the errors made. The difficulty increases exponentially with additional swivel points to the point that to add one more than that of a B train is generally considered impossible. There may be rare exceptions to this, but I’m not one of them.
It's truly amazing how well our subconscious minds serve us! The process of learning/programming our subconscious minds for such a complicated manoeuvre can be slow and tedious, but once it’s in there, look what happens. It leaves us completely free on the conscious level - as we are meant to be. I’m no better than anyone else at this, but I can back up a B train while I’m forming the words in my mind of how to explain it all, or while I’m trying to remember a phone number so that I can have a dance partner for Saturday night.
I seldom think about what I see in a mirror, whether it’s a trailer, a combination of trailers, or my face when I am shaving. We can get used to just about anything. And apparently, we can get used to seeing everything backwards if we think it serves our purpose. We can get so used to seeing everything backwards that it seems normal.
The word ‘live’ backward is the word evil. I don’t know how that came about, but it sure makes a point. The word evil sounds scary. It’s about the strongest term we have for something that is not good. But the word live as in ‘live and let live’, has an opposite effect. So I don’t think we need to be afraid of the word evil, or be afraid of the meaning of the word for that matter. Evil is just getting things backwards anyway you look at it. We can get so used to evil that it almost seems normal. It’s just part of our world. And in that seeming normality, it seems quite logical to fight against it, if we have to. It is quite logical to take whatever steps are necessary to protect ourselves. Doing battle with anyone with evil intent towards us is entirely reasonable.
But apparently, that doesn’t work. That was part of the old ways, the old ways that we are looking at for updating, understanding, and taking a step beyond. And that step beyond would have us do the opposite. If I’ve got this right, when someone is doing bad things to me or ripping me off, the suggestion here is that I go out of my way to not only freely allow this, but give him something else besides. It seems to me that this approach is just as radical as the old eye for an eye thing. Why would we do such a thing? It almost seems like we are being asked to give up reason here. Reason is not that big a deal for me. But what about normal people?
So the update on this ‘eye for an eye’ issue, as we can expect by now, is not some minor adjustment. It’s more like a complete about-turn. We can make this complicated if we want to, but it is not. It’s actually easy. It’s as easy as looking ourselves in the mirror. And as before, if we understand the past, we can use it as a base on which to expand. And also as before, the old law was an introduction to cause and effect. It made the point, even if it now seems harsh or archaic. That old law has not changed. What goes around comes around and we do indeed invite into our lives whatever we put out. That’s an unchangeable law of the universe. No problem with understanding there. We are well versed about that at this point.
The ‘eye for on eye’ was the kind of approach necessary when there was no knowledge of cause and effect. It was and is the truth of how things work. That was and is still valid law, and it is still useful as a reminder of cause and effect. It is essential to understanding. But it is not essential to literally enact this spiritual law into our human laws. We have made progress. We can now understand the consequences of our actions without being hit over the head with it. Who would do such a thing to anybody else in the full knowledge of what he is bringing into his own life by an eternal law that cannot fail or be avoided? Understanding cause and effect suggests that we are ready to put a cause into effect that is more in keeping with our nature and has much more favourable consequences. So if somebody wants to involve you in some kind of negative exchange, it is now obvious that it’s worth any amount of trouble to avoid it. Who needs the pain?
Therefore the updated way to handle any aggravation coming our way is obvious and simple. Not easy by any means. In fact I would call this a major challenge - maybe even the biggest challenge we could run across while we are trying to find our way. But the only possible way to stop the endless back and forth of disagreeable exchanges of any kind is to agree. This has been implicit and explicit from the start. We saw that in the Beatitudes and again in everything we have looked at so far. And especially in the last chapter where it was made crystal clear that agreement was the name of the game as the way to getting reconnected to power. This part puts agreement to the test.
So let’s look at what happens when you do the opposite of that - when you do resist. I don’t think we are going to be short of examples for that. Just turn on the television. I can assure you that at the time of this writing there are many present-day examples of the results of someone resisting evil by reciprocating. It certainly seems like a good idea and it certainly seems to be the logical thing to do. The only problem with this logic though, is that it’s not working.
It’s too bad, but that method doesn’t work. And it has never worked, even if it seems like it should. If somebody is very clearly in the wrong by taking something of yours or doing you harm for no reason, well then, you would think saying no or otherwise raising a fuss to let this person know that he is out of line, would do the trick. Reason tells us that the other person will see the error of his ways, especially when we give him back the same or more of the same. And reason tells us also, that he will therefore stop this unreasonable action. So that should be the end of the matter.
But when you are dealing with anybody who has already bypassed, lost, or otherwise overlooked any semblance of real understanding and has therefore also lost the concept of Truth, and that same somebody is confronted with a ‘reasonable’ reaction, there is going to be a problem. And the problem can only get bigger. Confrontation is fuel for the fire. It only strengthens the unreasonable reason your aggressor has for his actions. It gives him ‘reason’ to continue his actions. Now he is more justified than ever because you have transgressed against him proving to him that you are the wrong one. Now for sure, he will not look at his own actions.
This business of not looking at one’s actions brings up an interesting point: Not looking at our own behaviour does not mean that we are entirely unaware of what we are doing. On the subconscious level, we are quite aware of course. Just like when I back up a B train without any conscious thought, any one of us can be doing almost anything without conscious thought. But that does not mean that there is no awareness. When I am making that complicated backing manoeuvre without any conscious thought, each and every detail of the manoeuvre is being attended to by my subconscious mind. And it’s right there, at the periphery of my awareness. I could direct my attention to it with only a slight shift in focus. And likewise, when any of us are very busy defending an indefensible position, we could shift our focus to the greater truth that exists within our subconscious minds.
We do indeed have access to all necessary information at any given moment. But as conscious beings, we focus our attention where we will. And when we are in denial about our behaviour, our focus is of course on anything except that which we are denying so that we can defend the position we have taken. We know full well on the subconscious level when we are not in truth. Therefore, when someone else points out that denial by bringing up that which we wish to ignore, it can only increase that denial - it can only bring about an emotional reaction to defend the position taken.
The point to this is that denial is hard enough to maintain by oneself, so an attack by someone else is actually welcome because it allows one to strengthen the position. The mechanics of all this is on the subconscious level because that’s the very nature of denial. But so too does the very nature of our entire problem with the human condition exist on a subconscious level and in denial.
Still, that which we are in denial about is not quite as easy to correct as correcting a directional change with my B train. If I have made an error with backing and I find that the trailers are not going where I want them to, I have to stop and take it to the conscious level to make a correction. And that’s precisely what we have to do when our lives are not going where we want, even if it is a little more challenging.
Programming my mind with the ability to back up a B train is software; it is just one of any number of things we can add to the hardware we come with. We come with the basics; we are hardwired with what we need and with the ability to add any software we choose. The basics we come with is our inherent knowing about ourselves - that knowing that we allowed to be overridden at an early age and that we had to forget to function in this fictitious world. Most of us have indeed hidden that knowing from ourselves as directed. But that doesn’t mean that that inherent knowing no longer exists. We can ignore our real knowing, but we cannot erase it. It’s still there, ever-present and ready to be acknowledged and put to good use whenever we are ready. But that’s a personal endeavour that cannot be forced even by ourselves, so it sure can’t be forced by someone else and with confrontation (much more on that later).
So, where the bigger problem comes in with confrontation is that it threatens the whole system. When you confront someone by bringing any particular negative behaviour to his attention, you are doing a little more than the obvious. You are touching on the base of the entire belief system that had to be established in order to function in this world. That whole house of cards could come tumbling down if your opponent allows this truth in. And that’s why and how you enlist someone’s anger with confrontation. Confrontation exposes that which has been established as an identity. No one can afford to allow information in that would contradict that hard-earned sense of self. That’s why confrontation cannot, and does not work, and can only have the opposite effect. Force cannot, and does not work when it comes to personal change. It is a contradiction in terms. Force works for getting a rocket into space, but force will not change anybody. Only Love can affect a change (and again, much more on that later).
Trying to solve a conflict with conflict cannot work. It is not possible to find out the absolute truth about the many details that led up to a conflict, of how someone came to initiate negative action. No matter how sure we are about being right, we can be just as sure that there is at least one factor that we are unaware of. There has to be, or there would not have been a conflict to start with. All disharmony of any kind comes from something we are unaware of. Our reasons for conflict stem from the limited perspective that we are trying to overcome. And again, that limited perspective cannot be forcibly changed. There is no other way than to just drop it. Drop whatever it is and start over. Give it up, forgive, or have the consequence of disharmony around you indefinitely.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you let yourself be a doormat: Anything but. What this means is that you don’t allow yourself to get sucked into a negative exchange to start with. And it means caring about yourself enough to get away and stay away from anyone who does not show any basic understanding about their inappropriate action toward you.
Aside from the fact that a negative reaction to negativity doesn’t work - aside from the fact that confronting someone who is transgressing upon you one way or another only enlists further wrath - there is something else to consider. The real problem with this reaction on the part of any of us who is being transgressed upon, is that this approach is in itself a negative activity that can only harm us. It can only put a cause into effect that we do not want. We can be perfectly justified, but that won’t change the law or the effect of what we put out. We still put a cause into effect that must come to us no matter what the reason. The law is impartial - it has to be or the system couldn’t work.
No doubt all the above is not easy, but that’s the way the world is right now and the only way to change it is to start doing something that works. Our world is not currently based on universal truth, but it is the reality that we made up while taking this little time out - while trying to make a go of things without being aware of the laws of the universe or imagining that we could function without being connected to the source of our being. We will not solve our problems within the terms of the fictitious world we created.
The critical factor in all conflict is that which is unknown to us. Each person will be convinced that it is the other one who started it. The problem is that each person is right and each person is wrong. Each person is right because each person bases his truth only on that which he chooses to place his attention on. And each person is wrong for the same reason. But there is a third party involved here who is always ignored: Mr. Misunderstanding is the one who started it. He’s the one to blame and the one who should suffer the death penalty. But as long as we have something within us that we have not looked at to release and heal, Mr. Misunderstanding will be alive and well. As long as we do not really know ourselves, how can there not be misunderstanding? As long as we identify ourselves based on a false premise, there is no telling the particular way that that distortion will show itself in any particular person. And since all of our interaction takes place within this limited understanding of ourselves, there has to be misunderstanding. We are not yet working from that great common denominator that would eliminate any possibility of misunderstanding. Each of us personalizes misunderstanding in our unique way.
So I can only repeat that this comes down to a catch 22 - like it always does. We need to be in touch with our true selves to be able to solve conflict, but conflict keeps us out of touch with our true selves. This turning the other cheek concept is not for your first day at school. That’s why we covered the easier stuff first.
We just had a whole chapter on the advantages of being agreeable. Not to mention the fact that just about everything we have covered so far is about being agreeable. So I think it is reasonable to assume that we are not yet finished with this agreeing thing. Being agreeable the way it was described in the last chapter, points out the necessity of agreeing with our true nature. And now we are immediately confronted with what that truly means, with that concept put to the test.
Our true nature is the power because it is hooked into the only real power. So when we stick with that concept under any and all circumstances, everything changes. Resistance doesn’t work; we know that. ‘Resist not evil’ is the ultimate in being agreeable to our true nature. There was a popular cliché just a few years ago that is probably extinct by now, but made a very good point: ‘Don’t even go there’. This is just one more way that the truth is seeping in everywhere. It is indeed all around us and in many of our popular sayings.
When someone is being unreasonable and you yield, you present him with a problem. You have taken away his focus. Negativity has no power of its own. It is very dependent on reactive support to stay alive. It has nothing to do with Love and is certainly not Love’s opposite. Love stands by itself. So when you comply with an unreasonable request, you have actually taken away fuel for the fire of your opponent’s animosity. He cannot focus his animosity towards you because there is none to work against. So now with no opposition and with his focus not quite so unyielding, the fuel that powered his behaviour has been reduced considerably.
That can have an interesting effect. Your opponent will have some different choices to work with. He may just walk away to avoid his thoughts. But he might react in kind even though that ‘kind’ has taken on a very different character. The conflict could end abruptly as if it never was. Sometimes some amazing things happen when one person refuses to play this game. When you have nothing left within you that someone else’s negativity can connect with, you’ve got it made. You become aware that you have the mighty power within to handle any situation.
Of course, there is a word of caution for anyone trying this for the first time. We need to be very careful that the feeling we are sending out is real. In other words, that genuine Love is coming from your heart - that you are not doing this from a position of superiority because that will come through and undo your good work for sure. It has to be real and genuine. So in that scenario, who has the power? When you are connected to your real power, anyone who would have conflict with you hasn’t got a prayer, if you will pardon the expression.
There is indeed a better way. And it can be done without compromising ourselves in the least. But I don’t want any misunderstanding. We are not talking about belittling ourselves in any way. It’s the other way around. It might take a little doing to see the wisdom of an acquiescent approach, but there is a larger picture coming through. When we see that, rather than belittling ourselves, we will be enlarging ourselves beyond anything we normally aspire to.