“Ignorance is the root of all evil.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Resist not evil.”
~ Matthew 5:39
“Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
~ Matthew 7:1-5
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.”
~ John 7:24; 8:15
“We cannot change anything until we accept it.
Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
~ Carl Jung
“Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”
~ Native American prayer
“One ought to examine himself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others.”
“Judge not thy neighbor until thou comest into his place.”
~ Rabbi Hillel
“But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
~ Amos 5:24
“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”
“People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.”
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Evil cannot be overcome by more evil.
Evil can only be overcome by good.
It is the lesson of the way of love.”
~ Peace Pilgrim
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Justice versus Judgment*
Q. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus counseled “Resist not evil.” and “Judge not, that you be not judged.” But the Bible encourages us to live righteously and seek justice. How is it possible for us to pursue justice and righteousness without judging and resisting “evil”?*
A. By following our sacred heart with love, forgiveness and empathy we can live with justice and righteousness in a manner consistent with Jesus’ teachings – his words and life example.
Jesus was a rare Divine being who – like a Buddha or Krishna – transcended the illusion of separation from God. From his Divine perspective, Jesus realized and proclaimed that “I and the Father are one” [John 10:30] , and he perceived as “evil” only that which – from ignorance of Divine law – creates disharmony with Divine order and consequent suffering. But, as a loving Divine truth teller he did not condemn beings acting with the the illusion of separation from God – only their ignorant behaviors. [John:3:17]
Jesus knew that – until realizing our unity with Divinity – we reap as we sew. [e.g. Job 4:8; Galacians 6:7]; that we suffer the karmic consequences of our unconsciously unenlightened behaviors. Thus from his rare cosmic perspective he compassionately could see that our ignorant behaviors are karmically predestined, and do not arise from presumed free will.
As a Divine being, Jesus also knew that true Vision comes from intuitive insight, not eyesight; that our perceived separation from others and from Nature is an illusion of consciousness; and, that blind to our own repressed faults we often project them upon and detect them in others.
As Rumi observed:
“People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.” [But,] “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”
So Jesus cautioned the Pharisee fundamentalists of his time to
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” [John 7:24] And he taught:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” [Matthew 7:1-5]
Thus, when fundamentalist Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman allegedly caught in adultery, a capital crime, Jesus challenged any one of them who was without sin to cast the first stone at her. Speaking as non-judgmental Divine Love, Jesus explained his refusal to condemn her thus:
“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.”
Without judging beings but criticizing their disharmonious behaviors, Jesus was a passionate social reformer and redeemer who frequently decried hypocritical conduct and ethics by people who did not ‘walk their talk’ but practiced the very behaviors they decried – like those whose piety was on their tongue but not in their heart; those who claimed to love God but hated others. [John 4:20; Matthew 15:7-9]
And without judging the beings but their behaviors he cast out those hypocritically changing money and conducting commerce in the sacred temple courtyard, thereby demonstrating that we cannot serve both God and greed. [Matthew 6:24 and 21:12]
So, it appears that Jesus, who was a social reformer, did not intend to discourage us from living piously while seeking justice and righteousness for others and society. Bible passages against resisting “evil” or “judging” others are warnings against hypocritically and insensitively criticizing or opposing perceived faults or disharmonious behaviors in others which we cannot see in our own shadow selves.
Also, they are cautions against reflexive or revengeful resistance or opposition to perceived “evil”, because when we see ‘through a glass darkly’ what we resist persists.
Jesus’ admonition to not resist “evil” was given after his allusion to the Book of Exodus teaching about taking “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” [Exodus 21:23-5] which was then misunderstood and strictly interpreted by Pharisees as encouraging revenge or retribution. But when we ignorantly act with reflexive revenge, we are disharmonious with divine law and must suffer the karmic consequences.
So rather than vindictively seeking retribution for wrongs, or reactively condemning others, or judgmentally attempting to change them, it is wise to first empathetically look within to see and change our own undesirable traits. Then like Gandhi we will “not cooperate with evil” but be the non-violent change we wish to see in the world and lovingly inspire others to do likewise.
And so it shall be!
*Because the New Testament gospels were all ‘hearsay’ written and translated from Aramaic into Greek and various other languages long after Jesus’ death, we cannot know with certainty the meaning or accuracy of current translations of his sermon on the mount. So there are many differing interpretations of the words “Resist not evil.” and “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Their true meaning and intent can best be determined from their context and from Jesus’ own Divine actions to uplift the world rather than condemn it. Our interpretation is intuitive, not scholarly, and based on perennial principles taught by most enduring religious, spiritual and ethical traditions, not just Christianity. You are free to question or reject it.
Ron’s comments on “Justice versus Judgment”.
Worldwide we are living in very violent and politically polarized times – especially since Donald Trump was elected 45th US president.
In order to peacefully resolve current critical political and environmental issues, from a spiritual perspective, we must mindfully calm our disturbed, judgmental and reactive states of mind. Rather than vindictively seeking retribution for wrongs, or reactively condemning others, or judgmentally attempting to change them, it is wise to first empathetically look within to see and change our own undesirable mental habits. Thereby with quiet minds and open hearts we can non-violently and non-judgmentally resist injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.
To explain these opinions about philosophical and pragmatic issues of Justice versus Judgment, I have posted the above quotations and intuitive interpretations of Jesus’s teachings on these subjects, and hereafter discuss what I’ve learned about them as an egalitarian attorney.
For much of my adult life as a social justice lawyer, I tended to be judgmental and unforgiving of perceived wrongdoers. Thus, on retiring from legal practice in 1992 it was easy for me to stop lawyering – by deactivating my law license – but hard to stop gratuitously judging or blaming others who seemed to act hypocritically or harmfully.
But after my midlife spiritual awakening I decided that we are all here to evolve by gradually realizing and actualizing our common spiritual Oneness with all Life – beyond our mistakenly perceived separation from each other; and, that we can advance such evolution by mindful identification, observation and purification of our mental tendencies and obscurations impeding realization of Oneness.
So, with increasing mindfulness, I began identifying my particular mental challenges and evolutionary opportunities in this lifetime. And gradually I realized that – as a litigation lawyer and ardent social justice advocate – I had longtime propensities of often being outspokenly, acerbically, and reactively judgmental, unforgiving and sometimes angry about perceived injustices; that these tendencies were not helping others or me; and that they were impediments to spiritual evolution.
Since first identifying these unhelpful tendencies, it has been challenging for me to transcend them. Most challenging have been instances of apparently harmful betrayal of private or public trust. Apart from numerous flagrant betrayals of public welfare by politicians and corporations which I have resisted, there have been a few unforgettable and psychologically traumatic events which I experienced as personal betrayals, but now see with forgiveness as disguised blessings which furthered my spiritual evolution.
Ultimately I have realized that blame, rancor or vengeance never change others and are always incompatible with a peaceful mind; that all unforgiving behavior is ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity; and, that any bitterness we harbor against a perceived “other” separates us from our divine Oneness.
Thus Peace Pilgrim insightfully instructed that:
“If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”
~ “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words”
And because human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true self-identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, the Buddha taught that:
“To understand everything is to forgive everything.”
May these teachings help all of us learn to forgive everything, and to not judge, condemn, or criticize apparent evil, but to nonviolently resist and transcend it with love, righteousness and justice, and
May we thereby live ever happier, peaceful and harmonious lives.
And so may it be!
“Our mentality is our reality.
Our “reality” is what we think it to be.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Reality” isn’t REAL!
“Reality” is a holographic theater of the mind.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“We do not see things as they are;
we see things as we are.”
“All appearances are verily one’s own concepts, self-conceived in the mind, like reflections seen in a mirror. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine own mind.”
~ Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche)
“When you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at change.”
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist
“When your sense of self is no longer tied to thought, is no longer conceptual, there is a depth of feeling, of sensing, of compassion, of loving, that was not there when you were trapped in mental concepts. You are that depth.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“If you could get rid of yourself just once, the secret of secrets would open to you. The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
“There are two ways of spreading light –
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
~ Edith Wharton
“Reality’s essence is Divine luminescence.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Our Mentality is Our Reality
We view space/time “reality”
of apparently separate forms and phenomena
through the ‘mirror of the mind’ – with thoughts
from perceptions, memories and attitudinal tendencies.
What we really see is mind’s misperception,
reflection and projection of Self-awareness.
Mind distortedly refracts, reflects and projects
onto the screen of human consciousness
the unseen light of Eternal Awareness.
As a mirror’s reflection depends
on the angle from which it is viewed,
our perception, reflection and response to the world,
depends not only on our state of mind,
but on our unique point of view –
each from a different place in time and space.
As still, clear water best reflects light –
while permitting perception of its depths,
a still, clear mind best reflects and reveals
the Eternal Light of Self-awareness.
The fewer our thoughts, the clearer and calmer our mind,
and the deeper and more transparent our Self-Awareness.
The more disturbed or perturbed the mind,
the more it distorts and obscures the Light of Awareness.
The clearer and calmer our mind,
the more appropriately we respond
to ever changing cosmic energies,
without reflexively reacting to them.
With meditation and other mind-stilling modes,
we clear and enlighten our mind –
from opacity to translucency to transparency –
from mental mirror to window of the soul.
Thereby, with ever expanding awareness
and ever deepening insight,
we can and shall ‘see’ more and more –
we can and shall see what we couldn’t see before.
We can and shall see – and BE:
Wholeness, Holiness, SELF.
And so it shall be!
Ron’s Commentary on Politically Engaged Spirituality With Quiet Minds and Open Hearts.
Have you ever wondered why the world seems so crazy? Why so many people worldwide unnecessarily suffer from wars, poverty, illness, lack of basic life-sustaining necessities? Why even in the richest nation on Earth, suffering is ubiquitous? Why even materially super-rich people often become depressed, addicted or mentally disturbed?
Only after my mid-life change of life, did I begin deeply reflecting on root causes of such societal insanity and unhappiness. Today I am sharing with you views about how politically engaged spirituality rooted in mental tranquility can address root causes of current crises.
Silly Sutras is a nonpartisan charitable project, motivated by prophets, not profits. But because of extraordinary worldwide political turmoil and divisiveness which has arisen especially since the election and inauguration of Donald J. Trump, as 25th US President, I feel impelled to share my political perspectives. Please accept my ideas as politically nonpartisan and as intended to be universally relevant to everyone, everywhere regardless of our political propensities or beliefs. However, if you disagree with them, forget them.
My Political History.
Since long before my mid-life spiritual awakening, I have attributed much societal suffering to societal insanity. In the late 1950’s, I was deeply influenced by a classic book “The Sane Society” written by distinguished author-psychotherapist Erich Fromm, who was raised in Germany as an orthodox Jew, and came to the US as a refugee from Hitler’s dystopian society. In the US Fromm wrote about the pathology of ‘normalcy’ in our materialistic society. His classic essay suggested that materialistic Western society was lacking in sanity; that the iniquities, inequities and disharmonies of entire societies were pathological, not just the seemingly separate mental illnesses of people therein.
Like philosopher Karl Marx, Fromm saw capitalistic greed and exploitation of workers as the root of societal pathology. And as antidote he persuasively advocated for democratic socialism. (Much later I learned that my heroes Albert Einstein, the Dalai Lama and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. held similar Marxist views about capitalism.)
Especially after the rigged 2000 Bush/Gore election, with Supreme Court selection of the Bush/Cheney administration (despite pending vote recounts), and the ensuing terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 – which I deemed ‘false-flag’ operations instigated by the Bush/Cheney neocon regime and perpetrated to foment hatred against intended Moslem targets of the military industrial complex – I became so caught up in polarized political issues that I began experiencing much anger and agitation and significantly less of the peace of mind that I had long enjoyed after first meeting my Guruji.
However, instead of taking responsibility for my own agitated and combative state of mind, I often complained that Bush and Cheney had ‘brought me down’ from higher states of consciousness.
Ultimately, with mindfulness and soul-searching, I came to see that it was my own disturbed, judgmental and reactive state of mind – not Bush and Cheney – that was bringing me down. And more and more I began viewing apparent societal injustices with relative detachment and even rarely with compassion for the wrongdoers’ ignorance – yet never abandoning my nonviolent relentless pursuit of Truth through social justice as inspired by Gandhi and Jesus.*
[* In arriving at these crucial insights, I received much inspiration from the lives and words of others, whose helpful quotations I have posted in memoirs titled “Spirituality, Religion and Politics” . If interested, I hope you’ll read them.]
Recent Political Events.
The election and inauguration of Donald J. Trump as 45th US president, and his initial executive appointments and decrees have sparked numerous extraordinary worldwide demonstrations and intensely polarized political activities.
Perhaps I’m a crazy “cockeyed optimist”, but I believe that Trump’s ascendancy may prove a major disguised blessing which might not have happened if Hillary Clinton had been declared the US election winner. So I see this as potentially beginning a new age which can advance the highest good for all life on our precious planet.
In my view Trump has sparked unprecedented societal awakenings to longstanding and constantly expanding dystopian “deep state” threats to everyone everywhere, no matter which US corporate-controlled duopoly party has been in purported power. And this is happening when both major parties are justifiably distrusted by most US citizens because they implement the agendas of the super rich 1%, and deep state, rather than addressing the common welfare and overwhelming wishes of the majority of their constituents.
So Trump has been elected at a time when since 9/11/2001 millions of humans have needlessly long-suffered from war, poverty, hunger, physical illness, and psychological pain, and from unwarranted deprivations of political and human rights.; when millions more have experienced stressful anxiety about premature death, terrorism, sickness, homelessness, joblessness, injustice, loss of liberty, etc. And this is a time when countless others compassionately empathize with their long-suffering spiritual siblings. For in this world of relativity we are all relatives.
Did you know that soon after President Trump’s inauguration, George Orwell’s amazingly prophetic novel “1984″ (written in 1948) synchronistically became #1 Amazon best seller?
I see sudden mass interest in Orwell’s vision – of a cruel and dystopian post-nuclear ‘cold war’ world similar to this post-9/11 world of endless wars against endless alleged terrorist threats – as further confirmation of societal awakening to needless dystopian suffering.
In writing “1984”, Orwell – who was an ardent British democratic socialist – was justifiably concerned that true democratic socialism would be taken over by authoritarian Stalinism and Maoism; and moreover he presciently foresaw how even hegemonic liberal democracies ostensibly committed to freedom could devolve into exploitive imperialistic despotism. His novel seems amazingly apt to current dystopian times. [See e.g. “Orwell’s “1984” – Prescience or Playbook?” ]
Synchronistically I recently learned that the best selling “1984″ print edition most sold by Amazon contains an insightful epilogue or afterword by Dr. Erich Fromm, written soon after he published “The Sane Society”. In analyzing “1984”, Dr. Fromm suggested that the basic philosophical questions raised by Orwell are the existence and meaning of “truth” and “reality”; whether “reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.”.
These are both politically prescient and deeply philosophical issues; perennial puzzles at the spiritual heart of our current societal crises.
Moral of the story?.
Q. So how should spiritual aspirants address current crucial political issues and crises?
A. By mindfully recognizing and calming our disturbed, judgmental and reactive states of mind we can best address our crucial political issues and challenges, from our unique perspectives with our unique talents.
Beyond our ‘brain-washed’ thoughts we can thereby realize that our perceived and projected dystopian “reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.”; that therefore President Trump is neither a hero nor a villain, but a symptom or manifestation of a psychologically sick society.
Rather than identifying with or believing our confused and illusory thoughts, or what hierarchic political and media authorities tell us, mystics advise us to follow our heart – our deepest intuition, not just the confusing ‘voice in our head’.
As explained by Eckhart Tolle,
“When your sense of self is no longer tied to thought, is no longer conceptual,
there is a depth of feeling, of sensing, of compassion, of loving,
that was not there when you were trapped in mental concepts.
You are that depth.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Thus, the clearer and calmer our minds, the more our hearts are opened, and the more appropriately we respond to life’s inevitable challenges. To help us remember to open and follow our hearts by clearing our minds, I have posted today the foregoing quotations and essay/poem explaining this important teaching. I hope you’ll consider it.
With quiet minds and open hearts may we together honor the spiritual essence and equality of everyone everywhere – beyond our mentally illusory and superficially divisive designations; may we thus transcend exploitation and discrimination against the world’s most vulnerable sentient beings, and end the iniquity of inequity in our society.
And so may it be!