Hi Friends –
What is new this week in central Texas, following the news in Buffalo, New York, has me, and most people I know, reeling. The fact is that we in this country have been unable to protect minority people from hate and children from rage.
That these terrifying events involve guns is a political issue. But that they were perpetrated by 18-year-old men with no friends is a pastoral problem for each of us individually and for our church and every church in the country. We and our church must not let the political fight distract us from our responsibility to provide loving pastoral support to families who grieve and to boys so lost in human pain that they feel a need to indiscriminately shoot innocent people.
As I did last week, I returned to Carol Ruth Knox and and I found a talk she gave in 1981 which I have entitled What Keeps Us From Loving and Valuing Each Other.
The issue of guns is beyond me. But Carol Ruth's talk brought home that I have known plenty of boys who felt they had no friends. And I am not entirely clear that my own life has been free from contributing to their problem. I have never shot anybody, but all too often I have shot down others with judgement. I have never persecuted people, but many times I have diminished and marginalized others to help me feel good. I have never enslaved anyone, but too often I have used others to get my needs met.
These three reasons, Carol Ruth Knox says, keep us from loving and valuing each other. They are, to put it bluntly, different in degree but categorically the same to what the two 18-year-old boys have done this month of May 2022. How much I wish someone had recognized their need and reached out with compassion instead of judgment.
Carol Ruth's prescription is not new: embrace differences, withhold judgments and watch our thoughts and words. In her ending she acknowledges that we all know these concepts and that we have heard it all before. Furthermore, she acknowledges that they aren't for everyone — that we must be in a certain place in evolution to take the essential work of loving and valuing each other.
But it just may be that a great good can be achieved today by reading Carol Ruth's lesson and by spending some time thinking through how we can do better. Perhaps one of us will recognize someone who carries an unimaginable burden of pain. Perhaps, more importantly, we will recognize our own burden of pain and how it is manifested in our life.
Sunday, May 29, 2022
WHAT KEEPS US FROM LOVING AND VALUING EACH OTHER
Carol Ruth Knox
May 3, 1981
[the first page of the transcript for this talk is missing] as I was getting gasoline, she walked up the street and again strangely — looked at me and smiled, and I thought, "town Crazy Lady" and then I looked at myself and wondered. Here in Walnut Creek, on Putnam, almost every morning, the Pleasant Hill, town "Crazy Man", stands — and people are like this, yes they are — and looks at everybody who drives by waving to them, and smiles... he's crazy.
People are like that, yes they are. This morning I went out running, now with only two dogs, one a Dalmatian and the other Cindy. I went running up to the playground and you know what I did? I played a game of baseball all by myself. I batted, I pitched, I ran, I scored all the runs, and I won; and then I played a game of basketball, and I played on four different nets and three different courts, and I won. People are like that, yes they are.
Yesterday, I did a program with the Y.O.U. I had them do the whole experience with their eyes closed. I took them from pre-birth into the fetal position, to be born, to experience their birth, all with music and very little words, all with their eyes closed. Then I gradually had them stand and explore the earth as if this were a brand new space they had found, all with their eyes closed. Then I had them make the first sounds of mankind, like a huge OM, and the Y.O.U.'rs found that they all came into the center, as if humanity was important to them. Then I asked them to move out and keep the OM sound going and then use the OM to find each other gain. Gradually again, using music, I had them move about the room and start reaching out and making contact with people, again with their eyes closed. I then said to them, "And now find on other and sit down on the floor and start exploring." Again with their eyes closed, another fellow human being. You should have seen the tears flood their faces and the excitement of their experiencing another human being brand new — boy to boy, girl to girl, boy to girl, adult to child, child to adult. They really experienced that people are just like that, yes they are.
One of the strange things about life is that we are stopped from valuing and loving people just as they are. We are married to people, we live with people, we have people's children (born to us, we live next door to 'schmucks' and work under 'boobs', and our patients are 'pains', worse than their own pains; and the people here at Unity, some of them don't act right and some of them are klutzes, some of them don't say hello, and some of them don't know how to run the place right at all. It is too bad that we don't recognize simply that people are just like they are ... people are people just born ... they are different ... they have different sexes ... they are different colors ... they are different races ... they have different personalities.
How we shoot others down with judgment
The first thing that keeps us from valuing and loving people is that we judge them. We judge them. We start off by saying I like this or I don't like that. We start far away by saying I like her dress or I don't like her dress. I like the way he behaves or I don't like the way he behaves, and discrimination is an important part of the process, but we get stuck in discrimination. Do you know what judgment is? Judgment is a mental mask that comes from a fear that you will lose yourself if you don't judge another in such a way that you put them in their place, separating them from yourself. Judgment is a fear of loss of my own self, I have to judge you in order to protect myself.
Some of you may think that you are so spiritually advanced that this lesson does not apply to you. It applies to all of us — we are all judging. I judged that crazy lady on the street yesterday. When I first saw that man waving his hand down on Putnam Street, I judged him. I judged Cindy in terms of the ball that she doesn't jump into the water to bring to me. I want her to be just like Lady, the golden retriever. Some of our judgments are so subtle, we will even judge in the name of religion.
We judge the people down the street who don't believe the way we believe. Listen to yourselves and you will see how you do the judging. I am being judgmental in talking about judgment, but there is no way "out" of it for me in this lesson. I have to do it in order to give you the material I have to offer and I recognize it. Last Sunday morning, I listened to an evangelist, and here is my judgment, and I am out of order, but he absolutely had to judge those who were not doing what he was doing in the name of Christ. That activity led to the Spanish Inquisition. That activity led to the crusades. It is the activity of judgment that causes missionary work to go on whereby whole nations are spoiled. It is our miniature judgments of how things should run, which we do now in the name of 'new age consciousness', in our latest righteous activity!
How we diminish and marginalize
The second activity which we do, that keeps us from loving and valuing each other, is 'better than thouism'. That was my mother's phrase for it. We have a constant need to find somebody who is just like ourselves — do you find that in you? Do you find that your basic nature is, find somebody like yourself with whom you could be comfortable and live with and then life would be fine? Through that search and self affirmation, we thereby put ourselves up, strengthening our position — I am better than thou! It is such a subtle way of taking care of difference.
Yet, I am sure you have noticed how we adore differences in nature. We adore a field of wild flowers that has pinks and greens and purples and yellows and blues we call it wonderful. We love a scenario that has little rivulets, golden hills moving to luscious trees, moving into sweet houses or shapes. But then, when we look at society around us, our better than thouism wants everybody to be like us, and that is a statement that such an attitude is our only defense. It says, I am so weak inside that the only way I feel good about myself is if you are like me, for I believe you will fight me if you are different.
One of the richest experiences I have ever had happened this fall, when I re-married two couples who had been married 50 years. Do you know what made me shake and cry before them? It was, here are two people (and I don't care who the people [are] — I don't care if they are alike in sex or different in sex, or if it's a dog and a cat or a bird and a grizzly, I don't care, that is not my issue) who had learned how to be together for 50 years. They had watched difference. They must have come to adore difference. You know when people get older and their bodies start falling apart, that's when you have to really adore difference. You have to learn to put up with taking care of their body in the worst condition. You have to walk around with a "hobbly" old thing, who at twenty you wouldn't have even looked at. But something has happened inside the system — you have grown to adore difference and you don't heed to have someone who is like yourself in order to feel good.
How we use others to get our needs met
The last factor that keeps us from loving each other is another side of the same thing — we are afraid to be individuals. Again, we are always looking for someone like us, so we can feel normal and acceptable. Think about the arguments that you have with another. Aren't they usually born around the fact they are going to do something different than what you expected or what you are like? We don't know how to be our own individual self; we do not know how to say, "Well, this is the way I have to do it, and you do it your way."
I find that even with my roommate. She gets up at a different time of morning; I am usually out, having taken my walk, meditating. She doesn't meditate when I do. She wanders around quietly, slow. I get going on the work of the property, etc. You understand, don't you? What is hard for me and for her is to maintain that what I do is mine and what she does is hers.
Because of this inability to be our individual selves, and in order to feel good about getting everyone alike, we have created a whole system called psycho-analysis. Do you know what psycho-analysis is designed for, as I see it? To try to get everybody to be the same and if they are not, then we analyze the difference away, so that finally they become the same. Then we build support systems so we can have one group wherein we will all feel alike again, because we are afraid to be individuals. Gradually we categorize this group and that group.
Remember, I am being critical so you do with this material, what you like ... we have all these groups in Unity too. Young at Heart, Singles, Married Couples, and that may be an unkind statement, but still we need to look at these forms we create and be careful of them ... we build our support systems so that we do not have to be individuals. And, as a result, we never integrate society. The old people don't feel good about being old, and the young people are afraid of seeing age because they are afraid they are going to get like that some day and it's something to be afraid of in our society with our conditioning.
Finally, we end up laughing at, ridiculing and gossiping about the differences. We make anti jokes called Pollock jokes, Jewish jokes. This is the clue that leads to something called Hitlerism and Natizism, wherein we can even build a whole society-around being all alike. Why? Because we are afraid to be individuals and we have to get everybody to be Arians together, or everybody to be Americans together or everybody to be lunatics together, and then we will go into the world and crush the opposition! That is what we do. Don't look so upset, it is all right, it will pass — or will it?
Three attitudes for loving and valuing each other
I have three attitudes I would like to offer. They are very high spiritual attitudes that I work with. I offer them to you to use. They are very high ideals. These high ideals I am about to offer to you right now do not come from a psychological system — they come from a spiritual system. If you are still in the "space" where you are needing to say, "I have my feelings and you are going to hear them!" these ideas will probably not fit you. If it is still important for you to blow "it" all to bits; do it until it gets done in you, then consider these alternatives! If you still must let out your feelings, then go ahead and do it. But in the meantime, hold these ideas in the back of your mind, because they are important ones. The only way We are going to evolve is to share at a higher level.
First, in Matthew 18: "Then children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The Disciples rebuked the people and Jesus said, 'Let the children come to me. Do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'" And he laid his hands on them and they went away. The first concept I offer is to embrace difference. Anytime you see something out there that feels like "Oh, my God, how could it ever have come through my body?" if it's a child, or "How could I have ever married this person?" if it's your mate, or "How could I ever be working for this person?" and it's your boss, etc. Why not remember this little statement that Jesus is saying...."Suffer the little children to come unto me." Let them come to you.
You know I have taught often that you have the right to exclusivity, right? It is right to exclude that which does not fit. But that is only a part of the process...that is only a step. The ultimate step is that you are able to include everybody without resistance or judgment. That is the Jesus Christ personality. It has to come from an inner space where you just look at that which you are resisting and say, "Suffer this child to come unto me." I knew a wonderful teacher for years who treated her children far better than she ever treated an adult.
How about that with you? Do you treat animals better than you treat a fellow human being here on earth? Can you say to everybody in your life, "Suffer this child — (we are are all just children in grown-up bodies, folks), to come unto me." It is a child. I am a child. That does not mean you have to live with them, is that clear? That does not mean you have to eat with them. That does not mean you have to bring them to your closest circle. That does mean you have opened up to let them in. That does not mean you have to go to bed with them or share a house with them, but you do allow them to be present. And I ask you to suffer to let the adults as well, not just this whole child 'thing'.
Then notice what he does. He lays his hands upon them ... and they went away. We teach that Principle over and over again and now it applies to our feelings towards people as well. You can try it right now if you like — bring into your mind that person or those people ... bring that person into your mind and say, "Suffer, come unto me. I'll let you come into my system."
The most harmonious aspect about this activity is that once you let them in, and you give them your blessing, they lose power in you and thereby go away. For a long time, we have watched priests and rabbis and ministers raise their hands and do baptismals. There is tremendous power in the hands. Jesus laid his hands on them. You won't do this physically. You will do this internally. You give them a blessing. A blessing is the power and energy of your life, and you give it to them and what happens — they go away! That does not mean they leave your life. That means the power of their discomfort in your life loses energy.
And how many times will we have to do this? Jesus says, "Seventy times seven." In other words, do it as many times as necessary, until they lose their power in your system. This is just a cute little phrase to help you. "Suffer this little child to come unto me. For such is the kingdom of Heaven." And, again, as a reminder, he was not saying just children. That's what our traditional religions have done with it. They say the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of children. No, no, everybody is in the Kingdom of Heaven, You don't have to be a kid. You are all children.
And then, he laid his hands on them and 'it' lost power.- I believe that we can all finally live with anybody. We do not have to have them be our clone. In a book entitled. Wisdom of the Desert, by Thomas Merton, he presents studies of hermits, who long ago lived on the desert in order to study the Spiritual life. This story shows the whole point of embracing until it blesses you:
"Once there was a disciple of a Greek philosopher who was commanded by his master, for three years, to give money to everyone who insulted him." (Now remember the insult can be somebody just being different from you ... it is not always a major issue. It could be the way your husband brushes his teeth every morning. It could be a simple insult.) "When the period of time was over, the master said to him, 'Now you con go to Athens and learn wisdom.' As the disciple entered Athens, he met a certain wise man who sat at the gate insulting everybody who came and went." (A wise man.) "He also insulted the disciple, who immediately burst out laughing. 'Why do you laugh when I insult you?' said the wise man. 'Because,' said the disciple, 'for three years I have been paying for this kind of thing, and now you give it to me for nothing.'"
That is what happens, once you embrace and bless!
Give up judgment
Now to another attitude. The first, I asked, is that you embrace that which is different. The second is to give up judgment.
I do not know how to give up judgment, but I can attempt.
Have you ever noticed how Jesus constantly upheld the sinner? The different one? Have you ever noticed how he walked into the scene where they were about to stone the woman, the adultress? And stones in those days were big rocks. Today they are just inner thoughts. Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." In another instance, he supported the woman who was a sinner but who was there to bathe his feet. When she was criticized, he said that she had bathed his feet with love even though she was a sinner.
Whereas others hadn't even bothered. Jesus always supported the sinner. We have such power, such self righteousness, such better than thouism, in our judgment of sinner, as expressed earlier in this lesson. Jesus' constant line was, "What is that to thee? Follow thou me." What is that to thee what somebody else does, follow thou me. What is that to you what your wife does, what your husband does, what the neighbor does, what the boss does, even though that makes you feel better about yourself by putting him down. Get rid of judgment, get on with the game. Follow the Christ. Let the person who is without sin cast the first stone.
In Matthew 5:43, Jesus says, "You have heard it said, you should love your neighbor and hate your enemy, and I say to you, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father. For if you love those who love you what reward have you? Don't even the tax collectors do this today?" Who do you think you are, thinking you're so great if you love those who love you and judge those whom you don't like? You are proving nothing. Just a reminder — remember, these are high laws. Don't use them if it comes from guilt. Use them! But if you feel guilty because you are not, then they are not serving you.
Then in Matthew 7: 3-5, Jesus stipulates the key to not judging — "Judge not that you be not judged. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, when there is a log in your own? You hypocrite, take the log out of your own eye, and then you'll see clearly." Why will you see clearly? You will not be able to see anything in anybody else's eye until it's out of yours. Here is a related story from the Wisdom of the Desert:
"One of the brothers asked the Abbot," (since usually this is the defensive thought that comes up in my mind when someone says don't judge) "'Well, suppose if I do this thing of not judging, a robber or savage attacks and he tries to kill me?'" (If I don't protect myself, if I don't judge, I could get raped or I could get stolen from.) "If I can overcome them, should I kill them myself?" That is a usual thought. And the old reply comes through, "Not at all, but commit yourself entirely to God. Any evil that comes to you.." (are you ready for this?) "confess that it has happened to you because of you." (Sure, you drew it, it had to be in your consciousness.) "For you must learn to attribute everything to the dispensation of God's wisdom."
There is no such thing as an accident in the Universe. Are you ready for that? Do you want that? Shake your head no, it's okay. It's all right. Yet, that is Spiritual Law!
Here is another story to support non-judgment.
"There was once a great hermit in the mountains and he was attacked by the robbers, but his cries aroused the other hermits in the neighborhood, and they ran together and captured the robbers." (That is a good thing to do. You are just defending yourself, right?) "So they sent the robbers to jail. But then the brothers were very ashamed and sad, because on their account the robbers had been turned over to the judge. They went to the Abbot and told all. The Abbot wrote to the hermit, saying," (Are you ready for this?) "Remember who carried out the first betrayal and you will learn the reason for the second. Unless you had first been betrayed by your own inward thoughts, you would never have ended by turning those men over to the judge. The hermit, touched by these words, got up at once and went to the city, broke open the jail, let out the robbers and freed them."
Watch your tongue ... watch your thought
Now, the final attitude and action. Watch yourself, your thought and your tongue. Even in jest. We say things to each other, and we feel so right about saying, you did this, you did that, calling the shots. So often I feel like the parent. I call my roommate in and tell her that we have to have a conference. Who is mowing the lawn this week? Who's responsible for this, etc.? Always when it's over, I look at myself and realize what did I do that for? It doesn't make any sense. It doesn't work. This is a very high law: Watch your tongue ... watch your thought.
Jesus said it in this way ... it's all right to cut off your own tongue ... He said that if your right hand offends you, cut it off, remember? If your right eye hurts pluck it out. He used right because that is the prominent one. It's okay to cut out your own, but he at the same time said, don't you dare cut out anybody else's. Remember, we are all being wall trained to express our feelings, so we do a lot of cutting out, a lot of it. But, it you are ready to take the highest spiritual step, you will be willing to suffer the little child to come unto you, lay your hands on it in a blessing; you will be willing to recognize that judgment could only be given out if it has come from within, so therefore, it must be uprooted from within; and you will also be willing to watch your own thought, watch your own tongue: I do not want anything to come out of me that is not the highest and the purest and somehow a statement of the Divine.
In presenting this material, I acknowledge that we all know these concepts. You have heard it all before. I also acknowledge that you have to be a certain place in evolution to take on these attitudes and actions — you have to have made some kind of inner commitment, a commitment to wanting to be done with this level of participating. If you are through with that level and you are willing to love, you are willing to remove bileness from your tongue, you are willing to embrace and not judge. And to close, let me tell you what you will gain by participating in this way.
If you are willing to take this higher road, this final road, I promise you will have more life energy. You will not be giving it away to hatred, to judgment, to animosity. It will all be able to be contained within you. I promise you, you will receive more love within yourself and finally you will experience greater inner peace.
© 1981, Reverend Carol Ruth Knox, Ph.D.
Reprinted with permission.