“How can the meek inherit the Earth?”
How can a person be humble, as religion teaches, and yet get on in the world?
Chinaman: It would seem to be a total contradiction for the meek to inherit the Earth!! We are not made that way! And yet that is what is seemingly taught. This time I definitely need the long answer.
At the basic level of physical existence there is the drive to survive. But to survive also means to dominate as far as an individual can, even in a supportive community. Your society has the phrase, ‘survival of the fittest’, for competition ensures that the best of the species continues to live and so gives to the next generation.
When you consider the ages and ages – the aeons – of evolving life at that physical level that has been in existence on this planet then you can see there has been this imprinting – programming in your modern idiom – that life has to excel or compete. And so now for humans, in order to survive and ‘get on in the world’ you change your environment to make it more your liking, more comfortable or more under your control, to push back the harshness of life. You dominate your surroundings.
Even in such a thing as procreation – I am being very polite – there is a ‘doing down’ of others of the same sex in order to shine in the eyes of the opposite sex, and so get the partner of your dreams. There is much in the way of jealousy, of competition, and of possession once that partner has been obtained, to hold on to that partner. There is always a competition taking place, to outdo one’s neighbour, to have better plants, better crops, a better house, a better everything; to have more money, to have, have, have, and to be seen to have. The result is to find importance and power by being better than others. It is there at the basic fundamental level of physical life, generation after generation after generation, of expectation and programming. It is part of human nature to want to do better and to want to obtain, to compete.
And yet when you look at spirituality and ‘the perfect’, there is no competition at all. The ‘perfect’ is God’s plan or view of you, held in the mind of God. It is already there. God’s idea of you in perfection is more a letting this ‘perfect’ reveal itself, express itself. There is no need to compete. There is no need to have to expend tremendous effort in order to ‘be’. And yet that is so much at odds with the basic human nature.
Different religions have expressed this in different ways.
In the Christian expression salvation or spiritual life is a free gift. It is not something that can be earned. It is something which is humbly accepted by identifying with the person of Christ and what he did on the cross. I do not wish to go into that kind of theology here, but simply by humbly accepting that there is no cost to pay, so in your Christian terms, the journey of the soul begins. There is a becoming Christ-like over the years, for the process of sanctification unfolds. The road is rather difficult – who said it wasn’t – for you have the most delightful pictures of personal crucifixion and resurrection as you identify with the Christ. But IT IS NOT A COMPETITION. It is a humble acceptance, becoming more and more aware of the Christ, and how that releases the ‘perfect’ nature of God within you.
I am sure you can see similar approaches in other religious thinking.
There is a difference between respect and competition, even if it is only a matter of degree. Respect holds the balance between one’s own needs and the needs of others. It is not to the detriment of others. It does not compete.
The spiritual way of growth is respect and not competition. It is by looking at oneself and becoming more aware of that ‘perfect’ which is there – sometimes buried very deeply within and hidden by all manner of earthly dross – but it is still there. There can be no two of you. It is not a matter of being better than someone else because you are different to everybody else. How can an apple be better than an orange? An apple is different from an orange. It has a different flavour; it has a different aspect. On different occasion one will satisfy more than the other. It cannot be considered better. So in the revealing of the perfect you cannot be better than somebody else. The individual, the unique perfection, is more apparent as one’s unique place in life is worked out.
There is an ironic twist to all of this.
It is even more difficult for people who are religious to drop the competing and accept the humble nature of ‘being’. You see within all manner of religions people competing in order to be of the priesthood, to have that power, to have a status, to have a position that people will look up to and say there is a Christian or there is a pillar of the church. Yet it is by abrogating all of that that the true saint is revealed. I know people are given certain gifts within their ‘perfection’ in order to help and be helped, – but not to lord it over others. There is a very real danger of rationalisation, an excuse, to say “I am doing it for the good of the people” when more often or not it is being done for the good of the person themselves!
There are two Christian scriptures I would like to comment on. First there is the body one. Is it not said that the body has many members – some are more important than others but all are necessary for the functioning of the body. I believe I am right in the quotation ‘how can the eye say I am more important than the foot’. I am not as well versed as I should like to be – yet it is precisely what people tend to think, that the eye is more important than the foot because it would appear to be a greater loss if the eyes were damaged. Yet for the correct functioning of that body all aspects are most necessary. I would be quite crude and say that without the apparatus to excrete the eye will soon be fogged up and quite useless.
Although there are individual members who had gifts of leadership or teaching or healing and so on, all manner of people are needed. And how more dangerous it is for such people who have obvious position of authority or exaltation, for they are in a far more vulnerable and dangerous position concerning their own spiritual growth. They can see that their position is exalted and given by God – but that is total rubbish. They are no more exalted than any other member of that body. To put it in a different way – does not God love everyone? Surely those who see themselves as exalted are in fact less spiritually mature that the humble person who often quietly just gets on with things.
The other picture I have from your scriptures is of Jesus washing the feet of his special disciples and saying this is how it should be. If we see our position as one of serving then there can be no possibility of exalting a servant’s role. I know that there are many people who would argue against me, who would look to such images as the shepherd or the king and say do not these particular roles have that of an exalted nature, of the power of the shepherd or the king over his charges? But also in your scriptures both the shepherd and king are prepared to lay down their life for the sheep or people, so rather than a position of being exalted they are seen as being of extreme servitude.
There is this elitism, a wanting to be somebody, to be a channeller, to be a healer, to be a clairvoyant, to be a priest. When a person desire this position, then that is elitism, which is competition – it is not the spiritual way. Although it may be rationalised as wanting to serve others, it is more of wanting to exalt oneself over others. It is not an expression of the perfect. It is more a following the way of the flesh. But when a person finds they have these gifts and develop them, or a position is conferred upon them unsought, it is the servant quietly serving others. In their serving people recognise true spiritual status and respect is given. It is revealed rather than earned.
I wish that was the way of all secular authority as well, authority given rather than demanded. What a different world it would be!