When I was in Sunday school I learned a simple rule called the Golden Rule. We might also call this God’s law. This rule is:
“Treat others the way you would want them to treat you.”
Unfortunately, too much of American culture is dominated by a different rule, a rule that is a complete perversion of God’s law. This perverted rule, which might be called the Self-Righteous Rule, or Satan’s law, is:
“Treat others the way you think they deserve to be treated.”
According to this rule it doesn’t matter how badly you mistreat others as long as you can justify your actions to yourself. When this perverted rule becomes the guide for the behavior of individuals, organizations, and institutions we get pervasive dysfunction.
So the solution for fixing society is quite simple. We all need to follow God’s law more. We also need to stop voting for or supporting people and organizations that don’t.
I often work with people who have been seriously harmed by someone else. They often struggle with the idea of forgiveness. They have a sense that forgiving the other person is something they should do, but they have concerns that doing so will leave them vulnerable or discount the harm they have suffered. This is especially true when they have left a violent relationship. The issue gets very muddled.
The following metaphor has helped clarify the idea of forgiveness for many of the people I have worked with.
In an earlier post I discussed contemplation contrasted with rumination. One of the unhelpful processes that creates rumination I called “judging” and suggested that many times we are able to act more effectively if we use describing instead of judging.
When I present this to people I find that some wonder how they can decide what to do if they are not judging, if they don’t label things as right and wrong.
This was the favorite meditation of the students in the class I led for 10 years. I made a audio track of it for people I know who are working to help those who are suffering as it can provide a lot of spiritual support. The track is short so you can use it easily during the day. If you loop the track make sure to take some big breaths and stretch when you finish listening to get fully alert. Also do not use it while operating machinery.
Meditation techniques train various mental qualities. We can use the qualities for many purposes. Spiritual traditions emphasize that the most important purpose for meditation is spiritual practice, and the development of qualities such as love or peace. The following meditation begins as a relaxing breathing exercise and then flows from that to an experience of a peaceful presence.
If you want to download the audio you should be able to at Soundcloud by clicking on the Soundcloud link in the top menu.
I have had a couple of patients in 12-step recovery working on a closer relationship with their Higher Power. They were having trouble with the sense of distance that the words “Higher Power” created in that relationship. Their Higher Power was up there and didn’t really want to be bothered.
Another way of looking at this is that this presence wants a close and intimate relationship with you. We can instead call it a Holy Presence or HP for short. This relationship is supposed to be close, friendly, casual and loving. You might think of your HP as someone who enjoys communicating with you, in ways like the texts and photos that you might send to close friends or family.
When we cultivate this kind of relationship we are much less likely to feel alone. We also get used to listening to that presence and allowing it to have a healthy influence on what we are attracted to, how we treat ourselves and others and our choices.
This relationship, an intimate and ongoing relationship with a sacred presence, can benefit us even if we do not have an addiction.