Feb 282015

In my article “The dualism of Oppressor and Oppressed” I shared one way of observing the phenomena of the Oppressor and the Oppressed. But there is also a very different way of seeing it.

It is quite easy to be baffled by what Jesus had in mind when he said to turn the other cheek to our oppressor. Many people think that such behavior may be suitable for “holy” people, or otherwise people that are anything other than regular people – like ‘me’. After all, “an eye for an eye”, makes much more sense to many of us. But this is just a cultural thing. We have been programmed – literally – with concepts such as “an eye for an eye” from our earliest days. These concepts, being mostly subconscious, have become a part of what we consider the “I” to be.

Jesus’ teaching about turning the other cheek is very profound, insightful, true and – believe it or not – practical for our own time, for you and I.

The Oppressor uses the elicitation of fear in the Oppressed, to achieve that which they wish to have. The only way the Oppressor can achieve anything from the Oppressed, is through co-operation from the Oppressed. The Oppressed co-operates against their better judgement when being in the grips of fear, being fully aware that co-operating in this case is wrong. Once the Oppressed co-operates once, their resistance weakens and they begin to co-operate on a regular basis, essentially becoming slaves.

The Oppressed is you and I

When Jesus says to turn the other cheek, he is well aware that doing so is going to hurt. Jesus is far from being delusional. He knows that it’s going to hurt, and we too must understand that it’s going to hurt. When we turn the other cheek, with the understanding that it’s going to hurt, we have just annihilated our own fear. We have just become free. The Oppressor cannot do anything without our co-operation. They may slap our other cheek – figuratively speaking or not – again and again, and with each time that they do, and get the other cheek turned at them, they realize just how powerless they are.

Using words such as Oppressor and Oppressed, may conjure up thoughts about circumstances that may be extreme, aggressive or even violent. But much more often, the situations are far from that and may occur in, what most people would call “normal relationships”, where the notion of an Oppressor/Oppressed may not immediately come to mind. Sometimes, a simple smile (or the withdrawal of one), may be used as a tool by an oppressor to achieve what they want from the oppressed. And of course the extreme situations of physical, mental and emotional abuse, bullying etc’, are always there, and for some, that’s the only reality that they have ever known.

We already know what the world looks like when we succumb to threats and to our own fear. Very few of us have ever seriously considered turning the other cheek because it seems too foolish and self destructive…
… but what if we do turn the other cheek?

A few years ago I was dealing with illness. My doctors were unable to diagnose it and I was dealing with severe skeletal pain that originated with the joints and gradually spread to connective tissue and bones. I lived in constant pain for over a year.

At one point, in a moment of utter despair, I communicated with my pain. I said: “Go ahead, hurt me. Show me what’s the worst that you can do to me. I’m ready.”

In the moments that followed, I realized to my amazement, (and believe it or not, disappointment), that the pain was diminishing. I wasn’t sure whether I was imagining things, or whether the pain was “having a bad day”. Perhaps I was being misunderstood by the pain, or never actually communicated with it in the first place. Regardless, the next time that I was hurting I repeated this strange communication.
Every single time that I did, the results were the same.

I learned something profound; Fearing the pain increased it, while accepting and knowing it was coming, decreased it.

When we turn the other cheek with the knowledge, acceptance and expectation that it’s going hurt, it doesn’t hurt as much as it would when we fear the pain and do the best that we can to avoid it.

Pain itself has taught me this and I am passing it on to you.


Jun 182014

Did you ever try to stop your addiction – right here and now, “cold turkey” – whatever the addiction may be?

Many of us try to do just that, and when we do, there’s an interesting phenomena happening.
Once we recognize that our repetitive practice does in fact fit under the definition of “addiction”, and further, once we recognize that a particular addiction is our adversary, a schism occurs and we become split:
One part wishes to be allowed to continue its practice of indulgence through addiction, while the other tries to overcome the impulse and eradicate the practice. One part is the adult, who knows that the practice is self destructive (to whatever degree), while the other is the child, which exhibits wanting. The adult has its reasons/excuses for aborting the practice, while the child has its own reasons/excuses for continuing the practice. Sometimes the child, just like any regular child, “wants just because it wants”, without any reasons or excuses.

Then there’s the will, or the judge. It oversees both parties, listens and finally decides. The adult has our own wellbeing as its goal, while the child uses tantrums to achieve its own goals.
Being the judge we get torn between the adult and the child. What may initially start out as minor wining, could quickly escalate into ear wrenching tantrums that may seem to increase exponentially by the moment.

Amazingly enough, we are completely free to choose whose side to support. Mentally at least, it is as easy to side with one party, as it is to side with the other. Yet the tantrums have an extorting power which is violent. And just as we end up so many times, giving in to a child’s tantrums, we do the same with the child within, who’s craving its substance of addiction.

The interesting phenomena that occurs, is that each time that we succumb to the child’s tantrums, in effect we give it more strength, so that the next time its tantrums will be more violent than they are now.

Likewise, when we patiently and lovingly, with understanding, say to the child: “I know that you really really really want (the substance of addiction), but it is bad for you, and I’m not going to allow you to hurt yourself or me” – the tantrums will become more and more violent, as they always do. This may go on for minutes, hours or even days, and it is most certainly heart wrenching, just as it is to see any child suffering.
At some point however, the tantrums begin to subside, as the child cries itself to sleep and we get relief – a wonderful experience.

Every time we choose the latter option, we effectively make sure that the next time there are tantrums, they will not be as violent as they are at the present. It doesn’t mean that the judge will not experience emotional pain and pity over the child and consider siding with him/her. It may take quite a few such trying experiences, in which the judge sides with the adult, under very violent tantrums, before the child’s tantrums become less violent.

Each time that the judge sides with the adult, the judge too, from its own perspective, becomes less prone to be swayed by the child’s violent tantrums, even when they are very difficult to handle. The judge begins to see how the child doesn’t have the maturity to protect itself and so the judge gradually realizes that only he/she can protect the child from further self-inflicted damage and pain. When this happens, even if the child’s tantrums are very violent, the judge gives the child a loving hug, and says: “I know that you are hurting. It will hurt for a while, before it finally relents. You will have to be patient”.

Just about anything in our life, could be an addiction, not just drugs and alcohol. Addiction can be to: work, sex, shopping, seeing the doctor, eating, drinking any non alcoholic beverage, taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, TV, internet, Google, need for love or pity, need to be approved of, rituals (both religious and non-religious), habits, being kind, volunteering and anything else that is part of one’s life. Nothing is exempt from potentially becoming an addiction. NO-THING!

When we wake up to becoming aware of this inner dynamics within us – as laid out above – and we fully realize the power that we have to choose which party to side with – this in itself is a very empowering experience / knowledge / understanding. This awareness is our strongest tool to place in the hands of the judge when the time comes for him/her to make their decision.

You are not alone. The journey is not over, but you are getting better, all the time.