Non-resistance

Non-resistance is one of the greatest spiritual teachings. It is closely related to forgiveness. Yeshua bar Yehosef (later rechristened ‘Jesus’) alluded to it, but it is not unique to him – all the great religions teach the same.

According to one of the gospel writers[1], Yeshua said ‘You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.’ Obviously, he didn’t mean this literally – he knew how to use symbolism and metaphor to get his message across. He was simply telling his audience of poor and oppressed people, let it go; don’t meet evil with evil, instead – practise only good.

In saying this, he was reinforcing a passage in the Hebrew Scriptures[2]: “Do not say, ‘I will do unto others as they have done unto me; I will pay them back for what they have done.’”

Non-resistance is about replacing negative thoughts of judgement, blame and vengeance with loving thoughts of acceptance, harmony and peace, and then allowing our speech and actions to concur. Of course, this is not always easy to do, but it is the only way for peace of mind.

When we feel attacked, abused or insulted, we should let go and let higher forces handle it – which they will – through the natural Law of Cause and Effect. Others have to face up to their responsibilities and learn from them, just as we do. We need do nothing. Lessons will be learned. natural justice will be done.

In the greater scheme of things fighting evil with evil simply doesn’t work. As one of the greatest modern proponents of non-resistance, Mahatma Gandhi, put it,  – ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.’ We all know revenge doesn’t change what happened and that anger merely clouds our judgment; it can lead to unwise actions which inadvertently sabotage our happiness and wellbeing.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but intuitively I think most people understand the sense of what I’m saying.

Some years ago I came across an idea which I’ve found very helpful in understanding and practising forgiveness and non-resistance. When we’re stressed, angry, fed up, facing tough challenges and finding it hard to see a way through,  we should ask ourselves not, ‘Why did this happen to me,’ but ‘Why did this happen for me?’

Why is this so valuable? Because everything that happens does so for a reason. We may not see it at the time, but it contributes to the fulfillment of our life’s purpose. If we respond wisely, it contributes to our spiritual growth. We live in a world of appearances. Sometimes the things we get angry about happen specifically for our benefit, but we can’t see it. This is the real meaning of ‘Turn the other cheek’ – allow life to happen, stay centred, look for the benefit, and know that everything that happens, happens for you.

©David Lawrence Preston, 21.7.2016

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[1] In the composite of Yeshua’s sayings known as the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5 38-39.

[2] Proverbs 24:29

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