On Blame: Whodunit?
Vol. 7, Aug.-Sept. 2003
The Transforming Power Of Love
Like many kids in the 1950s, I grew up reading "whodunits" and watching "Inner Sanctum," a TV show opening a creaking door to a maniacal question about humanity: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" It doesn’t seem likely that this would teach anyone to blame, but in learning to search for "the culprit," and, later on, as a free-lance journalist asking "why," I did become a blaming person, both of myself and others and to this day suffer this lingering tendency.
I know a few people who are not blamers, so it doesn’t have to be this way. Author Jack Kornfield tells the story of the Babemba tribe of South Africa. When a Babemba behaves offensively, he or she is placed in the center of the village and everyone gathers ‘round. Each person speaks to the offender, detailing good things done in the past and carefully reciting positive attributes, strengths and kindnesses. The ceremony often lasts for days, and at the end, a joyful celebration takes place and the person is welcomed back into the tribe.
Being shown our higher nature reconnects us with it, doesn’t it, and keeps everyone loving and forgiving. What a wonderful way to live! Yet how many of us do this?
I remember how I blamed God, Jesus and religion for the evils of the world and how this seething hatred polluted my life. Even after my wise, loving soul convinced me of the goodness of Spirit, I was still spitting mad at fundamentalist religions that were giving my God a bad name!
Providentially, truth is eternal and, like a magnet, returns again and again until we are ready and able to perceive and plumb the depths of itwithout anger, judgment or blame.
For me, blame is the deadliest sin, because it’s such an ingrained habit and is so pervasive in our culture. Buddhist mindfulness is helping me curb this tendency and consciously make choices: I can cast blame and suffer separation from myself and others, or I can recall that only by walking in someone else’s shoes can I know how they felt and why they did what they did. This is an easy choice to make, as I know that the past is overif we recognize and release its hold on us.
In the summer of 1999, I was able to experience the joy of releasing blame. While living alone for two months to write a book, I spent all my time in prayer, meditation and reflection, and slowly became aware that now I was blaming Jesus for the world’s separation from the God-self within. During a retreat on Iona, a beautiful, ancient Scottish isle that is the seat of Celtic Christianity, I asked to be rid of this burden of blame.
Shortly after, during a solar eclipse that stirred a mystical healing, I liberated my old angers and intolerance, forgave myself and others, and shed my ego’s protective need to be separate. The voice of my soul erased all of my rage by softly repeating, until I heard, "It doesn’t matter how we get to God, only that we do." Precisely when my blame vanished, my spirit soared into the transcendence of true enlightenment, loving openly and without reservation as God loves us: with honor and respect for each soul’s journey and the personal freedom of choice that we must have in order to learn.
This blissful sense of oneness, free of judgment and separation, was the most beautiful experience of my life. It lasted for three days of perfect, joyous peace and still calls me to build with the tools of conscious evolution: the guidance in dreams, signs and symbols, synchronicity, and most importantly, the true teachings of Jesus as shown in the Gospel of Thomas: direct revelation in the light-filled kingdom of God within us, where we are all children of a living God.
In workshops on releasing the past, I ask people to write down the most hurtful events in their lives and then list the good things that came out of each. Energy flows where attention goes, so without fail, perceiving every cloud’s silver lining converts anger and blame into open-hearted forgiveness and acceptance. We can do this each day, like the Babembas, walking step by step toward our joy and illumination.
Stepping out in good faith is the beginning of our reconnection with others, for it is the suspicion of inadequacy, fault and evil which holds us apart from one another. Each hand, each heart brought closer to another soul creates a world of beauty and peace, for us and for the
generations to come.
In my experience, self-blame is one of the worst blocks to our connection with Spirit. The lack of self-love says to us: "I’m not as smart as other people or good enough to succeed." Self-blame says, "I’ve projected my inadequacy onto other people and have hurt them." The self-blaming person obsesses on the error, loses touch with his/her sense of self-love and, thus unbalanced, grows uncertain, irresolute and fearful of what might happen next.
The following passages are taken from three separate meditative writings related to self-blame. If you’re a blamer, take heart: Spirit is not
Q: I recognize that not-listening to the guiding part of me was the cause of my sudden struggle in teaching the class. What else may I know
Well may this question be asked, dear one, for it gets in the way of the work to be done by self and others, this day and beyond. If a water flask were to leak and lose its water, would one throw the flask away or mend it and refill the flask?
It is easy to see that the beginning of a new watering begins with either the old or new, and the flask is less the point of interest than the watering and the intention of the teacher in doing so.
If one is guided to do thus and such, the guidance need not be accepted, so see that failure is not a question here. Rather, the question is: was the watering done in a sufficient manner, so the plants live and breathe? One can do the loving and polishing of them at a later time and choose, later also, how to listen for guidance and whether to accept it or not.
Q: How, in the midst of blaming ourselves, can we see what is real and what is not?
Of all the gifts given to humankind, the gift of discernment is the greatest. One is able to discern rationally and with the heart what is true and what is not. One must counterbalance the other, and yet, not each soul relies upon both but one or the other. Here is the difficulty: the mind and heart, at odds, flounder and cannot find truth for self and others. The release from this quandary comes only with reunion of the two. This is achieved through love and only love, to which the mind succumbs willingly and without fear. For this reason, love is indeed the greatest quality of all and what separates man from all else. Without love, discernment is impossible. Right action does not come about. Great ills are committed and humankind suffers.
Can we fault any for the lack of love? Nay, for the one without it suffers most of all and seeks it above all else. The loveless one is to be pitied, for misery besets this soul and healing must wait long and patiently for its vehicle: love. And so we seek forgiveness, which opens many to love and all that it gives and makes possible to humankind.
Q: How does self-blame relate to love?
It stands squarely in the way of love and is the barrier of separation which keeps the lower self apart from the higher.
See this as a quilt of tiny pieces gathering themselves into a pattern of blame. One cannot make the quilt disappear and be gone, but must dismantle it, piece by piece, until none are left. Allow these pieces to be seen, recognized, known and released until all are vanquished into the Light of healing. Once this is done, be mindful of each incidence of blame, forgive the error, if any, and do this with care until the tendency to blame is no more.
See each emotion as a thread to be traced back to its source and unraveled through the discernment of heart and mind. What is the intention of the other person? Is it to hurt or help? What is thine own intention? Does the feeling of anger, blame or judgment come from habit? Is this habit helpful or unhelpful to each life?
One can ache with the pain of separation or revel in the joy of oneness with self and others. If the same choice is made consistently, one’s life is surely a heaven or a hell.
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In Spirit's Toolbox:
A Stone for Mars or
7 Ways to Curb Blame
If blame were not so dangerously pervasive, watching CNN would be laughable. I tuned in briefly to "Larry King Live" during the recent power blackouts in the Northeast and observed reporters going in the usual directions they think people want them to go. Despite a Canadian report of fire at a generating site, Larry fast-forwarded from one governor to another to ask who should be blamed and what should be done, along the way arousing the spectre of terrorism.
We are so quick to cast stones, aren’t we? (I’d like to cast my next stone at Mars, which I’m almost certain is the cause of the computer snarls, house repairs, hassled and distraught loved ones, countless work delays and crummy cooking that have plagued me for the past three weeks. Only Mercury, in retrograde, has this powerful an effect on my life, so I know the culprit must be the angry red planet. Just give me a stone! I don’t care how big!)
It’s funny how, without realizing it, we’ve come to feel that it’s our right and responsibility to blame and reprimand, rather than love and help others to be betterthat is, when we ourselves can actually see a better way to be!
Here are seven ways to curb blame. Maybe if we slow our "loco motion," world leaders will take the cue!
1. Relax. Just before lashing out with tongue or hand, breathe and smile. This is like laughing at CNN. It takes the edge off. The longer you do this, the less you care about what the perp did or did not do. It’s like granny said, "Take 10 deep breaths." After you heal your anger a few dozen times, the ego quits casting blame and plays another movie. Soon you’ll have seen them all.
2. Surrender. Until the influence of Mars wears off, the scattered energies created by its steady approach to the Earth are best sustained by willing surrender and acceptance. This is a way of facing life, not only now and in dealing with blame, but always and in everything. No matter what daily life brings, no matter how difficult the task or prolonged the effort, the lesson is in the doing and the doing is the lesson. (If you repeat this to someone else, try not to sound like a Confucian astrologer!)
3. Love. Go to a meditative space and allow love to heal your pain. Only love, which contains the grace of forgiveness and acceptance, can heal pain. It is best to do this with anything that causes discord. One of my meditative writings puts it like this:
"The mind goes to what taunts and injures it, like a thorn, and the bleeding begins. If the heart goes to what needs healing, the heart of love does the healing and the mind is freed of the pain, which exists no more. Let these heal the soul, that it may ascend higher into the Light and be healed, whole and free."
4. Heal. Close your eyes and do a careful scan to see if your body and mind are tired or stressed. If so, you can restore your peace by going to a beautiful place outdoors or creating your own guided meditation. To create your own, all you have to do is focus on your breathing for awhile, thoroughly relax your body, and use all of your senses to conjure up in your mind’s eye a place in nature that you especially love. See, feel, taste and smell the colors, textures and sounds of this place. Spend time luxuriating in its beauty. After only a few minutes, you will have shifted your consciousness into a lighter, happier state. A few minutes more and you’ll feel like you’ve taken a trip to heaven. If you take time to "memorize" your happy, peaceful feelings, recalling these feelings at a later time will take you back to this peaceful state in a minute or less. Laughter restores us, too! No blame, says the "I Ching."
5. Purify. If you detect a past event that is lodged deeply inside and doesn’t easily unblock, find a private place and try this exquisite exercise. Make a list of your errors and/or the wrongdoings of others and on a separate piece of paper, ask these questions of each: How was that an act of love? How did that help or serve me and others? Don’t stop answering until you see the silver lining in each cloud and how it contributed to your life and helped you become the person you are today.
6. Celebrate! Listen to some beautiful music or, preferably, dance with an uptempo band like Deep Forest. This will shift the, er, weight of blame.
7. Love yourself. Do what gives you tremendous pleasure, so as to fill your cup with love and happiness. If your cup is empty, it’s difficult if not impossible to love and be kind to others. Caring for yourself will uplift your heart and enable you to serve the rest of the world.
When we are surrounded by the energies of our happiness, health, positive attitudes and healing laughter, neither Mars nor any other planetincluding this one!can disturb our peace. From a place of peace, we cast no stone and are invulnerable to stones cast by others.
The Cass Dialogues &
The Real Jesus
We are seldom aware of our evolutionary progress, as inner change occurs so gradually that it’s hard for us to recognize. I was able to do so recently, however, when a web surfer e-mailed me a series of questions about the power of religion to destroy or transform us. I was surprised and delighted to see my progress in religious tolerance and the gift of this person emerging out of cyberspace to hold up a friendly mirror.
I know nothing of the questioner but the name Cass, and offer these dialogues, which took place in three e-mails exchanged over two days, in the hope that you will read them with interest and perhaps observe your own feelings to see what, if anything, needs healing and how to do this.
I realize that religion is a topic which sends a great many New Agers, disenfranchised worshipers and young people through the roof! Several good friends, sensitive to this, have kindly suggested that I drop the words "soul" and "God" from my vocabulary, but I prefer to do as the Wiccans are doing with the word "witch": I want to restore these terms to their original meanings, with the intention of finding common ground upon which to make peace with people of all religionsand none. Rather than ignore or deny an angry stewpot of conflict simmering in millions of people, I prefer to help douse the flamefor the good of each individual and the world.
This was very difficult for me to do personally, but I did swallow this "big frog" and know that anyone else can, too, if they so choosedespite some enthralling fires stirred this year by ancient teachings revealed in a brilliantly researched book by Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas.
The Nag Hammadi scrolls, found in Egypt in 1945, clearly show that Jesus taught about the love of God and urged people to go within to know the beauty and peace of this Light; in the silence, he said, is the radiant love that heals and uplifts us. "...the Kingdom is inside you, and outside you," the Gospel of Thomas quotes Jesus as saying. "When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will see that it is you who are the children of the living Father."
To me, this acquits Jesus of the evils of the world, as he was teaching the same beautiful truths as other great masters and prophets.
Pagels shows how and why early church leaders conspired to suppress these teachings, and one can only pity the fear-driven people who did not themselves possess and thus rejected the divine revelation taught by Jesus and experienced intensely by early Christians as the "holy spirit." I know from other religious historians that church leaders, fearing the rise of this spiritual intuition, elevated Jesus to the status of God, banished these teachings, and deliberately severed people from the kingdom within by adopting the doctrine of "original sin," which originally referred to karma from a previous life and not at all to the innate "evil" that it came to mean.
More important than these misdeeds is our awesome ability, in light of history, to see the beauty of truth revealed as Jesus really taught it! How encouraging it is to discover that prophesying and ecstatic union with Godseen in Charismatic Christianity, Sufism, mystical Judaism and every other religionis just as much in evidence now as it was then and that we are on exactly the right channel in this new Age of Aquarius: "tuned in" to eternal truths that by universal law will gain energy and strength from our understanding and use of them.
Perhaps one day the phrase "Christ Consciousness" will not anger so many peoplepeople who have been deeply hurt and persecuted by othersand will simply refer to living the laws of love given by a man who was perhaps the greatest and most enlightened teacher of all time.
Let me know what you think about the Cass dialogues (and what you think of my answers to these basic questions.
Cass: how does religion have the power to transform?
Judith: Its teachings of love, peace and mercy, yes? The loving and seeking heart will extract what it knows to be true and embrace that, leaving all the rest behind, and put together a bigger picture of Truth.
Don’t you think?
Cass: yes thank you i do think that is part of...can u explain how religion can be judgmental, and also divisive?
Judith: Yes, but of course you know this. Primarily by claiming to have "the one truth," which excludes the possibility that other believers might have truths also. By claiming that others do not, the religion claiming to be the "one true religion" creates judgment, separation and a "them versus us" situation. Catholicism and Christianity claim to hold the only truth, which probably came out of the Jewish claim of being "the chosen people." In such exclusive statements, which became belief and church doctrine, are the basis of personal and collective jealousies, defensiveness, fear and holy wars.
The irony is that each religion teaches us to love one another; yet our belief in this concept of "one true religion" separates us from others and the God who calls us to love one and all.
What first my meditative writings then the Edgar Cayce readings taught me is that each person has a different truth based on personal and religious beliefs, family background, genetics, and the thoughts and attitudes that come from our experiences in this world. So, no two peopleeven those in the same family or religionbelieve exactly the same thing. They cannot, as we each look at the world through different filters colored by our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs.
I believe that any claim made by a person, government, political faction or religion to have the one and only truth is divisive and untrue. Each of us must discover what we believe to be true and live that in integrity and service to one anothera mode of service that honors each other’s beliefs, rather than disclaims or denies them. By honoring other people’s personal beliefs, we also honor our own and thus create peace in ourselves and the world.
A few years ago, I attended a Catholic mass to hear choir music directed by a friend, a former priest and now psychologist, and was astonished when, in the middle of the service, we were asked to turn to the person standing next to us, look into that person’s eyes and say with heartfelt sincerity, "I see God in you."
Not only was I surprised to see a conservative Catholic church deliberately move away from its earliest doctrine of God as separate and apart, this was very healing for me personally. I’d attended a Catholic school as a very young child and, out of a deep-seated love for God and my "one true religion," I attended church alone, without my family, until age 15. From obscure history books I learned later on what terrible things the Catholic Church, in its arrogant determination to control, did to other peoplefrom the Crusades that destroyed so much of the Islamic world; to the murder and oppression of Jewish people worldwide; to the killing of medieval children and the burning of their pagan mothers, who were condemned as evil witches but were only gifted healers resisting destruction by priests who wanted their jobs.
Even now, in writing this, I feel an array of upsetting emotions disturbing my peace, so I hope my recalling this hasn’t disturbed yours! It’s just my viewpoint, anyway, because I feel so sorry for people who are oppressed and prevented from being who they really are and, in this, truly free.
In the end, I suppose it’s all in divine right order. Somehow the evangelists who converted native people did not entirely wipe out their wonderful nature-based religions, so these have surfaced within the past few decades and we are seeing the face of God in nature. Besides that, no one can prevent acculturation and we are rapidly becoming, as an artist friend of mine puts it, a cosma raza: a cosmic race of mixed peoples of one color and one blood. Maybe that’s when we’ll have "one true religion"a religion of tolerance, understanding and love!
Cass: Thank you very much...i appreciate this a lot and u seem to have very strong views on religion...i’ve just got one more question if you don’t mind, how can religion be restrictive and can help people to find meaning in life?
Judith: Cass, your questions get more and more interesting. And of course, once again, I preface my answer with the qualification that these are my own views, so please take what seems right and throw
away the rest.
A few years ago, my Unity minister, in her Sunday lesson, cautioned us against judging other people’s religions because "There are many mansions in God’s house." I’ve thought about this a lot and how one of the most beautiful things about this world is that it holds something for everyone, so that everyone has a place of belonging. No doubt this is because we are all so different that we create just what we need; thus there are infinite variations of everything.
So what seems to be a restrictive religion to you or me is not at all restrictive to others, who belong there. It’s freeing for them, because it mirrors their own beliefs. They are validated by this (to us) seemingly restrictive religion, because it’s a projection of what they believe and need to be true, because of where their consciousness is at that moment.
Now, if your question had read: how can religion be restrictive and still help people find meaning in life, it would have been harder to answer. But as it happens, I have a good deal of personal experience with this issue, since I grew up in Catholic Louisiana, within the fundamentalist Bible belt of the Deep South.
For me, Catholicism and the judgment coming from other restrictive religions (don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t play cards, etcetera) served as a catalyst to propel me out of that religion, first because I didn’t want to be restricted in any way; secondly, because I recognized this is human nature; and thirdly, because I felt that these judgment mongers were playing God, and the real God didn’t care about such petty concerns.
So the restrictiveness of these two religions actually freed me, because they were too confining and oppressive.
But this is where your question gets sticky. What about people who, because of childhood abuse, loneliness or ignorance are oppressed and trapped within a narrow and potentially mean religious group? That’s what bothers me and it’s why I pled in my book for any religion that exclusively claims to be the "one true" religion to see that this doctrine is damaging and can harm even its own adherents. Because, then, pride comes into the picture, too, doesn’t it? and fear, and this is just plain unfair to everyone, including those affected by the followers of that religion. This is why so many people have rejected and abandoned religion altogether, because no one wants to live in fear or to be pressured by people living in fear. It’s disabling, disempowering, tyrannical, and yet, most if not all religions were built upon and continue to hold onto their members through doctrines based on fear. You’ve seen the angry, pointing finger that says, "If you don’t do what God told us to tell you to do or not do, God will strike you dead and you will burn forever in Hell."
It sounds crazy to me and always has, but this teaching works for a lot of people and probably for lots of different reasons. I expect that many people stick with it for social and business reasons and don’t realize that there are enlightened religions that they could learn from and grow within just as well or better. Either way, whether their reasons are ignorance or choice, we can’t deny their wants and needs any more than we want them to deny ours. It gets back to what the minister said: there is a "mansion" (state of consciousness) for everyone and there are reasons for that.
Conversely, if I point a finger at them, then I’m playing the same judgment-game and this is harmful to me. So I’ve learned to focus, quite literally, on the religion of Unity and leave others to their choices.
I am saddened, however, that these doctinres of fear perpetuate the Biblical notion of a "jealous" Godangry, devious and capricious like primitive man was (and too often still is). Presented with this, we can’t help but ask, "If God is no better than we are, then why should we love him? He needs help!" So because of this primitive concept, which we have long outgrown, the word God has become to millions of people a dirty word, only because of our limited apprehension of the infinitely powerful force of Love that is the source of all good and nothing but good in this universe and within our lives.
In the end, amazingly enough, even this misapprehension is a gift, so I can only marvel at the wonderful ways in which things work. All this confusion has only turned us within to get the real answers, as in ancient times, but more people understand this now than ever before! God has given us a soula spark of the divinethat is within us and will, ultimately, no matter how long it takes, help us hear, feel, see or just know a lie to be a lie. Once we perceive a lie, the whole ball of twine unravels and we are led, by Soul, into our own truth. Out of God’s universal Truth we create a religion of love that is more precious and powerful than any church doctrine.
This is where we’re headed right now, I think, and this makes the 21st century a very exciting time in which to be alive. I am convinced that each thought of tolerance, peace and love adds energy to the Love in us and to the world, awakening a spark of truth in someone, somewhere. It’s all about energy, isn’t it, so this has to be true.
It’s my truth, anyway. Is it yours, too?
Thanks, Cass, for these wonderful questions, which have brought me into a joyful and uplifted state of mind. I’ve enjoyed our dialogue and am
open to more.
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"Love of our neighbor consists of three things: to desire the greater good of everyone, to do what good we can when we can, and to bear, excuse and hide others’ faults."
"What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such."