Turning the other cheek

 

There are different literal and metaphorical interpretations of this perplexing statement by Jesus:

If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Here is one way of looking at it that makes sense to me:

When we believe in stories, we are identified with them and try to defend and protect them. If someone says something that goes against these, we automatically defend them and create drama around it. We act from a fixed view, a closed heart, reactive emotions.

Yet, when there is a release of identification with these stories, when there is only clarity, there is no need to defend and protect them. We know they have only limited and practical value, we are familiar with the truths in their turnarounds. Instead of defending against what someone says, we can join with it. We see the truth in it.

So when someone strikes us on the right cheek, we turn him the other also. When someone criticizes us, we can find the truth in it for ourselves. Whatever story someone comes from, we can find the (limited) truth in it. Instead of battle, we join.

In this, there is clarity, a receptive view and an open heart.

And from this clarity and kindness also comes actions, informed by whatever wisdom, insight, experience and skillful means available to us. We can give a clear yes or no. We can protect this and other human selves, using whatever means seems needed.

Jesus may seem to encourage people to avoid go into reactivity by not opposing the actions of someone else. And we can  differentiate it further.

When we are clear, there is no need to defend any particular stories or identities. We see them as just thoughts, with limited and practical value only, and we are familiar with the truth in their reversals. We are comfortable with the bigger picture.

And from this clarity comes actions of kindness, such as protecting this and other human selves from harm. Not through reactivity or dehumanizing the other, but by seeing all as us.

It is not far fetched. It is not something unachievable. It is not something we have to be born knowing.

It is something that comes through practice, through systematically and sincerely investigating our belief and finding what is already more true for us than the initial story.

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