I have experienced poverty and homelessness.
I have experienced security—a lavishly appointed place to sleep, love and raise a family.
I have lost all and been without faith, completely.
I have searched wholly and found a God of my own understanding. I have known God’s will for me and pursued that in life.
I have scrubbed decks, cleaned toilets, painted, roofed homes, and ground paper for making insulation. I’ve been to sea, gotten seasick and continued as a fisherman.
I have been a general manager, executive director and the president & CEO of large enterprises employing hundreds of workers, providing for many hundreds of families.
I have struggled with health, been beaten to a pulp, hospitalized, and lost my mind.
I have enjoyed perfect health, wholeness that knows no words and found undeserved intelligence that has propelled me to the top of many endeavors.
I have lost in love, divorced, been brokenhearted and roundly defeated. I have known all depths of loneliness.
I have known great and true love, devotion till’ death do us part, and a happy successful marriage for over 20 years.
I have known drunkenness, drug addiction, a compulsion beyond my mental control and been driven by a merciless obsession beyond my willpower to correct.
I have known sobriety and release, freedom from bondage, and been blessed to help others heal. I have witnessed many make their beds and walk again.
I have known youth, wild exuberance, and no fears, cares, or worries.
I have known getting older, gray hair, wisdom, self-care, and protection.
I have known prejudice, judgement, strong disdain, and pure unfettered hate.
I have known the sweetness of love thy neighbor as thyself, acceptance, respect, tolerance, understanding, and forgiveness.
I have known intense self-centeredness, “me-me-meism”, blame, and playing the victim.
I have known a life of self-sacrifice, service to others, and discovered humility in the process.
I thank the loving God I know for all these experiences, but especially, the realization that with all I have experienced, I still have had an easier life than most of my fellow travelers on this planet. May I feel no sorrow for myself, only compassion for others.
Walking in another man’s shoes, understanding his path—I have had the unusual experience of walking in nearly all of them. It has ceased to be difficult to put myself in the shoes of and on my fellow travelers’ path.
I am you and you are me.
I get it now.
I belong to mankind.
Now I realize that the only experiences that will last the test of time are those kind acts, the love I brought to my family, the understanding I showed to my daughter and the pride I showed my son. The kind words I said to a fellow sufferer and the unimaginable kindheartedness and gentleness that has been undeservingly rendered to me.
The small few words I spoke out loud that went out to the universe and improved the world. Those words were always kind and directed in one way or another to say I love you.
For this lesson write out your own experiences, the good and the bad. The beautiful and the unlovely. The highs and lows. Those experiences that have brought you humiliation and humility.
When we look at all we have done, the highs and the lows, those areas we have suffered and those where we were the perpetrator of the suffering of others—only then can see ourselves as a part of the whole, one among many, part and parcel of the human race—connected to all of God’s creation.
How can we continue to hold judgement on those that caused us harm? Once we awaken to the harm we have caused others, we have allowed the light to enter and expose our own harmful thoughts. Through gossip, quiet judgment, ridicule, or worse, we have played the role of both the victim and the sinner. Haven’t we committed many of the same sins that we so worshipfully held against our own family and friends? What parent hasn’t lost their temper and said something harmful and unloving to their children? Yes, we are a part of mankind indeed. Our ego would have us show only the persona of the good worker, father, mother, daughter, son. Truly we are all carrying strengths and weaknesses, this is the human condition and therefore we are seekers. We seek something more in this life. Something beyond good and bad, black and white, love or hate, good citizen or prisoner. Let us recognize our wholeness and therefore more easily forgive our transgressors. And in the same light, forgive ourselves.
How silly to hold on to the belief that someone is less than or that we hold some higher moral ground. Yet, let any conversation around the dinner table or breakroom at work, progress without the presence of God and we are right there—being smug and criticizing someone else’s shortcoming. Thank God that we remember to stop and say a prayer. I may be the only one in a crowd awake enough to pause and say a prayer within myself therefore putting an end to my participation in such nonsense.
Life is infinitely better when we can look at our own life and seek the realization of not only our successes but also our low spots. Then we see others who may indeed behave worse and say to ourselves “But for the grace of God, go I.”
This is not a new message, just a new way of thinking about an old message. Notice the simplicity of this message in the New Testament message as written by Matthew. How would these five statements improve my life if I took them to heart? Can I live up to these without seeking a spiritual way of life?
1) Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
If we judge ourselves first, see our own flaws and keep the concentration on where was I wrong we don’t have time to judge others.
2) For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. If this is true, then it is also true that If I measure with compassion and love I will receive compassion and love.
3) “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
We feel a superiority, a one-upmanship, a cleverness when we are focused on the speck in another’s eye rather than looking at ourselves. Unfortunately, this is false pride and not based in truth. It fails us, and we are left emptier than ever. Back to point number one.
4) “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”
We can say this because we are spiritually asleep. We are only living a one-dimensional life in the physical world. When in this condition we can only focus on ourselves, without God’s help we cannot move beyond to self-sacrifice and being of service to our brother. Wakeup, wakeup, wakeup.
5) You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
What us hypocrites! Imposters, deceivers and pretenders? Yes, indeed at last we saw we were all this and more. It brought us much suffering we were convinced we did not deserve. Thank God, we now know how to say a prayer and live in an awakened state of being. It may take serious soul surgery but the plank is being removed and we can at long last see the truth.