Monday, September 13, 2010

Will Stopping Judgment Automatically Lead to Peace?

The Voice of Knowledge, by don Miguel Ruiz, describes the way that the “knowledge of good and evil” led to the fall from the Garden of Eden. This knowledge, or judgment and other activity of the mind, stands in the way of peace. If we could unravel our judgments, we could then return to the Garden of Eden. When I first read this teaching, it made sense. I automatically thought of all the verses of the Bible teaching against judgment, and of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ granting redemption. It never occurred to me to ask questions about it. I was afraid to trust my mind.

However, today I have asked questions. Can merely stopping judgment return us to the state described in the Garden of Eden? Is judgment synonymous with ego? With sin? When we stop judging, are we thus filled only with unconditional love? Is our current instinctual state the same as it was in the Garden of Eden? Can it be? Will we naturally be loving if we cease judgment? Is our true nature to be self-seeking and pleasure seeking or is to be selfless?

The description of The Voice of Knowledge on the Amazon website states:
“What Ruiz calls "the voice of knowledge" others spiritual teachers might call ego--the hidden and carefully defended belief system that prevents us from living and expressing who we really are." But, is Ruiz really describing anything at all synonymous with the ego? And, is it only the belief system we defend that stands in the way of our true self?

Miguel is right that stopping judgment is critical to return to inner peace. However, he is wrong that this is the only thing required. Yes, the heart of the Christian tradition is love and forgiveness, but it is also based on the desire to live as Christ did. The heart of his message is to love God with your whole heart, soul and mind. That means not to put other things before God, like pursuit of wealth, pursuit of sex, and pursuit of belief that if you want something, so should it be. Jesus did say, “Ask in my name and you shall receive,” but key here is “in my name.”To pray for a million dollars and attach Jesus's name upon it is not what he was talking about. “In my name,” would be to put unselfish desires before selfish ones. Otherwise, we are still intent, as the serpent promised, on ruling the universe. There was more to eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil than curiosity alone. Pride was involved. Adam and Eve wanted to “be like gods.”

Yet, are we not God? True, there is no place where God ends and we begin, but our brains are tiny and God is infinite. Therefore, if our puny desires are considered more important then fitting into God's overall plan, we will thus be endlessly disappointed and deluded. Our version of the Garden of Eden may or may not be what God created. But what if we do not “attach” to those desires? What if we have no regard to outcome while still passionately proclaiming what we want? Still, there is the problem of pride. Is not attaching to outcome a trick we are using so we can “manifest” our wants? Is it just a way of shielding us from pain if God says, “no?” I don't remember Jesus saying, “I will help you manifest your heart's desires.” Using “love energy” to believe in your ability is the same as using Jesus's name to demand what you want, expecting it to be given. Which is stronger here: our desire for what we want or our desire to discover what God wants? That is the question. How can we strengthen our desire for God?

What is love? If we were free of judgment, would we be naturally loving, because that is our true nature? Grace and redemption do not change the effects of original sin. One of those effects is the struggle between our will and God's. It continues. People who love with “unconditional love” still have to cope with this dilemma. They are not immune. Do you remember the story in the Lord of the Rings? The Ring gives you the power to will whatever you want. Everyone initially believes they will do nothing but good with the ring, but slowly they become completely corrupted.

We are here on earth to be “like God,” following Christ's example. We are not here to be “as God” following our whims and fancies. It is true that many people feel undeserving and may be creating a life for themselves that does not bring rewards, for that reason. But, does it then follow that people should feel fully deserving of all things for their own sake? The over-entitled life has nothing whatsoever to do with love. Good luck to those who feel abundant, create abundance, etc. Whatever they're full of, its not going to bring them any closer to lasting peace.

The latest book by Ruiz, The Fifth Agreement, advises us to "be skeptical." On that subject, I agree with him.

“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Romans 13:12-14

1 comment:

  1. Amen!

    Thinking of LOTR the last installment.
    Frodo actually WAS corrupted by the Ring, but Gollum, whom Frodo spared when he could have killed him was his 'salvation' in the end, by his own greed which caused him to take the Ring (along with Frodo's finger) and destroy himself in the Lake of Fire, thus saving Frodo from himself Amazing parallels to the Gospel!