Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted For Righteousness Sake
As far back as Saint Augustine it was said that this Beatitude was an add-on. The other seven Beatitudes were essentially states of consciousness that one could choose to engage, where as this eighth Beatitude described something that happened to you as a consequence, not as a choice. The medieval Gnostic-Christian sect, the Cathars, were intimately familiar with persecution. Their devotion to their theology of love resulted in their genocide at the hands of the Catholic Church. This Beatitude would have brought solace in their times of persecution. Blessed are those that are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This can be seen from either the perspective of persecution, or an expanded understanding of why the persecution would be taking place. In a nutshell, as it states in the Beatitude, it happens because of righteousness. An earlier version of the word righteous was rightwise in the same way we use the word clockwise. Wise refers to the direction someone or something is moving. In the case of this Beatitude it is someone who is choosing to move in an up-right, just or straight direction. This is really about having adopted a sustainable commitment to the reconciliation that has been achieved through being devoted to living mindfully, that was discussed in the previous post.
The persecution that arises here is as a result of the disparity between a life immersed in material values and one that embraces spiritual values. The reward of the kingdom of heaven isn’t the result of receiving persecution, but is the natural outcome for living a ‘rightwise’ life. Ironically, if you were so aligned with Christ consciousness, persecution would almost be like water off a ducks back. So really, this Beatitude is alluding to the sustainability of living mindfully.
A common good complaint that EAP Mentors receive from their clients is the reluctance and sadness at finishing their program. For most people, they have spent between 12 and 18 months, almost every week, connecting in a non-judgemental, insightful, nurturing way with their mentor. As you can imagine, being left on their own at the end of the program, there is uncertainty about how well they will go at sustaining their mindful way of living. In the majority of cases, our clients do really well in sustaining their new awareness and mindful practices. When your life is more aligned materially, and less so spiritually, you can’t imagine such a different reality. But once you have become committed to living with kindness, by prioritising the Works the Mercy (Beatitudes 4 and 5), being Pure in Heart (Beatitude 6) and becoming reconciled with your highest essence (Beatitude 7) then that becomes your new way of being, of living.
This blog series is called The Eight Principles of Love. It was an ancient formula for having love become the one thing you could treasure most. Kindness is the manifestation of that love, more particularly the love that you have for yourself. When proclaiming what the greatest commandment was, Jesus declared that it was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. But he didn’t stop there. He went on to say that the second greatest commandment was like this one, love your neighbour as yourself. That ‘commandment’ to love yourself is not only ignored by much of Christianity, it is even frowned upon.
The apostle John was all over the love thing! So much of what he wrote about the importance of love. In one of his letters he wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1John 4:7) I want to make it clear at this juncture that EAP is not a religion, it’s a mindfulness mentoring program that helps people to have love be the thing that they treasure most. I have referenced the Cathars through this blog series, because they exemplified lives devoted to love consciousness. The role of an EAP mentor is first and foremost to help you become aware that there is a kinder way to approach life. Kinder to yourself, to others and to the planet. But they go further than that. EAP mentors help to retrain the brain by helping you develop new strategies for living more kindly, which have the potential to become new neural pathways, essentially new loving habits.
Then finally, EAP mentors help you create ways to become more mindful that you have the choice to turn up in your life being kinder. As Karen Drucker sings, “My religion is kindness...and I practice it every day.”
My last client yesterday is almost finished the program. We have been working together for just on two years. He was relating how a severe bashing that he had received was what triggered him to come and do EAP. He explained that he was so full of anger, and at that time the need for revenge was so strong that anything could have unfolded. But then yesterday he said that if he could find the guy who beat him, he would give him a hug and thank him. After a lifetime of self-loathing and self-destruction, this man is fully embracing his life with love and kindness. Where in the past, on waking he hated the prospect of each day, now on waking he looks forward to each day. He now, more than ever loves his life.
I called this work the Enhances Awareness Program, because that is what we do, we help people become more aware of loving alternatives. That then puts them in the position to have a choice, to be kinder to themselves, to others and to the planet.
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