Friday, December 16, 2005

Deepak Chopra on the Forgiveness Teaching of Jesus

Huffington Post is running Deepak Chopra's post from his Intent Blog. I often don't agree too much with Chopra's posts, but in this case I think he is right on the mark and has something important to say.

He's riffing on Jesus' admonition to "resist not evil," from the "turn the other cheek" teaching in Matthew 5:38-42. Chopra provides an updated version of the teaching:
You've been taught an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say don't resist evil.
If someone hits you, let him hit you twice.
If someone sues you in court to get your coat, give it to him and your cloak, too.
If someone forces you to go one mile, go two.
If someone asks you for something, give it to him. If he wants to borrow money, don't turn your back.

Here is Chopra's interpretation of the teaching:

"Resist not evil," if carried out in real life, would lead to a society of forgiveness. Horrendous notion! If we went around forgiving everybody, either they'd completely take over and dominate us or they might forgive us in return. This second option, which Jesus perhaps had in mind, is so unthinkable that the first option is the only one society considers viable. To forgive, as we now view it, is to show weakness, and those who show weakness deserve what they get: Evil will overrun them.

The only fly in the ointment is that Jesus gave in to evil and is worshipped for it. This moral dilemma has vexed the world for centuries. Now that morality has reversed itself and punishing all evil-doers to the absolute maximum is the most Christian thing to do, we can all rest easy. Jesus's most radical ideas have been washed clean from our memories and our conscience.
It amazes me sometimes how the teachings of Jesus have been ignored or forgotten (as Chopra is suggesting) by so many "Christians" today. He did not preach an easy path. Having been raised Catholic, I can honestly say that I was not taught the path of Jesus; I was taught the path of the Church. I think this is true for many Christians from the full spectrum of denominations.

However, I know many other Christians who do study the path of Jesus and try to live that path in their lives. These people are kind, generous, forgiving, and open-hearted, and do not discriminate against anyone, no matter what their church might teach.

When I think about Christianity, so often the image that comes to mind is the self-righteous, closed-hearted, bigoted leader of some fundamentalist group determined to make everyone live by his archaic and intolerant values. It saddens me that these people have become so prominent as to give Christianity--and Christians--a bad name.

There are many Christians and non-Christians in this world who try to uphold the teaching of Jesus that Chopra discusses. Maybe by their example, others will follow and this can indeed become a world of forgiveness.

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