The true meaning of "showing the other cheek"
given by Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov in 1963
It says in the Gospel, “Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also”. I sincerely hope that Christians who hear what I am going to say about this phrase will forgive me, for it is far beyond anything they could imagine. Let me assure them, at once, that the future will prove that my interpretation of it is the right one.
Certain moral precepts which were valid in the past are no longer right or useful for the present or the future. Jesus' words do not mean that we must always be passive in the face of insults an ill-treatment. He was not telling us always to accept and submit to violence and put up with torment and, in the long run, allow ourselves to be wiped out. It is true that this is how these words have often been interpreted, but I shall show you that that is not what he meant. Of course, if one does not possess the light, there is only one solution: to submit passively and allow others to destroy you. But that is a code of behavior for the weak and ignorant and it must not last for ever. It has never been decreed that spiritualists, the wise, Initiates and sons of God, should be perpetually oppressed, enslaved, ill-treated and put to death, while idiots and criminals prosper. For the time being this is still the situation, because men have lost the divine spark, they have lost the strength that comes from the sun, they have lost all fire, warmth, light and life and, because they have lost all this they will necessarily be beaten and ill-treated.
It has also been said,”You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasonned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” So, there it is: if you lose your flavour you will be trampled on by men until you find it again. The Gospels do not say that you must be trampled underfoot for ever, but when you deserted God you lost all your powers and, now, you are an easy prey for the violent and corrupt.
At the time of Jesus, men needed to develop certain qualities and virtues which had never been emphasized before that; qualities such as indulgence, forgiveness and mercifulness. At the time, the code was one of justice, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The new moral code that Chrsit introduced was designed to encourage men to cultivate the qualities of the heart. Instead of reacting to others with such crude weapons as stones or knives or the sword, they had to learn to respond with nobler, more loftly means; with humility, love, patience and magnanimity. This is what Christ meant. But he was speaking to the men and women of his day and age, and what he said to them is not necessarily valid for the rest of time. He is telling us, now, that there is a better way: “When you are the victim of an injustice, you must respond with such intelligence, such strength of character, such understanding, light and warmth, that your enemy is completely bowled over, blinded and thunderstruck. Yes, thunderstruck; that is to say, transformed. Not annihilated, not killed, but regenerated. Instead of killing your enemy you give him life by leading him closer to God. If you are capable of doing this, you are a true hero, a true son of God.”
Why should we always let our enemies massacre us and crow over us? We must not kill or hurt anyone, we all know that, but that is no reason why we should be the eternal underdog. We have to learn to defend ourselves by becoming like the sun and shining so brightly that even if people try to attack us with senseless cruelty, they will be dazzled and blinded. In this way you blind your enemies and then you open their eyes, just as Christ opened Saul's eyes when he was on his way to Damascus, bent on massacring the Christians. One ray of light and he fell blinded to the ground. And Saul became Paul. If you could blind people in this way, for just a few moments, and then heal them again, do you think that they would still be determined to persecute you? The new philosophy does not teach us to remain weak and at the mercy of cruel and violent people; it teaches us to become like the sun so that our enemies cannot touch or soil us and, if they approach us, they will melt like wax.
If human beings do not possess the power to use light in this way, it is simply because it has never occured to them. They have embraced a mindless philosophy of weakness and impotence on the pretext that they are supposed to turn the other cheek. Well, you can turn as many cheeks as you like, it will not do you any good and you will not change your enemies that way. They will continue to slap your face and, in the long run, to assassinate you. You are just going to have to understand the question differently. The “other cheek” is the other side, the other aspect of yourself, the side of spirit, the side of power and light. Jesus showed this other side to his tormentors. Hiw whole attitude proclaimed it: “You can imprison my physical body, you can even crucify it, but I'll show you the other side of my being, the indestructable, divine side. Strike me, if you like, but within three days I shall rebuild my temple.” And he kept his word: he showed his other side with the result that the whole world was revolutionized. He showed the divine side of his being, not the earthly side, and he rose from the dead!
Christians and spiritualists in general still have a lot to learn and understand. Instead of always allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by the powers of darkness or by materialistic philosophies, they must learn to unite. They have a habit of saying, “Amen. Amen. So be it”, and accepting whatever is flung at them. But it is time to stand together, now, for they have it in their power to transfrom the world and restore the Kingdom of God on earth. The time for saying that Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek and let ourselves be martyred is over. This may have been acceptable in the past, because people could not do otherwise, they were not sufficiently advanced to hit back with sublime, divine weapons. But that is no longer true today.
Today we have the possibility of manifesting the power of the spirit through our knowledge and love, through our gestures and the whole of our behavior. This is where true strength lies. Why should we forever try to show that we are true Christians by being weak and spineless and cowardly? If that were the Christian ideal I should be the first to say that the world will never be rid of evil if we have to rely on a bunch of weaklings like that! We have to be strong an mighty, dynamic, active, impetuous, even violent – although, obviously, not with the violence of the physical plane. If Christianity is not properly understood it is worthless. True Christianity teaches us to be well armed, but with other arms and, when we are attacked, to show that other side, the side that is well armed, not the puny, impotent side. Until now no one has ever explained what that “other side” was.
Many of the things that were not well understood in the past will be better understood, today, and other entirely new things will have to be learned, for nothing is ever stagnant; everything changes and evolves. Jesus himself demonstrated this very clearly in teaching a new morality which was not that of Moses. The Gospels relate how, on several occasions, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old... But I say to you...” Let met give you some examples of this: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, “Thou shalt not kill”, and whoever kills shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment”; “You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”; “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.” But I say to you, do not swear at all”, and, finally, “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven”.
It is obvious, from these passages, that the moral law thaught by Jesus was no longer that of Moses. So why should there not be another, even more perfect moral law today? Christians will be scandalized by this suggestion because they consider that Jesus thaught a definitive doctrine: there is nothing more to be said. And what if Chrsit himself came and added some new notions? Can Christians deny him the right to do that? After all, everything has to grow and evolve. The laggards and all those who are too set in their ways, will be left behind. We are in favour of evolution, of something even more sublime, of the new life, the new religion which will be known throughout the length and breadth of the world, the true religion of Christ which has never yet been put into practice.
As long as men were still primitive, what could they be expected to understand? Before anything else, they needed to learn justice, and Moses was sent to teach them justice. Later on, Jesus was sent to teach love and forgiveness. But why stop there? That is not all there is. Forgiveness cannot solve all our problems. If someone tries to trash you, is there a law against you being stronger than he is? Why shouldn't you grab him by the leg and hold him up in the air, saying, “Do you want me to break every bone in your body?” Not that you would do it, of course. On the contrary, very gently, you would put him back on his feet again. Wouldn't that be much better?
What kind of Christianity is it that obliges you to be constantly ill-treated and massacred? I cannot accept that. You must be stronger than your enemy. So strong that the slightest gesture, a glance, a divine vibration flowing through you is enough to make him realize that you are far superior to him. And, when he feels so small, he will beg you to spare his life. “Very well, my friend”, you reply; “You're beginning to understand?” And as soon as you put him down, he will take to his heels and leave you in peace. Tell me frankly: wouldn't it be far better to be strong enough to react like that? I assure you it would. But no one has ever dared to envisage the possibility. The very idea seems far too ambitious, and that is exactly what I am interested in: giving you this ambition. How long it will take you to achieve such strength is another matter, but you can, at least, cultivate the desire to do so. You will never do anything worthwhile in the world if you are always passive, conciliatory, meek and vulnerable – wishy-washy.
There will be no more martyrs in the future. The martyrs of the past have already made the contribution that was required of them. They have fulfilled their mission. Besides, the main reason for their martyrdom was to allow them to pay off their debts and make good their past misdeeds more rapidly. Now that they have done that, why should they be martyred all over again? In the future, some beings will be so strong that when they know that someone is planning to injure them they will be able to put him to sleep at a distance, before he can get close enough to do them any harm. You will say, “That's a bit far-fetched, isn't it? You're going too far.” Not a bit of it. On the contrary, the time has come to lead human beings very, very far. At the moment they are in a dead-end street.
If you think that what I am saying is too much for you, very well, stay where you are. Others have more heroic ambitions. They want to be strong, powerful and full of light. They have no desire to be eternally victimized by the powers of darkness. When people like that are attacked they put up a fight. They know that they are not obligated to submit passively until they go under, on the theory that their destruction is “the will of God”. When Christians are stupidly submissive the powers of darkness smack their lips in gleeful anticipation of a feast. “Oho”, they say: “these Christians are tasty mosels. So juicy and tender! Let's make a dainty dish of them.” In other words, by their attitude, Christians actually serve themselves up as a choice dish for the powers of darkness. Sometimes one gets the impression that that is their only goal in life. Well, if they really want it that way, I have no objections. Let them go ahead and nourish the powers of darkness, but a true Christian defends himself by projecting a protective screen of light when he is threatened by forces of darkness. That is the reaction of a true Christian.
Some of you may think, “But we are not supposed to fight. It is written that we shouldn't try to contend with evil.” It is absolutely true, of course, that you should never try to battle with evil on it's own home ground because it is far too powerful there, and you would inevitably get the worse of it. But move to a higher plane; get above your adversary and, from your vantage point, hurl rockets and bolts of fire at it. You will soon see it turn tail and run. Man has an impregnable inner fortress, the fortress of light, armed with cannons and machine-guns that spit fire. What is to prevent you from turning the full force of that weaponry on your enemy and bombarding him with light? You will not kill or even injure anyone that way. On the contrary, you will transform them for the better. Aren't you perfectly within your rights in doing this? But people think that they have to behave “in a Christian manner” and, for them, that means letting themselves be martyred without reacting in any way. But the only thing that we are told in this respect is not to use the same weapons or react in the same way as the enemy.
Why assassinate someone who is trying to assassinate you? Paralyze him, blind him, put him to sleep, if you like, but get him to change his mind. There are some comic sketches based on this idea: we see someone plotting all kinds of dastardly deeds against a whole family, then along come a neighbour who talks so much nonsense, asks for so many stupid questions and makes so many impossible suggestions that the villain is completely bemused and disharmed. All that nonsense concealed the fact that the neighbour was really far more intelligent than the villain. So, you must defend yourselves. Not with the same arms, of course, with other, far more potent weapons which no one ever thinks of using because they do not really beleive in their efficacy. In fact, most people have no inkling that they exist.
Christians will never get out of the morass thay are in if they do not learn to work with divine methods. The very fact that they neglect the sun and attribute no spiritual value to it, proves that they have not got the means they need to overcome evil. But once they realize that they have disdained and neglected the sun, they will humble themselves and the sun will forgive them and, when that day comes, they will be all-powerful and the reign of evil will be over and done with. As long as Christians refuse to recognize that the sun is a gateway to God, they will always be weak. They can pray as much as they like and fill their churches with the smoke of incense, but that will never put anything right; the world will still be devastated by catastrophes, and disorder and chaos will continue to reign. But the day they recognize that the sun is the visibal image of God in the physical plane, and a doorway that gives them direct access to Him, it will be much easier for them to reach Him.
There is no doubt about it: the future belongs to the bold, to those who fight and work according to the laws of their divine nature. It is they who will have the last word. You must not beleive that, just because things were thus and so in the past, they are going to be like that forever.
Now, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, in Bulgaria, there was a young schoolteacher. He was not very big or strong, but he was an intelligent, sensible young man. One day he was with some friends in the village square and one of them, a big, hulking fellow who was not very bright, did not agree with something the schoolteacher said and started to argue with him. When the schoolteacher began to get the better of him with his intelligent arguments, the colossus lost his temper and let fly: one, two, and our hero was flat on his back! Of course, the others laughed and applauded the winner. After all, he was a real heavyweight, and physical prowess is always much admired. The poor young teacher went slowly and sadly home, the laughter and jeers of his friends ringing in his ears. But then, wonder or wonders, when he got home he found that his cow had calved and there was a lovely little calf in the meadow. He bent over and stroked it and then picked it up in his arms and hugged it, forgetting all about his recent humiliation. The next morning, and every morning after that, he would go up and pick up the calf and pet it.
This went on for several months. The calf was rapidly growing into a full-sized bullock but the schoolteacher never noticed. He just went on picking it up. Then, one day, he suddenly realized that his muscles had developed enormously and he decided to go down and join his friends in the village square, once again. When he got there, there was the bully who had knocked him out, bragging and preening himself, as usual. Going up to him, our hero asked him, “Do you remember me?” “I'll say I do”, said the bully; “You're the little chap I knocked out.” Without a word, the schoolteacher stooped, grabbed him by the leg and held him up, at arm's length, over his head. “Make your peace with God”, he said; “Because I'm going to throw you to the ground and smash you to smithereens!” Well, of course, the big bully started to whimper and beg for mercy: “Forgive me, forgive me. I'm sorry I hit you. Don't kill me.” “Very well”, said the teacher; “As long as you're sorry...” and put him gently down on the ground, whereupon the bully took to his heels and ran. All the other young men laughed and cheered and the teacher went home feeling very pleased and proud of himself: a true hero! So you see, you must never let yourselves be vanquished and trodden underfoot because you will not help others to be any better that way. They will just go on bullying you and misusing their strength. If you are too meek and mild, people think, “Aha, there's someone who won't fight back. Let's take advantage of him.”
The Lord asks strength, intelligence, light and power of His servants. If you want to conquer your difficulties, your enemies, therefore, you have to build up your strength. See if you cannot find a little calf somewhere – in your head, perhaps – and practise picking it up every day. You will soon be so strong, and so luminous and powerful, that you will be capable of picking up your enemies and holding them up in the air, telling them, “Make your act of contrition; I'm going to smash you to smithereens!” You will not kill them, of course; you will not even hurt them, so you will have nothing on your conscience. This is the true philosophy: instead of killing someone you help him and give him a chance to become wiser, more reasonable and better behaved. In other words you teach him something extremely important.
Don't try to hide behind weakness. Weakness will not save you and nor will stupidity nor indolence. You must meditate, search and practise and, one day, when you are as bright and as hot as the sun you will be invulnerable for, after all, can anyone touch the sun without burning himself? Ill-wishers will steer clear of you because – symbolicly speaking – you will be aflame, a fiery furnace. In the face of true spiritual strength, everyone is obliged to lay down their arms.
You will say, “Yes, but if I turn the other cheek, my enemy will be ashamed and beg me to forgive him”. Don't you beleive it. He will not repent; he is more likely to treat you worse than ever. No, you would do much better to follow the example of that young schoolteacher who picked up his calf every day. As an example, it is unique, you could find none better. Day and night, for years on end, you must practise and grow stronger and stronger until, one fine day, you seek your enemies, saying, “Do you recongnize me? You'd better look out because you're in for a surprise!” And, at the sight of your strength and the light radiating from you, they will realize that while they were resting on their laureals, you have been in training and have become invincible.
Take an example from mothers; they know what to do. When a child is disobedient and does exactly the opposite of what she tells him, she shows him the “other cheek”. That is to say, she begins by reasoning with him and perhaps, even, sheds a few tears. But if the child still refuses to obey she gives him a taste of the slipper, and he instantly understands and obeys. She does not kill him, but by showing him the “other side”, the side of stength, she teaches him a lesson. Instinctively, she reacts divinely.
There are two sides (in fact, there are three or four or, even, ten, but to make things simpler, let's just say that there are two), gentleness and strength, and it is important to know when and how to use them. Very often, when you are feeling depressed, worried or discouraged, it is because undesirable spirits are tormenting you, attacking you like a swarm of wasps, mosquitos or snakes. Is this the time for gentleness? Should you let them invade you and feed on you without a word of protest? On the contrary, it is time to show the other side, the side of strength. With words and gestures, you must show your strength and light and, in this way, teach them a much-needed lesson. And you can do this every single day. Why sit there suffering and feeling sorry for yourself? Show the other side, show you strength, your will-power. Get up and chase these entities away; don't allow thoughts and feelings that torment you and sap all your energies to drag on and on.
It all this clear, now? It goes against the traditional ideas, I know, but that dosen't matter. The important thing is that it is useful. And it works! You must adopt ideas and methods that work instead of clinging indefinitly to attitudes that are totally ineffective. To begin with, these new notions may shock you but, if you want to become stronger and stronger, always stronger, but without violence, without killing or destroying, you will be obliged to accept them. You can be strong, invincibly strong, thanks to the light.
Thus, each one of you must begin training and practising in order to be strong. You can only do it with practice. When war breaks out and you have to give battle to the powers of darkness, will you be ready? Start by trying to overcome the minor enemies within. Put them to rout. Stop giving in to them on the pretext that you are a Christian and don't beleive in violence. A strange kind of Christian, indeed! Don't you know that Christians are knights-errant? They are fighters, Christ's soldiers, and they must be well armed. Why do you suppose that so many Orders of knights were created in the Middle Ages? Simply because a true Christian is just the opposite of a meek and timid individual. He is a soldier, and his arms are light and the power of spirit.
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
The Bonfin, France, September 12, 1963
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The true meaning of "showing the other cheek" - Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov