HOW BEING RIGHT MAKES US WRONG

Posted by & filed under being compassionate, being right, elephant and blind men, Hannah Thomas, Heart Rising, interfaith, religious tolerance.

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Today’s Guest Post is by Hannah Thomas of ‘Heart Rising’

It is possible to be loving and it is possible to be right, but it is not possible to be both at the same time.
I can almost hear the arguments that would arise in response to such a statement!  What has being right got to do with being loving or compassionate?  Of course there is such a thing as right and wrong, and what kind of a world would we live in if we overlooked wrong?
I wouldn’t argue with any of those responses.  Instead, I would ask you to consider the following:
Judgment is a useful thing.  It can keep us out of harm’s way and help us to make wise choices in our lives.  It can also keep us firmly rooted in our ignorance and prevent us from seeing a higher perspective.
From our limited human perspective, we see only a small part of a much bigger picture at any given time.  We see through a lens of past experience, belief and expectation.  When we judge others around us based on this limited perspective, we experience the gratifying, satisfying feeling of being “right”, but whenever we judge without having all the facts, we cannot help but judge in error.  If we cannot see the bigger picture, how can any of us claim to have all the facts?
It is human nature to judge those who fall outside of our own framework.  Different cultures, different lifestyles, different sexuality, different religions, we mistake these outer differences for a fundamental difference in worth.  Take the case of religion. Throughout human history, the Divine that created us has reached out to us to reveal itself.  In response, man has tried to capture the knowledge and experience of the Divine, to create a framework around it so it would never be lost. This isn’t “wrong”.  Religion can indeed be a very useful tool in finding one’s way back to the Divine.  It can also become a terrible trap, when we mistake the path for the destination, thinking that the framework is the Divine and that anyone outside of it is lost.  Men have used and misused religion for centuries.  Some as a tool for redemption, others as a tool for oppression.  There is nothing wrong with religion itself.  The problem lies within us.
All religions share the same ultimate purpose, to re-unite us with the One who created us.  The foundation for this path of return is love.  One can pick any religion and get lost in the dogma, missing the point and hurting others in the process.  One can pick any religion and seek with their heart, finding their way back to what is already inside them. 
There is an ancient story about three blind men who are walking together one day and they come upon an elephant. They have never encountered an elephant before.  The first man encounters the elephants head and grasps it’s ear.  The second man walks up to the elephant’s middle and grasps it’s leg.  The third man meets it head on and begins to run his hands along the elephants trunk.
“What is this we have come upon?” asks the first.
“It is like a great tree.” says the second man holding the leg.  “Strong and rooted and immovable”.
“Don’t be silly.” says the first man, holding the elephant’s ear.  “It is like a giant leaf, flat and smooth and cool.”
“You are both wrong!” says the third man at the trunk. “Can’t you tell it is a great vine, strong and supple?”
From our sighted perspective, we can see the folly of the blind men, each one asserting (and quite rightly) their belief in what they have.  From their given perspective, not one of them is wrong.
Love sees from a higher perspective.  Only love can see the whole elephant and understand the reasons behind human error, and the frailty of the human heart.  Love knows what our minds cannot, that when all is said and done, it is only love that matters. (I do not mean love as the world teaches, but unconditional compassion or divine love). Until we learn to see from this higher perspective, we are like the blind men holding onto a part.  Our judgment may be right, but we are missing the bigger picture, and the harder we hold on to our belief in our own rightness, the more it separates us from those around us and the less likely we are ever to realize our mistake.
Being right feels good, there is no question.  Particularly when another has wronged us in some way.  Rightness can even be presented as evidence of our own goodness, and there is a very fine line between being right and being righteous.  From the perspective of love, rightness takes on an entirely different landscape.
When we embrace our own rightness, and the wrongness of another, we miss a vital part of the message that religion was meant to convey, that the breath of the One who created us moves through us ALL.  This Divine essence is in all of creation, in you, in me, in “them”.   When we have the courage to let go of our own sense of rightness, we take the first step in returning to this knowledge, that God cannot be put in a box, and that when we focus the seeming differences of religion it only keep us from seeing the holiness that exists in the eyes of our fellow human beings. 
It is important to understand that cultivating compassion for those we do not agree with does not mean that everything they do suddenly becomes ok with us. Cooperation is not the same as collusion.  It is possible to cooperate to change something without condoning what we do not believe in. It means recognizing that those we disagree with are human beings like ourselves, and that they want and need the same things in their lives that we want and need in ours. Compassion can be soft but it can also be fierce. The compassionate heart understands that if we could spend a moment in our enemy’s sorrows, we would have no enemies. 
Love melts the boundaries that our minds (and our rightness) create and opens a place within us where miracles happen.
One cannot walk this path without first coming to peace with one’s self.  It is impossible to see through the short comings of another and recognize and honor the precious breath of the Divine in them as that which also moves through us, until we have realized it in a profound way within our own lives. It is impossible to truly forgive another until we have faced our own failures and forgiven ourselves.  This kind of shadow work is not easy.  It is not easy to let go of our victimhood, our righteousness, or any aspect of that persistent sense of self which is a construct of the mind and not our true essence.  Indeed, it is only possible when we choose, in each moment as it arises, to die to our self and to allow that wordless Love which defies understanding to shine through us.  
Please take from these words only those which resonate with the wisdom of your own heart, for your own heart is your wisest guide.

Hannah Thomas is co-founder of www.heartrising.com, a website dedicated to the evolution of the human heart.  

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Hannah, this is a very insightful and wonderful blog post!