A Karmic Misunderstanding

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What goes around comes around.  There is a kind of smugness in this old maxim.  It seems that even the most religious folks allow those words to come out of their mouths with indignant self-righteousness.  It is surprising really. There is certainly no gospel mention of Jesus wagging his finger or clicking his tongue with a message of certain doom.  On the contrary, he welcomes sinners, dines with tax collectors, and hangs out with rugged fishermen, street people, and prostitutes.  His message is one of acceptance and a way out of trouble.  Yet, we continue to wage a holy war on one another by waiting for divine retribution, punishment, and retaliation.  Lucky for most of us that what goes around does not always come around.  I don’t know about you, but my fate would be sealed.

“Contrary to popular misconception, karma has nothing to do with punishment and reward.” ~ Sol Luckman

What we need to wait for and anticipate is forgiveness, grace, and love.  We should especially wish this for those who seem to be mired in trouble and meanness.  We don’t get to set ourselves apart as righteous superiors.  We don’t get to discard those who have injured us with karmic hopes that ‘they will get theirs’.  Any time we do those things we are setting up a dynamic of hatred which flows out to every ear that hears.  We become the example of exactly what drives people away from God.  The lost sheep is not being fervently pursued with shears and butcher knives.  The lost sheep is being sought so it can be returned home on the shoulders of the shepherd in expectation of a great celebration.  With that in mind let’s stop expecting cosmic retribution and hope for universal mercy.

 

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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Transforming Cheerfulness

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“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” ~ Helen Keller

People who have been transformed by some significant experience can be so inspiring.  I wonder why they can also annoy us. We have all been around someone who has made an alter call, been on a spiritual adventure or who has found new life in recovery from addiction.  We have encountered those ignited by a self-help course, heard a speech that was life changing or just returned from a retreat.

They want so much to tell us their story and bring us with them on the new-found path.  But they also can transmit a kind of overwhelming morality and seriousness which can make us want to get away from them as soon as possible.  We want what they have found but hesitate in the face of their cheerfulness.  Perhaps it’s because we are afraid to change.

It is easier to accept the challenge of change when we recognize it as a gift.  When received as a gift, change will necessarily lead us to cheerful action.  Helen Keller’s directive to ‘be of good cheer’ is incredibly important.  They call us to do good in the world with a cheerful spirit.

The indomitable Helen Keller.

Cheerful people leave a lasting impact. The joy, mirth and laughter that follow a cheerful soul bring gifts of optimism and a sort of sunrise to the spirit of others. We have a choice. We can be determined to be cheerful or we can be restrained, unremarkable and boring.

When we are unselfish, generous without expectation of paybacks, and welcoming of strangers, people will begin to believe in the truth of our own transformation.  When we treat those who can’t fight back with mercy, love those who don’t love us and forgive those who have harmed us, our new character will shine.

Something beautiful will happen.  The cheerful person with opened arms will soon find them filled with those who have been waiting for our embrace.

___________________________

 

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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Justice, Mercy and Compassion

by Robert Kenneth Jones

“Fill the seats of justice
With good men, not so absolute in goodness
As to forget what human frailty is. ~ Thomas Noon Talfourd
How easy it is to judge those who annoy us and those who break the rules!  Of course, this is not some new phenomenon.  Human beings have been doing it since the beginning of time.  But today, we have made the judgment game a sensational and salacious sport.

The 24-hour cable news’ programs are engaged in continual finger pointing and disdain of opposing points of view. They practically seduce us into paying attention and implore us to take sides.  We soon identify ourselves as virtuous and the other as unethical or evil.  We become engrossed when the powerful are mired in scandal and revile the outcast or marginalized who continue to cause trouble.  We become self-appointed judges, juries and executioners. 

“Pray that we might allow God to show us that compassion, mercy and forgiveness are far better than judgment.” ~ Drew Filkins

The people who are suffering and need our compassion and mercy the most too often receive our biased judgment. But who am I, and who are we, to judge? Consider the plight of our own personal brokenness.  

Each of us has made plenty of mistakes.  None of us will escape destructive patterns of behavior which, if scrutinized, could cause us to be condemned in one way or another. If we scorn those who suffer from addiction, ridicule those who have fallen into low places, criticize the homeless, blame the victims, or cast out the mentally ill, what are we doing but selfishly indulging misguided righteousness?

Rather than offering mercy and compassion, we strike a blow of intolerance.  Perhaps it is really the scorned, broken and wounded spirits within us which are crying out for forgiveness.

Banner photo by Phillip LeConte

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast