Fight or absorb?

We live in a physical world that most of us can see, touch, hear and taste … and it is easy to let our physicality dominate our experience of life. Most of the time we are working and even fighting to increase our share of the physical world. But the physical world is temporal, and does not last.

Our spiritual self, though it is intertwined with the physical, transcends the physical. Spirit is eternal … and if our spirituality dominated our experience of life, we would be happier and more at peace in the physical world.

It gets tough to live spiritually when we are confronted by situations where our physical world is threatened, and even tougher when confronted by people who deliberately threaten our experience of the physical world. These tough times in the physical, however, are the times where our spirituality can grow the most, where our depth of character can be most significantly forged.

So, how should we react when we are surrounded by others who are focused on the physical world and not the spiritual? What should we do when our physical world is threatened by those who are not interested in our spiritual well-being? How should we react to others who gang up to beat us down? Should we fight to keep our place in the physical world, or detach from the physical and absorb the maltreatment in our spirit?

I like the way Jesus of Nazareth handled this dilemma.

The temple administrators were not focused on the spiritual world, but instead they let the physical world dominate their administration of the temple sacrifices. To put it bluntly, they were focused on profits even if it meant screwing the poor. Well obviously, this really pissed Jesus off … so he turned the administrators’ physical world upside down, flipped their cash tables over and spilled their money, and drove them out of the temple (probably hollering at them while wielding a whip).

The message that I get out of this story is that it is okay to focus on the physical world, to focus on defending physical turf when you are doing it on behalf of the marginalized. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, fight for the rights of the oppressed, wage war against tyrants who enrich themselves at the expense of the poor, but remember to exercise your “righteous anger” in a lawful, moral, and spiritual way.

When it comes to defending your own physical turf, however, it seems better not to fight … and instead be more like Jesus and absorb in your spirit the physical maltreatment. Absorb, absorb, absorb … whether it be slander spread about you by others, theft of your physical well being, shunning by those you thought were your friends, deliberate personal attacks on your reputation … whatever maltreatment you experience at the hands of others in the physical world, do not fight fire with fire and further enflame the world, but absorb it all in your spirit.

I’m not saying anything about politics or national sovereignty, for I don’t think that terrorists are focused on spirituality or on goodwill toward humankind. I am simply talking to you and to me about what we can do in the Spirit when confronted by those who are focused on the physical world … absorb, don’t fight.