The message for today, April 10 is:
What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
This reminded me of a Buddhist story I read many years ago, which I can relate just from memory. (Please forgive me if you know the story in detail. My memory is not that good.)
There was a Buddhist religious community in which lived a grumpy old man. All of the young students complained bitterly about him, because he never had a kind word to say to anyone. One day the old man decided to pack up his belongings and move to another community. The young students rejoiced.
A couple of weeks later, the Master took up a collection from all of his students. As he went from student to student, he said: “I am collecting for something which will be a great investment in your spiritual training.”
Each student gave all that he could afford, but one curious student asked: “What is this investment, which will so improve our spiritual training?”
The Master replied: “I am taking up a collection so that I can pay the old man to come back and live amongst us.”
“Why, Master? No one here can stand him, and he never has a kind word to say about anyone or to anyone. Why would you inflict this man on us again?”
The Master replied: “This man was a great blessing for this community. It is easy to practice peace and compassion amongst those who emanate peace and compassion, as you and your fellow students have been taught to do. What test is there in that? You need someone like this old man so that you can learn to emanate peace and compassion when faced with meanness and anger.”
When first reading the quote from the Tao Te Ching, it is possible to think that your job as a good man (or good woman) is to try to change the bad man (or bad woman) into something better. This you might do as his (or her) teacher, as you lead by example. But could it be that the job that the good man finds in a bad man, is not just to be the bad man’s teacher and make the bad man better, but to make himself better?
This reminds me of a story from Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations With God books about the Friendly Soul, related by God:
‘ “You may choose to be any Part of God you wish to be,” I said to the Little Soul. “You are Absolute Divinity, experiencing itself. What Aspect of Divinity do you now wish to experience as You?”
“You mean I have a choice?” asked the Little Soul. And I answered, “Yes. You may choose to experience any Aspect of Divinity in, as, and through you.”
“Okay,” said the Little Soul, “then I choose Forgiveness. I want to experience my Self as an Aspect of God called Complete Forgiveness.”
Well, this created a little challenge, as you can imagine.
There was no one to forgive. All I have created is Perfection and Love.
“No one to forgive?” asked the Little Soul, somewhat incredulously.
“No one,” I repeated. “Look around you. Do you see any souls less perfect, less wonderful than you?”
At this, the Little Soul twirled around, and was surprised to see himself surrounded by all the souls in heaven. They had come from far and wide throughout the Kingdom, because they heard that the Little Soul was having an extraordinary conversation with God.
“I see none less perfect than I!” the Little Soul exclaimed. “Who, then, shall I have to forgive?”
Just then, another soul stepped forward from the crowd. “You may forgive me,” said this Friendly Soul.
“For what?” the Little Soul asked.
“I will come into your next physical lifetime and do something for you to forgive,” replied the Friendly Soul.
“But what? What could you, a being of such Perfect Light, do to make me want to forgive you?” the Little Soul wanted to know.
“Oh,” smiled the Friendly Soul, “I’m sure we can think of something.”
“But why would you want to do this?” The Little Soul could not figure out why a being of such perfection would want to slow down its vibration so much that it could actually do something “bad”.
“Simple,” the Friendly Soul explained, “I would do it because I love you. You want to experience your Self as Forgiving, don’t you? Besides, you’ve done the same for me.”
“I have?” asked the Little Soul.
“Of course. Don’t you remember? We’ve been All Of It, you and I. We’ve been the Up and the Down of it, and the Left and the Right of it. We’ve been the Here and the There of it, and the Now and the Then of it. We’ve been the Big and the Small of it, the Male and the Female of it, the Good and the Bad of it. We’ve all been the All of It.
“And we’ve done it by agreement, so that each of us might experience ourselves as The Grandest Part of God. For we have understood that…
“In the absence of ‘cold’, you cannot have ‘warm’. In the absence of ‘sad’, you cannot have ‘happy’, without a thing called ‘evil’, the experience you call ‘good’ cannot exist.
“If you choose to be a thing, something or someone opposite to that has to show up somewhere in your universe to make that possible.”
The Friendly Soul then explained that those people are God’s Special Angels, and these conditions God’s Gifts.
“I ask only one thing in return,” the Friendly Soul declared.
“Anything! Anything,” the Little Soul cried. He was excited now to know that he could experience every Divine Aspect of God. He understood, now, The Plan.
“In the moment that I strike you and smite you,” said the Friendly Soul, “in the moment that I do the worst to you that you could ever imagine – in that self-same moment…remember Who I Really Am.”
“Oh, I won’t forget!” promised the Little Soul. “I will see you in the perfection with which I hold you now, and I will remember Who You Are, always.”’
So this is our spiritual quest on this planet, in this lifetime: not only to be a shining light so that those Friendly Souls, who have forgotten who they are, can remember, but also to be a shining light in the face of darkness so that we can also remember who we are. So that we can remember that we are each a shining light, a spark from our Creator.
Just like the Buddhist students, I find it easy to be at peace, when faced with peace, to be compassionate, when faced with compassion. My challenge is to be a source of peace and compassion in the world, when faced with the opposite.
There is a reason for the saying; “Teach what you need to learn”, which is a strong message also from A Course in Miracles.
As we shine our light in the darkness, so that others may see, we begin to notice our own light as well. As we shine our light on others, the light within them also becomes obvious to us.
If I may leave you with another quote, this time from Martin Luther King:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Image courtesy of gameanna at FreeDigitalPhotos.net