Saturday, April 6, 2013

Occupying Oneself V

Scott Bradley

There has been, I hope, a kind of logical progression in this series, and if there has, it has also come full circle back to where it began, namely one's self-relationship. How we treat ourselves is also how we treat others, our environment, and the unknown source of our existence. This is why anything we might wish to accomplish in the world, in terms of improving the world, must begin with ourselves.

I recently finished an online course in becoming a "peace ambassador" and every one of the lecturers, though themselves deeply involved in doing peace in the world, began with the simple observation that it begins in one's own heart. If it isn't there, we can't bring it anywhere else. I accepted my 'diploma', but if I earned it, it is only in having come to realize more thoroughly that I am not yet ready to do much of anything other than my own inner work. Obviously, we are always at work on the full range of our being-in-the-world, but 'activism' is a conscious step toward involvement that presumes significant progress toward one's own inner peace.

This prerequisite need for inner peace applies as equally to trying to 'help' individuals in their needs as it does to bringing peace through reconciliation in Rwanda. Otherwise, our efforts are likely to resemble the antics of the magician's apprentice who, thinking he knew what he was doing, ended up in a chaotic situation beyond his control.

This inner work does not take place without reference to the wider world, however. Only where the rubber hits the road, in relational living, are 'spiritual' feelings validated. And when I, for instance, speak of realizing absolute unconditional self-affirmation, it is not without awareness that it cannot be true for me until I have also allowed it to be true for you and every other reality. Self-forgiveness is impossible without universal forgiveness. Yes, even God must be forgiven.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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