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The Case for Gentleness
“You’re such an idiot!”
That was my go-to self-recrimination line every time I’d do something regrettable.
Made an error on the softball field that cost our team the game. “You’re such an idiot!” Missed a bug in my computer program that caused the server to crash resulting in hours of lost work for many people. “You’re such an idiot!” Took an action that severely wounded another person’s feelings. “You’re such an idiot!”
I had other versions of that personal attack that were much harsher, just not suitable for publication.
It’s no secret that each of us is our own worst enemy. We either grossly disparage our value or hold an inflated sense of self-regard. Oftentimes both. Neither of which are helpful.
But what we often miss is the purpose behind such reproach.
While we may think shame and disappointment to be useful motivators toward improvement – or even a twisted form of self-flagellating atonement – they do nothing of the kind.
Their subtle, deeply repressed purpose is to reinforce the ego’s belief that I am here and that I can suffer. And even better if I can point to the cause of the suffering – whether that’s another person, event, situation, or even my own “idiocy”.
All that serves as a way to keep us rooted in the drama. And one of the ego’s most masterful tools for accomplishing its mission is seeing sin in ourselves and/or others.
But there is a way out. And gentleness is the key.
One of the loveliest phrases that Ken Wapnick would remind students to consider is this: “Forgiveness is still and quietly does nothing. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not.” (W-pII.1.4)
Those lines are the perfect embodiment of gentleness. When we are gentle with ourselves and others, we see beyond all the silly forms of mistakes. We see without judgment. We see without condemnation. And most importantly, we see without separation.
Consider this beautiful line from The Savior in the Dark section of Chapter 25 in the Course: “See not in him [another person] the sinfulness he sees, but give him honor that you may esteem yourself and him.” (T-25.II.11)
In truth, we don’t really see another person. We see either projections from our choice for the ego mind, or reflections of love from the right-mind of spirit. And that passage encourages us to see the sameness in all our brothers.
Gentleness is the means by which we return to our mind and make the choice for the peace. Gentleness warmly embraces ourselves and everyone else with the tenderness of love. And gentleness enables us to truly become a “savior from the dark”.
Join me in Thursday’s ACIM Zoom discussion where we’ll explore how we can become more gentle servants of solace – for ourselves and everyone around us. I look forward to seeing you then.