Saturday, November 10, 2018

Penance? More Like Avoidance of Responsibility.

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



What Penance Is

If I were to define penance, I would say: "Penance is how we make up for hurting others."

Or in legal slang, "You do the crime, you do the time."

That settled, I now want to focus on what penance is not and one particularly absurd way it manifests.

What Penance Is Not

When we hurt ourselves and have to make up for it, although some may call this penance, I see it as far wiser to call it karma or a life lesson, the particular not mattering because they both boil down to the same: We don’t usually consciously know why Life has given us a certain trouble, maybe it's for past-life restitution or maybe for soul learning and growth, but it’s now ours to deal with either way.

As to what it means to hurt ourselves, many negative behaviors both common and less common apply: alcoholism, self-condemnation, cutting one’s self, anorexia, habitually avoiding sleep, etc. Clearly, these behaviors cause self-damage and we must make up for them.

All the while, there is another form of self-hurt that fails gets the press it deserves: Doing nothing.

We’re born into this life in ignorance in order to develop self-awareness and then live in integrity as our highest selves. But in order to do this we must take action (even if this “action” is changing a negative thought pattern) as best as our circumstances allow. This is especially true when our life presents any experience that causes us suffering.

(Critical side note: Suffering is not pain.)

When we do nothing, we gain nothing and hurt ourselves at the same time. Strangely enough, however, sometimes we call this "act" of doing nothing, "penance."

“Penance” As Avoidance

The way I've seen this play out is such that the respective people take care of all their basic needs in life, but as their hardship and suffering continue to worsen, they sit by waiting for a savior while holding the mentality, “I am/must be doing penance.”

If this sounds familiar to you—wake up! The struggle and suffering you’re going through are either karma or your soul’s life lesson obstacles. They are not “penance.” You are not guilty of anything other than refusing to take full responsibility for your life. Even if you are guilty, as in the case of having negative karma from a previous life, it makes no difference because there’s no one to make amends to but your very self, right now.

And so what you call “penance” will keep getting worse until you take active responsibility and learn the lessons. After all, in life as we know it, pain and its consequent suffering are effectively the only reason we evolve.

Which brings us to the insightful point that we are often very stubborn-to-change beings, yet when our suffering becomes so bad that we finally crack open, we do actually change for the better and realize not only that we are the saviors we’d been waiting for, but also that we do deserve the better we now have because we now have it after earning it through our own power.

Otherwise, see that labeling your avoidance of karma/life lesson responsibility as “penance” is usually (or perhaps always) a bogus excuse for religiously-instilled guilt. It’s only there because you believe that it’s there. It makes you feel unworthy and has turned you into a glutton for punishment. Rather than overcoming anything, you allow yourself to be held back by everything.

“Carry Your Cross Daily”

Some people think, too, that stuffing down hurt, refusing emotional flow, denying pain, rationalizing suffering, etc. is part of “doing penance.”

To put it simply: It’s not. In fact, all such behaviors are distorted and therefore unhealthy, unwise, unspiritual, and uneverythingelserightandgood.

They may see this self-rejection-as-penance as part of the admonition to “carry your cross daily.”

Rather than taking the words as guidance to flow with life even when things get rough, people take them with a heavy implication of personal guilt. As in, “My life sucks a fat knob, and I'm going to make sure it continues to suck a fat knob, because this is the life that God has given me to bear and, suffered well, I will be redeemed for it in the end.”

NO! Suffering is never done well, because suffering is an aberration of consciousness.

If people would clean up their inner junk and stop torturing themselves, they could begin redeeming themselves right now. As I just said 42 seconds ago:
…we are often very stubborn-to-change beings, yet when our suffering becomes so bad that we finally crack open, we do actually change for the better and realize not only that we are the saviors we’d been waiting for, but also that we do deserve the better we now have because we now have it after earning it through our own power.

Parting Words

As you walk away, I would like you to keep in mind this little tidbit about Jesus, the man for whom all this penance and cross business is associated.

Jesus came here and lived with intent purpose in Truth and Love. What he most certainly did not do is go out of his way to inflict pain and suffering on himself.

If you read the Bible and focus only on the words of Jesus, the one upon whom the whole of the Bible and all of Christianity depends, you will never see statements such as: “You average people are less than me. You are all guilty as sin and should be ashamed to be alive.” He never says: “Suffer, you fools. Punish yourselves to prove your love for my Father.”

Hell, no! Only religion pushes such a negative agenda.

What Jesus does continually do is speak of loving one another. He does state that he and the “average” person are both the light of the world. He does speak as a man who has a direct line to a loving, compassionate, and forgiving God.

He does speak as though he and the rest of humanity, you included, are equals.

Do you suppose, perhaps, that it's time to stop pretending otherwise?

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