Recently in Tennessee in the United States of America, firemen allowed a man’s home to burn to the ground. It turns out the man didn’t pay the $75 firefighting fee to the city. So the firemen just stood there. They only took action when the fire spread to a neighbor’s property, because the neighbor had paid his fee.
I thought, is this what a civilized society does? It this what humanity has come to? Does humanity even exist? Does it exist in the United States of America? The article in The New York Times quoted a Christian saying, enough with compassion, the man should have paid his $75. I couldn’t help but think, what would Jesus have said?
My children have been studying the Bhagavad Gita in our Yoga Home School sessions. Understanding the importance of strength and surrender as a warrior, as well as the workings of the world. However, I also think it’s important that they receive philosophy from other religions as well. I was baptized Catholic, and grew up learning the Christian mythology. The images of Jesus and his works were imprinted on me. Although I have studied many of the world’s religions in my process and practice of yoga and meditation, and that Durga, Kali and Shiva are important symbolic deities for me, Jesus also takes forefront in guiding out my moral compass and philosophy.
I decided it was time to present some Jesus to my children and his responses to what he would do in our modern society. Would Jesus allow that man’s house to burn down because he didn’t pay his bill?
I discovered the parable of the Unmerciful Servant. The story tells of a King’s servant who cannot pay his large debts. The King forgives his debts, however, the King’s servant in turn refuses to waive the debt that another man owes the servant. The King orders the debt of the servant restored, his possessions given away, and that he be tortured. His everlasting punishment, metaphorically, is the unforgiving’s that eternal emotional anguish one carries in his or her heart when one cannot forgive.
Jesus clearly teaches that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven are characterized by the attitudes of mercy and forgiveness toward others - those who are both forgiven and forgiving, both received mercy and are merciful. In fact, it seems all Jesus teaches is love, forgive, mercy, forgive, love, love they neighbor, forgive, mercy.
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." - Jesus (Mt 6:14-15)
I find it incredible that Americans who profess to be Christian and speak how the United States of America should be restored to its Christian roots are often the most unforgiving, unmerciful and unloving. Just yesterday a woman cited religious reasons for her premeditated drive from Kalispell, Montana to Loveland, Colorado to attack and destroy a piece of art. Where was the love, mercy and forgiveness? Wouldn't her hate filled action be considered and act of terrorism? During the health care debate in the United States, people rabidly declared that they would rather see people die than help pay for their care. Yet Jesus was a healer, and never asked for a dime. He proclaims that to receive eternal life, it is to help they neighbor, as the Good Samaritan tells. Perhaps people need to read Jesus’s words more closely, for its filled with inexorable mercy, forgiveness and love. Jesus taught to the little children and loved them deeply. He is my inspiration in teaching children. I’m happy to teach my children this and tell stories of his life and works, for Jesus is a fantastic guru and teacher of yoga. I feel that his words and deeds are needed more than ever and that their simple truths should be applied to today's world. I don't see him standing by as a man's house burns down, scolding him for not paying his bill. I don't see him destroying art in the name of religion. I don't see him letting a sick person die. In your yoga classes, teach children. Teach them love, forgiveness and mercy. To love their neighbors as themselves. To love their enemies. It will go a long way.