Understanding Prejudice and Turning the Other Cheek

What’s the explanation for the saying of Jesus, “Come as a little child?”

Jesus is referring to having a lack of prejudice—like we’d have with a childlike, but not childish, attitude—which should also be our approach to this whole path. We, as human beings, suffer constantly and greatly from our widespread prejudices of others. Why does this make us suffer? Because if we are continually looking at the world with a particular slant, this points to an image—a wrong conclusion about life—festering under the surface. Images are not in truth, and when we go against the grain of truth, the friction creates pain—for others and for ourselves.

Whereas a prejudice is a wall of darkness, children are like a blank sheet of paper, without prejudice—at least as far as the way they interact with the world. All the influences that will later form their images—and therefore prejudices—haven’t yet had a chance to do their work in building up such walls. That’s why children will often have a clearer view of truth than adults do.

A good way to look for images is to look for prejudices. As we identify them, we can come to understand their origins, our defenses that made us adopt them and the rationalizations that cover them up. The word “prejudice” itself causes an emotional response for people, as we each have a different concept and connection with it. What we’re most charged about will be the prejudice we’re most sensitive about. We may overlook that these prejudices exist inside our own minds. These might even be stronger than what we encounter in other people.

If we feel like we’re constantly haunted by prejudices in others, it’s time to turn that mirror around and start digging. Because bingo—pretty good chance there’s an image in our soul that is like a high-powered magnet for people with the same letter-number combination. Of course, we only see it in them, projecting outwardly what we’re actually feeling inside in a different way.

Want another hint? OK, think about what you are constantly thinking about. Shouldn’t be too tough. For one person, it might be rejection. For another, it’s prejudice. A third might fear that someone will steal their stuff. Everyone has their own pet concern. We need to get clear about ours. That’s a good general rule of thumb: we need to get clear about what we’re feeling. Once we’ve clarified our emotions, we’ll have a good idea of what to search for.

It takes a very wise, spiritually mature person to not bite that hook. Most of us will hit the bobber hard.

So many people are walking around feeling rejected. So where to search? “Perhaps I’m the one always rejecting others in one way or another.” Maybe it’s done out of fear. Maybe we’re so afraid of rejection we try to beat the system, rejecting others before they can do the same to us. And then, when they react badly, we get our feelings hurt because, geez, we feel so darned rejected. Yup. All the time.

It takes a very wise, spiritually mature person to not bite that hook. Most of us will hit the bobber hard. Our insecurities trigger one another, and our co-obsessions with rejections will lock us into a vicious circle. This is how we continually hook and affect each other with misunderstandings, hurt and rejection. And it’s very painful.

The only way to break the line is by not waiting for the other to do it first, to “turn the other cheek.” Someone has to open their arms, in spite of the soul picture our emotional storms are painting. We need to forget our vanity for a minute, lay down our insecurity, open our arms—and then see what happens. We need to take a page from a child.

What more can be said about the true meaning of “turn the other cheek?”

This is about breaking the vicious circles between people. These negative interactions go on and on, one person’s destructiveness hooking another’s and then back and forth, each seeing the others faults as the primary cause for their own response. “Turn the other check” means to knock that crap off. Take responsibility by looking at things with fresh eyes. Take a risk to open up and try to sort things out. Talk. Christ can reign like the Prince of Peace he is in a soul that lets this sort of light shine.

This phrase also means the same thing as “do not resist evil.” Don’t confuse this with rolling over and taking it when you should stand up and fight for what is right. Turning the other cheek just means to use your powers of differentiation to judge when fighting back would perpetuate aggression and play into the hands of evil, serving no purpose and having no chance of unwinding a bolloxed up mess.

We can have positive assertion only when we have clarity and a single-pointed motivation—we want to do the will of God and further his plan. Sometimes we need to express the Christ that shines through us, exposing ourselves and standing up for the truth without worrying about petty personal gains for our little egos.

The trick is to make sure we’re fighting for something—like truth or justice or a good cause—and not against someone who happens to have pissed us off. When our motivation is, pure and simple, God’s cause—and not our self-will or pride—we will feel strong and secure, and not held back by guilt.

To turn the other cheek also means to let go of our self-righteous case and look inside ourselves.

To turn the other cheek also means to let go of our self-righteous case and look inside ourselves. Where might we possibly be contributing to a negative interaction? Where are we the one picking a fight with the other? This type of turn-around is a habit we need to work on, a spiritual muscle we need to invest the time to develop.

We need to give up the temptation to stand in our self-righteous position, having built a case against someone else that’s filled with rationalization and rakes them over the coals for their wrong-doing. We need to look for how their negativity hooks into ours—where is the grain of truth of how it lives in us. This is always the case, no matter how wrong the other may be. Other times, we’re just making stuff up, seeing the other through such distorted lenses in our wish to whitewash ourselves, make them evil, and avoid looking at our own Lower Selves. When we fight from this vantage point, we have become a total plaything of the dark forces and we’re the ones perpetuating evil.

On a spiritual path like the one taught by the Guide, we learn that the victim is often as responsible as the perpetrator. This is a liberating realization. This gives us the secure self-esteem and genuine strength to fight when we should fight. We don’t remain shackled by a victimhood mentality, where we know in our minds that fighting would be appropriate, but we’ve been fighting in the wrong way. We’ve been insisting on a self-righteous position when we needed to adjust our stance so we can see inside ourselves.


Excerpted from Bible Me This: Unwinding the Riddles of Holy Scripture