Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you in a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:37-46)
For many spiritual persons moral behavior is governed by rules like the Ten Commandments or other moral/ethical codes. In this practice, we are more concerned about moral actions that manifest in the following areas: personal freedom, relationship to others, and intention. The reason for this orientation is that moral and ethical codes often become contextual. For example, the commandment not to kill can become secondary to preserving one’s own life in self-defense. The key becomes preserving the gift of life granted to us by God and valuing our contribution to humankind. Acknowledging our self-worth is essential to recognizing the worth of others. Intention plays an important role in our actions, and our inner condition often indicates whether or not we are in a state of sin (separation from God). Jesus makes clear that our inner condition and intention are important in the Sermon on the Mount when he speaks about anger preceding the desire for revenge (“you have heard it said ‘an eye for an eye,’ but I say to you . . .”) or lust preceding the act of adultery. Moral actions are accomplished with love and acknowledge truth; they are actions taken to fulfill one’s purpose, and these kinds of actions leave others in a state of freedom. They are not oppressive or exploitive and they recognize the divine presence in other human beings. This allows for the spiritual opportunity present in all human interactions. Moral actions are beneficial to spiritual development when they are the natural result of self-awareness. Self-awareness is generated and strengthened by meditation, prayer, and contemplation. Immoral actions—actions that take away freedom, actions that exploit or oppress others, or actions that are disrespectful to others—diminish the effects of meditation and interfere with the process of self-realization.
Lord God, help us to understand our power to give, that we might give in some way, even in those moments when we do not recognize the gifts we can give. Help us to give of ourselves in a way that lifts up and redeems every human being. Help us to express the value found in every individual, the unique expression of love found in another human being. Let this act of giving rest at the heart of every action we take, where our act of compassion renews and makes moral even our most feeble effort. Help us to step out of the way and allow your power to come through and express love, even in the most difficult moments. Let our right actions begin with the intention of complete love, and may they be expressed with truth and compassion. Let this love fulfill all laws and commandments and show perfect righteousness. Amen.
From The Readings
2012-136 It is worth talking to you now about karma, because we have not given you a full explanation of karma and grace. The best understanding of karma is the understanding that you will harvest that which you sow. There are subtle understandings here. It is not simply a matter of an eye for an eye or retribution for a wrong, because there are circumstances in which a person may react defensively [e.g., to preserve life]. You need to understand that this seldom produces karma. It is with the intention and the sowing of seeds: Are you sowing seeds of understanding and help, or are the seeds discord? If the seeds are planted with a selfish intention, then there is a time when one would reap the consequences of selfishness. It is worth considering this understanding of karma. There is also an understanding that the world in which you live operates under certain universal law. Fighting this law, fighting your understanding even with the evidence given to you, can also be a form of denial. And for this reason the karma is not a matter of things that have been achieved or done, it is simply a matter of the orientation of the mind, the attitude and the motivation. These forms of karma are always much more subtle and remain hidden, and part of the karma of what is hidden is related to the karma of hiding. This is an important lesson to understand spiritually because there is not any spiritual knowledge that is meaningful to human beings that is either secret or hidden. Do you see? (Yes.) Secret or hidden knowledge appears that way because of the secretive nature and the actions of hiding in the person. Because of this, you should be very wary of any spiritual path that seeks to hide or conceal what is beneficial to the spiritual and psychological well-being of the person. It is also worth noting that while these things can become complex, what is complex is different from being complicated. Things that are complex can have multiple layers, multiple perspectives, but still remain transparent. What is complicated, in effect, is what is complex, but layered over and hidden and intricately intertwined with the ego, selfish motives, and distrustful behavior. Do you see? This is also another sign of what is spiritually available and not available. And what is not available usually has this complicated nature and it is usually made so by a complicated personality trying to deal with spiritual things. Got it? (Yes.) This is where, even though it sometimes causes Jeffrey trouble in dealing with the world, because, though he is complex, he is not complicated, and this is why his lack of complication can sometimes seem to be idealistic or naive. He is rarely naive, though sometimes he is idealistic and he fights very hard to keep his spiritual understanding from becoming complicated. And this is good. You can trust this part of him even when he seems to be in the midst of personal crisis. He is almost incapable of misrepresenting God. He is not perfect in this regard, but in this way he is also very rare among people of spiritual persuasion. It is why he is so put upon by institutional religious authority, because this type of religious authority is almost always complicated.