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To Turn The Other Cheek

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Beauty and the Spaceman
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sebastian Fritzon

I've been thinking about the recommendation of Jesus to “turn the other cheek,” (Matt. 5:39) and what that really means. These are Biblical words that I've heard quoted many times, but until more recent times, I myself rarely practiced them, because they made no sense to me. What? Smile while someone walks all over me? Offer up my other cheek for an equal punching? Are you kidding me? At least that's the way I saw it.

But I have come to see these words differently now.

I have come to see that turning the other cheek is a way of refusing to focus on the negativity of a situation. While some may see such looking the other way as a form of denial, and call it a bad thing, I have come to recognize times when such denial is appropriate; there are times when we are better served by refusing to empower the negative, choosing to take the high road instead.

Another saying comes to mind: what we focus on gets bigger. Those words remind us that the more we resist something the bigger it gets; this means that the more we pay attention to something we say we don't want, the more of it we get.

When someone is negatively striking out at us, for instance, if we attack in retaliation we simply invite more attack. Have you noticed that it is not the first strike, but the strike-back that starts the war? I have.

And what is it that causes us to strike back? Only our belief that we have been wronged; we decide the worse about someone and then we react to them as if they are an enemy, which generally means we attack. What response can we expect in return?

But to turn the other cheek, means we refuse to blindly assume the worse about another person. We learn to look for a better, more loving interpretation, rather than to automatically assume that the worse-case-scenario we've created in our mind is true. We do this because we understand that to decide the worst about another prompts us to act towards them in a defensive, unloving way which, in turn, encourages them to prove our negative beliefs about them.

When we turn the other cheek, we in essence are saying something like this:

“I deny/refuse-to-see you as my enemy. I trust that you did or said what you did because of what you believe, not because you were trying to hurt me, necessarily. Even if you think you do want to hurt me, I know it could only mean that you are confused. I do not need to join in your confusion by trying to hurt you back. I turn the other cheek instead because I know that the quickest route to peace is to treat you with kindness, patience, equanimity and love. That is what I choose to focus on because that is what I want more of. I therefore refuse to take your actions personally. Instead I will look for the gift and the growth opportunities you bring.

May you reap the rich harvest that comes from turning the other cheek!

Blessings, Lynne

9 Responses

  1. Thank you Paul, I love your description here of using such gentle firmness with your own mind. It reminds me of a thought I’ve had many times that our minds (I’m referring to the self-made mind here) are really very childlike – the mind wants what it wants and what it wants is our undivided and constant attention even if it means making up crazy, dramatic tales to get that attention! It’s good to know how to be gentle, yet firm with such a one. 🙂 Thanks for visiting my blog. Blessings, Lynne

  2. Wow Lynne. This is wonderful interpretation of Jesus’ famous saying. What I read here is that it does no good to push something away for that will, just like responding to it, make it bigger (actually pushing it away is responding to it). Better to acknowledge it but to simply make a different choice! I mention this because of my own recent experiences. I’ve been observing how my mind still wants to judge sometimes and when such thoughts come up I simply say to my mind, “Dear mind, you can continue going around and around with all of that if you want, but I’m not going there with you”. In this way, even my mind stands up and takes notive who is the boss here…so another awesome post. Thank you!

  3. Hi Rahul, Are you sure you were totally convinced? Your question suggests not quite convinced, perhaps … 🙂 I understand. This is a difficult concept for us to grasp because we are so conditioned to think that we need to protect ourselves from others by striking back…

    The thing to remember here is that the world is a mirror. If we stand in front of a mirror with our fists raised (in self defense) what are we going to see being reflected back to us? RAISED FISTS, right? When we see raised fists what do we usually think that means? We think it means we are being attacked, right? When we think we are being attacked how do we respond? When we respond with raised fists, how are they going to respond? Raised fists all round … and so it goes – on and on and on… Get it? 🙂

    If you are “faking nice” you will get a “fake nice” response… when you understand that you are seeing yourself, your thoughts and beliefs reflected through their behavior, and respond from that knowledge, you experience a very different response.

    The world around us only and always reflects our own beliefs.

    Hope this helps,
    Lynne

  4. Hello Lynne
    By the time i reached the end of your post, i was totally convinced.

    However, i still wish to ask a question…

    If i interpret someone’s attempt to be mean/rude with me as their confusion, am i not living a lie.
    I agree that interpreting it as attempt to hurt will lead me into low frequency… but the problem comes here…
    It will always be at the back of my mind that things got into control because “i interpreted it that way, it was a manipulation to make my life easy… no real stuff here”

    With Love and Regards

    Rahul R

  5. Hello Lynne
    By the time i reached the end of your post, i was totally convinced.

    However, i still wish to ask a question…

    If i interpret someone’s attempt to be mean/rude with me as their confusion, am i not living a lie.
    I agree that interpreting it as attempt to hurt will lead me into low frequency… but the problem comes here…
    It will always be at the back of my mind that things got into control because “i interpreted it that way, it was a manipulation to make my life easy… no real stuff here”

  6. Thank you, Tracy. They are words I too, need to be reminded of – I notice how Source often uses my own writing to reach me! Of course this material belongs to Source, and since we teach what we most need to hear, it makes sense that such would be so! 🙂

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