A couple weeks ago my family and I were discussing religion and spirituality. One of the conversation points was that if we all followed Jesus and ‘turned the other cheek’, there would eventually be world peace. At the moment it sounded like a sound suggestion, although we all agreed that it is not human nature to be able to do that consistently. The dilemma is what is one to do when innocent lives are at stake. Rapists, oppressive dictators, terrorists, thugs, cheats, and many others that disrupt the overall mental balance of a peaceful free society. Would turning the other cheek be the solution to regaining balance.
After all Mother Mary did watch her Son being crucified. Was that with total helplessness or was that because she wanted to turn the other cheek? Other than making of a new religion was peace ever established in that holy land. 2000 years later chaos prevails. The difference is 2000 years ago there was only 1 major religion dominating the land, now there are 3. Has that holy land ever experienced true peace?
In India’s Vedic tradition, the students in the *Gurukulam* were taught how to live life fully using parables and fables. One of the stories was about 4 very intelligent scholars and 1 ignoramus. The 4 scholars were very book wise and also knew how to take rebuild the bones of a dead animal back to life. On one of their many travels through the jungles they found bones of a lion. The 4 arrogant scholars decided to revive the animal. The ignoramus was petrified and warned them of the ramifications. However the 4 scholars did not heed to his warning and went on to build the animal. The ignoramus climbed up a tree and waited. As expected the 4 scholars did not live to see their talent. The Guru would conclude saying just book knowledge is not enough, common sense and intuitive thinking is of greater value in living life.
The point of this fable is religion has many guidelines for moral, ethical, and peaceful living. However using the doctrines without the use of God granted common sense, and intuitive thinking are just useless and sometimes very dangerous.
As Tevye said in Fiddler on the Roof, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth will leave the whole world toothless and blind. Could it be possible that Jesus advised his followers to turn the other cheek because at that time of his life there was a general mind set of- ‘eye for an eye’ and ‘tooth for a tooth’? Jesus also said, “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.” as well as, “Love thy neighbor”. Possibly turn the other cheek is most effective when the other 2 moral codes are in place.
In Ramayana- India’s great epic written by Sage Valmiki, King Rama turned the other cheek and agreed to give up his kingdom go into exile for 14 years when was the crown prince to honor his father’s promise to his step mother Queen Kaikai. During the exile, his wife Sita was kidnapped by King Ravana of Lanka. At that time he was determined to fight evil and rescue his wife. Again after he became the crowned king following the completion of his exile, he did send his wife Queen Sita into exile because one of his subjects of the land doubted her purity having been in Ravana’s possession for so many years before she was rescued. Here again he turned the other cheek to keep the peace of the land and avoid controversy.
in Mahabharata- India’s other epic written by Sage Vyasa, Krishna once left the battle field to avoid blood shed. He pardoned his cousin’s atrocities 100 times before he finally decided to kill him. He was the main player in the battle of Kurukshetra where he asked his faithful follower Arjuna to fight his very unjust and immoral cousins to preserve the morality and peace on the land at that time.
Common sense and intuition dictates that moral values and peace will prevail in the society where there is a commune of saints or ‘Satsang’ in Sanskrit, meaning- company with an assembly of persons who listen to, talk about, and assimilate the truth (wikipedia). When there is a threat to this congregation, it behooves us to take action. Action can be in many phases. It does not always have to be war. During the same discussion at home earlier about religion, there was a conversation about what one needs to do when the member of the church is disrupting the general calm of the congregation. First the disruptive person has to be spoken to privately with love about his behavior and encouraged to change his ways. However if this does not work more people from the congregation will be asked to talk to him with love. If after many attempts of avoiding chaos to the general peace, finally the member will be asked to leave. Asking a member from a smaller congregation to leave, and fighting a war to get rid of those who are creating general world chaos is essentially same. Just the proportion of action is different. **The Sama, dana, bheda, danda approach**.
While turning the other cheek is a non-violent approach to peace through avoidance, there will be times when removing a disruptive element from society through force is necessary. May be instead of ‘eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth’ which is a form of ‘offence-defence’ strategy, the better way of preserving peace, morality, and love of the land, would be through ‘avoid and assert’ principle.
*(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurukula: Gurukula or gurukul (Sanskrit: गुरुकुल) is a type of school in India, residential in nature, with pupils (shishya) living near the guru, often within the same house. Prior to British rule, they served as South Asia‘s primary educational institution. The guru-shishya tradition (parampara) is a hallowed one in Hinduism and appears in other religious groups in India, such as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The word gurukula is a contraction of the Sanskrit guru (teacher or master) and kula (extended family).
**( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C4%81ma,_D%C4%81na,_Bheda,_Danda: Sāma, Dāna, Danda, Bheda is a method of persuasion used by Hindu Kshatriyas. This is a political methodology to approach a given situation. Start with conciliation or gentle persuasion ( Sāma – Respect ). If that does not help, give something ( Dāna – Gift, bribery ). If that still does not change the status quo, divide the enemies or create division among them ( Bheda – Division ). Use force ( Danda – Punishment ) to resolve the situation where the previous three fail. In addition to it, the use of illusions or deceit (Māya), deliberately ignoring people (Upeksha), use of jugglery (Indrajālā) are also suggested to resolve any situation. Chanakya recommended these seven strategies to Chandragupta Maurya in dealing with his neighboring powers.
In the context of Mahabharata, finally it was decided by the well-wishers of the Pandavas that the three earlier methods could not succeed, though they attempted their best in the pursuance of these policies. War took place, by mysterious maneuvers and divine interventions of various types.
Pandavas won the war because they had completely and fully surrendered the outcome of the war to the will of GOD, they were merely acting upon God’s will to end evil on earth of those times.)