“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” C.G. Jung, MEMORIES, DREAMS, REFLECTIONS (1989)
Let’s allow those words to soak into our collective thick skulls. Consider the person in your world whom you detest, whom you would never entertain in your home, whom you would vehemently argue will go to hell. Yeah, think about that person for a moment and then let’s do a sincere soul search. What is it within me, within you, that reflects with such intensity our dislike for that person?
“Well, Larry, I have a sense of values, compassion for fellow humans, a moral compass to guide me. I am in no way like …….” (insert name here).
Okay, I get it. You and I are stellar human beings with no quirks, no faults, no skeletons in our closets. We have been nominated numerous times for sainthood and are just waiting for that moment when we will sit with the old man in the heavens pronouncing judgment upon the lesser of us – those whom we have previously decided will burn in hell.
Really? Is that who we are? Nothing more than pawns of runaway egos determined to remind others of the splinters in their eyes while ignoring the logs in our own eyes? Is that what we are destined to be? Granted, that is the human way, but aren’t we destined to be more than ego-driven bags of human flesh? I am remembering a verse from the book of Luke, chapter 6, verse 41 which reminds me that the plank I carry in my own eye is needing my attention more than the speck of sawdust in my brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3 has the same message. Are these ancient writers trying to instill a bit of introspection in me to replace my self-serving ego-stroking?
Yeah, guilty as charged. That neighbor who always rubs me the wrong way, the city councilman who seems more concerned about his image than job performance, the preacher who doesn’t appear to walk the talk, the politician who is obviously lacking a moral compass – they are all a composite of me and my own character defects. The national leader who seems to always be screaming, “Look at me, look at me, dammit look at me,” is the same small voice within me screaming, “Here I am, pay attention to me.”
The denial wells up within, but maturity, which can be so evasive, tells me that those seven deadlies – the 7 vices which challenge our spiritual journey – are inherent in each of us. GREED, ANGER, SLOTH, ENVY, GLUTTONY, LUST, PRIDE are at the center of any and all distractions from the universal truth that we are all one humanity, one organism, one Spirit simply trying to navigate the impermanence of this life on earth.
Doing life perfectly is not the goal. It is impossible. The ending of this trek is not foreseeable, but we have within us the capacity to alter the journey. What will it be? Ego driven or Spirit centered?