by Michael Ketterhagen
I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. 2 Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
--Paul of Tarsus, Letter to Romans 12:1-2
Let me remember that we are all children of God and that each person is an individual, just as I am. And let me refrain from harming anyone through my thoughts, words, or action, no matter how different from me they seem.
--Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Why We Fight
There is a lot of violence in today’s world and now political candidates are not only blaming other political candidates, but the United States’ history of racism, colonialism and classism and, even, Covid-19 for that violence. The true source of the violence is our mental expectations. These expectations become venomous violence from people’s mouths. These expectations are taught to us by our various cultures and pour out of us from deep within our mental constructs. We speak them out without even thinking because they have become part of our social structure, part of the way we operate in society. They now have unconscious roots.
Those unconscious social structures, which continue to fuel today’s violence, have become our mental expectations. We expect people to act in certain ways. We expect respect and our dignity cries out for honor. We believe that people must honor our safety and security. In some people’s minds (namely those who have felt violated regularly because of their race or sex or beliefs or need for control and power), those social structures threaten or violate people’s freedom.
Although many people, especially U.S. citizens, believe that our inherent right to freedom is violated by these social rules and regulations, often those rules and regulations are necessary for large numbers of people to live together happily. They do curtail our human desire to act completely for our own interest without concern for others. Being responsible for the consequences of our own actions is often not considered. This desire to act as one wishes is not freedom. It is license and, in our culture, license is what people truly seem to want.
It is our thinking that we should be totally free to do what we want, when we want that needs transforming. The desire for total license is the way of this age. It is the way of the untrained child. It will only destroy us as a human race unless we transform. Look at how damaging it is when people are allowed to say anything that they want. When they tweet or text or yell out any angry epithet, they disturb the peace and serenity that people want. We expect people to control their tongues and when they don’t we then get disturbed.
How can we control our actions?
How can we bring peace and love to the world?
It is done when we transform our mind into the mind of doing God’s will, namely, “what is good, and pleasing and perfect” by “refrain[ing] from harming anyone through my thoughts.”
How do we transform our minds?
I believe that our culture is moving from adolescent childhood into adulthood.
Yoga is one of the ways that we can move into adulthood for yoga teaches us how to transform our minds to the mind of God. It is through our faithful effort of meditating daily.
I believe that people are moving from adolescent childhood into adulthood, especially when they take seriously the spiritual dimensions of the yoga they do.