Since the murder of George Floyd and with the Black Lives Matter movement very much in the news, I have been fascinated by Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaigns of the 60s and how he strove to reconcile his Christian beliefs with the need to resist racial hatred and discrimination against African Americans.
Martin Luther King was criticised by fellow activist Malcolm X, for his rejection of armed resistance. Malcolm X considered this a form of weakness, even accusing MLK of a passivity that helped the white establishment maintain the racist status quo. But studying the life of Martin Luther King, it is evident that he was far from a weak or passive figure. He demonstrated extraordinary courage, intelligence and self-sacrifice which not only resulted in the passing of the Civil Right Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and 65, he has been an inspirational icon to civil rights activists ever since due to his spiritual and moral stature.
In the passage below, from ‘The True Meaning of Christ’s Teaching’ Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov argues that Jesus’ teaching on turning the other cheek should not be interpreted as an instruction to remain submissive and passive in the face of injustice and mistreatment but to demonstrate moral and spiritual superiority to your enemies. This is exactly the method which Martin Luther King used to fight back against racial injustice in the states. Just as Gandhi had done previously in South Africa and India and Nelson Mandela used in his struggle to end Apartheid.
It is certainly a method that Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov himself made use of during his life in which he encountered endless criticism in the French press and was subjected to appalling injustices. He always used to say that he took the stones that were thrown at him, turned them into precious stones and then distributed them to others!
‘It is said in the Gospels: ‘ If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him also the other.’ May Christians forgive me when I say that the words of Jesus do not mean we must always remain passive when faced with insults and bad treatments by others, that we have to accept, submit, suffer and finally disappear.
At the time of Jesus, people were supposed to develop virtues and qualities upon which nobody had insisted until then, like indulgence, leniency and mercy. For until then, only the law of justice had prevailed: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The new moral philosophy that Christ brought, was supposed to encourage people to develop the qualities of the heart. Instead of replying with physical means like stones, knives and swords, Jesus asked them to respond in a more noble, more elevated manner, displaying qualities of humility, love, patience and greatness of soul. That is the meaning of the words of Jesus when he told his followers to turn the other cheek. What he said for that particular time, though, must not be considered valid forever. If he were to come again today, he would say:
There is an even more appropriate way of behaving for the present time. If you suffer an injustice, you have to respond with so much intelligence, so much strength of character, knowledge, light and warmth that your enemy will be completely overwhelmed, blinded, thunderstruck, that is to say, transformed! Not annihilated, not killed, you just give life to him, you lead him towards God! If you are capable of doing that, you are a true hero, a true son or daughter of God.’
Why let yourself be massacred all the time and have your enemies triumph? You must not kill people, you must not hurt them, but neither must you accept the role of the victim. One must know how to defend one’s self by becoming like the sun, that is by projecting a light of such strength that even when you are attacked by wicked and cruel people, you can dazzle them, blind them. Yes, you blind them and then you open their eyes, as Christ did with Saul on the road to Damascus where he was planning to massacre the Christians. A flash of light, and he was blinded! And Saul became Paul. Let us suppose that, figuratively speaking, you can paralyse people for a few minutes, just like that…..and then restore them. Will they continue to fight you? The new morality is no longer to remain weak, at the mercy of violent and cruel people, but to become like the sun, so that they can no longer taint you or reach you. When they approach you, you melt them as if they were wax- thanks to goodness and light.
If humans do not yet have this luminous possibility, it is because they have never considered it. They have embraced weakness and found refuge in stupid philosophies under the pretext that Jesus asked them to turn the other cheek… Now, in our present conditions, we need to understand things differently. The other cheek is the other side…the other side of you, the spiritual side, the side of power, of light. Jesus has shown the other side to his enemies. He told them: ‘You are capable of imprisoning the physical body, you are capable of crucifying it, but I will show you the other side, the sublime, indestructible side and I will rebuild my temple in three days. Go ahead, you can strike’ He showed them the other side, and the whole world was turned upside down.
Christians, spiritualists, still have a lot to understand. Instead of always being victimised by dark forces and material philosophies they should unite in order to triumph. This is no longer the time to say that Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, to become martyrs. In the past, yes, there was nothing else people could do because they were not yet developed enough to answer in a sublime and divine manner, but this is no longer so,
Now we have to find the ways to demonstrate the power of the spirit through our knowledge, our love, our gestures, our behaviour. This is true strength. Why remain weak, sick, cowardly? To show you are a Christian? Well, this is not the ideal of Christianity. I will be the first one to say that evil will never be eradicated from this earth as along as there are weak and ignorant people! You have to be strong, powerful, dynamic, active, impetuous, even violent but obviously not on the physical level. Christianity misunderstood gives nothing. True Christianity means to be armed, but armed, not with guns but with different weapons of course. It means when attacked, to show the other side, of which Jesus was speaking. This other side is an armed side, it is not puny and powerless.’
Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov The True Meaning of Christ’s Teaching- Chapt 8 ‘If someone strikes you on the right cheek..’
Link to the book: The True Meaning of Christ’s Teaching
Related post on Words of Light: Why our democracies fail
I have just published an e book about Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela which talks about their achievements with quotations from their speeches and writing. There is also a chapter on Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov and the Dalai Lama
It is called Words of the Peacemakers and is available on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents or pounds:
Words of the Peacemakers- Inspirational Thoughts on Peace from Great Leaders and Teachers