Real life experience of a ‘Jesus moment’

Real life experience of a ‘Jesus moment’Deepak Chopra

I had an experience that centers around one of Jesus’s most baffling teachings: “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also.” (Luke 6:29) If I let a bully hit me on one cheek only to turn the other, won’t he beat the stuffing out of me? The same holds good, on a larger scale, for a threat like terrorism: If we allow evildoers to strike us without reprisal, won’t they continue to do so, over and over?

On the surface my experience only vaguely fits this dilemma. Yet it leads to the heart of Christ’s mission. I was in a crowded bookstore promoting a new book when a woman came up to me, saying, “Can I talk to you? I need three hours.” She was a compact, forceful person (less politely, a pit bull), but as gently as I could I told her, pointing to the other people crowded around the table, that I didn’t have three hours to spare.

A cloud passed over her face. “You have to. I came all the way from Mexico City,” she said, insisting that she must have three hours alone with me. I asked if she had called my office in advance, and she had. What did they tell her? That I would be busy all day.

“But I came on my own anyway, because I’ve heard you say that anything is possible,” she said. “If that’s true, you should be able to see me.”

The PR person in charge of the event was pulling at my elbow, so I told the woman that if she came back later, I might find a few minutes of personal time for her. She became enraged in front of everyone. She released a stream of invective, sparing no four-letter words, and stalked away, muttering darkly that I was a fraud.

Later that night the incident wouldn’t leave me in peace, so I considered an essential spiritual truth: People mirror back to us the reality of who we are. I sat down and wrote out a list of things I’d noticed about this woman. What had I disliked about her? She was angry, demanding, confrontational, and selfish. Then I called my wife and asked her if I was like that. There was a long silence at the other end of the phone. I was more than a little shaken.

I sat down to face what reality was asking me to face. I found a veneer of annoyance and irritation (after all, wasn’t I the innocent victim? hadn’t she embarrassed me in front of dozens of people?). Then I called a truce with the negative energies she had stirred up. Vague images of past injuries came to mind, which put me on the right trail. I moved as much of the stagnant energies of hurt as I could.

To put it bluntly, this was a Jesus moment. When he preached, “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other also” (Luke 6:29), Jesus wasn’t preaching masochism or martyrdom. He was speaking of a quality of consciousness that is known in Sanskrit as Ahimsa. The word is usually translated as “harmlessness” or “nonviolence.”

In the Indian tradition several things are understood about nonviolence, and all of them apply to Jesus’s version of turning the other cheek. First, the aim of nonviolence is ultimately to bring peace to yourself, to quell your own violence; the enemy outside serves only to mirror the enemy within.

Excerpted from ‘The Third Jesus’. Christmas is being celebrated on December 25

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