Satyagraha, Ahimsa, and A Rule for Motives and Acts

Mahatma Gandhi, that great leader of non-violent resistance, said, “I have discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and compassion. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on oneself.”

According to Wikipedia “Satyagraha” ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyagraha) means “soul force” or “truth force” and can be loosely translated as “insistence on truth.” “Satyagraha” was a term created and used by Mahatma Gandhi in his non-violent struggle against foreign control of India. “Ahimsa” – the Hindu belief that all living things are connected and that we should treat all life with kindness and non-violence – is fundamental to Satyagraha. Gandhi believed we are all morally interdependent on each other – we depend on each other to do the “right thing” – that it is imperative for us to cultivate what is decent in each other.

Recently, as I was pondering A Rule for Motives and Acts for members of the Christian Science Mother Church, it struck me how similar it is to the idea of “Satyagraha” –

A Rule for Motives and Acts (Article VIII, Section 1 of the Manual for the Mother Church): “Neither animosity nor mere personal attachment should impel the motives or acts of the members of The Mother Church. In Science, divine Love alone governs man; and a Christian Scientists reflects the sweet amenities of Love, in rebuking sin, in true brotherliness, charitableness, and forgiveness. The members of the Church should daily watch and pray to be delivered from all evil, from prophesying, judging, condemning, counseling, influencing, or being influenced erroneously.”

First Readers of the Christian Science branch churches read this rule from the podium the first Sunday of every month. When I’ve served as First Reader in our branch church, and read this rule out loud to the congregation, there’s been a part of me that cringes inside a little. I’m a little embarrassed. A little awkward. And hugely humbled. I mean… well, who am I to be reading this rule to the congregation? I know with certainty that there have been times when I have not lived up to this rule. Have I always been loyal to God, Love, Truth – the Principle of Christian Science – rather than to persons? Have I always had the courage and humility to “rebuke sin” – not in a way that personalizes it – but in the manner of Gandhi, weaning “from error by patience and compassion” and with self-suffering, or – as Mary Baker Eddy puts it – extracting error from mortal mind and pouring in truth “through flood-tides of Love“? Have I always been charitable and forgiving? Have I always refrained from “judging, condemning, counseling, influencing, or being influenced erroneously”?

Yowza.

We don’t have a lot of doctrine, dogma, or creed in the Christian Science church. There are not a whole lot of detailed rules, really, about how we should eat, dress, stand, sit, wear our hair, or address one another, and there are no rules that separate men and women in any way, or create a church class system and hierarchy. We are pretty much free agents when it comes to that stuff – free to follow our own conscience and understanding.

In the textbook for Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The time for thinkers has come. Truth, independent of doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the portal of humanity.” A little later she writes, “Our Master (Jesus) taught no mere theory, doctrine, or belief. It was the divine Principle of all real being which he taught and practised. His proof of Christianity was no form or system of religion and worship, but Christian Science, working out the harmony of Life and Love.” Eddy writes, “Surely it is not enough to cleave to barren and desultory dogmas, derived from the traditions of the elders…”

So. Yeah. Which brings us back to A Rule for Motives and Acts. All the other stuff that one sometimes finds in humanly-organized religion – the dress codes, the class system, the distinction between genders, the rules about food – all of that pretty much seems meaningless when put next to the idea that “divine Love alone governs man,” doesn’t it?

Do Christian Scientists have a doctrine at all? Well, there is this: “This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death. The perfect man – governed by God, his perfect Principle – is sinless and eternal.” (from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy)

Perfect Principle and perfect man. Perpetual, uninterrupted joy. Unconditional, unending Love – shining on everyone, without distinction. Endless Life. That’s a goal worthy of our time and energies, yes?

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

Creeds, doctrines, and human hypotheses do not express Christian Science; much less can they demonstrate it. – Mary Baker Eddy

To seek Truth through belief in a human doctrine is not to understand the infinite. We must not seek the immutable and immortal through the finite, mutable, and mortal, and so depend upon belief instead of demonstration… – Mary Baker Eddy

        The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love. – Mary Baker Eddy

***

Mahatma Gandhi, that great leader of non-violent resistance, said, “I have discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and compassion. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine…

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Love Doesn’t Choose Who Not to Love

At a stoplight I find myself
behind a truck with bumper stickers
that make me cringe –
one is for a politician,
another for an organization
I know is corrupt and created
out of greed.
 
I start attaching negative
labels to the driver ahead of me –
and I catch myself mid-thought.
I make a conscious choice –
I will love.
Forever how long I’m behind him
until we part ways –
no, beyond that, too –
I’ll just love.
 
I need some help with this, though.
I go through the files in my head
and pull out Alison Krauss’s version
of “I Will.” That one always helps.
I start singing it – hearing playful
banjo accompaniment as I sing.
My hearts lifts –
I am filled with irrepressible joy.
All hate, fear, and cringing melt away
in my heart and all that’s left is light-
hearted good will.
 
The driver turns where I was going
to turn. I follow him. He takes my next
turn, too. I’m still behind, loving.
I follow him around the curves and bends
in the road – singing to him – though he
doesn’t know. One more turn together.
Still singing.
 
Just as we part ways – my thoughts
reaching out to him – full of joy and love –
I realize I can extend this song
to the politician, too.
Because Love doesn’t choose
who not to love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell
love-hath-made

“Oh! There’s Mount Baker!”

Dad is lying in bed when I get there. He sees me come in and his face lights up with a smile.
Dad: Sweetheart!
Karen: Hi, Daddy!
Dad: (Reaching out to give me a hug.) I love you!
Karen: I love you, too! Did Mark Schoening come to see you yesterday?
Dad: Yes! That was a nice surprise!
Karen: Do you know Ed Webster?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yes. He’s a climber.
Karen: Yes! He called last night. He wanted me to tell you hello from him.
Dad: Oh!
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: Yes, I would.
Karen: Okay, Gwen will get you ready and then we’ll go.
Dad: (Nodding.) Okay.

Pretty soon Dad comes out of his room with Gwen beside him. He’s wearing a button up shirt, his khaki pants, a sweater, shoes, and his alpine hat. He’s ready to go…
Dad: (In the passenger seat, looking back at the house.) Who are those people?
Karen: Gwen is the one who takes care of you. The man sitting at the table is Joe. He’s an artist, too.
Dad: Oh.

We drive through town and Dad wants to know if we’re in Fairhaven. I tell him no, but… (I point to the street sign) the name of this street is Fairhaven. Dad Looks at the sign and says, “Yeah. Fairhaven.”
Dad: We haven’t been here on a drive, yet, have we?
Karen: Yes…
Dad: Parts of it.
Karen: (Nodding and thinking. Almost all our drives start out on this street, but…) Yes.

We’re on the other side of I-5 now, in the country.
Dad: It’s a beautiful day!
Karen: Yes, it is!
Dad: What day is this?
Karen: Sunday.
Dad: Oh. (He’s quiet for a few minutes, then…) Are you going to church?
Karen: (Laughing.) No, not today.
Dad: (Relieved.) Oh. I thought you might be taking me to church. I don’t want to go to church.

(We pull up to the Sisters Espresso – I’m going to get Dad a breakfast sandwich and his root beer float.)
Dad: (Smiling.) I recognize this place. We’ve been here before – many times.
Karen: (Smiling.) Yes, we have.
(Brooke, one of the Sisters Espresso sisters, tells me that there are “hundreds of eagles” today – and points me the right direction to find them.  I head down Allen West Road, my eyes open for white tails and white heads .)
Dad: What did you learn in school today?
Karen: (I am flummoxed.) Umm…
(When I turn on Farm to Market Road and head north I can see Dad cranking his head to the right – I know what he’s looking for…)
Dad: Oh! There’s Mount Baker! ( He keeps his eyes focused on Baker as I turn the car down a road that has the mountain right in front of us. I pull over to the side of the road and stop to take a photo of the mountain.)
Dad: I’d like a print of that photo – that would make a great watercolor.
Karen: (Smiling.) Okay.
Dad: (Thinking.) Can you see Mount Rainier from here?
Karen: Sometimes. When it’s very clear. But it’s usually too hazy.

I drive to my home. My plan is to make a quick print of the photo for Dad to take with him. Maybe he’ll make a watercolor from it. I park in the driveway.
Dad: This is the home you and Scott built yourself.
Karen: Yes!
Dad: I remember when Scotty stood right there and said, “I’m going to build a home in that meadow.”
Karen: (Smiling.) Do you want to come inside?
Dad: (Shaking his head.) No.
Karen: You stay here. I’ll go get Scott and bring him out here…

I go inside and let Scott know that Dad’s in the car. He goes out to sit with him while I print off the picture of Mount Baker. When I come back out to the car Scott and I exchange places and I hand Dad the print of Mount Baker. As we’re driving back to his home…
Dad: Who took this picture? This is a good one!
Karen: I did. Just a little bit ago.
Dad: You did? It’s good!
Karen: Thank you.

As we get close to his home Dad starts recognizing the area…
Dad: Sometimes you drop me off on one of these side streets.
Karen: Yes.
Dad: Are you going to dump me off on this street?
Karen: I’m going to take you home.

We pull into his driveway and I help him get out of the car.  Gwen comes out to help Dad into the living room and into his recliner.  Dad settles in – his root beer float at his elbow on a side table, his print of Mount Baker in his lap, and a football game on the television.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: And I love you!

Mount Baker from Bow (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

The Shutdown Is Not Working for Us

Dear Republican Senators:
The Government shutdown is not working for us. You are not serving the best interests of the people who elected you to represent them.

The bill that the House of Representatives recently passed is the exact same bill you passed, unanimously, only a month ago. There is no good reason not to pass it again. Please stop holding the American people hostage. Pass the bill, get the government working again, PAY THE GOVERNMENT WORKERS AND STOP TREATING THEM LIKE FREE LABOR (give them a raise while you’re at it – Lord knows they’ve earned it), and THEN talk about The Wall with the Democrats.

You all know there are better ways of protecting our borders than a wall. You all know about the technology we have available to us in the 21st century to protect our borders (and if you don’t know about this technology, perhaps now is the time to get acquainted with it) – technology that would make a wall obsolete.

If McConnell won’t do the right thing, then it is time for you to remove him as your majority leader, and get on with fixing this mess.

Sincerely,
Karen Molenaar Terrell

And Time Went By

“Be still and know that I am God…”
she quoted. “Be quiet… don’t do, don’t act,
don’t talk, just be still… God will take care
of it.”

And that sounded good. That sounded fine.
And so I sat in my comfy chair being
quiet and still. Not talking. Not moving.
Not doing. And time went by like this.

And then I died.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

And Give You a Mug of Chamomile Tea

I read your comment on a friend’s wall
and got all fired up about it all.
“Most rational people feel as I do,”
said you.. “If you were rational, you would, too.
Don’t criticize him. Shut up. Be quiet.”
And in my thoughts you started a riot.
 
But… but… if Love leads us to warn
when our nation’s battered and torn
by moneyed men in their positions of power
and we cover our ears and eyes and cower
and say nothing – aren’t we abandoning our duty
to our country, our God, our own humanity?
 
When you tell others to be quiet, I feel wary –
people telling others to shut up is kind of scary –
when you say “most” and make a generalization
I see bias, I see no logic, I worry for our nation.
So I wrote a response to your weird comment

I clicked on “post” and published my own vent.

And then, curious, I went to your timeline
I wanted to see your face, to see what kind
of person would write those thoughts –
wondering if you were living in some kind of box.
And my mouth fell open when I saw what I saw –
a sweet face, a sweet smile, a white-haired grandma!

My heart felt a tug –
I wanted to give you a hug
and give you a mug
of chamomile tea.
I wonder when you’ll see.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“I Really Enjoy These Little Drives with You!”

I stopped in to see Dad to see if he wanted to go for a drive. He was sitting at the table, finishing breakfast, when I got there.
Dad: Karen. This is my daughter! This is Karen!
Karen: Hi, Daddy. Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: Yes, I do!
(I go and get his shoes and hat. As I’m crouched over, tucking his feet into his shoes, he reaches down and starts patting the top of my head. I exchange looks with Gwen – we’re both grinning.)

We load Dad up in the car and take off on our adventure…
Dad: It’s a beautiful day!
Karen: Yes, it is!
Dad: I always love to see you come into… (trying to find the words) my place of business.
Karen: I love to see you, too!
Dad: Is there a small airport near here?
Karen: (Filing this away – maybe Dad wants to visit the airport?) Yes, just up there on the hill.
Dad: Were you at school today?
Karen: No, today is Saturday.
Dad: Oh. There’s no school on Fridays?
Karen: (Pause.) No.

(I can see Dad turning his head – I know he’s looking for Mount Baker – but Baker is behind the hills. I pull into Sisters Espresso.)
Karen: Root beer float?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yes.
(I get Dad his float. As I’m coming back to the car with it, he opens the door and reaches out for it – he knows the drill.  I hand him his float…)
Dad: Thank you!

I turn left, heading towards the airport – but we’re not going the right direction for Dad to see Mount Baker, so I turn down a road where Dad can see Baker if he looks out his window. And there it is!
Karen: (Pointing.) See Baker?
Dad: (Nodding and fastening his eyes on the volcano.) Yes. Have you ever climbed that one?
Karen: Yes. With you and Scotty.
Dad: (Nodding.) That’s right.
(I stop a few times to snap some photos. Dad takes this all in stride.)
Karen: Do you know what the name of that ridge is – there on Baker?
Dad: No. I know all the features of Rainier, but not the other mountains…

We make a quick stop at the post office, and then I head through Edison and onto Samish Island Road. As I’m driving over the slough I glance over at a tree that I know has an eagle’s nest in it – and it’s loaded with eagles! I pull over and get out of the car to take some photos. I ask Dad if he sees the eagles – he says no – he’s looking in the wrong place. I back the car up a little and roll down the window and point…
Dad: Oh! Yeah! They’re on that branch there!
Karen: (So excited that he’s seen the eagles!) Yup!
Dad: (Slurps his float.) This is beautiful country. (Slurps some more.)
Karen: Yes, it is!

We head up towards Bayview Park. Dad always thinks of his old friends, the Annens (who lived on Warren Beach), when we go this way.
Dad: The Annens used to live up here. Did you ever visit the Annens with me?
Karen: No, I don’t think so.

I turn down the road that takes us to the airport and drive by so Dad can look at the planes, and then come back out onto the main road.
Dad: I really enjoy these little drives with you.
Karen: (I pat his knee.) I do, too, Daddy.

I bring Dad back to his home and help him settle back in the kitchen chair he’d been sitting in when I arrived.
Karen: I’m going to be back in a couple hours. Jim Wickwire is coming to visit you then, too!
Dad: Jim Wickwire will be here?
Karen: Yes!
Dad: How do you know?
Karen: He told me. I’ll see you again soon, Daddy. I love you!
Dad: I love you!