Category Archives: Energy and Growth

Essence and Form

I have had some interesting responses to my post on Love, Fear, and Minorities. Some have agreed and some have disagreed, which is rather to be expected. Areas of disagreement are often where the most potential for new understanding lies, so I do not object to disagreement in itself.

I do object to people disagreeing, not with what I said, but with what they unilaterally invented in their own minds and then attributed to me. I had one woman write that she could “read between the lines” and said I was intolerant and judgmental. She sharply condemned me for what she imagined me saying, while claiming we should not be judgmental. She somehow construed what I wrote into the idea I am intolerant of Christians, Jews, and Hindus. That is quite a leap of imagination.

My main conclusion was that she was not having a conversation with me, but with some tangle in her own mind. As such, it did not constitute intelligent communication but was simply a way of dumping her garbage on me, where it does not belong.

Apparently she derailed at the point where I said something about “the judgmental and arrogant variety of Christian.” As I was talking about a Christian who is not judgmental and arrogant, it should be clearly obvious I don’t think all Christians have those qualities.

So what is the difference between Christians who are judgmental and arrogant and those Christians who are not? Frankly, it is the same difference between those who are judgmental and arrogant and those who are not in any group you want to name. All religions and other groups are composed of members who are actual human beings. As such, a wide range of behavior and attitude can always be expected, no matter what the ideal behavior might be.

The problem illustrates the distinction between essence and form. A form is simply a container of some kind, perhaps the physical organization of a certain religion. This form is enlivened by the essence of what its members bring to it.

A member who brings the essence of love is going to exhibit far different qualities than a member who brings the essence of fear, even though it outwardly takes the same form, such as being fellow Christians. Or Rotarians, or gardening club members, or whatever organized group you choose to examine.

The essence of fear generates a variety of attitudes, which can include judgment and arrogance, because being wrong has to be avoided at all costs. Sheer destruction is the result of being wrong from a fear based point of view.

The essence of love produces other qualities since it is not threatened by being wrong, but is open and embracing of other points of view, going to the heart within the form. Love has an abiding trust in the foundation of life and behaves accordingly.

Looking at extremes of behavior can be revealing indeed. Mother Theresa was a phenomenal example of love. Hers was not a wishy washy or weak expression of love, but a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work love, a powerhouse of action.

Conversely, the tragic history between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland shows a different expression of religion, that of fear. Fear spiraled out of control and resulted in dreadful killings even though the ideal of the churches involved is not that of killing one another. Extremes of fear such as this are painfully difficult to undo or heal when embedded in the cultural history so deeply.

As human beings we each are capable of expressing the full potential of either love or fear in our lives but usually are a fluctuating mixture of both. Becoming more aware of how our words and actions reveal our underlying fear or love is the first step to becoming consciously responsible for choosing which way we express the essence of our approach to life.