Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit
The first Beatitude found in the Sermon on the Mount reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” In the context of the medieval Cathar, the word spirit was about motivation and energy. That said, this first Beatitude could read, ‘Blessed are those lacking in motivation and energy…” The Cathar explained that this state of consciousness was a consequence of one or more of three catalysts over which a person has no control; natural justice, ageing and misfortune. Of course, it’s the impact that these three have on whatever we are attached to, which typically included any of the following in their various expressions; wealth, power, love and fame.
Natural Justice: This is what happens when the laws of nature are contravened. Eating too many refined carbs may lead to diabetes and obesity, which in turn brings a swag of compromises to one’s health and wellbeing. In fact, most of our modern-day lifestyle diseases are effectively natural justice. Imbalances in how people live life physically, mentally and emotionally all potentially can result in dis-ease, of one kind or another. Sustained over long periods and they become our diseases. In our modern world, we typically rely on medication and surgical intervention to relieve the suffering of this type of being poor in spirit.
Ageing: Getting older and dying are a part of the human experience. Millions of dollars are spent trying to delay the inevitable, but eventually everyone will succumb. It’s like 50th and 60th birthdays are fraught with fear and trepidation. Grey hair and wrinkles must be made to disappear, and in popular culture, ageing and what it represents, is replaced by a preoccupation with youthfulness and sexiness. Immobility, loneliness, redundancy, absence of libido and limited resources are some of the experiences of the elderly that has them be poor in spirit.
Misfortune: Eventually, the Wheel of Fortune turns for everyone, and when things happen outside of our control (Global Financial Crisis, Global viruses, bushfires, floods, accidents to name a few), then our world can be turned upside down. To minimise the impact of these things, we take out insurance. Life insurance, accident insurance, home and contents insurance etc. This helps to reduce the risk of having to be poor in spirit.
It would seem that the state of being poor in spirit is in fact a values experience. If you valued yourself, and loved yourself enough to be committed to maintaining your health and wellbeing, then natural justice is unable to foster the feeling of being poor in spirit. If you celebrate ageing and have a philosophy regarding death that holds no fear, then ageing is unable to foster the feeling of being poor in spirit. And if you’ve replaced material values with spiritual values, then misfortune can’t disturb one’s state of inner peace, and misfortune is unable to foster the feeling of being poor in spirit.
There is an adage that goes, “You can’t change what you can’t see.” Effectively, this means that to adopt a values system that frees you from being poor in spirit, you have to first observe closely what it is that you currently value that causes you to feel poor in spirit. This is the first part of the Enhances Awareness Program. A close, non-judgemental review of what you prioritise physically (and materially), mentally, emotionally and spiritually helps to highlight the most challenging aspects of your life and how it all contributes to your suffering, or in the context of the Beatitudes, how it has you be poor in spirit.
When you are hurting, and everything you have tried has only brought temporary relief if any at all, and you’ve reached that place of burnout, depression, compassion fatigue, loneliness, serious illness and even looking death in the face, it could well be, as prescribed in this first Beatitude, that your suffering (being poor in spirit) is a blessing in disguise! The reason is that now you might consider letting go of all that you previously deemed to be important, realising that it is no longer serving you. It is in this place that the cup that was once full, can be emptied. As you can imagine that isn’t easy, but when you can understand why you placed so much importance on those things that caused your suffering, then and only then can you begin to let them go.
Untenable suffering and being aware of it means that you are now in a place to want to make some changes. Therein is the gift of suffering and why it was deemed to be a blessing. In addition, the couplet of this beatitude says, “…for theirs in the kingdom of Heaven.” If you believe that (or the idea that the kingdom of Heaven is enlightenment), or at least have hope in that, then it may well motivate you to hang-in-there, as you make the effort to become more aware of your state of being poor in spirit.
In EAP we call that first part of the journey ‘Identifying your CURRENT REALITY’. We have a lovely awareness profiling activity that without judgement or expectation has you identify your current state of awareness; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Having done that you can more clearly see the way it is impacting on your whole-of-life experience and how that does or doesn’t serve you.
In the second Beatitude, “Blessed are those that mourn”, you are given the opportunity to more fully embrace the function of being the observer. As will be explained, that provides two opportunities, freedom from suffering and the ability to see a more serving, alternative reality. If you would like to explore your current state of awareness, ask one of our mentors to do what we at EAP Mentor call ‘The Booklet’ with you. This is the part of our program that relates to the first Beatitude.
A: Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia